Are You Not Much More Valuable than an Animal?
Holding up signs that included “All Animal Lives Matter” and “RIP Harambe,” animal rights protestors expressed their dismay at the killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.1 Momentarily distracted by three other children, a mother failed to notice her three-year-old son fall into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.2 The child was dragged violently around the enclosure in a foot or so of water by Harambe, the 450 pound gorilla that occupied the pen. Due to the gorilla’s agitated state, and the delay inherent in the use of a tranquilizer gun, authorities felt it necessary to kill the gorilla, sparking nationwide outrage.3
One on-line petition which seeks “Justice for Harambe,” calling for an investigation of the parents, has already received more than 500,000 signatures.4 Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer and animal rights activist Karen Dawn insist: “As animal advocates, we don’t automatically deem the life of a boy as exponentially more important than that of a fellow primate.”5 PETA was quick to scold the zoo even for having gorillas and other animals in captivity,6 where they are “exploited” and “gunned down.”7 PETA Primatologist, Julia Gallucci, chided: “This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at.”8
For those whose minds have been shaped by the perspective of divine truth—as most American minds, for most of American history, once were—the confusion regarding the value of human beings in contrast with the animal kingdom are shocking, disturbing, and depressing. How can a civilization slump so far into outright animism, paganism, and atheism? Such should not be surprising since, once the Christian worldview is jettisoned from any society, the ideologies that will quickly fill the vacuum will inevitably be humanistic, heathen, irreligious, depraved, and idolatrous. Indeed, the half-century long descent into the abyss of moral and spiritual confusion that has characterized America is strongly reminiscent of the societal circumstances that prevailed in the Roman Empire during the first century:
[A]lthough they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25).
The passage proceeds to delineate the moral filth that ensues for such a people—a portrait of America’s own moral decline, including the acceptance and practice of homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality, covetousness, and haters of God, to name a few (vss. 26-32).
The substantial infiltration of academia by evolution and atheism has resulted in precisely the social conditions that now prevail in America with regard to the nonsensical and inflated sense of importance assigned to animals and the physical environment. Any individual, who would have even a split second of hesitation to kill a gorilla (or any other animal) to save a human child, has unwittingly become a victim to the massive inundation of humanist propaganda that fails to assign the proper value to animals.
For those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He literally left the heavenly realm and came to Earth to atone for sin, and that He now reigns in heaven itself, and will one day bring the entire physical Universe to a fiery conclusion (2 Peter 3:1-11), the value of Harambe the gorilla is a settled matter. Jesus spoke directly and definitively—several times—to the issue.
In Matthew 6, Jesus reassured His disciples that God’s care for them meant that they need not worry unnecessarily about acquiring food and clothes. His reasoning included this admonition: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (vs. 26, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:25—“Of how much more value are you than the birds?”).
On another occasion, Jesus challenged the disciples not to fear the hatred, intimidation, and opposition of those who would seek to deter their efforts to teach and preach His message. Why? He explained: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:7). Observe that animals have some value in this world. God created them for specific purposes. However, there is literally no comparison when it comes to evaluating their status and their worth in relation to humans. Animals are expendable. But Jesus adamantly insisted that humans are much more valuable than even many animals.
On yet another occasion, Jesus answered those who sought to condemn Him for healing—on the Sabbath—a man whose hand was shriveled and deformed. The Lord’s logical prowess was piercing and penetrating: “He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?’” This question was a reflection of Deuteronomy 22:1-4. It was part of the Law of Moses designed to promote care and concern for one’s fellow man. In an agrarian society, the preservation of farm animals was a serious matter. A family’s survival was dependent on its animals for food and clothes. So Jesus reasoned, if it is proper to intervene to save the life of a farm animal so that human beings might be provided for, “of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” (Matthew 12:11-12). Do sheep have some value? Certainly—they are vital to providing the basic necessities of humans. But they are mere animals—they do not have souls like humans, nor were they made in God’s image like humans (Genesis 1:26).9 Jesus’ point was poignant. He was, in essence, stressing an important contrast between animals and humans. He was essentially saying, “If you see the value of preserving the life of a dumb, soulless animal for the good of humans, why in the world would you question My action which will improve the life and well-being of a human?” Indeed, Jesus demonstrated that even His religious enemies were clear thinking enough to know that animals are not even to be compared to the value of human beings.
Whatever might be said about parental responsibility to discipline their children and train them to be obedient when parents warn children of the potential dangers that exist at zoos, and whatever might be said about the value of animals—from zebras and gorillas to tarantulas and boa constrictors—nevertheless, according to Deity, human beings are of much more value. As a nation, our depraved moral sensibilities are on display when our citizens show more concern for a 17-year-old gorilla than for the 56 million innocent human babies that have been slaughtered by abortion since 1973.10
1 Natalie Angier (2016), “Do Gorillas Even Belong in Zoos? Harambe’s Death Spurs Debate,” The New York Times, June 6, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/07/science/gorilla-shot-harambe-zoo.html.
2 Police have decided she will not face criminal charges. See Madison Park and Holly Yan (2016), “Gorilla Killing: 3-Year-Old Boy’s Mother Won’t Be Charged,” CNN, June 6, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/06/us/harambe-gorilla-death-investigation/.
3 “Outrage After Gorilla Killed at Cincinnati Zoo to Save Child” (2016), CBS News, June 1, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/outrage-after-gorilla-harambe-killed-at-cincinnati-zoo-to-save-child/; Barbara Goldberg (2016), “Killing of Gorilla to Save Boy at Ohio Zoo Sparks Outrage,” MSN News, May 30, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/killing-of-gorilla-to-save-boy-at-ohio-zoo-sparks-outrage/ar-BBtCunM?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U270DHP; Kimberly Ricci (2016), “People Are Furious Over The Death Of Harambe The Gorilla And Want Justice,” Uproxx, May 30, http://uproxx.com/webculture/cincinnati-outrage-harambe-gorilla-death/.
4 Sheila Hurt (2016), “Justice for Harambe,” https://www.change.org/p/cincinnati-zoo-justice-for-harambe.
6 Jennifer O’Connor (2016), “Gorilla Pays With His Life for Others’ Negligence,” PETA, May 29, http://www.peta.org/blog/gorilla-pays-with-life-for-others-negligence/.
7 Angela Henderson (2016), "From Marius to Harambe: Zoos Teach That Wild Animals Are Expendable,” PETA, June 1, http://www.peta.org/blog/marius-to-harambe-zoos-teach-wild-animals-expendable/.
8 “PETA Responds to Gorilla Shooting at Cincinnati Zoo” (2016), WDRB, May 29, http://www.wdrb.com/story/32092202/peta-responds-to-gorilla-shooting-at-cincinnati-zoo.
9 Bert Thompson (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=582.