Adopt an ape as a child claims UN group, according to an article in BBC News Magazine Online, 29 Mar 2007 and news@nature 26 April 2007.

An Austrian court has rejected a claim by British woman Paula Stibbe to be granted legal guardianship of a chimpanzee. She believes the chimp deserves the same protection as a human child. The outcome of the case depended on whether great apes deserved human rights, and was backed by a UN organisation named the “Great Ape Survival Project”. Ian Redmond of this organisation claims, “Apes are special because they are so closely related to us. Chimpanzees and Bonobos are our joint closest living relatives, differing by only one per cent of DNA – so close we could accept a blood transfusion or a kidney. Gorillas are next, then Orang-utans.” However, his strongest reason for giving apes such recognition is that they are capable of mirror self-awareness, i.e. they recognise themselves in a mirror. Redmond commented, “This self-awareness surely suggests that they know they exist.” Apes are also highly social and have similar lifespans.

Zoologist Charlotte Uhlenbroek, who also believed apes deserve special legal rights commented, “If I was an alien from Mars and looked at human society and a society of apes then in terms of the emotional life I would see no distinct difference, although we live very different lives because of language and technology.”

However, UK Biology Professor Steve Jones disagrees with the idea of human rights for any animals. He commented, “Where do you stop? It seems to be that being human is unique and nothing to do with biology. Say that apes share 98% of human DNA and therefore should have 98% of human rights. Well, mice share 90% of human DNA. Should they get 90% of human rights? And plants have more DNA than humans. Rights and responsibilities go together and we’ve yet to see a chimp imprisoned for stealing a banana because they don’t have a moral sense of what’s right and wrong.”


Editorial Comment: For once, Steve Jones has said something we agree with – being human is unique, and not just in the biology of the body. But Steve Jones does not really understand why human beings are so unique. It is because we are made in the image of God, and that is where our sense of morality comes from. It is also the source of the language and technology that Charlotte Uhlenbroek admits is unique to humans. We speak and write because we are made in the image of the God who speaks. That’s why He calls himself “The Word” (see John 1:1) and we are creative in our use of the resources of the earth because we are made in the image of the One who created all things.

However, as long as the theory of evolution is used to deceive people into believing that human beings are just animals, there are certain to be more legal cases and constitutional challenges that try to promote animals to the levels of equality with humans. Elephants and dolphins also show evidence of mirror image awareness. Will the next step be gay rights for pink elephants? (Ref. laws, dominion)

Evidence News 13th June 2007

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