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Anthropopathism:- Excessive Regard for Animals

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Anthropopathism is the attribution of human feelings to inanimate objects, natural phenomena and to animals. In the late Greek etymology of this word (anthropopathes), it was thought that these things, or animals, had human characteristics, or were somehow capable of feeling as humans. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human motivation, characteristics and behaviour to the same things, so the two errors are linked.

In this brief article we will look at how humans attribute human feelings, thoughts and passions to animals, which can lead to an inappropriate idea of God. I like animals but am not an ‘animal lover’ as such. To me, animals are just creatures that populate the earth. If folks wish to be animal lovers that is their choice, but this Outline asks several questions of attitudes that often spill over into the realm of the unrealistic or even unbiblical.

One such error is to claim that animals can be ‘homosexual’ by trying to mate with the same sex animal of the same species. This is a blatant anthropopathism that highlights the folly, and even godlessness, of trying to give animals human qualities.

A similar error is to attribute human qualities to God. Sadly, many Christians, mostly inadvertently, are anthropopathites. It is from this muddy water of anthropopathism that we get such questions as “Does God change His mind?” We think He does because we do! To ask the question, however, is to identify a failure in our thinking as Believers, for asking the question contradicts the nature of God. (There are finer arguments we can use to prove that God does not change His mind, but these are best left to detailed analysis of Bible texts).

In this short article we will only look at how humans attribute human emotions, thoughts and actions to animals. It is a fact that many Christians do this, and, in Christians it is not just inappropriate – it is bordering on blasphemy. It is certainly very sloppy thinking based on an excessive emotional bond to animals, which leads an human being to place more emphasis on animals than should be given.

Animals are, believe it or not, just animals! They are not humans in fur, or some other non-human-skin covering! Animals are not created like humans, but are lowest in the realm of created living beings, just as Humans are created lower than angels. To not understand this is to fly off at a tangent, and even become unduly protective and demanding on behalf of animals. This is how so many become ‘animal rights’ activists. And why so many humans give vast sums to animal charities instead of to human needs. That is, animals are given rights and position higher than, or equal to, those given to humans. And that is not scriptural… no Christian should be anthropopathic, because it is very close to pantheism and other errors.

How often we do hear that someone’s dog or cat ‘loves’ its owner? Or is said to be ‘suspicious’ of the owner. Or, we watch a wildlife film and say of an animal caught by a lion, that it is ‘petrified’. Or, we see a dog shivering in a corner because it has been abused, and say it is ‘frightened’? None of these responses are found in animals!

We think because a dog puts its head on our lap, that it ‘loves’ us. In reality it does it because it is showing dominance as an alpha male! Or, we say a cat comes running to us when we open a tin of food, because it ‘knows we care’. No it doesn’t – it is just acting naturally and instinctively: there is food, the cat smells it, and so comes running. No emotions involved at any time.

An animal has no idea whether or not we love it, and does not love us. It has no emotional response to humans at all, but acts by instinct. To suggest otherwise is to say animals were created equal to humans, with thought processes and emotions designed by God for humans. Once an animal has ‘thoughts’ and ‘emotions’ it has the ability to answer the command of God to be saved! See how absurd it gets?

It does not matter how ‘clever’ we think an animal is… it is not clever! It is merely acting out animal intuitiveness put into it by God. No matter how much we believe an animal ‘thinks’, it does not: it acts that way because God ‘hardwired’ it to act that way. Remember, once we say an animal is capable of thought, it is ultimately capable of thinking about salvation! (Of course, this depends on what language an animal ‘thinks’ in!). To ‘think’ requires us to have knowledge of language, and animals have no language to speak of, only sounds and intuition. An animal can only act within a set framework of parameters pre-set by God. Whatever it does is always within that framework; there is no option to ‘think’ or to use alternatives, no matter how ‘clever’ we believe an animal is. The chimp that uses limited sign-language? It is not proof that it is thinking, only that it has copied behaviour and links it to getting something in return… a kind of advance on Pavlov’s dogs! In other words – intuition.

And the modern idea of animals being ‘homosexual’ is not just an absurdity; it is the product of homosexual activists, who, in an attempt to ‘normalise’ their own human sexual sins, try to say homosexuality is rife throughout creation. Homosexuality is a deliberate choice coming from irrational thinking. An animal is incapable of this, and any same-sex activity is not because of ‘attraction’ and thought-out desires… it is just an aberration of standard instinctual activity, a mistake. It might even be that the male animal it tries to mate with has itself mated with a female and carries the female’s scent on its fur or coat, confusing another male animal.

Christian animal lovers should not subvert the natural order created by God. To do so is to be erroneous and, taken to extreme, blasphemous.

(Note: Anthroposophy is a separate and unconnected philosophy).

© April 2010

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