An Apologia for Human Life. (Should you bring a child into this world full of suffering?)

I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague and we are the cure. – Agent Smith, The Matrix

“I hate this place. This zoo. This prison. This reality, whatever you want to call it, I can’t stand it any longer. It’s the smell, if there is such a thing. I feel saturated by it. I can taste your stink and every time I do, I fear that I’ve somehow been infected by it. “- Agent Smith, The Matrix

Why, Mr. Anderson? Why, why? Why do you do it? Why, why get up? Why keep fighting? Do you believe you’re fighting… for something? For more than your survival? Can you tell me what it is? Do you even know? Is it freedom? Or truth? Perhaps peace? Could it be for love? Illusions, Mr. Anderson. Vagaries of perception. Temporary constructs of a feeble human intellect trying desperately to justify an existence that is without meaning or purpose. And all of them as artificial as the Matrix itself, although… only a human mind could invent something as insipid as love. You must be able to see it, Mr. Anderson. You must know it by now. You can’t win. It’s pointless to keep fighting. Why, Mr. Anderson? Why? Why do you persist? – Agent Smith, The Matrix

Can you feel it Mr. Anderson? Closing in on you? Oh I can, I really should thank you after all. It was, after all, it was your life that taught me the purpose of all life. The purpose of life is to end. – Agent Smith, The Matrix

The Antinatalist movement is a movement that wants the human race to go extinct by convincing people not to have children. They argue on both humanitarian and ecological grounds that it would be better if there were no humans.

The ecological argument is that humans cause harm to the environment and my retort to that is ‘So what?’ The harm done to the ecology only matters to us so long as it affects us therefore if there are no humans it hardly matters that the environment remains untouched for a while until it is destroyed again by some other event like an ice age or something, nothing lasts forever, therefore the ecological dividend after human extinction will most likely not last forever anyway. There is also the possibility that given enough time another sentient species which can experience suffering and fear of death just like humans may evolve once humans go extinct. The only way to get rid of suffering permanently would be to extinguish all life and not just human life or in other words the destruction of all ecosystems on this planet. And that would only work assuming that there is only sentient life on this planet.

This brings me to the humanitarian argument for human extinction, that life is  full of suffering or at any rate pointless suffering and that so we should bring it to an end as painlessly as possible by not breeding, antinatalists are in a way endorsing the ideal of a world with not pain by rejecting one full of pain and pointless suffering. I think the problem here is that reducing the birth rates to zero is not going to lead to some kind of utopia, on the contrary as the ratio of the working population to the elderly dependent population is going to be skewed that there will be fewer and fewer working age tax paying citizens leading to a collapse in the economy and living standards, the last years of humanity in a world where antinatalism wins would be very ugly, it’s true that there will be more resources to go around as the population decreases, but workers are an important resource too and without them the economy would grind to a halt. But what about when everyone is gone forever, wouldn’t that mean that there will be no more suffering nor struggle? Yes, there will be no more pleasure either. I don’t think there is a way to quantifiably measure the collective pleasure and collective pain of the human race and even if there were a way I think that in the end, it is up to the individual to decide for himself whether he thinks his life is worth living, we can’t decide that for others, not even for our children; Owing to the fact that suicide is not the norm I would say that life is at least worth living (for most) if not worth propagating, even people who are certain that they will be in heaven will not stand idly as you try to kill them, after all  dying is not quite the same thing as not being born, I will grant you that this is an appeal to the majority but in the end it is up to the individual to decide whether their life is worth living, and the only way to be able to make that choice is by being born and alive in the first place, therefore if you think that you have got the adequate resources to bring up a child with love and care (and discipline or at least a modicum of civility) then it would be highly disingenuous to deny them the chance to experience pleasure to save them from the inevitable grief, of course their life could end up being an absolute hell, but the odds are that they will live an average normal life full of little pleasures and sadness, but an antinatalist might say – but why should it be up to the individual to decide if their life is worth living, couldn’t the individual be wrong? And isn’t someone who decides to have children de-facto deciding that their child’s life will be worth living (after all killing yourself isn’t as easy as not being born)?To the second point I don’t want to argue in circles but as I said there is good reason when you have a child that they will have an okay life provided that the material conditions and the environment for an okay life are there, although nothing can be guaranteed a 100% and it is a wager that one is taking there even if it is in your favour. And to the first point, I don’t think there is any moral authority we can turn to decide if someone’s life is worth living, especially when it comes to the life of some hypothetical individual who isn’t even born in the first place, hasn’t done anything, or experienced anything, the only certainty is that they will die, of course, we can guess what the quality of their life will be like depending on the environment and material conditions they will be born into but I would hardly suggest that we should judge the worth someone’s life based on guesswork, therefore in the absence of such an authority all that is left is the individual to make that choice for himself after he is born.  I will end this post with a youtube comment from the comment section of the last video I embedded from this post.

“Only humans could invent something as insipid as love.” This is what is wrong with Agent Smith. He is forever alone. Pure logic without a dash of insanity called empathy, and love, has no meaning. It really does a good job at pointing out what the ‘point’ of life is. To enjoy yourself, and to help others also enjoy themselves. That is all. As far as red vs blue pills goes… it only matters once given the choice. Ignorance of that choice would make the question a meaningless one. This is why his answer was ‘because I choose to’. He chose to live simply because he had a choice, and chose to defy death. Any choice based in non-reason is something the machines cannot understand, and the reason they continue to fail to make a ‘perfect’ matrix.

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