It’s not the kind of intra-family-squabbles case you’ll see on Judge Judy, but a 27-year-old Indian man intends to sue his parents for giving birth to him without his consent.
Mumbai businessman Raphael Samuel’s reasoning, reports the BBC, is “that it’s wrong to bring children into the world because they then have to put up with lifelong suffering” (their parents do, too apparently — and some more than others!).
The BBC continues:
Mr Samuel, of course, understands that our consent can’t be sought before we are born, but insists that “it was not our decision to be born”.
So as we didn't ask to be born, we should be paid for the rest of our lives to live, he argues. [He should become an Ocasio-Cortez advisor!]
A demand like this could cause a rift within any family, but Mr Samuel says he gets along very well with his parents (both of whom are lawyers) and they appear to be dealing with it with a lot of humour.
In a statement, his mother Kavita Karnad Samuel explained her response to “the recent upheaval my son has created”.
“I must admire my son’s temerity to want to take his parents to court knowing both of us are lawyers. And if Raphael could come up with a rational explanation as to how we could have sought his consent to be born, I will accept my fault,” she said.
Samuel’s suit is unlikely to get far; reports are that he can’t even find an attorney to take his case. As for seeming like a mental case, “Samuel is a believer in a philosophy called antinatalism, which holds that it’s wrong to create new people,” explains Vox. “It has been popularized in the West by philosophers like David Benatar, who wrote a book in 2006 called Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence.”
“The antinatalist argument goes like this: Pain is bad, while the absence of any experiences can’t possibly be bad. That means that creating people moves them from a state that isn’t bad to a state that is,” Vox continues. “‘Coming into existence, far from ever constituting a net benefit, always constitutes a net harm,’ Benatar argues in Better Never to Have Been. ‘Each life contains a great deal of bad — much more than people usually think. The only way to guarantee that some future person will not suffer that harm is to ensure that the possible person never becomes an actual person.’”
As for actually being serious, it’s hard to know if Samuel truly is. Just consider his video below, in which he appears in a fake beard.
Yet serious or not — and I think he’s at least serious about getting attention — ideas should always be taken seriously because they have the power to enrich or destroy.
Samuel says that parents and children have no obligation to do anything for one another and that children don’t have to obey parents; they should only do such things if they want to. This destructive message is nothing new, of course. It’s part of the nihilistic philosophy — reflected in Samuel’s moniker, “Nihil Anand” — stating essentially that there is no God, no Truth, and thus no right or wrong, so just follow your desires. It was summed up most succinctly long ago by occultist Aleister Crowley: “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”
Samuel also asserts that if “humanity is extinct, Earth and animals would be happier. They’ll certainly be better off. Also no human will then suffer. Human existence is totally pointless.”
I didn’t know the Earth was currently a bit depressed, but if man’s existence is pointless, why would animals’ existence be any different? Should we end their suffering by eliminating them?
Yet the deeper issue here is that what Samuel has wondered about is what man has always wondered about: Why do we exist? What’s life’s purpose?
Taking more of a pro-natal position on this is English atheist and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of book The God Delusion. When he gave his “Royal Institution Christmas Lectures” in 1991, he told the children present that we “are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA… It is every living object’s sole reason for living.”
“There is no purpose other than that [procreation],” he said on a later occasion.
And so we have The Dawkins Delusion, which was actually examined long before Dawkins was born by a fellow Englishman, philosopher G.K. Chesterton. Critiquing contemporary writer H.G. Wells in his 1905 work Heretics, Chesterton wrote:
In the opening pages of that excellent book MANKIND IN THE MAKING, he [Wells] dismisses the ideals of art, religion, abstract morality, and the rest, and says that he is going to consider men in their chief function, the function of parenthood. He is going to discuss life as a “tissue of births.” He is not going to ask what will produce satisfactory saints or satisfactory heroes, but what will produce satisfactory fathers and mothers. The whole is set forward so sensibly that it is a few moments at least before the reader realises that it is another example of unconscious shirking. What is the good of begetting a man until we have settled what is the good of being a man? You are merely handing on to him a problem you dare not settle yourself. It is as if a man were asked, “What is the use of a hammer?” and answered, “To make hammers”; and when asked, “And of those hammers, what is the use?” answered, “To make hammers again”. Just as such a man would be perpetually putting off the question of the ultimate use of carpentry, so Mr. Wells and all the rest of us are by these phrases successfully putting off the question of the ultimate value of the human life.
So Dawkins says having children is our purpose; Samuel says it’s our vice. The truth?
The truth is that it doesn’t matter — if their atheistic/nihilistic notions are correct. It’s then just “do what thou wilt,” for we all will end up the same: disappearing into nothingness.
Thus do many say that true purpose is only found in something beyond this world — in particular, in the belief that we were made by God, for God, and to be with Him (hopefully) for all eternity.
Yet given that atheism, with its correlative nihilism (i.e., “nothing-ism”), is on the rise, is it surprising that suicide is as well, even among youths? Of course, atheists have a suicide problem themselves.
So maybe the answer is that people shouldn’t have kids — if they’re going to tell them they’re just self-replicating robots in an infinite loop of meaninglessness.
Photo: GODS_AND_KINGS/iStock/Getty Images Plus