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How Hunting Affects Man's Relation To Nature

By Tom Grafton
Hunting may appear an odd thing to develop a theory of, at least at first. Our ancestors have been hunting for hundreds of thousands of years without any need for a theory of it. Yet in recent times, a group known largely as Social Progressives have come to the dubious conclusion that since Science has disproved all the traditional faith based moralities, it is necessary to re-examine moral issues in the light of recent scientific discoveries. Since these progressives seem to worm their way into positions of power (power, mind you, not responsibility) their doctrines are having an increasingly detrimental effect upon our society.

In the hunting debate, there are three contrasting moral theories that could be put to work.

1. Traditional Judeo-Christian

2. Physicalist / Materialist / Evolutionary

3. Pagan

The nature of the reality of the Universe is portrayed in the first theory. Having specific beliefs about God is required in this one. It is largely enshrined in the Bible, with Protestant leanings.

The second denies certain non-scientific truths which are essential to understanding life and morality, none the less, it is rational and truth based.

On this article, the basis where many Social Progressives actually operate under is discussed. The word Pagan is used in a technical sense, meaning a body of non-Abrahamic religious thought, and is not meant to insult anyone.

Judeo – Christian

God created nature and animals by the spoken word, but he created mankind in his likeness to rule over them. Because of this that killing an animal is not a moral issue, as compared to killing a human. No number of animal deaths ever amount to the equivalent of one human death. The Christian view is that mankind is lord of creation, and has a duty to act responsibly towards nature but that nature itself does not have any moral rights.

Physicalist / Materialist / Evolutionary

This is the position of the true Atheist. It acknowledges the existence of nothing that cannot be observed, quantified and measured. In Thomas Hobbes’ Social Contract Theory (Leviathan), the natural state of mankind was one of every person for themselves, and a constant state of war of all against all. To avert the constant strife, people form a social contract of mutual cooperation, and society develops. However, while it is quite strong on matters such as property rights, and murder, it is weaker on animal rights. It has no bearing on parties who are not a signatory to it. That is to say, one might suggest animals such as horses have entered into a social contract with humans to give labour for food and shelter. But wild animals do not come within its bounds. Any attempt to suggest that mankind is living in harmony with nature is simply not tenable in the light of evolution and in the absence of any supra-natural theory of morality.


A quoted phrase of Aldo Leopold – ‘Man living in harmony with Nature’. Living in harmony with nature sounds very benign, but it hiders a sinister reality. To live in harmony with nature means allotting moral rights to nature. That means you believe there is some number of animals, or trees, or members of the biotic community, which does equal a human life. It means one day you will let humans die to save nature for nature’s sake. It also means you are beginning to attribute to Nature some of the qualities of a pagan deity. You are seeing the whole as greater than the sum of the parts. You are making Nature a moral Person with rights. Just remember – many of the old pagan religions that believed in the spirit of nature ending up making human sacrifices to it. This is not an idle accusation. It is a prediction of what happens when you assign a personality to nature.


This is the history of mankind and nature runs this way. Our ancestors died of starvation, disease, and predation. Before the twentieth century, birth control did not exist. And then we either get eaten by a predator higher up the food chain than us, or until we exhaust the food supply and begin to starve. And with starvation and overpopulation comes disease. Then at some time in our past, we began to think. And our brain has allowed us to firstly begin to hunt more effectively, so that food became more readily available to us. Then we discovered fire, and developed better hunting weapons, until we could (en-masse) defeat any other predator, and we became the apex predator. Further on, we began to form relationships with animals like the dog and the horse that enabled us to harness their labour in both hunting and agriculture – and starvation was pushed further back. Then we began to domesticate animals such as sheep, goats, chicken and cattle, so we no longer had to hunt, but could increase the food output of the land. At some point, we discovered agriculture, and began to form nature around us so that food became more plentiful. In the nineteenth century we began our war on disease in earnest and it continues to this day. And finally in the twentieth century, we gained the ability to limit our own productivity so that we could stabilise our population at a sustainable level without the death of our off-spring. This development shows that there is no harmony between man and nature. We have now achieved everything our ancestors could have dreamed of. Nature is defeated. What remains is for us to dictate the terms of the peace.


We have won over nature but it took us a hundred thousand years. But victory is still vague because we are perhaps only the second generation to fear dying of bodily failure (old age), as opposed to crass disease, starvation or predation.

Hunting has been the mainstay of our defence against predation, and second to agriculture as our defence against starvation for most of the history of humanity. It seems premature to give it up just yet. And even if the victory were complete, the desire to hunt will exist in us long afterwards. We are psychologically conditioned to seek out the threat and meet it.

There are two reasons for a man to be able to hunt – to provide meat to eat, and protection against predators. Historically in many societies a man had to prove his worth as a hunter before he was eligible to be called a man and take a wife. Man wants to face down an apex predator like a lion or a bear, and place his mark and say that he is the top of the food chain.

About the Author:

Want to know more about hunting and social issues? Why not try David Greentree’s new book, ‘Tom Grafton Vs The Environmentalists’.