At one time or another all of us have probably given inanimate objects human characteristics. I know I have complained about how my computer doesn’t like me, or how a chair moved into my way causing me to stub a toe. Yes, we all do this, in literature it is referred to as personification and even the greatest of writers use it. Hopefully we realize that those things are not even alive, much less human and couldn’t possibly do the things of which we are accusing them.
There are, however, people in the world, in this country, and probably even some in the church who believe that objects or plants or animals have souls and will be in heaven (though interestingly enough, never in hell). Many people who believe in the doctrine of animism will often make statements about how precious all life is, and we don’t argue that. They will go on to equate the life of an animal or plant with that of a human, and there we must draw the line. While it is true that we should never take any life; plant, animal, or human needlessly as good stewards of God’s creation, we must also realize that it was God himself who proclaimed man’s value to be superior to that of any other of his earthly creations.
I heard a news report a few years ago about a boy who was lost in the woods for quite some time. When the boy was finally located the rescue chopper couldn’t land because he was in a part of the forest where some endangered species lived and the landing could have harmed them. Fortunately, the boy survived after rescuers hiked in to get him, but his life was needlessly endangered to save an animal’s life. Only a few weeks ago people threw a tantrum when police had to shoot and kill an elephant which had killed its trainer and escaped from a circus. The animal was wreaking havoc around the city and threatening other lives, and after failing to capture the animal without harming it they had no choice but to protect innocent people.
Jesus compared a human with a soul to all of the material world and asked the question, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mat 16:26). Objects living or otherwise that are not human do not have souls, and are of less value than one human’s soul. Certainly we need to respect life and all that God has created, but we have to remember the eternal difference between humanity and the rest of creation.