ALEXANDRIA, La. – “When people hunt and kill animals for sport, are they committing murder?” asks Barbara J. King in the a column on the National Public Radio website.
In her piece titled “When We Hunt, Do We Murder?” Ms. King articulates her ethical struggle over humans who kill animals, especially for sport. King’s ethical struggle, however, does not extend to the animal kingdom.
“It makes no sense to me to moralize about the behavior of creatures who evolved to be predators: cats are natural hunters.” she writes, referencing felines that kill birds.
King continues, “Some might say that humans are natural hunters too, because our species and some of our ancestors began hunting anywhere from half-a-million to two million years ago. Yet Homo sapiens differ from all other species because we’ve evolved brains that allow an unprecedented degree of reasoned choice-making in our foraging and our diet. As I’ve written here before, those of us with the luxury to choose might consider not eating other animals.”
It seems quite clear that Ms. King believes that man is just the most highly evolved species of animal on the planet.
“Feeling this way,” King writes, “it’s hard for me to understand the pull to hunt animals unless the meat is actually needed to feed one’s family, or the hunting is managed and results in good outcomes for the animal population in question. (This can be the case when high population numbers would otherwise consign individuals to starvation and slow, miserable deaths).”
King continues, “I’m tempted to accept the term “murder” as it’s used against trophy hunters and poachers, who go after families of elephants and great apes.”
“By contrast, many American sport hunters, I have learned, think hard about which individual animals to kill and which to spare,” King writes. “They do their best to make sure that hunted animals do not suffer pain. And they are outraged by ‘penned’ hunts, where animals have no chance, and hunts where game is killed merely for sport and is not eaten.”
In the end, King is not yet willing to label most hunters serial killers.
“Can hunters and animal advocates talk and listen together about their different ways of thinking through these issues?” she asks. “Such conversations can be difficult, but also mind-expanding. And ‘Murder’ is best left out of them. It just doesn’t apply in this context.”
I don’t understand the ambivalence of those who believe that man is nothing more than the most highly evolved species on earth. If man is nothing more than an animal that is able to reason, then of course Homo sapiens killing any other animals is murder.
It should be noted that in nature, “murder” occurs between species with great regularity. Wildlife biologists even say that certain species are the main food source for other species. The law of the jungle is kill or be killed.
For those who believe man is the product of God’s creative genius, the case for ethics and morality toward all of creation is easily made. Man is not only the crowning glory of all God created, man also bears the Creator’s image. This renders man accountable to God for all his actions, even his actions toward animals.
Because life is given by God, human life above all is to be protected. Hence, abortion induced by the hand of man is abhorrent. The Bible also seems clear that if a person takes human life in premeditated fashion, that person then forfeits the right to life.
Though animals do not share equal value with human life, animals are to be valued because they, too, are created by God. The Bible also speaks to the place animals occupy on the earth and how they should be treated.
According to the Bible, God gave animals as a food source. For those who choose to be vegetarian, more power to you. As for me, kill it, grill it and pass the steak.
The Bible also indicates that animals should not be neglected, abused or tortured. The writer of Proverbs says, “A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast….” Additionally, God specifically stated that animals were to be rested on the Sabbath.
One of man’s responsibilities is to be a good steward of God’s creation. That includes animals. Sport hunting is regulated around the world for the purposes of regulating animal population so as to prevent overpopulation and to ensure species survival.
As King points out, poachers and those who slaughter animals without regard to regulation are wrong. They are not murderers, but they do violate laws set up to ensure stewardship of God’s creation and should be punished.
For most who accept God as Creator, humans killing animals is not murder, and there is no ambivalence on the issue. I find it interesting that some evolutionists struggle with the fact that humans would choose to kill, and even eat, other animals. After all, it’s a species eat species world we live in, right?
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press, director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s office of public affairs, and editor of the Baptist Message, newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)