This article is from
Creation 16(2):45, March 1994

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A ‘Bill of Rights’ for apes?


The Great Ape Project is a series of essays put together by some of the world’s leading evolutionist biologists and philosophers. It is being launched in association with a Declaration on Great Apes. This is, in effect, a ‘citizen’s charter’ for chimps, gorillas and orangutans.1

The message is clear: because they are so close in evolutionary terms to humans, great apes ‘deserve the same moral status’. Not only may they no longer be kept in cages or used for medical research, but they must be regarded under law as ‘persons’ rather than property, perhaps having guardians as do some young or retarded people, if the eminent proponents of this ‘Magna Chimpa’ are to be heeded.

Their arguments draw heavily on the opinions of Jane Goodall (the well-known student of wild Tanzanian chimpanzees) concerning the ‘rich and varied social and emotional lives’ she believes these animals have. Ironically, evolutionist Ronald Nadler of the Yerkes Regional Primate Research Center, who has studied both wild and caged specimens, thinks that Goodall has ‘exaggerated the intellectual nature of the animal and also exaggerated the negative aspect of conditions in which we keep them’.

Chimps are especially favoured by ‘animal-righters’ because of the many DNA similarities they have with humans. The very influential Professor Jared Diamond even insists that biologically, man should be classified as a third species of chimpanzee. Oxford biology professor Richard Dawkins says ‘We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes’.2

Dawkins, a clever and persuasive promoter of evolution, asks us to imagine holding hands in an unbroken chain with our ancestors. We hold our mother’s hand, she holds her mother’s, and so forth.

After only 300 miles of such a ‘human chain’, says Dawkins, we would have reached the ancestor we share with chimpanzees. In other words, if we had another line stretching backwards from a present-day chimp, the two lines would converge in that one individual.3

All the representatives of the more distant ‘intermediate types’ happen to be dead, he says, which he regards as a regrettable chance occurrence, since he would ‘love to meet them’. The implication is that if their kind had survived, it would be obvious how absurd it was to treat apes and humans differently in moral terms. And, although chimps and humans are not able to interbreed, each member of such a chain would be able to interbreed with those fairly close to it. So he speculates that if some of these intermediate species had survived to the present, they could form a ‘hybridizing link’ to chimpanzees. In other words, he claims, it would then be possible to breed with someone who could breed with someone else who could breed with a chimpanzee! Dawkins says that the belief in the absolute humanness of humans is the cause of ‘much evil’. Of course, to a consistent evolutionist, there are no absolutes with which to define good and evil. It might be ‘evil’ (to Dawkins and many others today) to prevent someone aborting a child—he clearly sees it as ‘evil’ to keep chimps in labs for medical research to cure human diseases.

All of this is only one more logical step for a society which believes in evolution and has largely rejected Genesis. If humans are only evolved animals, and are not special creations in the image of God, what moral and ethical basis is there, indeed, for treating them any differently? Do away with belief in the created uniqueness of people with their immortal souls, and there are then no more black and white distinctions between human beings and animals, just shades of grey.

If the Genesis origin of man is no longer regarded as the true and authoritative basis of our law and ethics, then of course it’s OK to kill an unborn child. Or an old person with advanced Alzheimer’s disease, for instance, if society decides it is convenient. After all, neither of these two humans has a ‘rich and varied social and emotional life’ compared to an adult chimp. How tragic that there are many in the churches who are compromising with this deadly philosophy.

References and footnotes

  1. New Scientist, June 5, 1993, pp. 36–42.
  2. ibid.
  3. For a refutation of the whole notion of ‘human evolution’, see Marvin L. Lubenow, Bones of Contention: A Creationist Assessment of the Human Fossils, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids (Michigan), 1992.