Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Animal Rights: Some Quotations and Resources

For Christmas I received Wesley Smith's book A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement (New York: Encounter, 2010).  

Having recently taught on the doctrine of creation and humanity as created in the image of God I pulled a number of quotations from Smith's book to share with my class.  The study of systematic theology is not an abstraction.  Rather, there are very real and concrete ideas and actions that flow from our understanding of God and humanity.  Here is the list of quotations I shared with my class today:

1.     “…the term ‘animal rights’ actually denotes a belief system, an ideology, even a quasi religion, which both implicitly and explicitly seeks to create a moral equivalence between the value of human lives and those of animals.” (p. 3)

2.     Ingrid Newkirk (the head of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA) in 1986: “A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.  They are all mammals.” (p. 3)

3.     Alex Pacheco (cofounder with Newkirk of PETA): “The time will come when we will look upon the murder of animals as we now look on the murder of men.” (p. 36)

4.     Peter Singer in his 1976 book Animal Liberation speaks of “speciesism” as: “a prejudice or attitude of bias in favor of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species.” (p. 19)

5.     “To avoid speciesism we must allow that beings who are similar in all relevant respects have a similar right to life—and mere membership in our own biological species cannot be a morally relevant criterion for this right…. We may legitimately hold that there are some features of certain beings that make their lives more valuable than those of other beings; but there will surely be some nonhuman animals, whose lives, by any standards, are more valuable than the lives of some humans.  A chimpanzee, dog, or pig, for instance, will have a higher degree of self-awareness and a greater capacity for meaningful relations with others than a severely retarded infant or someone in a state of senility.  So, if we base the right to life on these characteristics we must grant these animals a right to life as good as, or better than, such retarded or senile human beings.”  Peter Singer (p. 27)

6.     R. G. Frey (bioethicist at Bowling Green University):

“I know of nothing that cedes human life of any quality, however low, greater value than animal life of any quality, however high.  If, therefore, we are going to justify medical/scientific uses of animals by appeal to the value of their lives, we open up directly the possibility of our having to envisage the use of humans of lower quality of life in preference to animals of higher quality of life.” (p. 29)

“If ... not all human life has the same value, then the possibility arises that the quality of life of a perfectly healthy baboon can exceed that of a human.  So, if one is going to appeal to human benefit to justify animal research, and if the benefit in this case can be realized either through experimenting on the baboon or the human, then why use the baboon in preference to the human?  A quality-of-life view of the value of a life gives a consistent answer over taking a life and saving a life; so, if either the baboon or the human has to be used in order to realize the benefit, the human must, all other things being equal, be used.  Clearly, my view on the value of life is not speciesist.” (p. 30)

7.     “[I]n 1991, David Larson, the co-director of the Center for Christian Ethics at Loma Linda University, suggested taking the hearts of disabled children to keep monkeys alive.  Asked about the ethics of the Baby Fae case, the first human to receive a heart transplant from a baboon, Larson replied, ‘If a primate’s capability was higher than that of the human—say a severely mentally handicapped child—I think it would be appropriate to support the opposite approach of a Baby Fae, a transplant from a child to save the life of a healthy baboon or chimpanzee.’”  (p. 30)

8.     Animals bringing lawsuits?  Don’t laugh.  Granting animals the right to sue—known as ‘legal standing’—is a major long-term goal of the animal rights movement.  (Of course, it would be the liberationists who would bring the cases on behalf of the oblivious animals as their ‘guardians.’)  Moreover, there is a dedicated cadre of lawyers and law students eagerly working toward achieving this and other legal goals of animal rights through the courts.  (At last count there were nearly a hundred law schools offering animal law classes or programs, often at the behest of animal rights groups such as the Animal Legal Defense Fund.)”

“And the first steps toward obtaining legal standing for animals have already been taken.  As you read these words, activists are crafting the intellectual hooks—articles in professional journals and sample legal briefs complete with bounteous citations—upon which future judges or legislatures could hang their policy hats in granting legal standing to animals.”  (p. 66)

* See the following articles that discuss a recent attempt to grant chimpanzees personhood rights: 

1.     “Animal-Rights Group Sues to Secure Freedom for Chimps” (December 3, 2013) http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24687-animalrights-group-sues-to-secure-freedom-for-chimps.html#.UsuCryj_Tao

2.     “Will Chimps Soon Have Human Rights?” (December 4, 2013) http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2013/dec/03/chimpanzees-human-rights-us-lawyer
9.     “Bringing animals, and perhaps even plants, into the moral community with human beings would break the spine of Judeo-Christian ethics, which hang on the belief that all humans are entitled to equal moral worth regardless of individual capacities, age, or state of health—that all have ‘intrinsic human dignity.’”  (p. 246)

Here a few links to material about the Bible and animals:

1.     “Animal Rights and the Bible” http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVarticles/AnimalRightsandtheBible.htm

2.     “The Bible Speaks on Animal Rights” http://www.fbbc.com/messages/kohl_political_science_animalrights.htm

3.     “The Bible and the Ethical Treatment of Animals” http://www.gospelway.com/religiousgroups/animal_liberation.php

A few items I've written that are related:

1.     “’After-birth Abortion’: Political Correct Infanticide” http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2012/02/after-birth-abortion-political-correct.html

2.     “Evolution and Infanticide—The Deep Connection” http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2012/03/evolution-and-infanticide-deep.html

3.     “Habakkuk and God’s Concern for the Environment” http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2011/11/habakkuk-and-gods-concern-for.html

4.     “Francis Schaeffer on Humanity as Fellow-Creature” http://whiterosereview.blogspot.com/2013/11/francis-schaeffer-on-humanity-as-fellow.html