Barking Up The Wrong Tree

I read a very interesting article today. Here is the link:

What is the issue? Simple. Steven Wise, lawyer and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project, wants to “free” Tommy, a chimpanzee that currently is owned by Patrick and Diane Lavery in the state of New York. Tommy currently lives in a 6m x 20m cage. Steven Wise sees this as a moral wrong. He says, “We think that we’re looking at an egregious moral wrong, and that ought to be a legal wrong as well, and these animals should not be able to live in this way,” said Wise. “It’s a terrible thing. It’s like putting a human being in solitary confinement for its entire life.” He also says, “We think that the idea of autonomy and self-determination is so powerful and so deeply embedded into our law that it should be supreme. All we’re saying now is that human beings are not the only autonomous, self-determining beings around. So is Tommy, and he should be treated as if he were an autonomous being as well,”

But what is the real issue going on and how should Christians think about this? Should an article like really matter?

On the surface, this may seem like just another animal rights case, where animals should not be chimpanzee-sanctuary-kentuckytreated harsh or tortured. But that is NOT what is going on here. Steven Wise is trying to get the New York Supreme Court to decide that Tommy, the chimpanzee, is a person. Not human, but a person that is entitled to certain rights that humans are suppose to have. This is what should be a red flag in the eyes of Christians.

When we read the first chapters of Genesis, where God tells us how He created the world, and how He ordered His creation, we see a worldview clash with that of Steven Wise.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:27-28

According to God, who made everything that exists, animals are not people, nor were people ever animals. God made man and woman in His image. Animals were not made in His image. So, the gap between people and animals is vast, unlike what Wise is promoting. Animals cannot be people, for that would seek to change the order of creation that God established from the beginning.

In this evolutionary driven society, where humans are seen as nothing more than the result of unguided natural processes, it should not shock us that cases like this are happening. As we move to more and more to a secular worldview, topics like this are probably going to occur more often than in the past when before most people operated their thinking and morals from a Judea-Christian mind-set.

But, there are other problems with this story.

First, listen to Steven Wise’s argument. There is a major flaw in his reasoning. He says what is happening to Tommy is “an egregious moral wrong, and that ought to be a legal wrong as well, and these animals should not be able to live in this way,” The questions I ask are this: What moral wrong are we violating? Whose moral wrong are we breaking by keeping a chimpanzee in a 6m by 20m cage? Who decided that this is a moral wrong? In other words, where does Steven Wise get his idea that this is a moral wrong? If this is a moral wrong, then there should be a moral giver, the one who gives all moral wrongs and rights.

What is my point? Simple. Arguing that Tommy, and indirectly all chimpanzees, should be considered as persons is based upon an evolutionary premise, but saying that something is morally right or wrong is an argument for the existence of a Creator. He is trying to convince a court to rule in his favor by using evolutionary thinking (giving personal rights to a monkey) while at the same time using a moral argument that is completely contrary to his evolutionary premise.

But there is something much bigger going on here. And this is what Christians need to see. If the New York Supreme Court decides in favor of Mr. Wise, then it will say much more than Tommy needs a better place to live. It would be saying that chimpanzees, and indirectly all animals are persons, and entitled to rights as persons. It would do what evolutionists have been trying to do since Darwin published his “The Origin of Species” in 1859. It would try to put animals and humans on the same level, or at least close enough that there is relatively few differences. This is where Christians need to make sure they are grounded on Scripture and not swayed by feeling sorry for Tommy. Now, I am not against moving Tommy if he is not be cared for like he should. But, let be very clear on one thing: animal rights are not even near important as human rights, and this takes me to my last point.

“they exchanged the truth about God for  a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” – Romans 1:25 (ESV)

Here we see thousands of dollars spent on lawyers, judges, advertising, media, etc. fighting for the rights of animals while every day humans are being killed in the wombs of mothers. If the New York Supreme Court decides in favor of Mr. Wise, what they will be declaring is that chimpanzees have more rights than the unborn. Tommy will be considered more of a “person” that the one in the womb of a mother. And this my friends is a real tragedy, and Christians need to see this before they get sucked into the lie that animals are persons.

I quoted Wise above as saying, “We think that the idea of autonomy and self-determination is so powerful and so deeply embedded into our law that it should be supreme.” Well, Mr. Wise, you may think this is true for chimpanzees, but the truth is, is that our law will not even stand up for the rights of the unborn. They die daily by the thousands and any would probably rather exchange the 6m x 20m cage that Tommy has for a chance to live at all.

Animals are part of God’s creation, but only humans are created in the image of God and should be protected as persons. There is an order in God’s creation, and it is not meant to be changed, regardless of how much we love the look our dog gives us when we pet it.

The title of the article is: “Is a chimpanzee a ‘person’? A lawsuit could hold the answer”

Regardless of what the New York State Supreme Court decides, it cannot redefine Scripture. God has already answered the question. The problem is that some do not like the answer. But since when can the creation say to the Creator what is right and wrong?

16  You turn things upside down!
Shall the potter be regarded as the clay,
that the thing made should say of its maker,
“He did not make me”;
or the thing formed say of him who formed it,
“He has no understanding”?
Isaiah 29:16 (ESV)


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