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The problem of animal suffering states that God wouldn't allow animal suffering because animal suffering is evil. Skeptical theism is the idea that God knows infinitely more than humans, and hence we cannot say what is good or bad for God because we do not know all that He knows.

A skeptical theist typically responds to the human problem of evil by saying evil is for the greater happiness or overall betterment of that person either here or in heaven. These responses seem to not apply to animals. Since it is generally accepted God does not give animals heaven, the only argument left is for the greater happiness of the animals. This seems questionable, but I guess can be argued. So what is the skeptical theist's respond to this?

Note: I'm mostly talking about natural evil for animals (i.e. forest fires), but human evil toward animals are also in the picture.

  • Presumably, the greater good of the humans whose lives are, in some way, connected to the event which caused the suffering of the animal in question. With sufficient imagination one can come up with a story to cover almost any belief in anything, so arguing against belief on the basis of rationality is pointless. – Isaacson Dec 4 '16 at 8:13
  • Our lack of knowledge and sinful dispositions makes it impossible for humans to adequately evaluate such questions. Therefore, we resort to the only reasonable recourse left to us: We praise God for His goodness and wait patiently for Him to provide a fuller understanding in the glory which is to come. – user3017 Dec 5 '16 at 10:29
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From my understanding, the evil that is in the world isn't "that God knows infinitely more than humans, and hence we cannot say what is good or bad for God because we do not know all that He knows", rather, it is the fact of our sin, and us betraying god, in the beginning, causing evil to enter into the world(including animal suffering). What is true is that God, being omnipotent, can use his knowledge to use the evil to help make good. Finally, animals have no souls, which is why they don't go to heaven, though we should treat them with love because they are still God's creation.

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I think you might be misreading skeptical theism. [Skeptical theism][1] is the position that

  1. Theism is true. God (near some definition that fits with classical theism) exists.

and

  1. God's reasons are inscrutable.

So I think you're misunderstanding the position when you state:

A skeptical theist typically responds to the human problem of evil by saying evil is for the greater happiness or overall betterment of that person either here or in heaven.

That's a [theodicy][2] -- an argument that explains how the evil is compatible with God. Skeptical theists don't offer theodicies (or they shouldn't) but instead assert that the compatibility of the evil we witness with God is inscrutable in terms of their reasons.

In general, the weakness of skeptical theism and its ilk is that it comes across as either (a) paternalistic, (b) relationally problematic, or (c) a failure to respond to really address the problem of evil. In this respect, it's a highly fideistic solution since it takes belief in God to be indefeasible in the face of the evidence of evil. (Here, it also strikes me as being stronger than but including Plantiga's properly basic belief).

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All Heathen (non-Abrahamic) Theisms reconciled it in a simple fashion: animals have souls. Humans have intelligible souls (a reasoning soul, or an intellectual soul that links it with Providence) - the only difference. Thus their share in suffering was similar to that of humans. Egyptians reconciled it to the extent that they re-deified animals (flying serpents etc.), Graeco-Roman Drakon cults re-deified snakes and dragons -animal soul symbolism was extremely rich in these antique worlds, down to the Middle Ages (Beastiaries etc.)

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