Monday, March 12, 2007

Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence

For an uplifting exposition on the joys of atheism:

Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming into Existence
by David Benatar

Editorial Reviews
Book Description
Most people believe that they were either benefited or at least not harmed by being brought into existence. Thus, if they ever do reflect on whether they should bring others into existence---rather than having children without even thinking about whether they should---they presume that they do them no harm. Better Never to Have Been challenges these assumptions. David Benatar argues that coming into existence is always a serious harm. Although the good things in one's life make one's life go better than it otherwise would have gone, one could not have been deprived by their absence if one had not existed. Those who never exist cannot be deprived. However, by coming into existence one does suffer quite serious harms that could not have befallen one had one not come into existence. Drawing on the relevant psychological literature, the author shows that there are a number of well-documented features of human psychology that explain why people systematically overestimate the quality of their lives and why they are thus resistant to the suggestion that they were seriously harmed by being brought into existence. The author then argues for the 'anti-natal' view---that it is always wrong to have children---and he shows that combining the anti-natal view with common pro-choice views about foetal moral status yield a 'pro-death' view about abortion (at the earlier stages of gestation). Anti-natalism also implies that it would be better if humanity became extinct. Although counter-intuitive for many, that implication is defended, not least by showing that it solves many conundrums of moral theory about population.

A True Inconvenient Truth, March 12, 2007
Reviewer:
Juggernaught "Peace Through War" (USA) - See all my reviews
What still is never critically examined is the fact that when anyone brings a child to life; they bring on all of life's miseries and ills on to said child. Therefore every single horror brought on to this child is the parents' fault. Wouldn't it just have been better for that child to never have been born? We live and we die without purpose or meaning. Our existence is so sad and pathetic that we invent religions and a host of other nonsense to fit the theme of "ignorance is bliss." Let's think rationally about children shall we?

- Practically: Raising a child is no cake walk. All children are selfish little mongrels bent on getting things their way. Through the early stages of life, you're going to be constantly attending to their waste output. Growing older, they learn how to communicate in our language to say "gimme." Then with another slap to the face, they rebel for the sake of rebelling and eventually move out. You've just lost a generation of your life, congratulations.

- Economic factors: Want to put off your retirement? Want to live below the standards of what your paycheck indicates? Great! Nothing sucks out your money dry with absolutely no gain like bearing children.

- Moral considerations: Is it not immoral to force someone into life without invitation? Is it not the greatest wrong doing to bring a child into a world of untold suffering?

People have children just because they can and this is without any rational considerations. Some people say they want to pass down their genes. While that child may be composed of a similar biological structure, it is still not you and will never be you. Others have children because of hormones and we all know what I mean by that. You're going to cause around seventy years of suffering to someone else just because your hormones were raging? That has got to be one of the most selfish acts one can do.

I suspect that other reviewers will engage in personal attacks upon the author instead of evaluating the message. The author's message is a harsh truth that exposes parents to be the worst of people. Don't you know? Survival for the sake of survival can only cause pain to others.

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http://www.amazon.com/Better-Never-Have-Been-Existence/dp/0199296421

14 comments:

  1. This guy sounds like John Loftus with a PhD.

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  2. hostus twinkius3/13/2007 12:54 AM

    That was breathtaking Steve. I'm a little choked up about it, man, that was eloquent. Well, truth is a lot more brutal than we thought, eh?

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  3. It's all rather subjective, isn't it? I'll answer with a subjective response. Let's see a show of hands: who is glad they were born - despite any discomfort? I'm raising mine.

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  4. THIS JUST IN FROM JOHN LOFTUS:

    Jim,

    You said that you're raising your hand because you'd rather live. But what about all the people who can't raise their hands because their hands have been chopped off in an accident? What about them? Huh?!! What about people who were born without hands! It must be easy for you to raise your hand, since you've got one. But other people don't have them, and they all understand that it would be better to die. Yeah, they understand. They can't play Nintendo like you. Cause they don't have hands. So think about that, Mr. Handman. Think about people with no hands. And you'll see that we'd all be better off not existing. That's why I don't like God, you know. Cause he made me exist and all. And he doesn't give me everything I want. That's just not right.

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  5. LOFTUS CONTINUES:

    And geez, God could have created people with FOUR hands, so they could get lots more work done, earn more money, and be far happier and not worry about money! And for all of those poor people who don't have two hands like others, if people were born with 4 hands, at least those people would have 2 hands.
    It is so bizarre that you Christians could believe in such bizarre bizarreries and be bizarrely certain of such bizarreness.

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  6. In all seriousness, I fail to see how the Christian philosophy doesn't bring you to question bringing a child into this world more than I will question doing so: while I may, in fact, have a child with a finite life that may or may not be miserable and may or may not have cosmic "meaning" (as if "meaning's" existence is metaphysically objective), you may bring a child into existence which faces an infinite misery and whose "meaning" is to be consigned as a "vessel fit for destruction" and cast into hell.

    How can you feel comforted at that thought? "Oh well, God chooses who He will?"

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  7. Okay, funny guys.

    Have you ever heard of the phrase, "you'll wish you were never born?" That usually refers to someone who is about to be beaten or tortured to a bloddy pulp. There have been such people you know. There have been people born who never had a pleasurable day, due to sickness, starvation, and torture. There are teenagers who have merely spoken their minds only to spend the rest of their lives in a gulag and to die never seeing their parent again. I could go on and on and on, of course.

    This is what I'm referring to, and all you can do is to joke about it. But I understand why you must do so. Because you can't face the problem head on for what it really is.

    But there is more. After these people die according to Christian theology some of them, maybe most of them will suffer eternal conscious torment forever in hell. This is where the other shoe drops.

    Face the problem head on. There are people according to YOUR own theology who wish they had never been born.

    Stop joking about thie real situation from the standpoint of siler spoon in your mouths.

    You actually make me sick.

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  8. "You actually make me sick.

    MORE FROM LOFTUS:

    If God exists, why would he make so many people who make me sick? A good God would have put us on different planets, so I wouldn't get sick thinking about you disgusting people and your logic and all that. If I had the choice between living in a world with you people, and not living at all, I'd rather not exist. But here again, God hasn't given me what I want. So I will fight against him with all my might, and I will teach him that no one denies John Loftus! No one!

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  9. John,

    All theological and atheological arguments aside, what are you personally doing to alleviate the suffering of even one person. Or do you simply like bringing this up over and over and over again to bolster your atheistic arguments. Why don't you put your money where your mouth is and show us all what you are doing?

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  10. Well, er...nothing. I mean, this is just talk right? As long as I can play pool, drink beer, and insult you guys my existence pretty much has enough meaning for me.

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  11. David, I guess your response either means 1) my questions are silly and have already been answered by you so the only fitting response is to laugh at me, even though my questions about existing are sincere ones, and even though I have never seen you even attempt to answer them, ever, or 2) you refuse to face head on what your theology commits you to, so you refuse to deal with it. If there are other options please let me know what they are.

    Bottom tier buddy. Sorry. But that conclusion is inescapable.

    Carry on then. Bring on more ridicule. When you actually want to deal with this problem, let me know.

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  12. John, I guess you ignoring my question either means 1) my question is silly and has already been answered by you so the only fitting response is to ignore me, even though my question about what you are doing to alleviate any suffering is a sincere one, and even though I have never seen you even attempt to answer it, ever, or 2) you refuse to face head on that your theories simply cause you to use the suffering in the world to prop up your arguments, but at heart, you never do anything about it. If this is not true please let me know what you are doing personally.

    Carry on then. Keep using the 'obvious' suffering as an argument only. When you are actually willing to put your money where your mouth is, let me know.

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  13. I did answer your question. I guess you just don't like my answer...

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  14. OK, seriously now...I was trying to be funny like you guys, but basically what I do to alleviate suffering is I try not to leave the house much. I spend a lot of time alone, thinking about such killer arguments against Christianity, like the bird-man argument. Perhaps you've heard of it. Also, the Outsider Test. Yeah, Richard Dawkins said the logic of the Outsider Test was insurmountable. And then there's the puppy argument against the existence of God. So, that's what I do to make the world a better place. And I think you can see my contributions are quite significant...

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