According to a recent book by a professor at the University of Colorado, animals have a sense of morality just as humans do. In essence, the book says that “different species of animals appear to have an innate sense of fairness, display empathy and help other animals that are in distress.”
The book is newsworthy not merely because it contradicts the age-old assumption that only humans can tell right from wrong, but also because it lays the ethical groundwork for extending human rights to animals. The U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper reports it this way: “His conclusions will provide ammunition for animal welfare groups pushing to have animals treated more humanely.”
I don’t think anyone has a problem with treating animals humanely. There is biblical warrant for doing just that (Proverbs 12:10). The problem comes, however, when people began to treat animals as if they were human. The biblical precedent for this is not one to be emulated (Jonah 3:7; 4:11).
The Bible teaches that human beings alone bear the dignity of being created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27; 5:1; 9:6). Thus the sanctity of human life cannot be gainsaid by any study that would suggest otherwise.