Was it sinful to kill an insect this way?

It sounds silly but, as you may know, killing animals/insectsmaking them suffer is a sin. The thing is that I slammed a flyish insect (IDK what it was) and I was gonna flush the corped down the toilet. In the way to the toilet, I saw it moved and I flush down the toilet anyway, probably making it drawn. Was it a sin since drawning is a painful death or am I being WAY WAY WAY too scrupulous?

I’ve flushed many spiders, some of them surely alive, down the toilet and drains without thinking twice about it. :shrug:

tiagolc, it was an accident. You thought he/she was dead. Don’t worry. And I don’t believe that you are being too scrupulous at all. If killing insects upsets you, as it does some of us, I suggest gently trapping them instead and releasing them back to the outside.

:hmmm: It depends on the insect. If the pest in question was a cockroach, spider, or, dear Lord, a mosquito, then you shouldn’t hesitate to kill it. Butterflies, praying mantises, and crickets can be afforded more mercy.

Neither I nor anybody else really knows what consciousness is, but whatever it is, I doubt that insects are conscious. I will amend that by saying that it might be the case that an insect (actually an arachnid or arthropod) as big as a full grown tarantula is conscious in the way that a fish or a mouse is, but I doubt that ordinary ants, bees, flies or beetles are conscious. I think they are probably more like little robots and thus do not suffer.

I don’t know where the cutoff is, but I think probably somewhere between mice and insects. Little fish? Small frogs? I don’t know, but I doubt those tiny insect-sized tree frogs have much in the way of consciousness.

Is it a sin to destroy something without consciousness, like a flower or a tree? Again, I don’t know, but if you destroy a lot of them, like say, set a forest on fire, that’s probably a sin. Almost certainly killing lots of little animals in the fire is a sin.

I don’t think killing loads of bacteria is a sin, even if you kill all of the many tons of bacteria in a waste water treatment plant. The only sin there is if you’ve committed an act of vandalism and deprived people of their waste water treatment. The bacteria (and the amoebas, water bears, algae, etc.) however, do not count. The only way a bacteria could be important is if it were the last of its kind, or if it were genetically engineered to produce something of value and you were depriving somebody of his or her property, or the world of a cure for some dread disease.

All in all, I think this is a somewhat murky area, but I think you are on the safe side if all you did was flush an injured insect down the toilet.

In conclusion, it is most certainly a sin to torture a big smart “advanced” animal like a dog or a cat*, but it is not a sin to injure or destroy an insect unless it is a very big “smart” one.

Is there a cutoff range? Yes, I think so, but I am not sure where it is. I think you are bordering on sin if you delight in hurting dragon flies or praying mantises. If you are lasering mosquitoes and taking delight in how well your laser works as a pest-removal tool (and how it ignores butterflies and so on), I don’t think that is sinful, even though you are burning them down in flight: New Laser Zaps Mosquitoes in SlowMotion - video

Could I be wrong? Yes, but that is my take on it.

*dogs, cats, pigs, monkeys, horses, etc. have their own little worlds inside their heads. They aren’t worlds like ours, but they are worlds nonetheless. And the animals probably star in them in much the same way that we star in ours, up to and including experiencing serious suffering if badly injured.

What is your logic behind these distinctions?

Killing insects is NOT a sin. When I see mosquitos, spiders, ants, cockroaches, for example, I wish crush them with my foot, flush them down the toilet, or squish them with my hands. None of that is sinful. I don’t know where you got such an idea.

Where in Church doctrine, teaching or tradition does it say that killing insects is acceptable? Considering how little we know about insects, why not err on the side of caution, and not kill them? Unless an insect is an immediate danger to your life or the lives of your family or your pets, what exactly is the point of killing them? They are living creatures with souls. Should we not be showing such lives more consideration? What about in the case of a person who lasers mosquitoes just for the sake of killing them? We don’t know how strong the life force is in these creatures. We don’t know the full extent of their consciousness. Maybe it’s time for us to stop being so anthropocentric.

Based on the current science, I would say that your parameters for the killing of insects are totally arbitrary. Bees show the signs of being able to count. Fruit flies cogitate before making difficult decisions. Damselflies can memorize and navigate complex mazes. Insect behavior is more than just robotic, pheromone-directed activity: it involves learning.

The general consensus among scientists is that many animals, including birds and octopi, do indeed possess consciousness.

Arson is a sin, regardless of whether animals or plants were killed. (I am not talking about backfires or controlled burns)

Unless there was a greater good, vandalism is also a sin.

The size of the creature has zero bearing on its intelligence, so I would be careful using size as your yardstick for killing.

Disagree. If you delight in lasering mosquitoes, there is something wrong with you mentally and ethically.

I was a very little flying insect.IDK what it was but I just felt thretened because I imagined it crawling on my at night :o. So slammed it with the intention of killing it and then I gently grabbed it with a paper and flush it down. I saw it moving in the way, maybe I could have slammed it again to end the suffering but I didn’t think of that. Sin or not?

The Taliban killed 130 children. The USA has “normalized” relations with Cuba.

And on Catholic.com, people are debating the morality of killing an insect.

Folks, these posts give Catholics a bad name: someone lurking would think “these Catholics are sin-obsessed crazies.” Worse, sometimes the stereotype exists for a reason.

OP is being way, way over-scrupulous, and the rest shouldn’t feed into it.


Not a sin. Not even close to a sin

It is absolutely NOT a sin to kill insects and particularly insects which pose dangers to human life should be eliminated from the face of the earth. There is no moral issue here and no need to err on the side of caution.
I think the priest would laugh in Confession if you confessed to killing a mosquito!
I will continue to kill such insects and never lose any sleep over it.
Your way of thinking is Buddhist.

:smiley: He would indeed laugh. That’s something I discovered lately, if you are scrupling, just imagine telling it to a priest. If he would laugh it’s probably not a sin.

:pshaw: I know how zealous you are when defending the dignity of animals. We have debated this in a now deleted thread.

:nunchuk:Behold my debating abilities!
:nunchuk:Brain powers, activate!

Mosquitoes, cockroaches, and certain spiders (the black widow, for example) harbor lethal diseases. If you visited humid countries like the Philippines, where mosquitoes are rampart and kill people via dengue fever, then your worldview will be altered.

Look at Hawaii. They have a pig infestation. These imported animals multiplied and are now threatening the livelihood of farmers. Since God values us more than pigs, we should be able to protect our livelihoods without fearing God’s wrath. Get the rifle, John!!

Time travel into **Europe **during the 14th century. Half of it was exterminated by the black plague, which was distributed by rats. See the horrors, the pain of a mother’s face when she buries the lifeless corpses of her children, then your worldview will be altered.

There is a particularly horrible rat infestation in New York City. Read the article linked below, and your worldview will be altered.
Rats in New York have been known to overrun restaurants after hours, crawl up sewer pipes and enter apartments through toilets. They have also attacked homeless people, eaten cadavers in the city morgue, and bitten infants to get food off their faces, according to author Robert Sullivan.


God cares about us human beings infinitely more than all other animals on Earth. Here, I’ll link you to **Catholic **sources which contradict your current worldview.

Last paragraph: While Catholic ethical doctrine insists upon the merciful treatment of animals, it does not place kindness towards them on the same plane of duty as benevolence towards our fellow-men. Nor does it approve of unduly magnifying, to the neglect of higher duties, our obligations concerning animals. Excessive fondness for them is no sure index of moral worth; it may be carried to un-Christian excess; and it can coexist with grave laxity in far more important matters. There are many imitators of Schopenhauer, who loved his dog and hated his kind.

Respect for the integrity of creation
*2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due **only *to persons.

The world in **bold ** applies to your particular worldview.
The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” applies **only **to humans, not animals.

:confused: Are you convinced? :confused:

OKAY, tiagolc. If you knew this, why did you bother posting? My guess is that you just wanted an opportunity to throw stones at people like me. You should be ashamed of yourself! And THAT you SHOULD confess! Pissed. :mad:

Your opinion, and your opinion only. And I couldn’t help but notice that you answered none of my questions. Again: what is the point of killing insects if they are not putting you in danger?

If any priest laughed at me in Confession for this, his bishop would be reading my request for his reprimand the next day. There is no need to laugh at someone for confessing something they have done which they feel to be lacking in morality.

Today an insect. Perhaps tomorrow, killing an insect, or a multitude of insects, will be insufficient for you to attain an emotional climax. What will you do then? Move on to a sparrow?

Thank you! Best compliment I’ve had all day! :thankyou: Just because something IS in Buddhist teaching does not make it incorrect. Based upon what I’ve read here at CAF, I can safely say that Buddhists have more of a respect for all life forms than most Catholics. A very sad commentary indeed.

:rotfl: along with the Bishop.

“Are animals ours to eat?” was the thread. I keep a record of every debate, just for cases like this.

You are not reading my posts, for whatever reason. I clearly posted:

Unless an insect is an immediate danger to your life or the lives of your family or your pets, what exactly is the point of killing them?

Already knew this. I presume that by “worldview”, you mean one’s total ethical philosophy. Unless you have been given the grace to discern hearts, you have no idea of what my total philosophy encompasses. For the record, my ethics concerning animals is but one part of my total ethical philosophy. My ethics concerning animals is not altered by this information.

God values us, not our “livelihoods”. Big difference. Tell Johnny boy to ditch the rifle.

Already knew this.

Yes, yes, yes! I see it now! My worldview is altered! NOT! :rolleyes:

Already knew this. My ethics concerning animals is not altered.

I have no argument with this statement.

As I mentioned earlier, you do not know my entire ethical philosophy. So get that straight. And whether you like it or not, I’m still a Catholic.

This link shows me everything that is wrong with the Church’s teaching and traditions about animals. Just their use of the idiotic phrase “brute creature” is repulsive. This selection fails to address any current scientific evidence on animal intelligence, communication, social behavior and consciousness. It is abundantly clear that it was written by a person (or persons) who lacks such knowledge, who dislikes animals intensely, and who has an agenda to spread his own “worldview” instead of that of Christ. The author subscribes to the antiquated view of Aquinas that harming an animal needlessly was not wrong in and of itself: it was only wrong if it led to harm against people. I seriously doubt if Christ would agree to this nonsense. This article even denies that legal rights should be given to animals, and yet, states:

But it is indisputable that, when properly understood and fairly judged, Catholic doctrine–though it does not concede rights to the brute creation–denounces cruelty to animals as vigorously and as logically as do those moralists who make our duty in this respect the correlative of a right in the animals.

The Church DOES NOT “vigorously” denounce cruelty to animals. It gives a limp “don’t do that” in the CCC while approving such things as fur coats and animal experimentation. Vivisection, for example, is acceptable based on the writings of guys such as Zigliara and Manning, whose position it is that if it’s done for man, it’s okay. These are people that lived almost 200 years ago, before basic knowledge about animal intelligence, feeling and consciousness. Yet, the Church still hangs on their every word. Nowhere does the Church give its disapproval of animal “entertainment” venues which incorporate cruelty: in fact, one—and probably many other—Catholic parish in Wisconsin officially sponsors an annual “pig rassle” where pigs are chased, frightened, injured and eventually slaughtered. This year, the Bishop of Green Bay ignored all protests and requests to stop this abomination. Even a request from a Catholic animal advocacy group was ignored. So much for the Church and her so-called denunciations…

That last paragraph on the page is laughable. The Church frowns when anyone says that Hitler is in hell, yet this writer has the nerve to accuse Schopenhauer of “grave [moral] laxity”. How much “fondness” is considered “excessive”? That the Church considers animal cruelty issues on a lesser plane of importance than poking its head into the bedrooms of gay people is hilarious! And, at the same time, really, really, really sad. Talk about contradictions!

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