...will be the topic of my sermon at Trinity Evangelical Church this Sunday.
Text: Matthew 12: 9-14, with special emphasis on verse 12: "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!"
Christ is no doubt pointing hearers back to Genesis 1: 26-27 where humans have transcendent value because they bear the image of their maker. Indeed, our horror over Vick's dogfighting practices only makes sense if human exceptionalism is true. Prosecutors and critics are not blaming the dogs; they are blaming people who ought to behave better than animals. In short, when dogs or rhinos tear each other up or kill unsuspecting prey, we don't slap them with jail time.
Nevertheless, Christ's claim that man is more valuable than animals is shocking to those who insist human exceptionalism is the foundation for moral evil. As Wesley J. Smith points out, most bioethicists do not believe that membership in the human species gives any of us value. Rather, what matters is whether any organism--animal or human--is a person, a status achieved by having sufficient cognitive abilities.
The fact that a being is human does not mean we should give the interests of that being preference over the similar interests of other beings. That would be speciesism, and wrong for the same reasons that racism and sexism are wrong. Pain is equally bad, if it is felt by a human or a mouse.--Peter Singer.
This myth [of human exceptionalism] is at the root of our environmental destruction--and our possible self-destruction.--David P. Barash
If that weren't bad enough, TIME quotes abortionist and anthropologist Warren Hern of the University of Colorado calling our species an "ecotumor" or "planetary malignancy" that is recklessly devouring its host, the poor Earth. Meanwhile, Smith cites a New York Times editorial writer who says that "Darwinism proves humans are no more and no less valuable than barnacles."
And who can forget PETA's Ingrid Newkirk saying that a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy is a roach? I guess eating a man is no different than eating a steak.
Smith is correct: If you tell people they are no different than animals, don’t be surprised when they behave that way. Give Vick back his football.
Update 8/29: You can order an audio copy of the presentation here. (Scroll down page to sermon for 8/26/07.)