Memo to Rick Warren: humans are animals

So, Rick Warren recently tweeted that “When students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it.” This was interpreted as a comment on last week’s shootings in Colorado, but Warren later claimed he was referring to something else. But honestly, it’s a stupid comment either way.

Warren is technically correct: when students are taught they are animals, they act like animals. But when students aren’t taught they are animals, they still act like animals. That’s because humans are animals. It says so on our Wikipedia page: “Kingdom: Animalia.”

That’s according to a way of classifying living things invented by a creationist. And before Linnaeus, the scholastics told us man is a rational animal. So we should expect people to act like animals, indeed like animals of a very specific species, Homo sapiens.

Of course, Warren was using “animal” in the sense of “non-human animal.” But that is still puzzling. Clearly teaching students they are animals does not lead to them behaving like animals in all ways. Non-human animals do not, for example, mess around on their smartphones when they should be paying attention in class, but teaching students they are animals does not seem to stop students from doing this.

And then, of course, there is the fact that “non-human animal” is a huge category, and non-human animals display a huge range of behavior. Which non-human animals does Warren expect students to act like? Ducks? Monkeys? Bees? Or does he perhaps expect them to start swimming upstream to spawn like salmon? Which is it?

P.S. For extra funsies, Rick Warren claimed that he was talking about people having multiple sexual partners… which as James McGrath (second link above) points out is widely practiced in the Old Testament.

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  • Alverant

    I also haven’t heard of any non-human animal that slaughtered a dozen of their own kind without cause when they knew better. Did Warren give any examples of those?

    • mnb0

      You beat me, it was my first thought after reading the first two sentences. If anything the ability to go on a killing spree is what separates the homo sapiens from the other animals. Though chimps seem to have similar tendencies. I prefer the bonobo way.

  • Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    And when children are taught they are sinners, they’ll act like it.

  • J. Quinton

    The funny thing is, being religious is acting like an animal. Most animals have hyperactive agency detection; when a dog hears a sound at night, it doesn’t bark because it is wondering “what’s that?” It barks because it’s wondering “who’s that?”. Now give that dog the brainpower to generate elaborate scenarios out of little information subconsciously (basically an imagination), and you can easily see how a dog would go from “who’s that?” to “it must be an invisible intruder invading from this other plane of existence and I have to do this ritual to pacify it”.

    On the other side of that, people usually describe “acting like an animal” for uniquely human activities like dancing or masturbation.

  • jacobfromlost

    Humans aren’t plants? I don’t know. I’ve seen some people who act like plants. This must mean we are teaching people to act like plants, and they end up voting for Mitch McConnell just because he’s fellow flora.

    I say fauna unite!

  • left0ver1under

    I’m surprised that atheist bloggers and commenters haven’t mentioned something. According to the pastor of Elevation Christian Church (presbyterian), James Holmes attended his church. The christian post is hardly a “leftist” or “atheist” news site:

    In reporting this link and story, am I inferring that all sociopaths and mass murderers are christian? Of course not. I’m pointing out that being religious has no relation to whether or not a person is moral and ethical.

    That’s a point which gainsayers such as Rick Warren are incapable of admitting or grasping. To them, everything death, every drop of someone else’s blood, is an opportunity to vomit their ideology regardless of the facts.