Most of us believe that human life is fundamentally valuable; that it is better to be living than to be dead. This value is derived recursively with respect to other humans – a human is a valuable member of a community. The question of intrinsic value of a human life is tied to the intrinsic purpose of living, which modern science shows there is likely none. All life has evolved out of chance, a chain of random events. In the face of this onslaught of our deepening understanding of our existence, are we left to suffer through life knowing it is all inherently meaningless? Albert Camus thought so. He claimed that any attempt to ascribe meaning to life is bound to fail and it is more appropriate to face the meaninglessness head-on and try to enjoy life while we can. On the other hand, Viktor Frankl and others caution that meaning and purpose are essential for a happy living. So, if we cannot convince our rational, ever-questioning minds that our daily suffering has any meaning, should we just continue living, while being dead on the “inside”? Or should we just end the suffering and the environmental degradation that comes with human life?
Sheldon Solomon, drawing from many past philosophers, makes a compelling case arguing that culture is a defense against this gnawing question of life versus death. All across human societies, fear of death is allayed by shared cultural myths such as heaven and rebirth. Modern science is the bitter pill that makes us supreme living machines but also beings painfully aware of the pointlessness. Science has humbled us again and again, and leaves little doubt that value of life is but a human convention. No wonder many religions considered knowledge to be the enemy of good. Knowledge is neutral and eliminates the difference between good and the bad.
Humanism is based on the belief that human life is valuable, and all lives are equally valuable. The latter assertion is perhaps its unique selling point. However, if you can convince yourself that human life is valuable without any scientific evidence, there is nothing stopping you from believing other unscientific assertions. Does that make humanism a non-choice for the religious folks? In their perspective, it is essentially a different set of beliefs. What really sets it apart?
“Is human life valuable” is really only half of a question. The other half is “valuable to whom”?
As children we need to feel valued by our parents. But when we grow up we still retain that need to matter to something greater than ourselves, so it is natural to assume there is a great parent in the sky who we must please in order to feel a sense of purpose.
So I think that when people ask is human life valuable, there is an unspoken, maybe unconscious, assumption that the other half of that question is “to God”. Are we valuable in the eyes of something greater than ourselves.
Science can sow doubt in our minds about our mattering to God, but not about our mattering to ourselves and to our fellow humans.
Is my life valuable to anything?
Yep. It’s valuable to me. And other human lives are valuable to me too. If they all disappeared, I probably wouldn’t survive another week. All human lives are valuable to all humans (whether they all realize it or not).
So Humanism’s assumption that human life has value is not unscientific. Humans are valuable to humans, whether anyone else cares or not.
"Modern science is the bitter? pill that makes us supreme living machines "???? Why does it have to be bitter? It is the responsibility of all of us to make science be perceived as the natural, fulfilling, easy and fun set if processes that it is.
" Does that make humanism a non-choice for the religious folks?
"There are people who mark themselves as belonging to two categories - Jewish Humanists , Christian Humanists etc . Humans have always been able to partition their memory and actions stores (brains) in order to act and speak to different groups of people differently in different situations according to the priority of the moment.
A Humanist [ without qualification ] is a person who ALWAYS puts his fellow Human beings at top priority whenever a decision has to be made or a problem solved.
For the people who categorize themselves twice it is up to us to make the Humanism more important than the religious one. Religion will continue to wither to a certain point but anyone who is UNreasonable will die firmly believing their religion.
Oh gag me with a spoon, another stupid rant about how meaningless and random life is.
Trust me, there was nothing random about your father becoming horny and putting vast effort into convincing your mother to spread her legs for him, just as her parents and all their parents all the way back to being random primates that can't be called human, so screw the random argument.
Everything is nuanced and complex, we see conflict as a failure of communication, but also the need to dismiss stupidity and over simplification when used in an attempt to spin the truth of experience to be anything less than useful.
There was purpose in your mother accepting your fathers sexual advances, sexual selection drives evolution, which explains the weird decorative biology of male birds, because female birds suffer from species wide fetishes, some like dancers, some colorful huge tail feathers some both.
Much of human history is filled with skinny unhealthy undernourished people and that's why the "sexy" paintings from a couple of hundred years ago are all of fat ass naked women. So fat being sexy led to what from long ago would be a "sexy" society, but due to how common it is, we find it ugly and more so now we know it's unhealthy, so we perceive it as the ugly it is.
As for what gives your life meaning, the results will vary with experience.
For me it's bringing machines to life, so they serve humanity as responsibly as possible.
I have a Frankenstein complex.
I feel emotions as passionately as I did when I was in religion, just a lot less negativity until I read incredulous post attempting to grasp the fucking obvious. We don't question the "meaning" of breathing, we breath, and enlightened intellects will question "why", "how" and "when", only those with an agenda will question the "meaning."
Meaning like time is an "emergent property", you might want to goggle that.