Back in March, The Great Ape Project reports, the Balearic Parliament announced its approval of a resolution to grant legal rights to great apes. According the Pedro Pozas, Executive Director of Great Ape Project, Spain, "the decision of the Balearic Government to approve this Proposal, makes it a world-wide leader in the protection of the great apes and their habitat, as well as in the support of their rights." A similar proposal was presented in Spain which would eliminate the idea of ownership when it comes to apes, seeing human caretakers as "moral guardians" (similar to the guardians that take care of orphan children, or seriously handicapped adults).
Make no mistake, human beings are obligated to be good stewards of the animal kingdom (Proverbs 12:10). Nevertheless, the impetus behind the movement is a secularist world view which maintains that there are no significant differences between human beings and apes. After all, the argument goes, apes and humans derive from the same branch of the evolutionary tree. Long ago there was a big bang. Then an amoeba emerged from a warm puddle of water, and by chance over time, human beings descended from the lower order of animals. If we are descended from apes, then there is nothing so special about human beings that we can "own" our ancestors.
This evolutionary, chance world view of life leads to a form of "speciesism" which maintains that no one species has any more worth, dignity, or value than another. Human beings are nothing more than the "best of the beasts"—and that, quite by accident. Such a view of life is very different from that found in the Bible. The Scriptures teach that human beings are the pinnacle of creation, having been made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). They have been "crowned with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5) and given "dominion" over the rest of creation (Psalm 8:6-8, Genesis 1:27-28). Human beings are so loved by their Creator that God sacrificed His only Son so that those who believe in Him could have eternal life (John 3:16, 1 Peter 1:18-19).
The biblical view of man is very different from that which inheres in the evolutionary, chance world view of life. And, because ideas have consequences, these two views produce very different outcomes for human beings. That should not be surprising. After all, what we believe determines how we behave.
In societies where the biblical view prevails, particularly in Western culture, human beings have generally received great protection under the law. Individual rights have been largely respected and protected. The reason was explained in America's Declaration of Independence: the race of men were granted unalienable rights by their Creator, and governments exist to secure those rights.
Secularists repudiate the notion of special human rights conferred by the Creator because they deny the very existence of the Creator. They maintain that we weren't created in the image of God; rather, God is a creature of our imagination. We evolved gratuitously from the slime. We are little more than grown up germs, no different qualitatively than the rest of the animal kingdom. If the secular views of the socialist coalition prevail, a great leveling will take place. Man will be demoted from his exalted status as bearer of God's image to simply the best of the beasts. Mark it down—human rights will be diminished in the process. After all, ideas do have consequences.
To understand the consequences of these radical ideas, ask yourself: On what basis can a creature of chance claim to have worth, value, or dignity worthy of the protection of the law? On what basis can such a creature lay claim to unalienable rights conferred by the Creator when the existence of the Creator is denied in the first place? On what basis can a creature of chance who just happens to be in the minority claim to have a right to resist the will of the majority, or the weak to resist the will of the strong?
Created in God's image or creature of chance? It makes a difference. Theories of origin matter, and so do our views of God. How we view God determines how we view our fellow man. And how we view our fellow man determines how we treat him and what measure of protection we accord him under the law. Thomas Jefferson asked, "can the liberties of a nation be...secure if we have removed their only firm basis: a conviction in the minds of men that these liberties are the gift of God?" The answer is a resounding "no." Blur the distinction between man and animals—exclude God from the picture—and we are soon on the path that departs from the rule of law and leads to the law of the jungle.
Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC and a nationally recognized trial lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case. Connor was formally President of the Family Research Council, Chairman of the Board of CareNet, and Vice Chairman of Americans United for Life. For more articles and resources from Mr. Connor and the Center for a Just Society, go to www.ajustsociety.org. Your feedback is welcome; please email email@example.com