Dembski on Animal Rights

Reuters reports
that Spain is expected to pass a law granting rights to non-human apes:

MADRID (Reuters) – Spain’s parliament voiced its support
on Wednesday for the rights of great apes to life and freedom in what
will apparently be the first time any national legislature has called
for such rights for non-humans.


Here is one consequence of evolution being used to justify
strict continuity between humans and other forms of life. Discovery
Institute’s persistent stress on humans being made in the image
of God and that not being a privilege extended to the rest of the
animal world makes more and more sense. [Slippery slope

I don’t know enough about the Spanish bill to know how I feel about
it—it may, for example, unnecessarily limit such things as
medical research—but it’s clear that Dembski is an arrogant
religious twatwaffle. All that blathering about Specified Complexity
and whatnot was apparently an elaborate cover for “I ain’t related to
no monkey”.

First of all, I didn’t realize that the Disco Tute stressed the notion
that humans were made in God’s image, and just as importantly, that
other animals weren’t. I thought they were careful to pretend that
they weren’t like the other creationists. Maybe Eamon Knight
was right
and they’ve dropped that cover story.

Maybe it’s something they talk about in staff meetings but don’t put
on the web site. Or maybe Bill’s mental compartmentalization is
breaking down, and he meant to say “church”.

Secondly, while the phrase “animal rights” has a hippie woo-woo fringe
air about it, it’s not crazy. If you can agree that cows should be
slaughtered “humanely” (i.e., quickly and as painlessly as possible),
or that there should be a law against putting a dog on a lit barbecue,
then congratulations, you’ve accepted the basic principle that certain
animals should have certain rights. Everything else is negociation
over which animals and which rights.

Furthermore, you don’t need evolution or common descent to support
Spain’s animal rights bill. We know from centuries of experience that
animals react in ways we can empathize with to prodding, stabbing,
fire, hunger, loud noises, and so on (as anyone whose teeth are set on
edge when an Extruded Fantasy Product novel treats horses merely as
vehicles can tell you).

Comparative anatomy shows that this isn’t just an illusion. All
mammals have nerves very much like humans do, which react to the same
stimuli in the same way. From that, it’s no great leap to the notion
that animals feel things like pain the same way as we do, and if we
are compassionate, we should extend to nonhuman creatures some of the
same rights as we do to other humans.

All that evolution and common descent add is an explanation for why
these similarities exist in the first place.

This nonsense about humans, and only humans, being created in God’s
image is just “I’m special because Daddy likes me more than you”. And
they say atheists are arrogant.

(Oh, and I love the irony that on one hand, evolution is supposed to make you immoral (“if you’re just an animal, why not behave like an animal?”), and on the other hand, evolution evidently causes excessive concern for other creatures.)

6 thoughts on “Dembski on Animal Rights”

  1. Isn’t that weird? All this time I though that Dembski’s theory was effectively the current theory of evolution + magic. Now it appears that he’s not buying into common descent and throwing away a hefty chunk of evolutionary theory. Is ID now just the theory of magical intervention and spontaneous generation? Does Dembski actually reject our common ancestry?


  2. I’ve never been entirely clear on exactly which parts of science Dembski accepts and which ones he doesn’t (not that I’ve been following all that closely, mind).

    Perhaps he started out believing that mainstream science was roughly correct, and just needed a few tweaks, kind of like Behe’s stated position. But the continued strain of having to believe multiple contradictory positions is starting to strain his mind.

    Or perhaps he thinks that “created in God’s image” involves some sort of magical substance that God sprinkled on humans but not on other animals.


  3. And Wild Bill continues with his usual unintentional irony: ….This action in Spain may for now seem benign, but I sense lunacy around the corner — no doubt referring to his commenters ;-). (Though I note that some to their credit recognize that the case against animal cruelty can be made independent of claims about relatedness.)

    I think Dumbstruck has lost the ability (if he ever had it) to control his mouth and stick to the party line.


  4. (Though I note that some to their credit recognize that the case against animal cruelty can be made independent of claims about relatedness.)

    This is true, though I’m struck by this comment:

    Worse, there are sub-humans who, for the sake of their own amusement, pit one animal against another in a cage and let them fight to the death. That is one of the many reasons, by the way, why we should believe in hell. People who torture animals for fun should be given the appropriate accommodations after death.

    Admirable sentiment, utterly wrong conclusion: this sort of thing is precisely why one should not believe in Hell, or at least act as if there’s no such thing.

    It’s nice to think that God or karma will catch up to evildoers eventually and impose justice, but if you believe that, then there’s less of an incentive to get up and do something about it.

    The attitude that “if we don’t solve our problems, no one will” is uncomfortable, but it produces better results than “someone’ll fix that eventually”.


  5. arensb,

    Or perhaps he thinks that “created in God’s image” involves some sort of magical substance that God sprinkled on humans but not on other animals.

    “…Zeus then visited Danae, disguised as a shower of gold…” Ew.


  6. Fez:
    What can I say? The Greek gods were into kink. (Of course, YHWH seems to be into BDSM, but as Jesus said, “Let him who is without kink take the first leak.”)


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