Monday, February 25, 2008

AR, ID, and Evo

In the fascinating blog "ERV", scroll down the post to the header "Tard Fight", where blogger S. A. Smith gives us the edifying spectacle of two creationists bashing each other over Animal Rights, one arguing that if evolution is right then so is PETA and the other, I guess, that Jesus was a veggie and Meat Is Murder. !

I think readers of this blog can agree with Ms. Smith that these two are idiots. But the post got me thinking that there are three ways that evolutionists (who may or may not be secularists- as I have noted before, there are plenty of straight- up, non "ID" evolutionists who are also religious-- some even read Richard Dawkins!) could approach eating other animals.

One: we are all of equal value and everybody eats everybody. It is called the ecosystem.

Two: humans have at least one unique quality, speech (please don't email me about parrots and especially chimps-- I am just following accepted consensus science here, albeit somewhat nervously with African gray parrots-- I wouldn't eat one!) And also (NOT "therefore") you can eat other species. Call this "soft speciesism" which is practiced by all species-- putting their own species first.

Three: call it the Nietszchean or post- humanist view: all animals including humans can be objects to be acted upon. This is implicit or explicit in a lot of modern dystopian fiction; see Steve Stirling's Drakon or Mitchell Smith's "Snowfall trilogy" novels (the second volume, Kingdom River, begins to make the premise explicit, with both genetic engineering and cannibalism.)

I find the premises of ERV's competing Christians absurd, propositions one and two both sane and sensible, and number three utterly sinister.


Matt Mullenix said...

Funny, I've just picked up Adam's Task by recommendation of Q. readers. The opening sections detail how chimps speak and whether that makes them more or less successfully linguistic than dogs. An interesting question; Hearne's take seems to be that wild animals (she includes the hand-raised and educated chimp in that group) are qualitatively different than dogs and horses, who come by their communication skills (with humans, anyway) over generations through domestication.

She gives the dogs more credit for moral capacity than the chimp in question---also interesting. My take (and I realize I am not responding well to your post Steve) is that sign language may be insufficient a tool to communicate with an animal so complex and also like ourselves as chimpanzees. More pointedly, science may be insufficient a method to promote communication with any animal; I meant that insofar as the signing experiments have been conducted scientifically, they may be failing to promote understanding.

It occurred to me that my children, were they raised in the equivelent of a McDonald's playground and communicated with only on a regular schedule through sign language, might grow up to bite people also.

I'm still reading. It's a hell of a neat book!

Anonymous said...

well, I don't think we should eat our cousins (the nonhuman hominids). It seems too much like cannibalism... but humans do that.

We humans keep setting the bar higher for why we are better/smarter than other animal species. The other species just keep leaping over those bars, darn them. There was a time when we said other animals didn't use tools, and that was why we were better/smarter.

And of course, while humans are great at being humans (which makes us smarter than everyone else), we're not so great at being, say, dogs. If we had to do what dogs do, we'd go extinct.

Or viruses...