Monday Musings for June 11, 2018

Good morning, Musers,

William Wilberforce was a British statesman who worked for decades in the anti-slavery movement… but that compassion came from somewhere. It wasn’t until he converted to Christianity that he started working on social issues, and many commentators call him one of the most important Christian laymen of his era (1759-1833).

He also co-founded the SPCA (now the RSPCA) — the (Royal) Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. He felt that cruelty was unjust among all creatures, not just human creatures. So, Wilberforce and friends — as stewards of the earth — intervened for the beasts. Yet, they did this without making them citizens of England.

But today’s animal activists are a different breed. Some would be very happy to grant animals citizenship… although those people are on the edge of the movement (at this time, anyway). Such people want personhood for animals, making them “essentially equivalent” to people under the law. A more central position is that animals are “morally equivalent” to humans and that they should be entitled to significant rights under the law.

Such notions are anti-biblical, of course. We alone are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). This is why I am not afraid to call “human exceptionalism” an important part of the Christian worldview… even though this brings rebuttals from the other camp. They say we Christians are guilty of “speciesism” … and they mean it pejoratively… like “racism” or “sexism.”

But their assumption is that the differences between us and all other species are arbitrary — a matter of degrees, not of type — and that’s where they are wrong. The gaps between us and all other species are purposeful, not arbitrary. God made us — and only us — to be stewards of the earth. We care for the animals; it’s not the other way around.

Now… I am not saying that we do this perfectly. Indeed… we are sinners and we need to up our game! But we know our natures… and we know their natures… and they are not equal to us by type.

Please note that I’m not talking about biology here. Many of our co-creatures could eat us for breakfast! I’m talking about ontology — the essential self. Although many higher beasts are also “soulish” creatures (in that they are able to form relationships with us), it doesn’t mean that they are our equals. They have no spirits, and they have no immortal souls.

So, don’t be seduced by a statistic that says 98% of our DNA is the same as that of the Great Apes. We should expect that among species that share the same world and the same proteins. The difference is that we are the ones who communicate with God — and no other creature does this. That’s what exceptionalizes us.

To read the article referenced above, visit the link below.

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