The value of animal life
     We value things according to what they do for us. When Iím driving and I see a rock in the road, I avoid it for the sake of my car. I care about the car, not for its sake alone, but because the car gets me around. The carís value depends on what it can do for me.
     If I see a squirrel, I might slow down. It wonít hurt my car, but I donít want to hurt
it. If I see a deer, I certainly slow down. Iím afraid of something that big with the intelligence of a squirrel.
     If I see a cat I slow down. It wonít hurt my car, but thatís someoneís kitty. The same goes for a dog. I will not hurt someoneís doggie if I can help it. I would cry if I killed a dog.
     Now if I see a little baby wandering toward the road, I will stop the car and rescue the baby. This is a human being.
     Western society attaches more value to humans than to animals. Our Judeo-Christian tradition tells us that humans reflect God in a higher way than animals. We relate to God in a different way.
     Itís not that we care about humans and not animals, but we care more for human life. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told us, ďDo not worry about your life . . . Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?Ē Jesus said that not one sparrow will fall to the ground apart from the will of our Father, and he added, ďYou are worth more than many sparrows.Ē God cares about sparrows, and he cares more about us.
Matthew 6:25, 10:31
     Western society traditionally considers man and animals different in kind, not only in degree. We have seen man as having a will and animals as having instinct. We make choices. Animals tend to follow their instincts.
     Animals have a reputation of behaving like animals. Nature-lovers tell us not to judge the animals by human standards, but itís hard not to. Their behavior facinates and disturbs us. We see both the beauty and the fallenness.
     The law of nature is survival of the fittest. A species protects itself against others. It does whatever seems necessary to survive and procreate its own. This is the law of nature, but there must be something better than this cold and heartless law.
     I have sometimes wondered if animals are evil. Even house cats seem evil sometimes. You might appreciate them for keeping pests away from your home, but youíd like them to be more humane. Sometimes a cat will catch a mouse and take it to a place where it can watch it, play with it, torture it, and finally kill it. Are cats cruel?
     Animals are not evil. When a cat plays with a mouse, it practices its predatory skills. Nevertheless, animals behave this way, because they live in a fallen world. Isaiah reminds us that a day is coming when animals will not kill each other anymore.
     When God restores paradise, there will be no more death. Man and animals will go back to eating vegetables. Isaiah foretold the wolf and the leopard and the bear living peacefully with herbivores. The lion will eat straw with the ox.
     This might bother us, because we love hamburgers and steaks. To this, I need to mention that God will not simply restore paradise to our liking. He will transform our liking to paradise. We will have no desire for the things that pass away. All things will change.