ness, and by which. horses are treated as mere machines, to be worked to their utmost capacity at the smallest expense, and neat cattle as so much butcher's meat to be brought to market in the quickest and cheapest manner.
Erasmus Darwin, in his Phytologia, or the Philosophy of Agriculture and Gardening (London, 1800), endeavors to vindicate the goodness of God in permitting the destruction of the lower by the higher animals on the ground that "more pleasurable sensation exists in the world, as the organic matter is taken from a state of less irritability and less sensibility and converted into a greater." By this arrangement, he thinks, the supreme sum of possible happiness is secured to sentient beings. Thus it may be disagreeable for the mouse to be caught and converted into the flesh of the cat, for the lamb to be devoured by the wolf, for the toad to be swallowed by the serpent, and for sheep, swine, and kine to be served up as roasts and ragouts for man; but in all such cases, he argues, the pain inflicted is far less than the amount of pleasure ultimately procured. But how is it when a finely organized human being, with infinite capabilities of happiness in its highest forms, is suddenly transmuted into the bodily substance of a boa constrictor or a tiger? No one will seriously assert that the drosera, Dionæa iniuscipula, and other insectivorous and carnivorous plants are organisms superior in sensitiveness to those which they devour, or that this transformation of animal into vegetable structure increases the sum of pleasurable sensation in the world. The doctrine of evolution, which regards these antagonisms as mere episodes in the universal struggle for existence, has forever set aside this sort of theodicy and put an end to all teleological attempts to infer from the nature and operations of creation the moral character of the Creator.