I was recently asked about the ethics of animal testing. While I’m aware that it is a very contentious issue for “animal rights activists” it is not one I have thought much about. Though, since I grow animals to eat, I am closer existentially to that related issue than someone who gets their meat from the supermarket.
It seems to me there are some simple principles that provide guidance:
- God made animals so we have a general responsibility to care for them like for the rest of creation (see Gen 1)
- God explicitly allowed the use of animals for human benefit including killing them to eat (see Gen 9:3) n.b. I’d see this extending to the next line…
- Research and testing which is of other great benefit for humans should also therefore be considered within God’s will.
This leads to the tentative conclusions:
- We have the right to use animals for our benefit. (This is an extension, but a small one of the permission to eat them in Gen 9:3. Testing products for safety would (to my mind) fall under this category.
- We have a responsibility to care for them, and so the testing should not be cruel nor unnecessary.