Geoffrey G. Attard
A recent referendum in Malta on the subject of hunting raises interesting questions on how the bible and Christian tradition tackle the subject. In this article, the author attempts to find a compromise between the ancient human need of hunting, and the abuses which have arisen in modern times regarding its practice. Geoffrey G. Attard is a priest of the diocese of Gozo (Malta).
‘But, My Lord, shooting?
It’s like golf.
It livens up a good country walk.
Yes, but, with respect, My Lord, golf does not involve the slaughter of God’s creatures.
Controlling the bird population doesn’t trouble the Vatican, Brown’. G. K. Chesterton, The Father Brown Stories: The Deadly Seal, introduction.1
The bible as point of departure
God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild animals and all the creatures that creep along the ground’ (Gen 1.26)
(You) made him lord of the works
of your hands,
put all things under his feet,
sheep and cattle, all of them,
and even the wild beasts,
birds in the sky, fish in the sea,
when he makes his way across
the ocean. Psalm 8.6-8
The two biblical quotations above make it clear from the beginning that it is the Bible itself – in the first of its books – that has put man at the very top of creation. This is the tradition view still held by some theologians. Protestant theologian Jurgen Moltmann had this to say about it:
According to the anthropocentric world view, heaven and earth were made for the sake of human beings, and the human being is the crown of creation; and this is certainly what is claimed by both its supporters and its critics as ‘biblical tradition’. But it is unbiblical; for according to the biblical Jewish and Christian traditions, God created the world for his glory, out of love; and the crown of creation is not the human being; it is the Sabbath.2
The traditional argument in favour of man as the ‘crown of creation’ from the beginning is still prevalent among people who think that the destruction of creation for their own aims can be justified within a Judeo-Christian framework.