February 2, 2023 | J.Y. Jones

On the Origin of Speciesism, Part 1

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: SPECIESISM IN BIOLOGY AND CULTURE

by J. Y. Jones, M.D.

In yesterday’s look at a press release about a new book, we considered the authors’ proposal of eliminating the species concept in favor of a more “advanced” approach. This change would remove mankind from the top of the species pyramid and equalize all life while eliminating the concept of human exceptionalism. This radical step, which the animal rights movement has pushed in some form for decades, would effectively end civilization as we know it, in favor of equalization of all current life (giving mankind no advantage over the amoeba, for example).

We discussed earlier the major limitations of this prospective policy actually being implemented. Among the consequences would naturally be the outright elimination, or very severe restriction, of most human activities, plus all future advances. Thankfully, we still have a representative government, which would hopefully pose an obstacle to this policy ever becoming law (however, maybe not; some of their recent “woke” legislative and executive actions would certainly be in line with such an illogical mandate). In this segment we will look at the subject book in more detailed fashion.

The Book: Chapter by Chapter

PART I: BIOLOGY AND CULTURE

1: Speciesism, Science, and Society
by Brian Swartz and Brent D. Mishler

Chapter 1 of “Speciesism”[1] speaks of “a myopia of perceived dominion,” in other words we only “think” we have dominion over nature.  The fact is that we not only think we are the dominant species, so do animals that might threaten us, such as bears. Before the Flood of Noah, there apparently was no fear of mankind by even the most ferocious beasts. After the flood, God told Noah two telling new facts[2]: One, He would allow mankind to eat meat, so perhaps some kind of plant that produced an abundance of essential amino acids and vitamins (such as B12) failed to survive the flood.

Second, God put a fear of mankind on all the animal kingdom, both for preservation of man and perhaps for protection of animal species from man. Anyone wanting to get a close look at a wild grizzly bear would be well advised to keep the wind advantage (approach from downwind), because one sniff of human scent and the largest of these huge omnivores is headed the other way as fast as it can run (human acclimated park specimens may have been conditioned to tolerate man, however). There is absolutely no evolutionary reason for this fear; it was an extremely dangerous, almost suicidal, task for any man to take on a 1,000 pound grizzly before the advent of modern firearms. The Bible perfectly explains this otherwise inexplicable fear.

2: Race and Human Genomic Variation
by Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther

Chapters 2 and 3 focus on genetic variations between human populations, as well as a redefinition of terms to accommodate the new subject concept. Reading them has revealed only a minor variation from standard evolutionary dogma, so I will leave it at that.

3: Science Without Species: Doing Science with Tree-Thinking
by Nicholas J. Matzke

Chapter 3 focuses on “Science without Species,” focusing on phylogeny, and goes all the way back to Darwin’s Origin of Species in an effort to demonstrate that Darwin himself may have harbored a problem with species designations. God obviously didn’t have any reservations on this subject, for perhaps the first task He assigned to His new creation, Adam, was to name the various “animals and birds.”[3] Despite reams of charts and data, it still likely appears very fuzzy how such a “species absent” system would work.

PART II: CULTURE AND HISTORY

4: ‘Detritus of a Coming World’: The Colonization of Islands as Microcosms for Human Impacts on an Interplanetary Scale
by Scott M. Fitzpatrick

Chapter 4 addresses future scientific endeavors where the subject of possible interplanetary travel becomes very much central, a subject I will address next.

The late Carl Sagan was a leading proponent of the search for life on Mars. Now Elon Musk believes migration to Mars is necessary to save humanity.

We have been on this planet for millennia, and until very recently the earth’s creatures knew we were here only through occasional encounters. That we are the designated keeper of the planet (and any other body we might be able to inhabit—but my own opinion is that our dominion will never reach beyond earth unless we master magnetism, magnetic fields, and the still-mysterious related force known as gravity. In addition, we need to progress far beyond the need to combine hydrogen and oxygen to generate thrust, or else spacecraft will never be able to carry onboard sufficient fuel for extended manned missions. Additionally, while a rocket launching is impressive, the limited thrust generated is puny when compared to necessary speeds for the relatively modest goal of conquering our own Solar System. Without mastering the magnetism/gravity disciplines, it is all but impossible to devise details for even a manned expedition to Mars, one that, with current technology, would almost certainly be a suicide mission.

It is also strongly implied here that there is little time left before our planet becomes uninhabitable, which is only a scare tactic designed to frighten a recalcitrant population into accepting unacceptable reforms. Earth will remain, and be inhabitable, until the predicted human drama plays out. But regarding space travel, my opinion on this subject could even find some support in the subject book, where adjunct author Scott M. Fitzpatrick states,

For the most part, neither Mars nor other celestial bodies provide any real economic incentive to establish a colony. The mineral resources found on the Red Planet are substantial, but currently not economically viable for mining and shipment back to Earth, which would require transporting huge amounts of equipment and personnel. The most likely rationale for human colonization of the Red Planet would be to determine ways in which our species could survive the physically and psychologically grueling trip through space for 5–9 months using current technologies—a testing ground if you will—for eventual settlement and residence that lasts years or even decades. Similar to what probably occurred in the Pacific during Polynesian expansion, it is equally plausible that some Mars colonists would face the precarious reality of never coming home even if they initially arrived safely.[4]

While I have a Genesis Flood perspective of the Polynesian expansion, this quoted statement  is otherwise in synchronization with my own. The value of a Mars mining operation would be multiplied many times over if we could create and sustain artificial gravity for bases on our Moon, on Mars, and on interplanetary (and eventually on interstellar) spacecraft. The value to the needed bases would be incalculable, especially if almost infinitely faster spacecraft could be constructed. My faith in Christ nullifies any anxiety I might otherwise have over future space travel, but it makes interesting contemplation.

5: Species, God, and Dominion
by John S. Wilkins

Chapter 5 asserts that theological and philosophical considerations, not practical need, is the “origin of species (as a concept).” He asserts that the notion of species is inimical to science and is not needed, since it retains much of its original religious origins and emphasizes human exceptionalism. The result, according to the author (John S. Wilkins) is human exceptionalism to the detriment of ecological stewardship. I could hardly disagree more. If Jesus Christ is the Creator, as asserted in Scripture, He has every right to assign to mankind the responsibility of stewardship of the earth and all its inhabitants. Of course, if he is an atheist, Wilkins would not be privileged to recognize this all-important top-down delegation of authority.

In Speciesism, Wilkins states, “The United States Endangered Species Act of 1973 made identifying species critical in the politics of the environment. The ‘default’ Christian view of nature, according to many introductory books and papers, is that humanity (or in patriarchal language, ‘Man’) is separate from and superior to nature, and so it [my note: nature] may be exploited for human benefit.”[5] I submit that there is very little truth in this assessment, although man is certainly an exceptional creature that is most unique in that humanity carries the stamp of the Divine and has a mandate to manage the earth for its highest good.

In the Biblical worldview, God created man in his own image, and gave him dominion over creation. (Creation Museum, Answers in Genesis, KY).

There is no term for exploitation, as far as I know, in the Holy Scriptures, and certainly not as a part of the dominion mandate of Genesis. For practical purposes, the ESA should have been named, much more accurately, the “Endangered Subspecies Act.” Many animals are protected to the detriment of human enterprise, and in far too many instances run counter to effective conservation measures. Those animals designated as threatened or endangered are mostly subspecies of a much more abundant parent species (Florida panther, Key deer, Columbia whitetail, and spotted owl, to name a very few). Congress could solve numerous problems by defining species and subspecies, and only protecting members of a truly endangered species. In this sense, the term species, in order to be changed or redefined, will require another act of Congress. I can foresee no such legislative action based on the overblown influence of radical protectionism, plus what my own experience with Congress has taught me.

A page later, Dr. Wilkins states “A ‘Christian ecology’ movement, the Stewards, did arise after this, but it seems to have involved just the elite—theologians, clergy, and activists—with little effect on ordinary lay Christians. And in reaction to what attempts were made to be more ecological in theology, both Christian politicians and conservative thinkers still asserted the ‘Reagan view.’ For instance, the Bible does not recognize mammals (since they were first defined by Linnaeus in 1735), but religious folk seem to have no issue with using that notion in ordinary life; while other terms, like fish, which includes both crocodiles and cetaceans in the Bible: Gen 1:26, 28; Job 41:1.”[6]

I see no reference to either crocodiles or cetaceans in either of these Scriptural passages; both Genesis verses either state a mammal (cattle) or allow for mammals among all the land-dwelling animals mentioned. Most conservative Christians with PhDs in biology or biochemistry agree that “Leviathan” is not a crocodile (it can’t be, as farther along the Job passage makes clear). The most likely candidate, and one that fits the cited passage best, is a dinosaur, either a sauropod or theropod like Tyrannosaurus rex. Of course this view is problematic for evolutionists, since this would undeniably put a dinosaur on the Earth with man. No better explanation has come along to sort out this detail. Dinosaur kinds, perhaps juveniles, certainly survived the universal flood of Noah, but were unable to cope with the radically changed climate that ensued, so the species gradually disappeared after the Great Flood (along with a host of other species; there were no need for subspecies on the Ark).

This view is uniquely Christian (though Muslims do accept it as well), but is strongly promoted and defended in numerous papers here at Creation-Evolution Headlines, and in many current creationist publications. The more recent findings of Dr. Mary Schweitzer indicate, practically beyond doubt, a far younger calculated age for T. rex and other dinosaurs[7] than the standard evolutionist view. Most of the atheistic, materialistic, and naturalistic community disputes her claim, and scrambles to find some mechanism by which dinosaur proteins, collagen, red blood cells or other cells, and even DNA, could have survived for millions of years. Instead of revising the historical calendar to a few thousand years (about 6,000 biblical years, in fact, would be about right), as the data require. Instead, orthodox Darwinists seek methods that preserve their need for countless millions of years in order for evolution to accomplish its impossible task, given any amount of time. Watching the scramble for an answer is sometimes amusing, other times pitiable.

Let’s address the problem of “kinds” aboard the Ark of Noah. It is here that Dr. Wilkins falls flat. He fails to give even a word of credence to the modern creation movement’s treatment of the Ark, which has eliminated the problem related to its volume and tonnage, and the number of animals of all kinds that such a vessel could sustain. If fact, by modern shipbuilding standards, the vessel as described in Genesis 6 is widely acclaimed as the ideal vessel for its upcoming job: to float.  Of course, no ship is recorded to have ever been built before the Ark, so the advanced knowledge of what was needed is unique and, for certain, perplexing to those whose opinion of supernaturalism is “superstition.” In view of the fact that, except for those aboard the Ark,  “all that was on the earth, perished, birds and cattle and beasts and every swarming thing that swarms upon the earth, and all mankind, of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died.”[8] One can now visit a full-scale replica of the Ark, using the biblical dimensions, near Williamstown, KY.

The late Drs. John Whitcomb (ThD) and Henry Morris (PhD), long ago cited a calculation that should have put to rest all doubt that the Biblical Ark was up to the task in capacity. This calculation appeared repeatedly in “The Genesis Flood,” their book that was first published in 1961[9] (by 1985, when my own copy was published, this work was in its 28th printing!). “The Ark had a calculated carrying capacity equal to that of 522 standard stock cars used by modern railroads or eight freight trains with sixty-five such cars in each…This means that at least 240 animals of the size of sheep could be accommodated in a standard two-decked stock car. Two trains hauling 73 such cars each would thus be ample to carry 35,000 animals.” Slightly more than this is the approximate number of kinds that had to be in the Ark to survive, even including now-extinct land animals such as dinosaurs. Larger types of prehistoric (and maybe even elephants and other large current day animals) would have been represented by young specimen pairs. It is extremely thought provoking to read the actual breakdown of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibians, etc, in this older book—and there are several updated versions of these calculations that make the point even more difficult to refute.

The chapter on dominion of man over the animal and plant kingdoms disappoints. It fails to take on the Biblical mandate for man to care for the earth’s created beings, be they animal or plant (or archaea, prokaryotes, or eukaryotes), and thus does little to advance this erroneous concept of the new sin, “speciesism.” He uses Scripture mostly appropriately as far as I can tell, but never makes a case of any kind against man’s exceptionalism. In fact, he contributes to this concept is several ways. He leaves very little for me to rebut, apart from the information above, but I appreciate his treatment of the subject.

To be continued: See Part 2 tomorrow for comments on chapters 6-9.

References

[1] Speciesism in Biology and Culture, Editors Brian Swartz and Brent D. Mishler, UC Berkeley, Springer International Publishing, 01/09/2023.

Read Dr Jones’ fast-moving and dramatic novel about a world in which animal rights activism runs amok.

[2] Genesis 9:2-3, NASB

[3] Genesis 2:19-20, NASB

[4] Speciesism in Biology and Culture, Editors Brian Swartz and Brent D. Mishler, UC Berkeley, Springer International Publishing, 01/09/2023; p 82

[5] Ibid, p 96

[6] Ibid, p 97

[7] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/dinosaur-shocker-115306469/

[8] Genesis 7: 21-22, NASB

[9] The Genesis Flood, Whitcomb and Morris, 28th printing, 1985, pp 67-69.


J.Y. Jones MD has been an eye physician and surgeon for five decades. He is a decorated Vietnam veteran, speaks Spanish, and has volunteered in 28 overseas eye-surgery mission trips. He has received numerous awards for writing and photography, and is a frequent speaker at sportsmen’s events, where he particularly enjoys sharing his Christian testi­mony. J.   Y. and his wife Linda have been married since 1964.

Dr. Jones is an avid hunter who has taken all North American big game species using the same Remington .30-06 rifle, resulting in the book One Man, One Rifle, One Land (Safari Press, 2001); Dr. Jones helped Safari Press produce the Ask the Guides series, their most successful North American hunting books. He has written 14 books and some 300 short articles for various periodicals. For more articles by Dr Jones, visit his Author Profile page.

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