A couple posts on the Shadow to Light blog got me thinking about atheism, the problem of suffering, and antinatalism:
This post is basically me thinking aloud. Wikipedia defines antinatalism as follows:
Antinatalism, or anti-natalism, is a philosophical position that assigns a negative value to birth. Antinatalists argue that people should abstain from procreation because it is morally bad (some also recognize the procreation of other sentient beings as morally bad).
Michael, the author of the Shadow to Light blog, notes that most antinatalists appear to be atheists.
A major reason given both for being an atheist and for being an antinatalist is that life involves too much suffering. This has led me to wonder whether atheists who find the argument from suffering (or evil) a sound argument against the existence of (a good) God should be antinatalists. If it is wrong for God to have created humans in a world that contains suffering, how can it be right for a human to create another human in a world that contains suffering?
There must be millions of atheists who accept the argument from suffering but also have children. How do they justify this position?
Unbeknownst to me before writing this post, Wikipedia has a section on this very problem. Karim Akerma appears to be echoing my point.
Julio Cabrera considers the issue of being a creator in relation to theodicy and argues that just as it is impossible to defend the idea of a good God as creator, it is also impossible to defend the idea of a good man as creator. In parenthood, the human parent imitates the divine parent, in the sense that education could be understood as a form of pursuit of “salvation”, the “right path” for a child. However, a human being could decide that it is better not to suffer at all than to suffer and be offered the later possibility of salvation from suffering. In Cabrera’s opinion, evil is associated not with the lack of being, but with the suffering and dying of those that are alive. So, on the contrary, evil is only and obviously associated with being.
Karim Akerma, due to the moral problem of man as creator, introduces anthropodicy, a twin concept for theodicy. He is of the opinion that the less faith in the Almighty Creator-God there is, the more urgent the question of anthropodicy becomes. Akerma thinks that for those who want to lead ethical lives, the causation of suffering requires a justification. Man can no longer shed responsibility for the suffering that occurs by appealing to an imaginary entity that sets moral principles. For Akerma, antinatalism is a consequence of the collapse of theodicy endeavours and the failure of attempts to establish an anthropodizee. According to him, there is no metaphysics nor moral theory that can justify the production of new people, and therefore anthropodicy is indefensible as well as theodicy.
This once again reminds us that one’s atheism is not a belief neatly separated from one’s other beliefs. It is a part of a web of interrelated beliefs. The reason Michael finds atheism in “dark places” is because atheism is often closely related to “dark beliefs” (e.g., suffering isn’t worth it, nihilism, moral anti-realism).