Thanks for the response. I do accept the probable common ancestry of humans and animals. There is too much genetic similarity and too much evidence to really dispute that topic, in my opinion.
Perhaps it also useful to say that I shape my theology and worldview by the following order: Scripture, science, and philosophy/rational thought. I believe that the Holy Bible is inspired by God but written by people from a particular culture. I do not think the Bible is meant to be a science book, and therefore do not give much weight to scientific discrepancies of Genesis and human anatomy (i.e. referring to the human kidney as the center of emotion) throughout the Bible. I think we start to get in dangerous territory, however, when we begin to let what seems right dictate our theology rather than letting Scripture challenge what seems right to us. After all, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt” (Jer. 17:9). This is a bit of a side track, but I think that the problem of evil is pretty applicable to this as well. People ask how the world can have so much suffering if God is good, omnipotent, and omnipresent. The problem with that argument is that we subject God’s goodness to our interpretation of good- namely, the alleviation of suffering. But as can be seen throughout Scripture and in everyday life, oftentimes suffering is what brings us into a deeper awareness of and dependence on God. In those cases, what seems wrong to us is actually good. A fatal diagnosis is objectively a terrible thing, but if that diagnosis leads to salvation, it is the best thing to happen in that individual’s life.
I suppose I am wary of assigning attributes to God that are not already self-evident in Scripture. That is my main problem with this talk. As my earlier comment stated, I am not saying that God does not care at all for nature or animals, but I think focusing on this unsupported attribute of God has two negative effects on theology.
First, I believe it cheapens the meaning of being human, as previously stated. Even if we have common ancestry with all life, it is clear that, just as Israel was God’s chosen people, humanity is God’s chosen species. Even though God calls humans “very good”, still not all are called children of God. There is a difference in God’s relationship with his children and with other humans. That is not to say that God hates other humans, but there are plenty of promises in scripture that apply only “to those who have been called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28). And the difference between God’s affection for his children and for the rest of humanity is likely not a small difference. It is likely a huge difference. Just as there is a major relational difference these two groups, so I believe there is a major difference between humans and animals.
Second, I believe it distracts from the ministry of the Church. The primary purpose of the church is to win more for Christ. We are called to be servants and “disciplers” of people. Elevating the importance of animals to this extent can tempt us to spend too much time, energy, thought, and prayer on these lesser beings at the expense of humans whose eternal lives are at stake. Note: I am not saying that it is worthless to care for animals. What I am saying it is essential to theology to maintain a vast difference between the worth of a human and the worth of an animal.
Regarding your last comment about God’s own Son being sacrificed, remember that God’s own Son was both fully God and fully man. The Word was with God and the Word was God. Thus, even though His Son was innocent, God was sacrificing himself, not the life of another. God would not have demanded human sacrifice for sin offerings because that is completely contrary to his character in and throughout Scripture. Likewise, if animals were close to the importance of humans in God’s eyes, would he not have the same mindset toward them?
Let me know what your thoughts are.