The dangers of oneism point to one inescapable and horrid reality: idolatry.
In a recent Sunday Review in The New York Times, David P. Barash, an evolutionary biologist and a professor of psychology, wrote an editorial describing why science and religion cannot be reconciled. Mr. Barash says, “As evolutionary science has progressed, the available space for religious faith has narrowed: It has demolished two previously potent pillars of religious faith and undermined belief in an omnipotent and omni-benevolent God.” He bases this assumption by highlighting three points: (1) Complexity is in fact within the range of statistical happenstance and not the result of divine intervention. (2) Centrality, or a common linkage among all animals (he includes humans here), combined with the lack of “supernatural traits” in humans suggests a common origin but not an uncommon creator. And (3) theodicy need not be a consideration when contemplating ethical horrors; instead, these unpleasant phenomena are simply the result of an amoral random process.*
Part of the problem is that those who seek to perfectly harmonize science with religion mistake the fact that the Scriptures were written as a theological mission statement in order to reveal to those who will hear the keys to life, sin, forgiveness, and salvation through Christ. The Bible may travel down some historical, political, economic, or social avenues, but the main point remains the same. The truth that the Bible reveals is theological in orientation, and truth is not exclusive to the Word. This is why I can’t figure out how to change a lightbulb or how to perform open-heart surgery by flipping through either the Old or the New Testament. In the same way, you can’t get advice on how to do your taxes by opening a medical textbook. It doesn’t mean that the medical textbook is invalid; it just means the goal of the text doesn’t match the question you’re asking, and that’s OK because in order to be an exemplary physician and heal people, you don’t need to be a tax expert. This is why, for example, in the book of Genesis, scientists will often challenge that the world was made in a few days, which contradicts what we know about the universe. My response would be if the world was made in a week by God or over the course of seven thousand years, does that change the theological stance of the book? Absolutely not. And if you really want to get specific, the Hebrew word for day in Genesis 1 comes from the root word yom, meaning “a literal day or a figurative day referring to a space of time.” Combine this insight with 2 Peter 3:8 (“But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day”), and one can begin to see how science and religion are not diametrically opposed.
Therein, many scientists often make the mistake of dismissing religion as hocus-pocus, but they often fail to dig deep into the text in order to truly understand what it says. This places such scientists in the same category as religious folks who also reject science as hocus-pocus without digging deep into the knowledge.
I digress. Mr. Barash’s most dangerous conclusion comes when he says, “[Humans] are perfectly good animals, natural as can be and indistinguishable from the rest of the living world at the level of structure as well as physiological mechanism.”
Herein lies the most treacherous assertion any evolutionary advocate can make: that humans are all animals, and thus by extension, we are not above but the same as the rest of creation. This dynamic not only elevates animals to the same level as us but by implication demotes God to one of us as well. The end result is idolatry.
To have a taste of how oneism can be used to criminalize humanity and forcibly subjugate people to a nonexistent authority, consider the case of Andre Robinson, who was arrested on animal cruelty charges for kicking a cat. Mr. Robinson doesn’t deny kicking the cat (in fact there’s a video of him in the act), but he has pleaded not guilty to animal cruelty charges as he awaits trial set for the end of this month. Many animal rights activists who attend Mr. Robinson’s court sessions are calling for jail time for Andre in order to teach him a lesson. The FBI has even announced last month that they will now begin tracking animal cruelty as a separate crime.
Certainly, I am not in favor of animal cruelty, but I am also not in favor of being equated with inferior animals that lack reasoning abilities and are wholly incapable of executing common human functions. (In fact, oneists and bigots have a common lineage—they both demote persons to the status of animals. The former do so globally; the latter do so selectively.) Oneism says that humans and animals are all the same; therefore, an offense against a cat is the same as against a human being. So if you abuse a cat, you’re guilty of assault, and if you kill a bug, then you’re guilty of murder. Yet in this perverse paradigm, “justice” is selectively instituted, because if you’re stung by a bee or scratched by a cat, there’s no recourse for you, nor are you able to charge these animals with assault. (Of course that sounds ridiculous, because the whole idea is ridiculous.)
Would any parent allow a pack of dogs to run a day care for your child? Would you allow monkeys to perform open-heart surgery on you?
The biblical answer to the animal rights issue for oneists is very simple: humankind was given dominion over the creatures in the natural world (Genesis 1:26), and this dominion was formalized by giving Adam the privilege of naming all animals (Genesis 2:19). The Hebrew root of dominion is rada, meaning “to rule, tread down, dominate.” The reader must keep in mind that animals still remain a part of God’s creation, but they are not at the top of the pecking order. As a result, abuse is not biblical, but dominion is.
You may be asking yourself, “Is all of this really such a big deal?” and the answer is yes, because to remain apathetic about the issue is exactly the prescription needed in order for the extremes to become status quo. Personally, I do not wish myself or my family to live in a world of oneism dominated by creation-inverting role reversals and by criminalization of noncriminal behavior. Humankind is not a threat; we represent the solution.
Dr. C. H. E. Sadaphal
* Theodicy is a common sticking point for many nonbelievers as to the question of whether or not God exists, and if He does exist, is He just to allow the innocent to suffer. While not dismissing the struggles of others, I think this question also neglects to contemplate the seriousness of sin and the cataclysmic effect that sin has on the divine. Resultantly, I think the even more potent question to ask is this: In our total depravity as sinners, how can a perfectly just God forgive our iniquities and invite us to dwell in paradise with Him? For further reading, I highly recommend Chapter 7: Predestination in Mark Driscoll’s Religion Saves and the article written by Pastor Driscoll on idolatry.