5 Questions For The Animal Rights Movement.
I love animals.
Ok, the neighbour’s barking dog does test me sometimes, but I still love animals. And I respect much of the work of many animal rights activists, who work tirelessly to make the world a safer place for animals. However, as I look at what many animal rights activists believe, a number of disturbing questions come to mind.
Getting Up Close And Personal With Animal Rights.
I looked at this issue closely when preparing a seminar on animal rights for my Christian group on campus. In my preparation, I found it fascinating to engage with (arguably) the most famous animal rights activist in the world: Princeton Bioethicist Peter Singer.
Singer made famous the term ‘speciesism’ in his landmark essay ‘All Animals Are Equal’. In his essay, he makes the claim that:
‘[Like the racist] the speciesist allows the interests of his own species to override the greater interests of members of other species.’
If you’re killing and eating animals for food, you’re a speciesist: you’re allowing your specie’s interests (the desire for red meat) to over-ride the other species’ interests (the desire not to be killed and eaten!).
Not only that, but in the same essay he equates animal suffering with human suffering:
No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering—in so far as rough comparisons can be made—of any other being.
Thus if killing and eating animals, or animal experimentation, leads to animal suffering, then these practices are morally wrong, according to Singer.
The Big Issue: Consistency.
Singer’s worldview, and the worldview of many animal rights activists that follow his lead (e.g. organisations like PETA, and the Non-Human Rights Project), raise a number of interesting questions for me.
These questions all have to do with consistency: it’s one thing to say that animals should be treated with equal dignity to human beings (seeing as we’re all just animals anyway). It’s another thing, however, to consistently treat animals with the same dignity as human beings (or more ominously, human beings like animals).
My 5 Questions.
And so here are my questions: I’d love any animal rights activists to share their answers with me (in the comments section below):
- If it’s wrong for human beings to kill and eat animals, is it wrong for sharks to kill and eat fish? Or for lions to kill and eat Zebras? Are you morally outraged by the way animals treat each other in the wild? (Why/Why not?).
- If it’s wrong to do medical experiments on animals, would you deny yourself (or your child) lifesaving treatment that came from animal experimentation? (Why/Why not?).
- Is it wrong to feed meat to pet animals? (Why/Why not?).
- Should we even have pets? (Why/Why not?).
- Is it acceptable to euthanase a severely disabled newborn baby, the way we would euthanase a severely disabled newborn orangutan? (Why/Why not?).
Abolishing The Distinction.
Singers’ worldview is an Atheistic one, which discards any moral distinction between humans and animals (and I think he’s being completely logical, if Atheism is true). However, as a Christian, I believe that we have a moral obligation to look after and care for animals. And yet, we are not animals. We are different to animals not merely by degree (e.g. more intelligent ), but by kind: we are human beings, made in the image of God, designed to be rulers and caretakers over the animal kingdom. (But more on this in a later post!).