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Animal Suffering and Death

Watchtower teaches that whilst humans were to live forever, animals grew old and died. This contradicts Watchtower’s teachings of death, sin and a loving God.

Whilst Watchtower claims earth was initially created to be a perfect paradise devoid of suffering, animals did not have such an idyllic existence, having always experienced ageing and death, and hence suffering and loss. The natural cycle of death amongst animals is said to have been established by Jehovah prior to Adamic sin, with animals dying in the garden of Eden.

“Adam understood what death meant, since he would have seen animals die.” Awake! Oct 2007 p.28

Natural death in old age is painful. Humans and animals do not simply die of old age. During the ageing process organs degenerate, and it is the failure of a specific bodily function that is the cause of death at old age. Since animals died in the Garden of Eden, ageing must have always existed amongst animals. Often during this process, the dying animal is abandoned by its group, and they will die alone and in pain in the wild.

The following fossils show the suffering of animals prior to the time humans lived on earth, such as from arthritis and death during child birth.

 This ancient fossil of a Russellosaurine Mosasaur tail bone infected with arthritis shows that disease existed prior to the sin of Adam and Eve.

 Ancient fossils showing death during child birth of a Ichthyosaur and a Chaohusaurus.

Rather than a temporary result of sin, Jehovah's Witnesses accept animal disease and death as God's original and perfect everlasting plan.

“Man’s disobedience in Eden did not bring death to animals—they had been living and dying and many forms becoming extinct for thousands of years before man’s creation. … The status of the beast has remained unchanged since its creation—it lives out its life span and dies. At no time has it had set before it the prospect of eternal life.” Watchtower 1950 Oct 15 p.399

This undermines Watchtower's explanation of human suffering, with Adamic sin used to explain why humans suffer sickness and death.

“Would the children of Adam and Eve be affected by what their parents had done? Yes. Romans 5:12 explains: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” The first to die was faithful Abel. Then Adam’s other offspring grew old and died. Did they inherit sin as well as death? The apostle Paul answers: “Through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners.” Sin and death inherited from Adam thus became implacable enemies of mankind, inescapable for imperfect humans.” Watchtower 2014 Sep 15 p.25

Sin does not explain the reason for the death of animals. Whilst death only occurs amongst humans because they sinned, animals death was put in place without them having sinned against God. Animals did nothing to justify being allowed to suffer, yet Watchtower accepts this as simply their lot in life. Animal suffering and death, caused by predators, ageing, disease and injury was evidently put in place by Jehovah as part of the original natural cycle of life. Watchtower has never even attempted to explain why animals need to suffer despite not having sinned. If humans were designed to live forever on earth, in perfect health and at peace with each other, animals could also have been designed to live in that way. Since Watchtower teaches that God created humans and animals vegetarian, then animals could have been immortal in the same way as human immortality was offered to Adam. This Watchtower view paints God as one who needlessly created animals to suffer and die, and without hope of a resurrection.

Other Religious groups

Watchtower is a fundamentalist religion that holds to very literal interpretation of most Scripture (though not all Scripture), even when evidence and logic disproves their doctrine beyond any level of reasonable doubt. More progressive religious groups recognise various levels of figurativeness in Scripture, particularly in the account of Genesis, in order to prevent their religious faith conflicting with proven reality. Regarding the role of animals, some teach that the future for animals is similar to humans, potentially enjoying a heavenly resurrection, based on Scriptures such as the following in Ecclesiastes and Romans.

Ecclesiastes 3:18,19 I also said in my heart about the sons of men that the true God will test them and show them that they are like animals, for there is an outcome for humans and an outcome for animals; they all have the same outcome. As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit.
Romans 8:21,22 “… that the creation itself will also be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now.”

Whilst some religious groups excuse the suffering of animals (and humans) as temporary due to the resurrection, Watchtower offers no such hope to the animal kingdom.

"Though animals die in the same manner as man, they do not share his hope of a resurrection." it-1 pp.110-112


Animals grow old and die, not because of sin, but because all living beings are mortal. Watchtower also teaches that God only allowed animals to eat each other because of Adam's sin. This is contradicted by the fact that animals experienced death from predators, even before "Adamic sin" occurred.

Watchtower attempts to force a doctrine that humans were to live forever on earth, contradicting that animals die without having sinned. As shown at the article Paradise Earth, the Watchtower doctrine of humans living forever on this planet is neither Scripturally, nor technically possible. Neither humans or animals were to live forever, both realistically face an earthly death.

Written Apr 2016.

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