Do Animals Have Rights? Hambo Says “No!”

We’ve written about the subject of “animal rights” a few times before — see, e.g.: Monkey Loses Copyright Case — Oook, Oook!, and also Discovery Institute and Human Exceptionalism, and before that Oook, Oook — Chimps Lose in Appellate Court.

Today we bring you the opinion of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo) — the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. Hambo’s article is posted at the website of Answers in Genesis (AIG), his creationist ministry. It’s titled Are Animals “Persons”? Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis, and occasional Curmudgeonly interjections that look [like this]:

An elephant named “Happy,” who lives at the Bronx Zoo in New York, isn’t a person. Now, that should be obvious. After all, Happy is an elephant. But the courts, including now an appellate court, had to affirm what is “common sense” (as those who manage Happy put it) to most people — Happy is not a person. Undeterred, the “Nonhuman Rights Project” will take their case (i.e., that Happy, a supposedly unhappy elephant, deserves “human-like rights”) — to a higher court. Why is this story significant?

Tell us, Hambo, why is it significant? He says:

Well, there’s no denying that human life is increasingly being devalued in our culture (e.g., abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, gene editing, the genocide of those with disabilities, etc.), while animal life is increasingly being exalted above [Above?] the value of humans.

Hambo seems to be saying that in prior millennia, human rights were uniformly recognized, everywhere, but things are horrible today. After that historical perspective, he tells us:

And activist groups like the Nonhuman Rights Project are pushing for animals to be granted personhood and certain civil rights that only humans have. This, of course, stems from the evolutionary view that all of life is related and that we’re just animals [That is horrible and disgusting!] … Of course, this raises the question of what are “fundamental rights” (they mention rights such as liberty, autonomy, equality, and fairness), and who decides? Who gives “rights”?

Hambo seems to be utterly ignorant of the Age of Enlightenment and the vast literature about human rights it produced. Those rights are — he ought to know this — inherent in the U.S. Constitution. Seemingly oblivious to the culture in which he lives, Hambo explains the creationist concept of “rights”:

Well, in a biblical worldview, God has given us — humans — certain rights. He has not given those rights to animals, although we are called to care for creation and steward it wisely and kindly. And one of those human rights (discussed below) is to rule over (i.e., have dominion over) the animals.

Impressive, huh? Skipping a bit, he continues:

This is where a biblical worldview is so key. [Tell us, Hambo!!] Yes, many animals are smart; some have an amount of self-awareness and can, in a sense, communicate certain things with others (even humans) and have their own unique personality. But only humans are able to use complex language to communicate and think abstractly. While some animals can use certain items as tools, only humans can use tools to make tools. But those characteristics are not what make humans persons. What makes us unique is described in Genesis 1:27:

[Hambo quotes the bible:] So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

Brilliant! Much more persuasive than anything written by Thomas Paine or Benjamin Franklin. Hambo finishes with this:

This is not a harsh rule — the testimony of Scripture is that God cares for creation, so we, as his image-bearers and those given the charge to rule over it, should also care for creation. So, yes, we have dominion over great apes, elephants, dolphins, and whales — they are not our equals, nor do they have dominion over us.

Okay, dear reader — now get out there and whip those elephants. They have no rights and you have dominion over them. Hooray for Hambo!

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11 responses to “Do Animals Have Rights? Hambo Says “No!”

  1. IMHO there are lots of things that have rights. The Amazon. The Mona Lisa. The Rings of Saturn. The Goldberg Variations.

  2. Does Ken Ham have a dog?

    Do his parishioners/followers/accomplices have dogs?

    A guy who can’t love a dog, or an elephant, probably isn’t Christian.

  3. chris schilling

    “[T]hey are not our equals, nor do they have dominion over us.”

    Ham’s mythology decrees that man is sinful, yet he refuses to recognise that exploitation is inevitable when power imbalances exist between the strong and the weak. The question of animal sentience — and we can see it in the higher mammals, for starters — is crucial for protecting them from the ravages of man the destroyer.

    Incidentally, has SC invented a new portmanteau? ‘Borrible’ — that’s a combination of ‘bad’ and ‘horrible’? If so, that’s marvelful!🤔

  4. Dave Luckett

    Ham thinks that animals and humans are special and separate creations. It would follow that they are not to be treated the same. Er… wait a moment, though..

    Even in a creationist view, animals and humans are not completely different. Distinct, yes, but not completely different, entirely separate. They might not be in the image of God, whatever we take that to mean, but the animals and we are not utterly alien one from the other. There is no implication in scripture that we are. And scripture does contain injunctions to treat them as having rights: “Thou shalt not bind the mouth of the ox that treadeth the grain”.

    It would follow, then, that even to a creationist, while we humans might have dominion over animals, that does not preclude animals from having rights. They have rights because they also are the creations of Almighty God. The question is, what rights?
    ;
    What rights? We have courts and systems of justice to answer questions like that. It would follow, therefore, that even a creationist has no objection, in principle, to that question and other related ones being debated and resolved in public. After all, whatever rights it is decided that animals have, it will be we humans who concede and recognise and abide by them. That is undeniably consistent with our dominion.

    So a respect for animal rights and their specification in the courts is not inconsistent with even a view that assumes separate creation. Of course it is also not inconsistent with an evolutionary view either, for that view is that animals are more and more like us the more closely they are related to us, and that therefore their rights are in fact related to our own. Of course that view is also the one supported by observed fact, as anyone who keeps or works with animals knows.

    What we have here, then, is yet another example of the fractured thought of Ken Ham. The man has a mind like the Hall of Mirrors – not of Versailles, but of Coney Island.

  5. “An elephant named “Happy,” who lives at the Bronx Zoo in New York, isn’t a person.”
    So Ol’Hambo doesn’t understand the difference between “person” and “juridical person”. Ah well, his Biblical lens dazzles.

    “Those rights are — he ought to know this — inherent in the U.S. Constitution.”
    A dubious statement. In fact Ol’Hambo has a point here; in the first half of the 19th Century the folks of Enlightenment discussed the problem whether Africans and Indians were “persons”. Given slavery and the 19th Century genocide on American soil the Enlightened consensus based on that very same Constitution apparently used to be a firm “no”.
    Last weekend this movie was on Dutch TV:

    https://www.imdb.com/title/tt5362988/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

    Until today “personhood” (whether judicial or not) doesn’t mean the same for all inhabitants of the USA.

    “They have no rights and you have dominion over them. Hooray for Hambo!”
    This is what I like so much about you, dear SC. With this little sentence you yourself undermine more efficiently what you wrote about animal rights in the past than I ever could.
    Given evolution theory it’s not hard to find the correct approach. “Personhood” is gradual; there isn’t a sharp line. That’s already reflected in law; we don’t grant newborns the same rights as adults either. Promoting animal rights simply doesn’t imply granting them exactly the same rights as humans. A simple example is the right to have a home (it’s in the UN declaration of 1948). Lots of animals will be very unhappy if that right is imposed on them.

    “now get out there and whip those elephants”
    Of course Ol’Hambo, who firmly believes in human sinful nature, should expect exactly this to happen.

    “so we, as his image-bearers and those given the charge to rule over it, should also care for creation.”
    Were Ol’Hambo consistent (which is less likely that Donald the Clown admitting his defeat) he would conclude that parents letting their five-year old kids driving a car on a busy highway are more responsible than his god. According to Ol’Hambo’s belief system humans will exactly not do what they “should”, given Original Sin.

  6. Thanks, chris schilling. Typo fixed.

  7. chris schilling

    Not a fan of Bible quotes (we get more than enough of that), but there’s this, from Ecclesiastes:

    “So that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity.”

  8. Charley Horse X

    The human animals created gods in their own image. In my local mullet wrapper this morning was this headline…”Dog death under investigation for animal cruelty”.

  9. So, Ken, can one adult human be the property of another?
    Leviticus 25:45

  10. Yes animals have rights!!! Just as much rights as a carrot has!!!

  11. “Food for thought? French bean plants show signs of intent, say scientists”
    “Research suggests that at least one type of plant – the french bean – may be more sentient than we give it credit for: namely, it may possess intent.”

    A report in The Guardian on science study
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jan/08/food-for-thought-french-bean-plants-show-signs-of-intent-say-scientists