One of the most discernible marks the teaching of Darwinian evolution has left on our culture is a blurring of the line between man and animals.
You’ve heard it all before, haven’t you?
“Chimpanzees and human beings are 97% alike in our DNA!”
“The only reason humans dominate the planet is the opposable thumb!”
“Animals are actually more kind and compassionate then people!”
And although the reported similarities between human and chimpanzee DNA keep dropping like the value of the average 401K these days, some believe that these creatures deserve equal protection under the law with people.
Are people just a different kind of animal?
An interesting insight comes from an attempt by a man to become an adopted member of a herd of pigs.
Like a pig in…
Many of us eat bacon for breakfast without a thought for the animals that provide it, but what are pigs really like? Richard da Costa took time out from his life as a corporate communications consultant and actor to spend four days living with them. How did he cope?
When I first went in, the bites from the pigs were quite hard. It wasn’t like a dog play-fighting with you, these were real nips. It wasn’t until I had managed to form some bonds that they became more affectionate.
I was visited by an expert who taught me some piggy “vocabulary” and that led to some real breakthroughs. At times they were sucking my toes and nibbling my ear, which is apparently a sign of real affection. I returned the compliment once or twice.
The females were the first to want to get to know me, but with the males there were a few tussles to be had before we became real buddies.
The nights were probably the hardest. Constant squabbles breaking out in other pens provided a nightmarish soundtrack. With my lot there was hardly a time when one of them wasn’t getting up to go to the toilet and have a snack or a nibble at me.
My biggest challenge was not the mud but the isolation. No conversation, no computer, no phone, no paper, no way to organise your thoughts, nowhere to wash. Not being able to play with my phone or send an e-mail or write anything down.
The bottom line?
Although da Costa came away from his documentary experience with a greater understanding and compassion for pigs, it is highly doubtful that the pigs found the time similarly educational.
In fact, the longer you spend in a pig pen the more the differences between people and animals become apparent.
Pigs don’t feel deprived by a lack of an internet connection.
Pigs don’t seem to care much about organizing their thoughts.
Pigs aren’t really concerned with writing things down.
But human beings are.
What is the difference between pigs and people?
In a word, purpose.
Although we share the bond of having the same Creator, species have different roles to play in the creation.
The special role that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is beautifully described in Psalm 8.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.
You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:4-8)
God has created human beings in His own image and likeness.
That doesn’t mean we look like God.
But it does mean that we share in a special ability to have a relationship with Him.
In fact, God hasn’t created us to be like animals, but rather to exercise wise stewardship over the earth, including the animal kingdom.
Human beings can act like animals for a time, but we know we were created for something more than to consume, reproduce and die.
Like the story of the Prodigal Son (see Luke 15:11-32) illustrates – you can take a son and have him live in a pig pen for awhile.
But he won’t stay there because he is a son, and not a sow.
You can try to convince people they are no different than animals, and they may believe it for awhile.
But they can’t live that way for long.
Because we are made with an irresistible sense of higher purpose – written on our hearts by our Maker.
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