The evidence supports the concept that humans are created in the image of God. Humans have a concept of self that we don’t see in other forms of life. Humans are creative in art and music. All human populations share the capacity to worship. Even though that worship sometimes takes bizarre forms, it still recognizes a spiritual nature. The ability to be taught to think and to reason is not something we see in other life forms. The idea of existence after this life is peculiar to humans. With these things in mind, we should not be treating animals as humans.
Instincts built into the DNA of animals direct their behavior. Even when humans raise monkeys to be human, they ultimately revert to instinctive drives that sometimes culminate in violence. Animal “songs” have survival catalysts communicating territory or securing mates. Human trainers have attempted to teach “art” to animals, resulting in anthropomorphic interpretations by those trainers.
People should not cause animals to suffer or subject them to conduct that violates their nature. The biblical admonition to humans was to take care of the creation, not to abuse it. (See Genesis 2:15.) Treating animals as humans with human values does violence to the animals, depriving them of their instinctive behaviors and putting them in unrealistic environments. It is also a huge waste of resources.
In 2011, PETA sued SeaWorld on behalf of five captured orcas they said were protected under the 13th Amendment, which bans slavery. In 2015, a judge ruled that an orangutan named Sandra had “legal personhood,” which resulted in Sandra being moved to special quarters. Recently, on October 15, 2021, a federal judge in Cincinnati ruled that the descendants of hippos smuggled into Colombia by drug kingpin Pablo Escobar are considered “legal persons” under United States law. According to CBS News India, Pakistan, and Argentina have granted legal rights to animals.
God designed life, and we should treat all animals with respect, allowing them to live in the habitat where they were designed to live. However, that doesn’t require treating animals as humans.
— John N. Clayton © 2021
References: Time magazine, November 8/15, 2021 page 18, and CBSnews.com.