Recently I was asked by a student, “What is the difference in God’s eyes between a person and an animal?”
Well, I do not claim to be a theologian, but I decided to approach this question from a scientific angle. I began discussing dolphins…
People love dolphins. They have that constant smile and seem to spend their entire days playing and frolicking in the ocean, never being a menace to anyone (unless you’re a smelt).
They are also very intelligent’ they have been shown to solve puzzles, seem to have a social structure within their pods, and can communicate using echolocation.
So what makes them different from us? Their intelligence and communicative abilities may even rival some people, so intelligence cannot be a major factor.
Having worked with them for years, I would propose one of the noticeable differences is that dolphins do not have morals. We know they feel emotions; they can be happy, sad, even angry, but they don’t have understanding of what’s right, or for that matter, what is true. Yet man continually struggles with this. Men have an innate need to seek the truth. They look for some framework under which they should behave. I’ve heard Christians say that everyone is created with a Jesus-shaped hole in their heart, and they are seeking to fill that void in their lives, looking for what is True. We all have this concept that there is at least some kind of right and wrong in the world.
Yet intelligent animals, such as a whale, will attack a young calf of its own group. Dolphins have been observed tormenting other animals for play, not considering that these actions may be wrong, not questioning the results of its behavior. This is a tangible observation we can make that separates men from animals.