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When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
 what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?

 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet,
 all sheep and oxen,
and also the beasts of the field,
 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,
whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!  (Psalms 8:3-9)


In December of this year Yale University will hold a conference entitled PERSONHOOD BEYOND THE HUMAN. The stated purpose is to examine concepts related to evolving notions of personhood for non-human animals such as great apes, cetaceans and elephants with analysis via frameworks of neuro and behavioral science, ethics and law. The press release says that special consideration will be given to protecting animal interests through legal precedents and public awareness.

Personally this gives rise to major concerns. Mind you, not good ecology and reasonable protection of endangered species. This writer’s concern is the trend for humans to move further toward that designation of ‘endangered species’ in whole, but more likely, in part.

Now where this rabbit hole will ultimately lead to is difficult to say. The fact that common sense is an ‘endangered species’ is concern enough. Moving the bar as to what defines ‘human’ verses ‘non-human’ holds inherent risks, certainly for some that others might consider on the edge of humanity or being fully human. Before you think we are jumping to unfounded conclusions and concerns there are a few facts to be shared.

Prominent among the speakers will be Peter Singer from Princeton who advocates infanticide and reportedly experimentation on the mentally disabled. Another speaker is James Hughes who is an advocate of merging humans with technology to the goal of trans-humanism.  Thoughts have power and ideas have consequences.

The likely consequence of redefining humanity is that some human or group of humans will be bumped off the edge of the log of human rights and humane treatment. Such a conference as this will not raise the bar of treatment of humans as humans. Human life will, most likely, be further disrespected.

Recent events in Boston as well as the slaughter of the children at Newtown are ample evidence in the decline of respect for human life and this issue certainly is not limited to these United States. Such a conference will only be fodder in the fire to further erode the dignity of humanity in the eyes of academia and others. It is the height of hypocrisy on one hand as many in education circles decry violence against children and call for further control of firearms while also examining the works of those who would further denigrate respect for human uniqueness. If humankind is relegated to being merely ‘one of the boys’ or more correctly ‘one of the beasts’ then the question must be asked as to the impact of legal protection for the rights of those humans.

Will this lead to further dehumanization? It has happened before.

Many sneer at the idea of a creation narrative but consider this: the concept of man created affords a dignity that man merely evolved through time and chance does not. In the ancient God-breathed word in Psalms man is presented as the apex of creation not merely a link in a larger chain. Such position also creates a role of stewardship which we have historically botched. We need to be better stewards, wiser in administration of this Island home we call Earth. Yes, it will be re-created but there is no wisdom in completely mucking it up if the Lord tarries.  Such afforded dignity in being human shed by man himself is dangerous on many levels. Giving man, or man taking for himself, the authority to deem one human and the other, not, is a usurping of divine authority and prerogative.  It seems all the more clear as our society spirals downward in its treatment of people that the idea of man looking for new ways to play God is frightening when we do not currently do a good job of playing human.

I you wish to communicate with the President of Yale here is the contact information:


Yale University
Richard C. Levin, President
PO BOX 208229
New Haven, CT  06520-8229
Phone: (203) 432-2550
Fax: (203) 432-7105



Copyright © 2013 Brian Bailey, Author