Kingdom of Priests

Kingdom of Priests


Animal Wisdom: The Voice of the Serpent

posted by David Klinghoffer
Our family watched Jaws together the other evening — which, in case you’re wondering, I regard as responsible parenting since our kids are basically too young to be genuinely scared by the film. The whole rest of the next day, two-year-old Saul was chattering about the “shark teeth.” “Shark teeth get the blooood,” he called me up (with Mom’s help) several times at the office to remind me. Anyway, there was some sentiment among the kids that the shark was the villain, that it was “bad.” I explained that this was not really the case. Overcoming the threat posed by the shark was the objective of the protagonists. But there’s no such thing as a “bad” animal. Sharks and all other animals do exactly whatever nature and nature’s God have set them the task of doing.
I wrote yesterday about Wesley Smith’s terrific new book, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy, on the movement and philosophy behind animal rights. His title is taken from a famous aphorism of Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. Smith sets out the dangers posed by the ideology of animalism — equating humans and animals — as clearly and definitively as any contemporary writer has done. But don’t think this is a new issue.
It is as old as the Garden of Eden. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch writes in his Torah commentary about the assurance of the Serpent to Eve that if she and Adam eat the forbidden fruit, they needn’t worry about the consequences. “For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will become as God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). It’s an enigmatic verse, obviously. Hirsch explains that the Serpent sought to tempt Eve with “animal wisdom.” An animal has no instinct to do evil. Whatever it wants to do, is what it’s supposed to do. It does not experience moral conflicts. In that sense, its relationship to good and evil is like God’s.
“Animals are really ‘like God, knowing good and evil,'” writes Hirsch. “They have innate instinct, and this instinct is the Voice of God, the Will of God for them…Animals do no wrong, and they have only their one nature that they are to follow.” It was with this vision of herself — as an animal whose every desire is ordained as right both by God and by nature — that the Serpent sought to win over Eve.

Of course, the temptation still beckons to us, now more than ever. What, for example, is the debate on gay marriage about if not this?  Gays have their instinct, so acting in accordance with the instinct must be ordained as right and good. Therefore society should recognize gay relationships as equal in standing and dignity to heterosexual ones.
Hirsch is a towering figure in Jewish thought and arguably more relevant today to understanding culture than he was in his lifetime. (See my recent First Things essay on him.) He was Darwin’s contemporary and wrote his Torah commentary soon after The Descent of Man was published. Hirsch clearly had Darwin’s equation of man and animal in mind when he wrote, 

The contrast with animals is the touchstone and the rock by which, and on which, the morality of men proves itself or splits asunder. It was animal wisdom which lured the first human beings from their duty. Today it is the same animal wisdom which serves as midwife to every sin. The history of the first lapse is the history of all straying from the right path.

Animal rights isn’t about protecting cute furry things. As Hirsch also wrote (on Numbers 25:3), regarding the idol Baal Peor, it is “the kind of Darwinism that revels in the conception of man sinking to the level of beast and stripping itself of its divine nobility, learning to consider itself just a ‘higher’ class of animal.” It is nothing less than the voice of the Serpent in the Garden.


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Philip Koplin

posted March 16, 2010 at 5:05 pm


The argument for gay marriage isn’t that every human instinct and desire deserves equal recognition from the state. It’s that no state should discriminate based on distinctions that it can’t demonstrate a compelling interest in recognizing. No one has yet shown how allowing gays to marry one another is such a threat to the social order that it needs to be forbidden by the state. If you believe there are such reasons, it would be interesting to hear them.



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Don

posted March 16, 2010 at 9:34 pm


Funny thing about that whole “original sin” story: Didn’t God know that the serpent would convince Eve, and Eve would convince Adam to eat of the “Tree of Good and Evil”, even before He created Man? Either He knew we would sin, and set up His experiment anyway, or He didn’t know. If He did know, it’s like throwing a rat into a cage with a rattlesnake…you know what’s going to happen…and you just want to watch the rat suffer and die, or you need to feed the snake. If He didn’t know, then He’s not really an “all-knowing” God.



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Lauren

posted March 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm


“…the kind of Darwinism that revels in the conception of man sinking to the level of beast and stripping itself of its divine nobility, learning to consider itself just a ‘higher’ class of animal.” It is nothing less than the voice of the Serpent in the Garden.”
But overwhelming evidence shows just that; we share around 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees; our bone structure in our hands, for instance, has unmistakable similarities with other species —but you would know that such evidence existed if you took the time to examine what you claim to be opposed…
But you won’t; I think you are too afraid that ID won’t hold up.



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Mark2

posted March 16, 2010 at 10:42 pm


Good question, Don. Have you settled on your non-effort to reconcile the problem?



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Mcar55

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:47 am


Lauren if you read the Genesis story of creation it would reveal to you that maybe that primates might have been the last species created by God for Adam before he created Woman. Because God attempted to find a creature that would become Adam’s helper in life, but when none was found suitable God created Woman.



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nadia

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:25 pm


God knew that Adam and Eve were going to rebel.But He gave them the Power of freewill.He didn’t want man to be an automaton:He didn’t want to coerce them or force his will on them.He wanted them to choose and love Him of their own freewill.A perfect example of how Man is supposed to exercise His freewill is Jesus.Jesus knew he was going to die a very painful and shameful death on the cross.But He didn’t use the foreknowledge of that to escape the shame of the cross.He willingly submitted to the cross even though it was painful & brought shame.He put the Fathers will 1st and that is why he was exalted to the right hand of the Father.



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Lauren

posted March 17, 2010 at 1:43 pm


“Lauren if you read the Genesis story of creation”
I have :)
“it would reveal to you that maybe that primates might have been the last species created by God for Adam before he created Woman. Because God attempted to find a creature that would become Adam’s helper in life, but when none was found suitable God created Woman.”
That’s fine…. except humans ARE primates. Are other primates capable of the higher order thinking/complex relationships that we humans are? No; we must find companionship amongst our own species but that does not mean we are not a part of the primate family.



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Philip Koplin

posted March 17, 2010 at 2:03 pm


Nadia. Your first sentence confirms exactly what Don said, so it’s hard to see why you think the rest of your claim resolves the problem he raised. By the way, Jesus also knew he was going to be resurrected and glorified. The pretense that Godboy was going to die was false from the start.



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Mark2

posted March 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm


Maybe, Lauren, what Mcar55 had in mind were primates that were “capable of higher order thinking/complex relationships that we humans are.” Such as Neanderthals perhaps.
Jus’ sayin’ maybe.



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Your Name

posted March 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm


Good point Philip. A three-day nap in a cave isn’t much of a sacrifice when you’re immortal. On free-will, it doesn’t exist if you’re put in a predetermined situation by someone who already knows the path you’ll take.



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Mark2

posted March 17, 2010 at 5:34 pm


“On free-will, it doesn’t exist if you’re put in a predetermined situation by someone who already knows the path you’ll take.”
This opinion is obviously countered by many, if not most, theologians.



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Philip Koplin

posted March 17, 2010 at 6:15 pm


Mark2.
It proves nothing about the truth of a particular belief that people who believe it believe it.



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Mark2

posted March 18, 2010 at 1:38 pm


Good, Philip. I agree.
That applies to both my position and “YourName’s” position.



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Ray Ingles

posted March 19, 2010 at 12:50 pm


Philip Koplin –

No one has yet shown how allowing gays to marry one another is such a threat to the social order that it needs to be forbidden by the state.

Bingo. The state recognizing same-sex couples would not detract from the rights or responsibilities of opposite-sex couples in the slightest. If such benefits are to be extended, they should only be restricted on the basis of a legitimate state interest. If there are such interests, we’d be fascinated to hear them.
(In practice, since some people have such a complex about the word ‘marriage’, it probably makes sense for the state to get out of the marriage business altogether, and just offer civil unions, period. People who wanted their unions solemnized could do so with a willing church at their discretion.)



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Ray Ingles

posted March 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm


Hirsch clearly had Darwin’s equation of man and animal in mind…

Wait, hold up – what ‘equation’? Specific quotes from Darwin’s actual works, please.



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Marian

posted March 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm


The Jewish Scriptures are very clear that animals have moral responsibility. Otherwise why was the Serpent punished for doing its thing? Why were the animals wiped out by the Flood, along with the people, if not because they too were responsible for covering the earth with “hamas”? The Book of Jonah is very clear that the cattle of Nineveh (who repented in sackcloth and ashes) were only slightly more morally inept than the people of that city (who could not tell their right hand from their left.”



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kernestm

posted March 30, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Don
March 16, 2010 9:34 PM
Funny thing about that whole “original sin” story: Didn’t God know that the serpent would convince Eve, and Eve would convince Adam to eat of the “Tree of Good and Evil”, even before He created Man? Either He knew we would sin, and set up His experiment anyway,
Comment: http://www.evolution-or-design.20m.com/beginning.html gives plausable reasons for the world and life.
Lauren
March 16, 2010 10:10 PM
But overwhelming evidence shows just that; we share around 98% of our DNA with chimpanzees;
Comment: It’s less than 98 %. But also about 60% ( can’t remember exactly) the same as bananas, because it takes that much to specify proteins, and other chemistry that we all have in common, even with fish and plants. Some of the remainder is design information for limbs bodyshape etc. But the largest part is what evolutionists call “junk” because they didn’t know what it was for.
The ENCODE Project found that the socalled junk is the meta information that controlls the whole system, like a computers main progran, so that the data to make proteins etc can be located and assembled for processing. It is now called Untranslated Regions, because it controls the process but is not translated as the data for the protein is.
http://www.evolution.htmlplanet.com/atlast.htmlfor more details of the DNA and processes, and where science research is leading.
“except humans ARE primates.” Humans may degrade us by classifying us as primates, but God “Breathed into Adam to give him an eternal soul”.



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kernestm

posted April 2, 2010 at 3:49 am


As science delves into the DNA we are much more different than the evolutionist claim of 98 percent. From an article about Natures article, which I can’t access.
Because of the recent outcome comparing the chimp and human Y chromosomes in a more objective assessment, it is possible that major discrepancies will be revealed among the other chromosomes that are claimed to be so similar.
Not only were the locations of DNA categories completely different
between human and chimp, but so were their proportions. One sequence
class, or category containing DNA with a characteristic sequence, within
the chimpanzee Y chromosome had less than 10 percent similarity with
the same class in the human Y chromosome, and vice versa. Another large
class shared only half the similarities of the other species, and vice versa.
One differed by as much as 3.3-fold (330 percent), and a class specific
to human “has no counterpart in the chimpanzee MSY [male-specific Y
chromosome].”
When all aspects of non-similarity—
sequence categories, genes, gene families, and gene position—are
taken into account, it is safe to say that the overall similarity was lower
than 70 percent. The Nature article expressed the discrepancy between
this data and standard evolutionary interpretations in a rather intriguing
way: “Indeed, at 6 million years of separation, the difference in MSY gene
content in chimpanzee and human is more comparable to the difference
in autosomal gene content in chicken and human, at 310 million years
of separation.”
So, the human Y chromosome looks just as different from a chimp
as the other human chromosomes do from a chicken. And to explain
where all these differences between humans and chimps came from,
believers in big-picture evolution are forced to invent stories of major
chromosomal rearrangements and rapid generation of vast amounts of
many new genes, along with accompanying regulatory DNA.
However, since each respective Y chromosome appears fully integrated
and interdependently stable with its host organism, the most logical
inference from the Y chromosome data is that humans and chimpanzees
were each specially created as distinct creatures.
1. Hughes, J.F. et al. 2010. Chimpanzee and human Y chromosomes are remarkably divergent in
structure gene content. Nature. 463 (7280): 536-539.



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Philip Koplin

posted April 7, 2010 at 7:05 pm


Or maybe the most logical inference is the one drawn by the authors, who actually did the hard work, and who still refer to the chimpanzees as our closest living relative: “We suggest that the extraordinary divergence of the chimpanzee and human MSYs [male-specific region of the Y chromosome] was driven by four synergistic factors: the prominent role of the MSY in sperm production, ‘genetic hitchhiking’ effects in the absence of meiotic crossing over, frequent ectopic recombination within the MSY, and species differences in mating behaviour. Although genetic decay may be the principal dynamic in the evolution of newly emergent Y chromosomes, wholesale renovation is the paramount theme in the continuing evolution of chimpanzee, human and perhaps other older MSYs.” In other words, the science is unfolding as science does, by accumulating data, and there’s no need to jump ship in favor of special supernatural mechanisms.



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Barb

posted April 23, 2010 at 7:56 am


It was all in the plan….all about free will and we have been screwing up ever since…we have the choice. with Him in our lives we can become “little Christs”… without Him we follow the serpent and the “slimy” one leads us straight to hell. Isnt that complicated a picture. We all have the beast in us…and we all need that solid anchor that God provides…for a life of patience, peace, strength, wisdom, hope, healing, and ultimately salvation and eternity with Him….in other words, Victory.



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kernestm

posted April 26, 2010 at 8:44 pm


Philip Koplin
April 7, 2010 7:05 PM
“Or maybe the most logical inference is the one drawn by the authors, who
actually did the hard work, and who still refer to the chimpanzees as our
closest living relative: “We suggest that. . . . ”
K.
They have to make some plea to keep on side with evolutionists, but the main
point is that evolutionary claims of 98% similarity is rubbished for all time.
Actual science is slowly dismantling the whole fabric of evolution.
Philip Koplin
“there’s no need to jump ship in favor of special supernatural mechanisms.”
K.
There is a spiritual realm, so I recommend you jump ship, before it sinks.



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Philip Koplin

posted May 11, 2010 at 7:04 am


No, the main point is that rather than address the science, you dismiss it as “some plea,” which is amusing, given that your response is to plea for a vague and nonexplanatory “spiritual realm.” This seems to be what you mean by “actual science,” in contrast to that of the authors of the current paper, who are evolutionists who continue to believe in accounting for the myriad interconnected facts of biology by invoking evolutionary science rather than by waving their arms and claiming that God stepped in now and then to push things along.



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Your Name

posted May 19, 2010 at 7:30 pm


Adams sin was not a surprise, but was needed to show us a separation, and so that we would have to decide to accept God’s offer of His redemption, so that we can be accepted into heaven, and “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practise magic arts, the idolaters and all liars” can be rejected, because they didn’t want to know God. (see Revelation Ch.21 verse 8 NIV.)



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Rick

posted May 21, 2010 at 2:26 am


It’s unfortunate that in a column that is otherwise thoughtful and intelligent, this slap in the face of gays and lesbians appears:
” What, for example, is the debate on gay marriage about if not this? Gays have their instinct, so acting in accordance with the instinct must be ordained as right and good.”
The debate with respect to equal marriage rights for gays is no more about giving in to instinctual animal wisdom, as the author puts it, than it is for straights. What it is about is rather the meaning of human dignity, purpose and relational responsibility. There is nothing within heterosexuals that impels them to bond with another that is different for gays. We all feel the same way and strive for the same purposes precisely because we share a common human nature. This comment above debases gays and slurs us, treating us as though we were nothing more than animals. It is not only insulting, it is dangerous because it perpetuates the falsehood that gays are vile and animalistic, and our need for love and relationship of no higher dignity than that of a mere dog.
I am deeply saddened to see this otherwise interesting discussion marred by such a failure to see the image of G-d in every one of his children.



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kernestm

posted May 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm


creationtheory.8k.com/patriarchs is the first place where God lays out is plan for the world.
Sorry about missing my name, kernestm, off the posting. I am on dialup and if I don’t hurry the CATCHPA expires and the second time around I missed the name. I tried to post this last night, but got two CATCHPA at once, with two different sets of words, answers were not accepted. Reloaded the page but just got two new CATCHPA.
Rick seems to read into my post things which are not mentioned or inferred. Perhaps he is just looking for an excuse to bash “straight” people, and heap insults onto us, and false accusations. Does it make him feel better? What do you think?
I know God, or more importantly Jesus knows me, and what he meant, and feel obliged to remind people of His rules. If you feel that what you are doing in your life is normal and natural then you may consider that God was referring only to rape and forced prostitution as many women are forced into it, in Asian and other countries. It is your responsibility to decide what God meant, and to whom it applies.
You mention Marriage, I didn’t refer to it. I don’t mind what sort of contract you have, it can be identical to the Christian Marriage, but Don’t call it Marriage, choose some other name. Marriage has specified rules, and is sacred. It does not apply to you so why would you want to use that name? Perhaps you only want the name because it is sanctioned by God, and you want to tear down what God has set up, which I find very disgusting, go your own way and leave us alone.
That you raised the subject seems to indicate that you might not be happy and secure in your present attitudes, and need to lash out to support your own conclusions, convincing yourself, rather than any real need to change other peoples ideas and morals. Most schools have for years taught situation ethics, that we each have our own “truths” which are true for one person, but not necessarily true for others. We each choose our own truths, so you have yours, and I mine, but God also has His truths, by which He will judge us all. His is an all encompassing truth which you can’t escape, it’s like gravity, you don’t have to believe in gravity, but please refrain from jumping off high places, as gravity might be true for you, as it is for other people.
You said “treating us as though we were nothing more than animals”.
I didn’t say or mean anything like that, if you want to read that into it then it’s your attitude problem, seek help. Jesus can help anyone genuinely seeking His help. God has offered you His love, which is far better than anything you can get from anyone else in this life, in marriage or any other contract, and right up to the end of your life He will be waiting for you.
I have been deeply saddened by the number of posts which attack God’s rules, morals and authority on this post.



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Serpents aren’t just evil (much like people). ‘The Serpent’ has been given many meanings in the world’s mythology. It has been the symbol of wisdom and the symbol of evil, the symbol of God and the symbol of sin. In its ability to shed its skin and be ‘reborn’, it has been a symbol of resurrection and, hence, a symbol of Christ. Corresponding to this association with birth and rebirth, it has been the symbol of sexuality and the symbol of healing. It has referred to the world of the senses and the world of the spirit. It rises to the heavens as a phallic symbol, an emblem of power, potency and enlightenment. It encircles reality and swallows itself, indicating wholeness and completeness and Oneness. It dives into the earth, eating dust and signifying death. In all of this, as it extends its infinite meaning from the ‘Above’ to the ‘Below’, from the highest to the lowest, from God to the Devil, it represents the totality of life – the Will and Spirit of the Creation, hovering everywhere, encompassing everything, crossing all thresholds and communicating with every Level.



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David Bunch Readallaboutit

posted March 11, 2012 at 6:59 am


Laughingly good to see that Klinghoffer’s tripe, falsely cloaked in Judaism, is now filed in the circular bin.



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