Should Apes Be Given Human Rights? | The Institute for Creation Research

Should Apes Be Given Human Rights?

Many find it incredulous that a well-organized movement exists which is currently demanding that chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans be included in a "community of equals" with humans. But, as this article is being prepared, just such a demand is being promoted within the United Nations and elsewhere.

Keep in mind that this bill addresses the granting of human rights to apes, not the guarantee of ethical treatment of animals by humans. On the surface, these "rights" sound high-minded, but look more closely.

Humans in free countries (the countries where the laws are targeted) have been afforded certain rights which seem to have no counterpart in the animal kingdom, such as the right to privacy, free press, religious freedom, free speech, good education, right to assemble, right to work, etc. Indeed, an overzealous court creates and enforces new rights all the time. How could these be applied, even in principle, to apes?

With rights comes responsibility. The denial of the right to life of another (i.e., murder) requires that the guilty party be held accountable. How will animals be held accountable for their actions? If a gorilla commits "murder" on a human or another ape (as is common in the wild) does he go to the electric chair? Few people would even be so foolish as to encourage unlimited freedom for apes, known for their strength and ferocity. If a loose chimp steals a picnic basket in the park, does he go to jail?

Obviously, evolutionary thinking undergirds such a perspective. True, the basic anatomy is rather similar (we are more like a chimp than a clam). So is the DNA with similar genes accomplishing similar functions. (We both digest food, grow hair, etc.) Apes are even known to have individual personalities (so do cats) and can be taught to perform certain tasks in response to command (as do trained dogs).

But claims of cognitive abilities and emotional response of apes are notoriously subjective. Trainers often develop deep bonds with their apes and overstate trivial responses. Never, even after years of training, has an ape ever done anything that a human toddler couldn't learn quite easily. There are vast differences.

The greatest gulf lies in the spiritual area. No ape has any awareness of right and wrong. They can be taught certain behaviors, but there is no moral comprehension in apes.

This difference is the essence of what it means to be created in the image of God. The Creator told us that the apes were created "after their kind," and humans were created "in His image." This fact does not condone cruelty to animals, and such is not implied here. Human kind was placed here as the Creator's steward over creation, to wisely care for it and the animals. But we are not simply the highest animal. We are the Creator's image.

Only an emphatic denial of the creation worldview and one's own accountability to his Creator would lead to such an escape from reason.

*Dr. John Morris is President of ICR.

Cite this article: John D. Morris, Ph.D. 1999. Should Apes Be Given Human Rights?. Acts & Facts. 28 (7).

The Latest
NEWS
Supersaurus-Sized Dinosaur No Match for the Flood
Scientists are still trying to out-do each another by finding the biggest dinosaur. Brian Curtice, from the Arizona Museum of Natural History, recently...

NEWS
Inside December 2021 Acts & Facts
How can we understand Christ’s role as our mediator from a scientific perspective? Why was ICR's first dinosaur excavation significant for...

APOLOGETICS
Christ’s Providence Is Clearly Seen in Bird Migrations
Just as monkeys can’t accidently type Shakespeare texts, birds can’t migrate by evolutionary luck, despite imagined eons of time for “lucky”...

ACTS & FACTS
Creation Kids: Snowflakes
by Christy Hardy and Susan Windsor* You’re never too young to be a creation scientist! Kids, discover fun facts about God’s creation with...

ACTS & FACTS
The Gift of God Himself
Each Christmas we remember how deeply God loves us. His wondrous plan of salvation—first set in motion in the Garden of Eden—was miraculously...

ACTS & FACTS
Early Land Plant Evolution?
In a recent Science article, two evolutionists consider land plants (embryophytes) to have evolved from stoneworts (charophyte algae).1 A...

ACTS & FACTS
Biblical Creation and Intellectual Foolishness
In a recent interview discussing his new book In Quest of the Historical Adam, philosopher and Christian apologist William Lane Craig acknowledged his...

ACTS & FACTS
Are Birds “Cousins” to Reptiles?
Are today’s birds genealogical “cousins” to today’s reptiles due to a shared evolutionary ancestry? No. However, birds and...

ACTS & FACTS
Haleakala National Park: One of Many Young-Looking Volcanoes
You can start the day atop the cold peak of Mt. Haleakala and end it on a warm beach on Maui. The sprawling volcanic mountain rises 10,000 feet above...

ACTS & FACTS
The Oceans Point to a Young Earth
by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D., and Tim Clarey, Ph.D.* Over 70% of Earth's surface is covered by water, most of which is marine and contained in...