Wednesday, December 29, 2004

It's an attempt to answer, but it's the wrong question

The friendly folks at the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement have attempted to answer a question that I've been wondering about for a long time.

Just for some background, I once saw a bumper sticker that said, "Save the planet. Kill yourself." It seemed like the end (telos) of the radical environmental movement, and I've found it alternatively amusing and disturbing, as well as memorable.

Well, today I ran across the VHEMT website (h/t: James Taranto), with its frequently asked questions.

PHILOSOPHY & RELIGION: Q: What good is a healthy biosphere if there are no humans around to enjoy it?

The same good it was before we furless beach apes came along.

A human-centered world view only values other species by what they can do for us, or for "our children's children." We're collectively so centered on our own species that nothing matters except in relation to ourselves.

It's like our ancient view of the universe with Earth at the center: it took a long time for people to accept that our planet is just one of many orbiting a star, which is also just one of many in a galaxy, which is also just one of many in the universe.

An Earth-centered world view sees Homo sapiens as one of tens of millions of species in Earth's biosphere. We are exceptional in many ways, and so are the other life forms we share this rare and wonderful place with.

By envisioning Earth's entire biosphere, acknowledging the intrinsic value of every life form, our voluntary extinction begins to make sense.
Unfortunately, the question that VHEMT still didn't answer is this: If there's no consciousness (they don't believe in God, obviously, and they've declared humans including the VHEMT FAQ answerers better extinguished), then what is the "intrinsic value of every life form"? Value to whom? or to what? Why is this place wonderful? On what basis is a biosphere superior to an empty rock floating in space, or, for that matter, no rock at all?

And if the VHEMT people don't have an answer to that question, then there's no reason not to try to solve our environmental problems instead of voluntarily extinguishing human life.

Which brings us back to the bumper sticker.

No comments: