For today I want to address a topic which I wanted to talk about for quite some time. The reason I wanted to talk about it is because it is so laughably absurd and contradtictory that I can be nothing but amazed that there are still people out there who hold to it. I am of course talking about the concept of inherent value and especially the supposed inherent value of humans as a result of being created by a god.
It is my aim to demonstrate here that there is no such thing as inherent value that humans do not and cannot have inherent value and that even if God existed and did create us this would do absolutely nothing to give us inherent value.
So let’s get into it:
It is a fact that the amount of water we have on Earth is 1,260,000,000,000,000,000,000 liters . Now of course I do not wanna trouble myself with such numbers so for the purpose of discussion let’s say we have a total of 1 million liters. Let’s also suppose (though of course this isn’t true) that 100% of the water we have is drinkable.
With this in mind let me present a thought experiment:
Suppose I have a gigantic cannon in my possession. I also have a tank in which two things are stored in seperate rooms. 500.000 liters of water (which is half of the total supply we have on our planet) is in one room. In the other room there’s a human. I will either shoot all of the water into space using my cannon and the water is never going to come back ever again or I will shoot the human into space where the human will choke to death. I will give you the choice to choose which one it is. Either a living breathing human who has inherent value and who is made in God’s image or inanimate matter which nevertheless is a resource which is crucial for all of our survival. In case you do not know this losing all of the water means that there will be millions of other people dying of dehydration and those who do not die because they have enough money to afford the water at a very high price will at the very least struggle and have to change their lifestyle completely.
I think any sane and reasonable human would choose the water as a resource with no inherent value over the human who because he or she was made in God’s image has inherent value.
What does this tell us? It tells us that the value of a human can be expressed in terms of resources like water or food or what have you. In case you did not know this resources like water for instance can be expressed in terms of dollars or euros which are currencies which are completely arbitrary invented and man-made. A dollar or a euro does not have inherent value. It’s simply a system we have invented which we have all agreed upon and by which for reasons of convenience we abide by. There’d be no rational reason why the owner of a shop would be satisfied with her giving me ham, bananas, tomatoes, steaks, in exchange for a pieces of paper if it were not for the fact that we all agree upon the economic system and that she in turn can use these pieces of paper in exchange for resources she wants or desires.
But back to the subject. If it is true that a human life can be expressed in terms of resources like water then if these resources can be expressed in terms of money it follows that humans can be expressed in terms of money which as I remind you is a man-made invention.
But let us suppose that we change our thought experiment from earlier up a little bit:
Let’s say we have more than 1 million liters. Let’s say we have an amount of 99^99 (99 to the 99th power) liters. Either 500.000 liters get shot up or the human. In that case we would without second thought shoot up the water because we have it in abundance to such a degree that 500.000 liters do not matter to us at all.
This tells us that value of a given object is also dependent on how much we have of it at our expense. Supply and demand. In one case water is more valuable than a human life because it is scarce. In another case 500.000 liters of water do not matter.
And we can spin this scenario further. The value of an object can be expressed in terms of other objects. In fact that’s how we traded prior to inventing currencies. You get my cow for your two pigs. For these two pigs of mine I want your 12 eggs as well as your chicken.
The value of objects and humans depends on the situation we find ourselves in: Now granted we place high value on human lives but if we admit that resources can in a given situation be more valuable than a human and in another case it is not then we must likewise admit that the value of the resource and likewise by extension the value of the human compared to the resource is purely situational and therefore NOT inherent.
But let’s say you are not on board with this (as no doubt many Theists who may read this will not be). There still remains the question of whether we can have inherent value by virtue of being made by God. Why would that make us valuable? Well as many Theists will tell me it makes us valuable because God loves us and because he values us and all that hogwash. But notice what this presupposes: It presupposes that God’s love or God’s value judgements and that God himself are valuable. But who says that God is valuable? Who says that his views and his love matter? As far as I can tell there are three possibilities:
- Humans say so
- God says so
- It just is the case
If it’s 1. then this is just the subjective opinion of humans. What person X may value person Y need not value. A number of people saying that God is valuable does not mean he is inherently valuable. He is valued by certain individuals but that does not mean a thing.
If it’s 2. then God has value because God says he has value. That is completely circular. Why ought I accept this? Is it not open to me then to say “God doesn’t have value because I say he doesn’t” ? This does nothing to establish anything. And if you think that the difference between my statement and his is that he is authority so in his case it’s fine while in mine it isn’t then we need to ask ourselves who says that he’s authority. Again we have the same three options. If it’s humans it’s just opinion. If it’s God he is authority because he says he is. Am I authority because I say I am? We do not accept self-declared authorites in my case so why would we in his?
Which brings us to option 3. it just is the case that he has value. Okay…. ummm….. why ought I accept this? What’s the evidence for this? If you wanna make such outrageous assertions you’d better be ready to give a reasonable argument for this. Until such an argument was succesfully made and is shown to be sound it is most reasonable to withhold judgement.
The bottom line is this:
There are no good reasons to suppose that we have inherent value. There are many good reasons to suppose that neither we nor anything else has inherent value and that inherent value is self refuting and indeed incoherent.
As always I appreciate your feedback.
Goodbye from yours truly,
Rene von Boenninghausen @Renevelation