NY court asked to determine if chimp is legally a person


Should a chimpanzee be treated as a person with legal rights?

This is the lead line on an article from the AP, as reported on msn.com.  

It’s also is an update to something I wrote 2 years ago, in April 2015 – A chimpanzee is the equivalent of a human child?

My conclusion from the first article is –

Makes me wonder – is the real goal to save the chimps – or is it to degrade people?

This one makes me wonder even more about that as the real goal here.

This is the context to which the opening question applies –

Should a chimpanzee be treated as a person with legal rights?

That’s what attorney Steven Wise will try to convince a state appeals court in Manhattan of on Thursday. Wise, who represents the Florida-based Nonhuman Rights Project animal advocacy group, plans to argue that two chimps named Tommy and Kiko should be freed from cages to live in an outdoor sanctuary.

Wise has been trying for years, unsuccessfully, to get courts to grant the chimps habeas corpus in order to, he says, free them from unlawful imprisonment.

He says the apes, which will not appear in court, deserve a better quality of life. If the court agrees, they would be sent to live with others of their species on one of 13 islands amid a lake in Fort Pierce, Florida, that comprise the Save the Chimps sanctuary.

I’m a dog person.  Friends have told my wife and I (jokingly) that if reincarnation is true (which I’m definitely saying it is not) – they want to come back as one of our dogs.  If you’ve read much of my stuff, you know I’ve also compared our dogs’ relationship to us with our relationship with God.

However, having said that and knowing just how much I care about my “family” of four legged “kids” – I would never ever say they are the equivalent of a human child or that they have human rights.

If you remember (or even if you don’t) – here’s what Genesis has to say about when God created dogs – and other land based animals.

Ge 1:24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Notice what it says there at the end – God saw that it was good.

To give you an idea of the meaning behind the original Hebrew word translated as “good” – here it is –

טֹוב 
good, pleasant, agreeable. 1A pleasant, agreeable (to the senses). 1B pleasant (to the higher nature). 1C good, excellent (of its kind). 1D good, rich, valuable in estimation. 1E good, appropriate, becoming. 
1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Let’s compare that with the account of when man was created –

Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, …”
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

We’ll get to the “…” in a moment.  And, while it’s a rather longer passage for the segment on creating man, as compared to creating the land based animals, the only addition to what was already created was man.  And then it was very good.  Even if one were to consider the sum total of all creations as very good, as compared to what came prior to man as good – and it was the completion of creation that was required for “very good” to be used – the difference is still man.  And, man, as the culmination – as God’s most prized creation – was last.

That’s one huge difference there.  As with the land animals, everything else God created ended with it was good.  But after creating man, it was very good.

Going back to the original Hebrew again, the word for “good” is the same in both verses.  It’s the addition of the word very that provides the distinction.  Looking at it’s meaning, we see –

מְאֹד
1 exceedingly, much subst. 2 might, force, abundance. 3 muchness, force, abundance, exceedingly. 3A force, might. 3B exceedingly, greatly, very (idioms showing magnitude or degree). 3B1 exceedingly. 3B2 up to abundance, to a great degree, exceedingly. 3B3 with muchness, muchness.  2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

In the Old Testament, we find 5 other times when the NIV uses these words “very good”.  However, I suggest there’s a difference between the first one – which we are looking at – and the other five.  So, what’s different?  Why are 5 of the “very good”s different from the other one?

To see the difference, let’s look at the other five instances of “very good” – 

Judges 18:9

Jdg 18:8 When they returned to Zorah and Eshtaol, their brothers asked them, “How did you find things?”
Jdg 18:9 They answered, “Come on, let’s attack them! We have seen that the land is very good. Aren’t you going to do something? Don’t hesitate to go there and take it over. 10 When you get there, you will find an unsuspecting people and a spacious land that God has put into your hands, a land that lacks nothing whatever.”

This is people, talking about land.

1 Samuel 25:15

1Sa 25:14 One of the servants told Nabal’s wife Abigail: “David sent messengers from the desert to give our master his greetings, but he hurled insults at them. 15 Yet these men were very good to us. They did not mistreat us, and the whole time we were out in the fields near them nothing was missing. 16 Night and day they were a wall around us all the time we were herding our sheep near them. 17 Now think it over and see what you can do, because disaster is hanging over our master and his whole household. He is such a wicked man that no one can talk to him.”

This one is people, talking about other people.

Jeremiah 24:2

Jer 24:1 After Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah and the officials, the craftsmen and the artisans of Judah were carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the LORD showed me two baskets of figs placed in front of the temple of the LORD. 2 One basket had very good figs, like those that ripen early; the other basket had very poor figs, so bad they could not be eaten.

This time it’s a person talking to God, but still a person, talking about figs.

Jeremiah 24:3

Jer 24:3 Then the LORD asked me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“Figs,” I answered. “The good ones are very good, but the poor ones are so bad they cannot be eaten.”

Just like the previous one, it’s a person talking to God, but still a person, talking about figs.

Daniel 3:15

Da 3:13 Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king, 14 and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up? 15 Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipes and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good. But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace. Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”

Finally, we have a king, although still a person, talking about the potential / desired actions of another person.

Have you figured it out yet?

The “other five” were all people talking about something.  They were talking about other people, fruit, land.  And all of these things they spoke of when using the words “very good” were created by God.  So we have people, created by God – talking about people / things that were also created by God.

Compare that to the first instance, where we had God, talking about His creations.

In a very real sense, when looking at this comparatively as we are doing now – who are we to call anything God created “very good“, when God Himself called it “good“?

So when God, as He is creating everything, reserves the word “very good” until man is created – that should tell us something.  God values us – for whatever reason – above everything else He created.  
Very stark evidence of this can be seen here –

When Jesus talks about The Fulfillment of The Law, he says –

Mt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.

we see Jesus talking about Heaven and earth disappearing.  All those things that God created – gone.

And, of course, there is this famous verse –

Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

where we see that not quite everything will be destroyed.  
At first glance, maybe it seems like those who believe in Jesus will be the only ones who will be around for eternity.  But this is not so.  Jesus says this about the goats and the sheep – the unsaved and the saved – in Matthew –

Mt 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

So we see that everything of creation will be destroyed, except for us.  For us – it doesn’t matter whether we are saved or not – we are not part of the destruction of Heaven and earth.

Where are we after that destruction?

Rev 3:11 I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.

So we see the New Jerusalem.

What is only implied here, but specifically noted later in Revelation is this –

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

… where we see that even Heaven is a new Heaven.

I could probably stop now …

Yes, I could probably stop now, and would have made my point.  In God’s eye, we are special.  We are considered, by Him – the creator of everything – to be something more valued that anything else He created,

However – I said I’d talk about the “…” stuff that I left out of the passages from Genesis.  Let’s review what I put at the top.

Ge 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, …”
Ge 1:27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Ge 1:31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

You can see, there are two places with “…”

Just to make it easier to see, here’s the first missing part –

and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

And the second one is –

Ge 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Ge 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

So we see the parts I left out were all about man ruling over everything else on earth – plants, birds, fish, land animals – everything.

No doubt, some would claim that “rule over” gives us the right to do whatever we want.  People even on the extremes of both sides of the argument – whether it be give them “human” status or slaughter them at will – could twist these passages to suit their views.  That’s why I saved them until now.

There are a few different ways the original Hebrew word translated as “rule” can be used –

7287 רָדָה, רָדָה [radah /raw·daw/] v. A primitive root; TWOT 2121, 2122; GK 8097 and 8098; 27 occurrences; AV translates as “rule” 13 times, “dominion” nine times, “take” twice, “prevaileth” once, “reign” once, and “ruler” once. 1 to rule, have dominion, dominate, tread down. 1A (Qal) to have dominion, rule, subjugate. 1B (Hiphil) to cause to dominate. 2 to scrape out. 2A (Qal) to scrape, scrape out.  3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

However – the proper usage would be to go with 1A – dominion, rule, subjugate.

Let’s look at these, and see the range of possibilities, as the words were used at that time –

dominion – dominate, dominate (completely), restrain (control), to take charge, to take hold, to tame.

rule -control (power), reign (authority), to act as ruler, to rule (judicially)

subjugate – subdued by physical force.

First off, we see absolutely nothing in here about rule over and it’s various possible meanings saying anything even remotely like making the “ruled over” subject  equal in any way to the “ruling” person.  It’s just not there.

I can’t leave this part, however, without pointing out that there’s nothing to say the opposite – to treated animals with no respect, no dignity, no regard is acceptable either.  They are, after all, creations of God.  We are to do the types of things, as appropriate, to the creations that God gave us dominion over – that He has put us in charge of and expects us to take appropriate care of them.

Bottom line – there’s no justification whatsoever for the point of view that animals – even dogs (or apes) should have human rights.

Again, I could stop …

yes, again, I could stop – the point more than having been made.

But there’s one more thing.

Earlier, we looked at this passage –

Rev 21:1 Then I saw a new heaven a
nd a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

I want to look at for the old order of things has passed away.

There’s an interesting thing about that phrase.  You can see on the right – there are only three Greek words.  “Order of things has passed” are implied / derived from the word “old”, when doing the English translation.

If we were to take it more literally, “old” would be translated as “first”, and “away” would be translated as “go away” or “depart”.

In fact, if we look at Young’s Literal Translation for this phrase, we see –

because the first things did go away  4)Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Re 21:4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

That begs the question – what was the “first”?

I would submit – the “first” was the world with Satan.  That’s why the earth had to be destroyed.  How else could God “wipe every tear” from our eyes?  Satan is gone – everything is destroyed – and made new.  Without Satan.

And – if you remember – originally, Satan was in Heaven.  And he was cast out – down to earth.  And even then, (see Job) Satan was allowed to go back and forth between Heaven and earth.  Therefore, a new Heaven is also required to remove all traces of Satan, create things new, and have every tear dried.

Conclusion

(Finally?)

This idea that somehow what God considers His greatest creation could possibly be reduced to being the same as any of his other creations – it will also go away and no longer be remembered when all traces of Satan are departed.

So, if you’re thinking these folks are maybe right – I submit you need to think again.

There is certainly more than enough said in just the verses I’ve quoted above to give us the responsibility to care for God’s creations.  We don’t need more.  And we don’t need to reduce ourselves either.

Anything else – well – that’s an idea that’s going to depart.  Go away,  As God intended.

 

References   [ + ]

1, 2, 3. Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.
4. Young, R. (1997). Young’s Literal Translation (Re 21:4). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

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