By Jasbir T. Singh |
Catholics can accept the fact that human beings are classified as belonging to the animal kingdom according to the following taxonomy:
Philosophy and religion, however, go beyond science when describing the full nature of human beings, and offers information that is beyond space and time. Faith and reason coexist within Catholicism, providing an illuminated understanding of what it means to be human.
Catholicism teaches that humans are embodied spirits. The idea of a spirit is foreign to science because it is eternal (not existing within space and time) and not observable. Animals, on the other hand, are bodies without spirits. In the order of creation, Catholicism classifies humans according to the following "taxonomy":
(uncreated eternal being outside of space and time)
|living spirit only||angels|
|living unity of spirit and body||human beings|
|living body without spirit||all non-human living things (bacteria, cells, plants, animals, etc.)|
|non-living things||galaxies, stars, planets, elements, rock, water, air, fire, etc.|
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” -- Genesis 1:26Respect for the integrity of creation
2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. 2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals. 2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives. 2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.Related
-- Catechism of the Catholic Church
- What distinguishes humans from other animals?
- The remarkableness of humankind
- Humans are Animals: But Not Just Animals
- Catechism of the Catholic Church about humans and animals (2415-2418)
- Lent Day 24 - Animals and Angels
- Are animals moral?
- Catholic law school professor files personhood lawsuit…on behalf of chimpanzees
- Switzerland places ban on the humiliation of plants
- Programming of life