An article by BBC News Magazine explains how NhRP has filed a case, on behalf of Tommy the chimp. They are not arguing that he is human, but that he has the rights of “personhood”. This is a slight of hand semantically and it has awed me like a child watching a magic trick. Notice the trickery of this world in redefining terms. We are now attempting to extend personhood to animals. Where will it end? One day they will say eating a salad is cannibalism because it destroys cell life. America is sliding down the rabbit hole at the speed of light.
The angle of the defense is a writ of habeas corpus—demanding that a prisoner be taken before the court, and that the custodian present proof of authority, allowing the court to determine whether the custodian has lawful authority to detain the prisoner. There are two issues at hand.
1) Who defines personhood ?
2) Who has authority over nature/animals?
All culture issues really go back to the belief in God. To answer the first question we would contend: If the God of the Bible is real then we have a standard by which to judge. If He (or any god) does not exist then there is not absolute right/wrong. The Bible clearly defines personhood as those created in the image of God, which would be humans only (Gen 1:26-27). By the way, have you noticed how the topic has shifted? In the argument for the definition of ‘personhood’ we were trying to save the babies but now our focus is on the animals!!! Oh how crafty our enemy is and how dull we are. There is something fundamentally wrong with a culture who is willing to fight for the apes but sacrifice the babies on the altar of free choice.
The second question, like the first, hinges on God’s existence. If the Bible is His Word then we see that God set man as stewards over nature (Gen 1:28-31; 2:15). Now let us be very clear. I am arguing that persons only extend to humans (this includes the unborn) and that man does have authority to use nature (which includes animals) for his benefit. But that should not lead us to the illogical non sequitur that we have the right to abuse nature/animals. That is a discussion for another day. To protect nature/animals we do not need to ascribe them personhood. Instead, if we only addressed them as God always intended, then we would use them but with great care and respect as gifts from our Creator.
If there is no God who gets to define personhood?