Human exceptionalism is the belief that humans are categorically or essentially different than all other animals. The concept reflects the biblical declaration that mankind is the only part of creation made in the image of God. Hence, people are distinct in all of creation.
The idea that human beings are unique creations is being challenged globally by multiple bioethicists. According to Wesley Smith, a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute, these scientists:
“assert that being human alone does not convey moral value, rather an individual must exhibit "relevant" cognitive capacities to claim the rights to life and bodily integrity. Animal rights ideology similarly denies the intrinsic value of being human, claiming that we and animals are moral equals based on our common capacity to feel pain.”
In 2013, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a lawsuit in the New York Supreme Court on behalf of four chimps. The conclusion of the case was that they were not to be treated as property but as legal persons.
The idea of rights being subscribed to animals is now being expanded by the belief that any part of nature has rights. The Columbia Supreme Court ruled the Amazon Rainforest now has “personhood rights.” The Court has also ordered that the country create a comprehensive plan within the next four months to address deforestation and climate change.
This ruling follows on the heels of a 2016 ruling where the Court granted similar rights to the Atrato River. In that ruling, the Court wrote:
“The fundamental rights of life, health, liberty, and human dignity are determined by the environment and ecosystems. Without a clean environment, the plaintiffs and human beings, in general, can’t survive, much less protect those rights for the children or future generations. The existence of family can’t be guaranteed, either, neither from society or the State itself.”
New Zealand has granted personhood to a river. And, in India, the Ganges is now protected. A court there has ruled that polluting or damaging the river will be legally equivalent to harming a person. In Ecuador, the Constitution enshrines nature’s “right to integral respect”.
Wesley Smith penned these words ten years ago. They’re as accurate today as they were when he first wrote them:
“This goes way beyond establishing strict environmental protections as a human duty. It is a self-demotion of humankind to merely one among the billions of life forms on earth--no more worthy of protection than any other aspect of the natural world.”
The so-called “natures rights” movement is picking up steam but there’s nothing new here. It’s the same spirit of rebellion that forced us out of the Garden of Eden. It’s that ancient push back, with the devilish question, “Did God really say that?”
We humans are unique. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” It’s why the psalmist sang the words:
“What is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.” (Psalm 8:4-6)
Courts may call a river, a glacier or a chimpanzee a person but this preposterous rebellion cannot unseat the Eternal King.
That’s my opinion. I’m Janet Parshall.
Let me share the story of a young convert to Christianity who found true healing—physically and spiritually. Let me share my thoughts—straight from my heart.
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Janet Parshall has been broadcasting from the nation's capital for over two decades. Her passion is to "equip the saints" through intelligent conversation based on biblical truth. When she is not behind her microphone, Janet is speaking across the country on issues impacting Christians. She has authored several books, including her latest, Buyer Beware: Finding Truth in the Marketplace of Ideas. Parshall and her husband, Craig, live in Virginia, and have four children and six grandchildren.
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