“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our
likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds
of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the
creatures that move along the ground.’” –
As I type these words there are three formerly homeless
kittens sleeping on my safely enclosed porch. They are there
because my wife plucked them from the trees of an orchard we pass on
our evening walks, apparently abandoned by some moron lacking the
sense of mercy God gave a badger.
But I digress. Living in a rural area some view as a
dumping ground for old sofas and unwanted animals, I get more than a
little irked at such cold-blooded indifference. It’s not an
everyday occurrence, but there are times when I wouldn’t mind seeing
these clowns stripped of their wallets and plunked in the middle of
nowhere to fend for themselves awhile.
My point is that the kittens are free to a good home.
Wait, no, that’s my fondest desire. My point is that humans have a
God-given obligation to the humane treatment of animals. Cruelty is
a far cry from Biblical responsibility.
As is the notion that animals have rights, which does not sit well
with everyone. Speaking at an animal rights conference in July,
Princeton bioethics professor Peter Singer
told an audience, “One of
the things that causes a problem for the animal movement is the
strong strain of fundamentalist Christianity that makes a huge gulf
between humans and animals, saying humans have souls but animals do
This generated a smattering of news stories but is
hardly Singer’s most controversial belief. In his book “Practical
he wrote that “the life
of a newborn baby is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or
a chimpanzee.” He holds a similar view of the elderly and disdains
the suggestion that human life is sacred. Singer is an advocate of
euthanasia for infants with disabilities ranging from hemophilia to
Ideas like the moral equivalency of animals and humans,
and animal rights as a substitute for human accountability, are
examples of what can happen when we try to invent our own morality.
For another, Steven M. Wise, a lawyer and Harvard School of Law
lecturer, claims “I
don't see a difference between a chimpanzee and my
4 1/2-year-old son.” Yes, mine could be like that too, but Wise is
speaking in a legal sense. A leading advocate of “personhood” for
some animals, he has long crusaded for granting animals the right to
sue and has focused his law practice on suits on their behalf.
I can’t help wondering if this is a ploy to drum up
clients for lawyers, but Wise seems serious. So far he has
identified chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans, bonobos, Atlantic
bottlenose dolphins, African gray parrots, African elephants, dogs,
and honeybees as species deserving legal rights. Wise has said that
if a chicken has more “appreciation for life” than a human embryo,
the chicken merits greater legal rights.
Woe to Colonel Sanders if chickens are allowed to sue
for reparations; woe to us all if that right is granted to bees and
Ethicists and activists continually debate the standard
for giving various species rights, quibbling over traits like
language, memory, ability to imitate, DNA, and “sense of self” and
“practical autonomy,” whatever they are. Rarely discussed is the
soul, except in derision.
I suspect this is because the reality of the soul
suggests the existence of morality and truths that are not of our
making. Darned inconvenient, that. It might require a little more
responsibility, and a lot less legal fees.
Information on the animal
(From the other side)