Biological Life Has No Intrinsic Value

What I am going to say might not make me popular, but here it is-

Biological life has no intrinsic value.

While it may be hard for most people to accept the idea, ask yourself- would the lack of biological life on earth or anywhere in the universe make any worthwhile difference? Would thermonuclear reactions in stars slow down or speed up? Would the nature of gravity change? Would the pattern of interactions between atoms and molecules change?

A universe without biological life would be practically identical to one with it.

The innate worthlessness of biological life is due to one peculiar feature of biological systems. The hardware cannot (yet) be separated from the software or its products. This restricts its ability to persist and spread.

Things would however change if rational intelligence could exist in a variety of non-biological systems and be implemented in new ones. There would be, then, little impediment to its spread and it could exist in a number of manifestations which we cannot even imagine.

I have a strong suspicion that advanced extra-terrestrial intelligence would be similar to software which can run on multiple systems rather than have any fixed form.

Some of you might counter by saying that life without purpose would not want to exist. But does biological life have any purpose to begin with? But is exists nonetheless, doesn’t it? Look around you- does the futility or lack of purpose stop humans from existing?

Why should anything have a purpose? A purpose makes sense only if you are constrained by resources and have to justify your choice. A sufficiently advanced trans-human intelligence has no resource constraints, nothing to defend, justify or care about. It can just hang around for the show.

Such intelligence might not be either a singular entity or a group of individuals, but something with features of both and without an analogue in the biological world.


  1. June 19, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I always secretly suspected you were a feminist….

    next your gonna start going around telling everyone it is okay to murder babies because of “female autonomy,” but if I dare put drugs into my system I am a “dirty criminal.”


    You stink therefore you are

  2. June 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm


    “Individuals using goodwill as a cover story have re-defined our values and purpose. They do this to benefit themselves, but as a result, corrupt the realistic outlook of society around them. This process takes centuries to fully show itself.

    We cannot see evidence of our corruption in a single fact, but can measure it from multiple points of view and find what they have in common, like we triangulate to find radio signals. Our measurements are:

    Ecocide. Our inability to constrain our numbers and our desires has resulted in human expansion which eliminates natural habitats, and both pollutes the environment and takes resources from it beyond what it can replenish.
    Boredom. Society and jobs cater to the lowest common denominator, and so lapse into a utilitarian modernism that produces ugly architecture, mind-numbingly micromanaged tasks, disorder and dysfunction.
    Selfishness. A culture based on individual desires makes it easy to manipulate one another, but produces no great art, and leaves us with commerce and political dogma that constrain not liberate us.
    Neurosis. Value and purpose, when used to convince others that we are altruistic, good people, create a social reality that steadily drifts farther from the many factors of reality into a single, social or commercial factor. Our minds split between social reality and physical reality.
    Depression. We compensate for a failing civilization through surrogate activities. These are ineffectual symbolic acts that we do not expect to make change, but they “uplift” us for a few moments so we feel better about ourselves.”

  3. June 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Most biological life seeks replication, continuation. I suppose what you postulate makes up for the need in replication via theoretically infinite continuation. On the other hand, most people don’t think as you. There is a desire for continuation that exists outside of the immediate self. The biological imperative is not mutable.

    Beyond that, even though the link is to a work of science fiction, the body is not a vestigial organ waiting to happen.

    I am suggesting that biology, as we know it, is inconsequential over large timespans.

  4. June 20, 2011 at 1:53 am


    I explained this in a simpler different manner here:

    Biological life is nothing but a specific arrangement of the basic particles that compose it. It is what it is because it is a certain arrangement. Change the arrangement, you get something else.

  5. Rollo Tomassi
    June 20, 2011 at 6:20 am

    The value of anything all depends upon the one making the evaluation. To the bacteria living in a pile of shit, that shit is paradise. If changing the nature of the cosmos is of some value to you, then yes, biological life is pretty insignificant. Valueless? It all depends on the conditions of the one doing the evaluation.

    • June 20, 2011 at 6:21 am

      Bacterias don’t even have the functions of “valuing”.

  6. A Equals A
    June 20, 2011 at 7:39 am

    Ask yourself this.

    Why do you continue to exist? Whats your purpose for existing?

    …Yeah, just as I thought.

    You don’t get why I used the word ‘intrinsic’- do you?

  7. hans
    June 21, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Getting a bit existentialist on us? Good.

    Drop the intelligence expression(it´s just a biological “feature”) and start using the term consciousness.
    Then you´re on to something.

  8. Deus
    June 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Why is it that so many people get offended when steely eyed realists point out people’s lives have no absolute value in a universe of infinite time and space? I don’t get it…

  9. June 22, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Software does not exist in itself, it only exists so far as an intellect interprets it into existence:

    Software as you know it.

    That is, a certain arrangement of matter in a certain form is an intellect. Software, lacking both matter and form, lacking actual being, existing only in the abstract thus cannot be an intellect.

    The term intrinsic value does not exist in natural science (physics, chemistry etc), value is placed on something by an intellect that values, the value in the creation is what the creator values. If the universe was created with the purpose of being a place that will bring up out of it humanity then humanity is valuable for it is valued not only for it’s own essence which I have not written about but for it’s purpose.

  10. June 22, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Deus: there is no necessary connection between time and space being infinite and absolute value not existing. This is just a variation of chronological snobbery.

    and you know that because…?

  11. Nobel
    December 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    There is neither intrinsic or transcendent worthiness or worthlessness to biological life. We give life value and that doesn’t demean the value of life in anyway as far as I’m concerned.

  1. June 26, 2011 at 1:01 am

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