Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why are Humans So Special?

Gigi, a commenter asks of pro-lifers: why are human beings more special than the rest of the animal world?

I find this kind of question obtuse, and a deflection of the real issue—that of fetal rights.

One pro-lifer says that if she is not able to answer that question, there is no point in talking.

I disagree.

I think that pro-lifers’ arguments should be air-tight, and our cause is helped, not hurt, by our willingness to defend our beliefs based on reason alone. When we dissect flawed pro-abortion arguments, we expose the shallowness of the reasoning that opposes legal rights for unborn human beings.

It is somewhat aggravating to have to answer this question, because the uniqueness and preciousness of human nature in comparison to animal nature should be overwhelmingly obvious to anyone who takes a minute to think about it.

The reasons humans are more special is that human nature is capable of complex thought, astounding accomplishments and breathtaking acts of altruism.

Animals are not. The degree of thought, accomplishment and possibly altruism of animals is minute by comparison.

Can some animals reason, create or act selflessly?

Possibly. But not to any degree that man does, and certainly not with the same level of reflection or complexity.

This question “why are human beings so special” is borne of an extreme philosophical relativism.

But in our day and age, there is no philosophical yardstick of reality. In the mind of the relativist, animals eating, sleeping, crapping, and copulating is equivalent to humans creating masterpieces, performing engineering feats or completely selfless devotion to other fellow human beings.

Comparing the thoughts and acts of human beings against animals should be convincing enough to show that animals and human beings are of a different sphere. But it’s not.

What’s confusing to some people is that animals are made of the same stuff as human: DNA. If animals and humans are made of the same thing, then one shouldn’t be more special than another.

Human DNA may not be more special in its substance. It’s a bunch of chemicals interacting that lead to more chemical interacting. But there’s something about the composition of human beings that make them capable of grander thoughts and grander actions.

Ah, “grander”. Who says they’re grander? The relativist asks. A pack of lions hunting down of zebras is rather grand.

And this is, again, where the philosophical relativist refuses to use any yardstick of reality.

As there are no hierarchy of values, no means of determining “less important” to “more important”, it makes perfect sense to say that animal hunting is as “grand” to anything humans can do.

Reality is quite different. Human beings are capable of transcending themselves, and orchestrating their own betterment through their thoughts and deeds.

When a lion hunts and feeds himself, he is only doing what he is programmed to do to survive.

Human beings go beyond that. They are capable of learning, reasoning, reflecting, and contemplating. They can set themselves goals to improve their qualities, abilities and virtues and derive a sense of fulfillment doing it. They can produce wondrous works and feats and create enjoyment for other human beings.

I could go on. The relativist, of course, would demand that it be proven that these things are superior to simply living in survival mode. Again, all common sense is thrown out the window in the name of distrust of human perception and reason.

This is the point at which you have to write dissertation to prove that the quest for truth and justice is superior to the grooming rituals of primates.

The point being that relativists throw aside all common sense in the name of their radical skepticism.

Whether its accomplishments and abilities are the product of biology or of the soul, it is clear that the human being is a superior creature to the rest of the animal world.

Humans have rights because of this superior ability to reason and regulate how they can be exercised. Animals do not have rights because they aren’t evolved enough to recognize them.

This should be obvious to educated people. Unfortunately, it is not. It is not because we have thrown aside our western intellectual patrimony in order to seem more intelligent than the last generation. “Thinking for oneself” is supposed to be the mark of a clever man, and “skepticism” is framework to approach everything. But doubting everything isn’t the mark of intelligence, it’s the mark of someone who lacks the confidence to trust— whether it be his own perception, his own ability to reason, or in the conclusions of others (because philosophical knowledge can never be achieved in a vacuum). “Thinking for oneself” is also the mark of a person too lazy to really sit down and think. Just doubt, treat everything as relative and everyone will think you’re intelligent, as opposed to a lazy sheep who just accepts everything told to him. Some people would actually benefit from being that credulous, given the right teachers. But then that person wouldn’t be “thinking for himself”. That would mean that person—who knows more than the skeptic—is dumb.