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Humans are Not Animals

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

With the dilution of America’s Christian values has come an array of nonsensical, outlandish, and illogical beliefs. One example is seen in the way Americans have come to place an undue value on animals. Millions of dollars have been spent on causes that assign an inordinate value to animals—from dolphins, whales, and sea turtles, to birds, beavers, and spotted owls. Pet mega-supermarket chains have sprung up around the country. Pet dentists, pet nutritionists, pet sitters, and pet therapists offer their expensive services to people whose pets have become “part of the family.” All this attention to animals may seem harmless and enjoyable to many, but there are hidden dangers when we fail to harmonize our priorities with God’s priorities. It is certainly true that humans should see the proper created role for animals and not inflict cruelty and unnecessary harm upon them (Proverbs 12:10). Nevertheless, a return to the mind of God enables a person to have the proper perspective on animals and their relative importance, so as not to overemphasize that which God does not overemphasize. Having that proper perspective will enable a person to assess properly cultural trends and not be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14, ESV).

To see where the disconnect from Christian values will lead people, simply peruse the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Web site. Consider the following statements found at the site:1

Ethical treatment—the Golden Rule—must be extended to all living beings: reptiles, mammals, fish, insects, birds, amphibians, and crustaceans…. We must abandon the archaic and incorrect boundary of “human,” which we use to justify the ongoing massacre of billions of beings…. More than a century ago, Charles Darwin showed that all beings had the same common ancestor. All beings share the desire to live. We all feel pain, joy, grief, and pleasure. We all have worth…. Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way…. We work hard to deceive ourselves and each other in order to maintain the illusion of a real boundary around “human.” …We are all animals. Human beings have few, if any, unique capabilities—many beings can learn languages, enjoy complex social bonds, sacrifice pleasure for the good of others, use tools, imagine, and dream. Many beings remember information, play with friends, enjoy intimacy, gossip, and mourn their deceased. Some beings have enormous capabilities beyond our own—in navigation, endurance, communication, and detection of natural phenomena. We don’t yet fully understand how all beings think—or what they think—but dismissing their mental world as less developed, rational, moral, or intelligent than our own is clearly a mistake…. We share the same evolutionary origins, we inhabit the same Earth, and we are ruled by the same laws of nature. We are all the same.

These remarks contain so very many egregious errors. Consider the following comments on five.

First and foremost, observe that such misguided thinking constitutes an attack on the definition of what it means to be human. It completely obliterates the distinction laid down by the Creator Who “created all things, and by [whose] will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11). The chasm that exists between humans and animals is so deep and wide that for anyone to confuse the two suggests a reliance on emotion and extreme bias rather than logic and reason. After all, unlike animals, humans were created "in the image of God" (Genesis 1:27). Here are 10 attributes that help to clarify what it means to be “human”—attributes that animals cannot and never will possess:2

  1. Humans possess capability of speech that is unlike animals.
  2. Humans can write, improve their education, accumulate knowledge, and build on past achievements.
  3. Humans are creative and possess creative expression.
  4. Humans possess an intellectual capacity for thinking and reasoning that transcends animal intelligence.
  5. Humans have free-will capacity to make rational choices.
  6. Only humans have the ability to choose between right and wrong.
  7. Humans possess a conscience.
  8. Humans can experience heart-felt emotions and emotional experience.
  9. Humans alone possess a unique, inherent religious inclination, with a desire and ability to worship.
  10. Only humans bear the spiritual imprint of God due to the fact that they possess an immortal soul.

A great deal may be said about each of these attributes in contrast to the illusion that is sometimes created by animal sentience. Nevertheless, it can be shown that humans stand apart from animals in their inherent, inbuilt possession of these spiritual qualities.

Second, observe that the animal rights agenda is rooted in a Darwinian evolutionary worldview. If all creatures and plants are merely evolved species, then one is not “superior” to another—just different. Hence, a rose and a scorpion are as valuable and worthy of care as a human baby or a bull. This inane thinking is the direct result of buying into the thoroughly debunked theory of evolution and dismissing the abundant evidence in the created order of a supernatural Creator Who has revealed Himself to humans via nature and His written Word in the Bible.3 Once a person rejects the Christian worldview, animism becomes believable and there is no end to the outlandish, illogical conclusions that will be championed.4 But the evidence is available that decisively proves the reality of the God of the Bible, and the authenticity of His communication to mankind via the Bible.5 Such being the case, no animal on Earth—be it reptile, mammal (except humans), fish, insect, bird, amphibian, or crustacean—is as valuable as human beings. Speaking to half-way sensible individuals who could follow the logic, Jesus asked: “Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?" (Matthew 12:12). Those who have been duped by the animal rights philosophy would have been completely unconvinced by Jesus’ rationale. But those who live in an agriculturally-based society easily comprehend the sense of Jesus’ logic. Animal rights advocates have been treated to such overwhelming prosperity, convenience, and easy access to food and clothes that they have hypocritically dismissed their opponents while simultaneously partaking of the results of their opponents’ provisions.

Third, animals were given by God for food and other uses. If the Bible is of supernatural origin (and it may be proven to be such), then the Bible’s depiction of the purpose of animals is true. The Bible plainly indicates the interrelationship between humans and animals when it states concerning humans: “[L]et them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26). God instructed humans to “fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28). The Hebrew term for “dominion” (rah-dah) means to rule over.6 The word for “subdue” (kah-vash) means to bring into submission by force.7 The psalmist echoed these very directives when he praised God by saying, “You [God] have made him [man] to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:6-8). God stressed human domination in even stronger terms after the Flood: “[T]he fear of you [humans] and the dread of you shall be on every beast of the earth, on every bird of the air, on all that moves on the earth, and on all the fish of the sea. They are given into your hand. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. I have given you all things, even as the green herbs” (Genesis 9:2-3). The only restriction that God placed on the consumption of animal meat was that the blood was to be drained from the animal before it was eaten (Genesis 9:4; cf. Leviticus 17:10-14; Deuteronomy 12:16,23-24; 1 Samuel 14:32-34; Acts 15:20). Animals can also be used for clothing (Genesis 3:21). If the Bible is, in fact, the inspired Word of God, then animals are not humans.

Fourth, in those characteristics where animals are superior to humans, the reason is not due to evolution, nor does such superiority imply a sharing of what it means to be human. Rather, the Creator invested all His creatures with separate capabilities and skills to equip them to function as they were designed to function. Eagles have sharper eyesight than humans due to the fact that they were designed to be able to see their necessary prey from lofty heights. But they are not human and will not evolve into humans.

Fifth, it is telling that the PETA quotation admits that both humans and animals “are ruled by the same laws of nature.” Where do such laws come from? Did they evolve from rocks and dirt? The admission that firm laws of nature exist is a concession that a lawmaker must exist. The evolutionary viewpoint cannot consistently or adequately explain this fact. Fixed laws in the Universe and on Earth shout the reality of the God of the Bible (cf. Psalm 19:1ff.; Acts 14:17). That Creator made animals and humans, but He created them very differently. Only humans are made in His image and will stand before Him in judgment and give account for their behavior. Animals will not.

A further irony is the disingenuous call for the application of the “Golden Rule” to animals. The “Golden Rule” is a direct reference to a directive made by Jesus Christ. One can be certain that Jesus did not have animals in mind when He declared: “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). The fact is that, at its center, PETA pits itself against Christianity and the God of the Bible.

COnclusion

Before the animal rights folks lecture humans about their alleged inhumane treatment of animals, they would do well to spend their time addressing animal “mistreatment” of other animals. That, too, would be a vain, superfluous, and absurd pursuit, since the food chain was created by God. However, at least they would stop wasting the time, money, and efforts of those who provide humanity with food, medicine, clothing, and other benefits that relieve suffering and sickness, and make human life more livable.

EndnoteS

1 PETA (2019), “What PETA REALLY Stands For,” https://www.peta.org/features/what-peta-really-stands-for/, italics in orig.

2 Taken from the following article which contains the research and facts that show the unbridgeable gap between humans and animals: Eric Lyons, et al. (2002), “In the ‘Image and Likeness of God’ [Part II],”              Reason & Revelation, 22[4]:25-31, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=528.

3 Indeed, the PETA claim that “Charles Darwin showed that all beings had the same common ancestor” is completely false. Darwin proved no such thing. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that humans did not evolve from a non-human ancestor. See, for example, Jeff Miller (2014), “God and the Laws of Science: Genetics vs. Evolution [Part I&II],” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=4779&topic=281.

4 For example, Hinduism, Buddhism, and all other forms of paganism.

5 See ApologeticsPress.org for extensive evidence.

6 (Harris, et al., 1980, 2:833; Gesenius, 1847, p. 758)

7 (Harris, 1:430)





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