Call for Human Self-Extinction Is Foolish and Nihilistic
Is humanity the scourge of the earth, or is mankind capable of goodness and benefit?
As the world’s 2.2 billion Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah sent by God the Father to save mankind from sin and death, The New York Times has published an article calling for mankind to be eradicated from the earth.
In a piece entitled “Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?”, Clemson philosophy professor Todd May argues that humanity is a scourge of the planet, and the world would be better without us. He’s seemingly taking his cue from Marvel’s “Infinity War” and its villain Thanos, who [spoiler alert] wipes out half of all life in the universe for the same reasons May expounds.
What horrific crimes has humanity committed making us worthy of self-extinction? According to May, humans are (1) responsible for the “climate change” that is “devastating ecosystems,” (2) increasing population encroaching on the ecosystems of animals, and (3) factory farming animals, causing them “nothing but suffering and misery” before they are slaughtered for food.
In summary, “Humanity, then, is the source of devastation of the lives of conscious animals on a scale that is difficult to comprehend.”
Interestingly, May never mentions man’s inhumanity to man, as with the Holocaust, or genocide in places like Rwanda, as a cause for concern. No, only cruelty to cows, chickens, and pigs warrants his sympathy, and displacement of the snail darter his wrath. Apparently, the thought of inadvertently impacting a species through our development of the earth’s resources for human use, or exercising dominion over animals for human good (i.e., for food or labor) is repulsive to May. But the thought of the global extermination of humanity in order to return the earth to its natural state is perfectly acceptable.
May acknowledges that “nature itself is hardly a Valhalla of peace and harmony,” noting, “Animals kill other animals regularly, often in ways that we (although not they) would consider cruel.” But he then argues the predatory nature of humans is far worse than any other species. That is, however, a subjective judgment that only humans possess the intelligence to make.
After a philosophical exercise in the relative worth of a human soul, in which he highlights the positive contributions of humanity (an advanced level of reasoning, our ability to create art, literature, music, etc.), he contemplates whether it would be worth saving humanity to perpetuate its positive attributes … before concluding it would not.
May argues, “Unless we believe there is such a profound moral gap between the status of human and nonhuman animals, whatever reasonable answer we come up with will be well surpassed by the harm and suffering we inflict upon animals. There is just too much torment wreaked upon too many animals and too certain a prospect that this is going to continue and probably increase; it would overwhelm anything we might place on the other side of the ledger.”
Unless we believe that there is a profound moral gap? Yes, that is exactly what we believe!
Of course, quite hypocritically, May is not quite ready to sacrifice himself to the cause. Instead, he argues that existing humans should take steps to prevent any more humans from coming into the world.
This twisted philosophy finds a welcomed home in the hearts of modern progressives, who have long argued for population control through methods like sterilization and abortion. They paint a bleak, hopeless picture of humanity’s future.
In the 1970s, they warned of a “coming Ice Age” that would kill off most of humanity, followed by the dark specter of apocalyptic “climate change,” coercing us into abandoning the abundant energy and higher standard of living that comes with industrialization. Harvard biologist George Wald declared in 1970 that “civilization will end within 15 or 30 years.” Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, argued that due to scarce food supplies “the death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” Ehrlich also insisted that by 1980 “urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution,” and he proclaimed “the life expectancy of a man would plummet to just 42 years.”
Since then, the global population has more than doubled from 3.7 billion to 7.7 billion, yet rapid advances in technology allow us to grow vastly more food on far less land and with fewer resources, drastically reducing world hunger and poverty. Life expectancy has mostly lengthened, not plummeted. Technology has resulted in cleaner air and water in advanced societies, indicating human ingenuity is the solution, not the problem.
Sadly, it is this contempt for the worth of human life, deeply rooted in the death cult of progressivism, which has truly resulted in unfathomable human (and animal) suffering over the last century. The variants of totalitarian socialism (in which the state is god) have resulted not only in the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust, but in the brutal deaths of more than 100 million people whose communist governments deemed them of no value beyond their labor.
America alone has seen 60 million unborn children slaughtered in abortion clinics since 1973. Around the world, Down Syndrome children are being aborted into extinction, and throughout Europe thousands of the sick, elderly, and mentally ill are being euthanized without their consent.
This is the inevitable result when humans no longer believe human life has intrinsic value. Ironically, those who share May’s nihilistic view of humanity bring about the greatest suffering.
Though flawed, mankind is also capable of goodness and self-sacrifice. In our absence, animals would be no less predatory, and nature no more forgiving. With humanity, the earth is capable of breathtaking beauty, kindness, and progress. We think we’ll stick around.