Saturday, 4 September 2010


This is a response to this blog post:
Please give that a read before you continue reading this.

(No, seriously!)

Now that you've read it, a little recap - Abhishek asks why people want to have children. I present my response to this question:

1. Because: They like children
Individual choice stands for a lot, and people like many things that make no sense to other people. There will also be people who must be in a relationship. Others will find that confounding. People want to have children, so they will.

2. Because: The BPL argument
A history teacher once put forward this argument to explain why you tend to see really poor people have large families. Poor people think that raising more children means there will be more people to support the family, and themselves. The said teacher had also, quite rightly pointed out - if there must be x number of children born every day, let them be born into a family that can support the children. The BPL argument is inherently flawed, but it is true.

3. Because: Cogito Ergo Sum
Man thinks, therefore he is. I like to believe that one of the most fundamental needs of the human race is the desire to gain knowledge. Knowledge comes from new ideas. New ideas cannot come about from an ageing, dying race of people. New ideas need new people - a new generation.

4. Because: Legacy
Another fundamental desire of the human race is to leave behind a legacy. Everyone wants to die knowing that someone, somewhere will remember them. For great luminaries of any generation, this is easy - their acts leave behind a legacy that will remind future generations of them. An ordinary person (by virtue of being ordinary) does not have access to this sort of legacy. Procreation is another way of being remembered. Your children will remember you. It's not as great a legacy as that left behind by a great scientist, but it's better than none.

5. Because: Anarchy
One of the reasons that the world at least attempts to control its excesses is so that something maybe left behind for the future generations. If the whole world were to go completely, and irreversibly sterile - it would be worse for the planet than it is now. Today you try to minimise using a fuel guzzling SUV because you want to limit the harm you cause to the planet. If there is no future, you might as well trash the planet as you go. And make no mistake - that is exactly what will happen. 2000 years of (recent) history point out that humanity is not a race well suited to compromise and agreement.

6. Because: It makes no difference if Humanity dies out
If the human race dies out, you only buy the planet a few million years. It's a seemingly long time, but not very long when compared to the age of the earth. A new dominant species will rise, and will eventually behave the same as we do now.

7. Because: Natural Selection
Natural selection is the reason why we're all here today. Natural selection exists on simple principles - the race must go one, and only the best of the race must go on. Consider a situation where the six billion people of the world have agreed to not reproduce. There will be people who will circumvent this agreement- let us say 2 million people, giving birth to a million babies. You can act all hurt about these people breaking the pact, but it will actually be Natural Selection acting in its best interests- the genes of those unfit to carry on the race, the 5.998 billion who abstained, are eliminated from the gene pool. The remaining million face possibly the best quality of life in modern history.

Finally - Abhishek says, "We exist, therefore, we protect existence." This is not a unique thought. It's just a rewording of natural selection. Every species exists to protect its own existence. There is nothing special about humans in this respect - it is a part of the instinct that every animal shares.

Those are some reasons for people to have babies. I don't agree with all of them, just some of them.

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