How are we to treat them? Example: Koko the gorilla learned over 1,100 signs in ASL and expressed emotion in many conversations
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In my opinion, as Christians (and as humans) we are to value, respect, and be faithful stewards of all forms of life that God has created -- not just primates, or those that have shown themselves capable of understanding and expressing ideas or emotions. (The book of Proverbs, for example, speaks in complimentary terms of the abilities or characteristics of various types of animals, such as ants, badgers, locusts, lizards, lions, he-goats, and cocks -- even characterizing them as being wise (Proverbs 30:24-31).) Also, although the Bible usually uses the word "dog" in a disparaging sense, the English Christian author and commentator C.S. Lewis (for one example) believed that we may find dogs in heaven because of the companionship, devotion, and service that they have provided to humans. However (in my view), humans are the only creatures spoken of by the Bible as having been created in God's image. And it was to humans alone that God assigned the responsibility to care for, and have dominion over, the rest of His creation (Genesis 1:26-28). With this status came unique hazards, as well. It was only because of humans' power of higher reason that they were capable not just of obeying and having fellowship with God, but also of disobeying Him, and bringing evil into the world through sin. And, most importantly (it seems to me), it was only the sin of humans, and their unique standing in the eyes of God, that prompted God Himself to assume human form (rather than that of any other creature) in order to make it possible for us to be reconciled to Him. if I were confronted with a situation where any human and a member of the most intelligent non-human life form (whatever a person may regard that to be) were in imminent danger, and it would only be possible to save one of them, I would give priority to the human without question or hesitation. And I would commit whatever the ultimate eternal consequences of that action might be to God.
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