Perhaps it’s too bold of me to attempt to answer the question that takes super computers seven and a half million years to calculate [1]. But then again, I’m positing the existence of an omnipotent creator, so that makes my task much easier.

If I build something, that something is not me; it is outside of me. Let’s suppose I build a wooden box. It will have my fingerprints, both literally and figuratively, and may have pieces that used to be part of me—e.g. Blood, sweat, and tears—embedded within it, but those pieces have ceased to be parts of me and are now parts of my box.

Furthermore, this box exists only because I want it to. My reasons for wanting to construct this box are (a) unknown the box and (b) affect only the box’s purpose, not its existence once it exists. Absent my volition, this box would be a nondescript pile of boards, nails, and paint, but through my volition to build it and desire to use it, it becomes a gestalt entity: it becomes more than just boards, nails, and paint and becomes something of use. As the box’s maker, I have the right to do whatever I want with this box (so long as it doesn’t harm others [2]), and therefore I determine it’s purpose [3]. I could decide that it’s purpose is to hold puppy toys, or that its interim purpose is to bring me revenue by selling it, or even that its sole purpose in existence is to be flung from a trebuchet into a wall (over which I also have property rights) and smash into splinters. The box’s value is defined by my satisfaction with that box and its performance in whatever task I assign to the box.

As an ontologically higher entity [4], I have no obligations to the box. I may or may not have affections for the box that may prevent me from smashing it, but there would be nothing immoral about me smashing the box that I have made. So what about something conscious? What about my puppy? In the case of my puppy, I’ve provided a space for him to live and I sustain him. As his owner, his purpose is to serve me, and and his value as a puppy is determined by my satisfaction of him—which may or may not be related to his performance as a puppy. Although I did not make my puppy, much less his consciousness (using the definition found in [5]), if his death is how he can best serve me, then as his owner I have the right to kill him; such is the common practice for dangerous dogs (e.g. Old Yeller [6]). A better example is how cows best serve the the rancher by dying and tasting delicious. It is only out of love for my puppy, not obligation to him, that I give him exercise, take him to the vet (an extremely stressful event for him), and do other things for his care and happiness.

What about us? We are ontologically lower, created entities, and therefore our purpose is to fulfill the desires—however seemingly arbitrary, like me making my puppy sit before throwing his stick—of the creator. Our value is determined solely by whatever calculation and metrics God desires to use to measure us. In short, we are God’s pets, and while he has affections for us and chooses to sustain us, He is under no obligation, moral or otherwise, to do so. He does not exist for us; we exist because He wanted to bring us into existence, just like my box.

This is not a particularly happy or pleasant conclusion, but I believe it is the natural corollary from the fact that we are created by, and ontologically lower beings than, God the Creator. As a statement of fact, God does love us, He does want what is best for us, and He chooses to provide for us, but that is not because He owes us anything. We exist because He wanted us to exist, and his rationale for doing so is (a) unknown to us and (b) determines our purpose.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker’s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy_(novel)
[2] http://www.sparknotes.com/philosophy/onliberty/section5.rhtml
[3] I will cite Locke for this one since he was one of the first to articulate the idea of labor being the basis of property rights. While Locke, and later Adam Smith, wrongfully drew from this to say that labor is therefore the basis of value, traditional commonlaw and philosophy has upheld Locke’s assertion that labor begets property rights, and therefore I may or may not have property rights over something I did not labor to bring about, as in the turfs. http://www.constitution.org/jl/2ndtr05.htm
[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summa_Theologica
[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Guide_for_the_Perplexed
[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Yeller Although a children’s novel, it illustrates well how the life of the rabid dog is less valuable than the potential harm it could inflict on the children. Although sad, I think very few people would honestly argue that the ending involved any immoral acts.

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