Of cows and man
Hypocrisy and downright absurd behaviour at the bottom of the world
Over the course of the past 12 months, New Zealand has been through a number of enforced lockdowns due to COVID-19. Despite these setbacks, our government’s response to the disease has been internationally lauded as an example of how to effectively manage a pandemic.1
Some countries—initially, at least—placed their economies ahead of health outcomes. New Zealand, however, chose a different path. From the beginning, the government aimed to eliminate community transmission of the virus. The focus was on saving human life, without regard for age or underlying health conditions, despite the inevitable cost.
From a biblical perspective, this emphasis on the value of life is to be commended. We are all made in the image of God, despite living in a fallen world. As such, we should do everything in our power to extend the life and minimize the suffering of our fellow human beings.
It makes very little sense, however, if atheistic evolution is true. ‘Survival of the fittest’ is supposed to be the key to evolutionary progress. Why, then, should we care about prolonging the life of those least likely to survive a virus? Particularly when the most susceptible are well past their reproductive use-by date.
Sadly, this same valuing of human life does not extend to the most vulnerable in our society. As New Zealand enacted the government’s lifesaving COVID-19 strategy, our parliament passed the Abortion Legislation Act 2020.2,3
The law change was aimed at removing abortion from the Crimes Act. This was to reflect the (sad) reality of abortion in this country. However, the pro-abortion lobby seized the opportunity to implement one of the most extreme pieces of abortion legislation in the world.
Abortion is now available up to birth on demand for any reason. (After 20 weeks, the abortion must be ‘clinically appropriate in the circumstances’. Experience with the previous legislation tells us that this will, in most cases, be a foregone conclusion.4)
There is now no legal age limit on seeking or having an abortion. Parental notification is not required for minors. Sex-selective abortions are legal (an amendment to ban sex-selective abortions was voted down by members of parliament). The 20-week limit for disability-selective abortions has been scrapped. And babies born alive after a ‘failed’ abortion do not have to be given medical support.
This contradiction in valuing human life is hard to comprehend. It is also impossible to reconcile with evolution. If those with the highest reproductive rate are more likely to contribute to evolutionary progress, as evolutionists would have us believe, why would otherwise healthy individuals choose to abort their offspring?
Most abortions in New Zealand are performed because our society has deemed unwanted pregnancy to be an inconvenience that can be ‘solved’ by medical intervention. This stands in stark contrast to the biblical understanding of life.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13–14.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5.
All human beings, including the pre-born, are of immeasurable value to our Creator (Is the Bible anti-abortion?).
The Cow Connection
So how, might you ask, does this relate to cows? Let me explain.
New Zealand is also held up internationally as a model for the efficient production of dairy products. We are the world’s largest exporter, accounting for over 20% of the dairy export trade. This is more than twice as much as our nearest competitor.6
To produce milk, cows must have calves. For maximum efficiency, it is preferable that the cows all calve at the same time. As such, late calving cows can be ‘inconvenient’ for the farmer. One way to solve this problem is to induce the cow, which results in calves either born dead, or requiring euthanasia because they are not viable.7
Animal welfare groups and their political allies decried this procedure. One politician called the practice “inhumane and cruel” and called for the removal of induction-drugs from the market. She even claimed that vets who carried out inductions were engaged in “a breach of their code”.8 As a result, since June 2015 induction of dairy cows to abort their calves in New Zealand has been banned, except where the welfare or survival of the cow, or the calf, is at risk.9 And yet this same politician, in a speech advocating human abortion, reportedly said: “it’s incredible that abortion is still such a contentious and divisive issue”!8
Connecting the COVID circle
In July 2017, samples taken from a dairy herd in New Zealand’s South Island tested positive for Mycoplasma bovis.10 This bacterium had not previously been found in this country.
M. bovis causes a range of conditions, including mastitis in dairy cows, arthritis in cows and calves, and pneumonia in calves (among other things). It does not infect humans and presents no food safety risk.11
Many countries around the world have learned to live with M. bovis and the associated conditions can be managed. However, in May 2018 the New Zealand government announced its intention to eradicate M. bovis from this country.12 Infected properties were placed under quarantine. Movement of animals and other risk goods, on and off these properties, was restricted. Ongoing surveillance will include testing of samples from infected properties and tracing of cattle movements around the country.
This response is remarkably similar to our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is, however, one glaring exception. All cattle from M. bovis infected properties, even those that are asymptomatic, will be slaughtered. To date, more than 100,000 animals have been culled.13
So, in this crazy, upside down world we live in, it is government policy to allow abortion of a human child, while doing everything possible to keep a born human being alive, no matter how sick. And it is also government policy to prohibit abortion of a dairy calf, but if one cow gets sick, we must kill every member of the herd, no matter how healthy!
Inconsistent thinking points to the Truth
Such conflicting estimations of the value of human and animal life make no sense—except in light of the Bible.
Because we are made in His image, we are capable of great compassion. Because He has given us dominion over fish, birds, and livestock, we are concerned about the welfare of all life on this planet. Because we live in a fallen world, and are slaves to sin, we are also capable of unimaginable cruelty.
And, because we have an enemy who is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), and who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10), we can so easily fall into foolish reasoning.
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…” (Romans 1:21–22)
Glass houses and stones
It’s not our job to judge individuals. We are, however, instructed to “destroy arguments that set themselves up against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5, emphasis added). But if we are to use the Bible to highlight illogical thinking, we must first be sure that our own interpretation of the Bible is logically consistent.
To claim that the Bible is true in its moral teaching, but passages written as history don’t mean what they plainly say, is illogical. This opens us up to the same charge of hypocrisy that we level at our opponents. And it’s absolutely unnecessary.
This is why CMI is so passionately committed to showing that the Bible can be trusted from the very first verse. This is why we show that science properly interpreted does not contradict, but actually confirms, the Biblical account of creation.
And remember, when highlighting the flaws in someone else’s worldview, there but for the grace of God—the Creator God of the Bible—go you and I.
References and notes
- Some are winning—some are not: Which countries do best in beating Covid-19? endcoronavirus.org/countries, accessed 12 October 2020. Return to text.
- Abortion Legislation Bill, legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2019/0164/latest/LMS237550.html, accessed 12 October 2020. Return to text.
- Abortion legislation: information for health practitioners, health.govt.nz/our-work/regulation-health-and-disability-system/abortion-legislation-information-health-practitioners, 26 June 2020. Return to text.
- Abortion Legislation Act 2020 – Here’s how extreme it is…, familyfirst.org.nz/2020/04/abortion-legislation-act-2020-heres-how-extreme-it-is, accessed 12 October 2020. Return to text.
- The law around abortion, familyplanning.org.nz/advice/abortion/the-law-around-abortion, accessed 12 October 2020. Return to text.
- Workman, D., Top milk exporting countries, worldstopexports.com/top-milk-exporting-countries, 5 October 2020. Return to text.
- What is calving induction? kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-calving-induction, 3 May 2019. Return to text.
- Henson, N., Greens—induced law is kinder to cattle, stuff.co.nz/business/farming/10602636/Greens-induced-law-is-kinder-to-cattle, 12 October 2014. Return to text.
- Induction ban no biggie—vet, ruralnewsgroup.co.nz/rural-news/rural-farm-health/induction-ban-no-biggie-vet, 15 September 2015. Return to text.
- History and background to the eradication programme, mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/what-is-mpi-doing/history-and-background-to-the-eradication-programme/, 12 September 2020. Return to text.
- What is Mycoplasma bovis? mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/what-is-mycoplasma-bovis/, 12 September 2020. Return to text.
- Eradication decision, mpi.govt.nz/protection-and-response/mycoplasma-bovis/what-is-mpi-doing/eradication-decision/, 12 September 2020. Return to text.
- Taunton, E., stuff.co.nz/business/farming/112883599/close-to-100000-cattle-culled-in-first-year-of-m-bovis-eradication-attempt, 22 May 2019. Return to text.