Do animal have “rights”? The esteemed Christian apologist C.S. Lewis seemed to think so, for he said:
“If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.”
An odd perspective, made perhaps more understandable when one considers his conflicted beliefs about the nature of animals. On the one hand, Lewis apparently believed that animals, like humans, are immortal–that is, that dogs go to heaven. On the other hand, he did not see in animals any sign that they possessed a soul or a self-consciousness; from this, he concluded that animals will experience pain differently than humans.
Here in the United States, the animal rights advocacy group Mercy For Animals recently released an undercover video documenting abuse of chickens at Briarwood Farms, a chicken farm in Washington state which sells eggs to America’s largest egg producer, Eggland’s Best. The result was turmoil in the agriculture and animal husbandry industry: a consumer demand for cage-free habitats for chickens, a threat of a boycott, and an investigation by Eggland’s Best of its egg suppliers nationwide.
However, the argument to this is that chickens are cared for properly in home farms, where essentially they are raised in someone’s backyard. With spacious chicken coops now available to purchase, chickens have much more freedom to roam and are much less likely to be cramped in a tiny space like commercial farms.
I talk about the problem over at the National Catholic Register, and ask this question: Do animals have rights? My conclusion is:
“Well, no. Only persons have rights; and despite the hype from animal rights activists, animals are not ‘persons.'”
So do animals deserve mercy? Again, I say “No.”
But there is another reason why we must treat them with respect and kindness. God gave man dominion over the animals, and we may use them for food, for shelter, for clothing, and for labor; but we must ensure that their lives are comfortable and their deaths are painless.
Read the whole thing here.