The (Non)Preciousness of Life

By Jin-yeong Yi

“No gods, no life after death, no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning in life, and no human free will – are all deeply connected to an evolutionary perspective. You’re here today and you’re gone tomorrow, and that’s all there is to it.”

—William B. Provine

I remember the first few times I watched this video. I am no vegetarian or vegan (tried the former in high school but gave up within several weeks), but as someone who had kept hamsters as pets during childhood (not very successfully, I am sad to say), I found myself deeply moved. Here was a tiny and fragile creature that had faced a future of either being fed to reptiles in infancy or being preyed upon as adult, and perishing in less than half a decade in any case. But here it was, safe and sound, being raised with such tender care. As I watched it resting contentedly in its owner’s palm, I couldn’t help but think: if even a mouse can be loved so dearly in an indifferent universe, what possibilities does that suggest for us?

Life is cheap, and that may well be precisely why I value it.

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