The Value of Life

Lately, the popular topic in the blog section seems to have shifted from politics to religion.  Fair enough.  Here’s my take on the value of life...


Before I dive in, please understand my views on religion.  I am completely against all organized religions.  I believe that in our modern age, organized religions lead to the erosion of society. Whether it’s a Muslim extremist who fills his pockets with shrapnel and blows himself up in a crowded subway, or a Christian who carries out a war because he feels it is God’s will, organized religion is a cancer to society in modern times.   I feel that people in organized religions make decisions that affect their lives, as well as others, in a negative way because it’s based on something that has no foundation in the real tangible world, and therefore, it is at best useless when applied to daily lives and at it’s worst a chaotic destruction of the status quo.


So, my foundation of what is right and wrong is based on logic and observations of the real world.  I believe that in order to live the highest quality of life in this world, you must make decisions based off the physical world you live in, and not a metaphysical world that exists only in the mind.


My sole criteria for determining the value of life is Self Awareness.


The more self-awareness a living thing has, the more valuable it’s life is.


Conversely, The less self awareness a living thing possesses, the less valuable it’s life is.


Allow me to put it in perspective.  Consider a single bacteria.  So small you can’t even see it with the naked eye.  It lacks a central nervous system or a brain.  The little bacteria is blissfully unaware of it’s own existence.  Likewise, very few people will mourn the death of the bacteria, because there is no tragedy if it dies.  The bacteria is not aware of it’s own existence.


The same could be said for an insect.  Think of an ant.  Insects are stepped on everyday by people, but does anyone really think twice about it?  Some do, I suppose.   But think of the value of the life of an insect compared to say, a mouse.  What about a mouse compared to your pet dog?


I think if most people had to chose between saving the lives of these four creatures;  A dog, a mouse, an ant, and a bacteria.  The dog’s life would be rated the most worthy of being saved, followed by the mouse, then the ant, and lastly the bacteria.  Coincidentally, their overall self-awareness flows in the same order.


Obviously, a human’s life is the most valued because a human is the most self-aware organism on the planet.  We are aware of the past and future.  We have the ability to reason, and are painfully aware of our own mortalities.  That is why murder is considered the worst crime that can be committed by the majority of humans.


Hopefully, you all agree with me so far.  Here’s where I take a religious turn and lose half of you…


Following this same logic, I am pro-choice.


Like I showed above, the value of a life is directly proportional to that living thing’s self-awareness.  The simple reason is that life, IS awareness.  It’s like the saying, “I think therefore I am.”  The more aware something is of it’s own existence, the more you are taking away from it when it’s life is terminated.


Let me start with stem cells.


It blows my mind that people are against stem cell research.  A cluster of 200 stem cells, the type used in research, are so small, that like the bacteria, they are unable to be seen with the naked eye.  They have no central nervous system, so they cannot feel pain, or anything for that matter.  They do not have a brain.  They are simply cells devoid of any and all awareness.  As a matter of fact, you destroy thousands of cells every time you scratch your nose.  So why are some people so opposed to stem cell research, which could potentially cure several of our worst diseases… cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and diabetes to name a few?


Go on from there to first trimester abortions.  At this point is the fetus more aware of it’s own existence?  Can it feel pain?  Does it know it’s alive?  Is it worse than killing an insect, or a cow?  At what point does it’s central nervous system develop?  To me, the earlier an abortion the better, because the earlier in the timeline of development you go, the more nascent the life is, and therefore the less awareness it has.  I feel that in the first trimester, the fetus still has little or no self-awareness.  So while it’s life is more valuable than that of a bacteria, or stem cell, or even an insect, it is still within reason to terminate given a legitimate cause, especially in the case of incest or rape.


So, that’s my view on abortion, and the value of life.


I’m sure many of the religious readers will offer comments to tell me why I’m wrong.  I do want to ask the religious readers out there a couple of questions:


As a religious person, do you feel that being pro-life is solely a religious decision?  If so, why? And if not, what real world (secular) reason do you have to be pro-life? 


I’ll be using your answers for a follow up blog on this topic.

Uploaded 10/13/2008
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