Surrogate Suffering: Paradigms of Sin, Salvation, and Sacrifice Within the Vivisection Movement

Antonia Gorman

in Ecospirit

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780823227457
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236626 | DOI:

Series: Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquia

Surrogate Suffering: Paradigms of Sin, Salvation, and Sacrifice               Within the Vivisection Movement

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This chapter draws attention to the presence of a particular, secularized formulation of the atonement model within vivisection in the hope that through recognition we may dislodge this model's psychic hold upon, and undergirding support for, the Western anthropocentric imagination. Arguments for the subjectivity and inherent value of nonhuman animals, while providing essential ground upon which to cultivate an ethos of animal care and protection, nevertheless are insufficient when faced with the power and predominance of the sacrificial paradigm that permeates not only the practice of vivisection but so many anthropocentric interactions with the nonhuman world. In light of this, it is suggested that an alternative theological understanding and praxiological application of “salvation” is needed—one that does not call for the continuing crucifixion of the nonhuman world in an always elusive quest for ever-retreating human fulfillment, but instead seeks mutual well-being and fullness of life for the entire panoply of God's creation. Many of the ingredients needed for this task are present already within the discussions that led up to the vivisection debate. The chapter proposes an experiment in ecotheological reconstruction: by critically combining some of these ingredients with insights from feminist and relational theology and from another great biblical story of salvation—the story of Job—we may open up vistas compelling enough to refocus the Western gaze away from the logic of substitutionary sacrifice and toward a soteriological space where all God's creatures are welcome.

Keywords: sin; suffering; ecological theology; atonement model; vivisection; Job

Chapter.  7043 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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