Why does Richard Dawkins want to eat human meat?

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Published: 16 March 2018 (GMT+10)

Social media does not encourage thoughtful, reflective statements. There are many public figures who manage to make fools of themselves on mediums like Facebook, Snapchat, and Twitter. Someone can dash off an ill-considered, half-formed statement and publish it to the entire world without even thinking about it. And if you happen to be a personality with millions of followers around the globe, those statements get more attention than they deserve.

However, Richard Dawkins left his March 3 tweet up for more than a week (at the time of the writing of this article), so it’s fair game to criticize it:

Humans are friends, not food

Why would Dawkins want to overcome the taboo against cannibalism? There’s no evolutionary reason to do so, and there’s no utilitarian reason to do so (like Peter Singer, Dawkins claims to follow the philosophy of utilitarianism). It’s not enlightened, it’s not reasoned. Rather, the most likely explanation is that his religion of atheism tells him that humans are just animals. We eat animals, so why not human meat, especially if it can be procured in a way that doesn’t involve murder?

There are a number of reasons why we don’t eat human meat. First, humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). The only time Scripture mentions cannibalism is in the context of extreme famine or sieges as a result of severe judgment (Deuteronomy 28:53). Humans are permitted to eat other animals after the Flood (Genesis 9:3), but the Bible doesn’t even envision cannibalism in contexts other than extreme judgment.

Shocker: it might be a bad idea to eat people

Cannibalism today is limited to either very desperate circumstances, as faced by the Donner party,1 extreme criminal insanity, or pagan ritual cannibalism. There are very good reasons that sane people in normal circumstances don’t want to eat other people.

Besides the moral issue of denigrating the image of God, there is a health risk. Cannibalism can transfer all sorts of diseases from human to human, and culturing human meat in a lab does not remove this risk. According to biochemist Dr Ambrose Williams:

In short, there are no good reasons to eat people unless you want to thumb your nose at some supposedly prudish Christians, while there are both moral and pragmatic reasons why it is a bad idea.

  1. The Donner Party is a tragic account in the pioneering days of the American west. George Donner (1784–March 1847) led a group of 87 people migrating to what they hoped was the pleasant climate and fertile valleys of California. But they arrived in winter in the Sierra Nevada mountains in November 1846, and were trapped by heavy snowfall near what is now called Lake Donner in Northeast California. During several months in these desperate mid-winter conditions, only 48 survived, and some of them had resorted to eating the flesh of their dead comrades. Return to text.

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Reader’s comments

Michael R.
From a physiological perspective, meat - or muscle tissue - probably isn't too different between animals and humans, so why do it? It's sad the depths of depravity one can go to without a guide to absolute morality from our Creator and His love in our hearts. Unfortunately, he will sway some minds to his way of thinking.
Christian R.
Some very disturbing implications could come from Dawkins' reasoning: if we are animals, and animals eat other animals, living or dead, including their own young, why stop at eating 'lab-grown meat'? If animal behavior is the standard, why not just kill other humans for food? That would solve worldwide hunger/human population problems secularists are constantly whining about. Forget abortion, mothers could give birth and we could use their babies for food. Abandonment of a biblical view on human and animal life can lead to some disturbing ideas indeed!
Lita Cosner
Jonathan Swift proposed just such a thing in his famous satire A Modest Proposal.
Keith H.
It's quite sad thinking about where Dawkins is and what is ahead for him. Is it possible all of us praying for him would make a difference? I'm praying...
Daniel M.
In a world of liberal ideologies and junk science like evolution, atheism places no intrinsic value on human life. At the same time, atheists are often the first to want protection for other life forms, chickens, cows, zoo animals. Human life is not regard as any more valuable and the slow but progressive insanity that comes to the atheist mind is more than willing to regard human life as less than desirable and certainly not to be protected as special. Why? Because atheism is a false idea as is evolution and liberal ideology... the three agree with radical anti human, anti civilization, anti freedom agendas. Ultimately, human life is less than the value of other creatures or even plants.

When people deny God, accountability, personal responsibility and adhere to fairy tales, they enter a darkness that allows them to freely dabble in destructive pleasures. Nothing is sacred and people are less than human in such an irrational world.

Men love darkness rather than the light, to hide their deeds and their desires and this all leads to a culture of death.
Joel L.
Health( practical) issues and the pointlessness of the exercise aside, I'm not sure that I see the essential moral difference between eating human genetic material grown in a lab - a matter of chemistry - and say, a cookie in the shape of a person( although the Biblical principles of avoiding the appearance of evil to not cause a brother to stumble and not offending one's own conscience may well apply....)?
Lita Cosner
A cookie in the shape of a person isn't made out of human material. Given that other meat will be as easy to culture--like beef, pork, and chicken--the only possible reason to cultivate such a disgusting and dangerous snack as human flesh would be to denigrate the image of God--i.e., to prove a point that humans are not special and are just another animal.
Eddie C.
One has to wonder to what extent Mr. Dawkins would actually be willing to live out his own beliefs. I wonder if lab grown meat using flesh with his own DNA would be palpable to him? What about his daughter's DNA? I believe this tweet was meant to shock and it did that, but Mr. Dawkins knows he'll never have to put his money where his mouth is on this, he's counting on that.
joe S.
First aliens, now cannibalism. True colors showing.
Terry D P.
The article made me wonder how Richard Dawkins would react to these words of Jesus, the Son of God:

‘I am that living bread which has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread he shall live for ever. Moreover, the bread which I will give is my own flesh; I give it for the life of the world.’
         This led to a fierce dispute among the Jews. ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ they said. Jesus replied, ‘In truth, in very truth I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you can have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood possesses eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. My flesh is real food; my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood dwells continually in me and I dwell in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me shall live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven; and it is not like the bread which our fathers ate: they are dead, but whoever eats this bread shall live for ever.’ — Jn§6:51-58

Many of his disciples on hearing it exclaimed, ‘This is more than we can stomach! Why listen to such talk?’
Pearl M.
We are so far down the slippery slope...selling baby body parts...using embryonic stem cells in our cosmetics and as food flavour enhancers (I'm told). The scripture says "Hell and destruction are never full so the eyes of man are never satisfied..." "The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked" Only Jesus can save us from the horrors to come....! Lead us not into temptation Lord but deliver us from evil...
Bernard G.
Funny that even the most rabid of atheists like Dawkins regard cannibalism with the words “taboo”, “looking forward” and “overcome”. Why would he even view this as a case of morality versus absolutism? In the atheist worldview, there is no such thing as human value and dignity; we have no special meaning or purpose. In that worldview if eating something means survival then that’s what’s important, right? Why care about overcoming a taboo? Think about it, in that worldview, even the concept of what is “taboo” is arbitrary and artificial, subject to potential change over time (evolution) anyway! Today this is taboo and tomorrow we may evolve to believe otherwise, right? If they belief their own worldview then even the very thoughts in our evolved ape-brains (which view cannibalism as taboo) are nothing but biochemical reactions which have no correspondence to the truth. Therefore the taboo - like the kosher - is simply the byproduct of a “chemical fizz”, right? So then why would throwing a T-bone steak from Betsy the cow onto the barbecue be any different from a flame-grilled Uncle Bob eye-fillet? Why is one called “taboo” and the other called “dinner”? You want the truth? The truth is that even those like Dawkins (Psalm 14:1) who deny the God they instinctively know exists by suppressing the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18), with every utterance of their lips betray the fact that (deep down) even they realize that they are image bearers of God, made in the image and likeness of our almighty Creator.
Ian M.
This reminds me of a movie called Soylent Green, in which Charlton Heston played a leading role. When he discovered that a popular food product contained recycled human flesh, he started a protest against it. His cry was, "Soylent Green s People." And I well remember the fearsome, spine tingling screams when the trucks harvesting the crowds in the over populated streets came to scoop up the unfortunate persons who could not escape. The people ran for cover and hid anywhere they could when anyone yelled, "The Scoups are coming, the Scoups are coming."
This Artificial Meat, if you can call it that, popularized by poorly thought out 'Green Ideas' based on bad or deceitful science could lead to compulsory Veganism.
Russel L.
I am completely appalled, this man Dawkins I feel should be recommended to a psychiatrist for a full evaluation. Cannibalism besides the fact of being immoral and anti-Christian it is anti humanity. Not to mention that there are a host of problems associated with eating human flesh even if it is so called clean. The human body does not have the digestive structure (enzymes, receptors and hormones) to digest it's own flesh. One major problem is the creation of the prion (an altered protein) that causes Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or CJD for short. This prion will consume brain and central nervous tissue making it look like a sponge under a microscope. This is called spongiform; this disease is fatal and has no known cure or treatment. It is the human form of "Mad Cow Disease". I believe the one who is MAD here is the person whom suggested this much less the idea. I will pray for our society as we have "top minds of the world" lost in the religion of atheism. May GOD bless and protect us all.

A shout out to the CMI team who have brought this idea to or attention. GOD blees you all and the Ministry.

R. Leclair
Niels B.
It is said that there is hardly any difference between a genius and a lunatic. I wonder how many will follow in Nietzsche's steps.

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