Chapter 47 – Two Arguments for Earth’s Destruction

In Chapter 47, the Judge has made her decision.  The point system is flawed and the only path forward is to destroy all life on Earth.  The audience, presumably, finds the destruction of all life and all human souls in the afterlife, to be a bit of a drastic solution.  So, how do we get from the point system being flawed to the solution being to restart all life on Earth?  I believe there are two arguments that were made about problems with the point system.  The initial argument leads to a different conclusion than Earth’s destruction; meanwhile, the second argument could justify rebooting Earth but it is not without its own problems.

The initial reason given as to why the point system does not work is that humans can always get better.  Therefore the point system does not accurate reflect how good or bad people are.  Based on the Judge’s statement, and what we know from previous episodes, presumably the system worked as follows:  One can determine the level of goodness of badness of a person based on that effects produced by that person’s actions.  Further, we can discount any positive points a person may have if the intention does not have moral worth.  The results of the actions are supposed to tell us something about the worth of the person. This is why a person’s motivations for doing good matter.

In the first argument, the conclusion is that because there is no fixed level of human goodness then the point system does not work.  The solution would be to design a better system for measuring goodness, or perhaps an entirely better system such as an afterlife that works to improve people after their death.  It is probably the latter because if humans can always improve, then humans are not inherently good or evil.  If that is the case, then an afterlife that treats people that way would be unjust.

The second argument is not that the system is flawed, but that human society is flawed.  The Judge says that the points are not the problem.  Instead, things are too complicated for the point system to reflect the value of human behavior.   I want to emphasize a shift in language.  Previously, the Judge maintained because humans can get better, the system cannot accurately reflect if a person is good or bad.  This second argument is not about the goodness of badness of a person.  Instead, it is about the value of a human’s actions.

It is this second argument that generates the conclusion that Earth must be rebooted.  If the goal is to produce the best consequences, and human society no longer can do that, then the obvious solution is to destroy Earth.  Tweaking the system to provide more points does not solve the fundamental problem.  What is the fundamental problem?  That human society produces far more bad results than good results.  There is no way a human could ever act in a manner to produce more good than bad.  What is needed, therefore, is to have a different human society.  Since humans evolved, then the only way to do that is to destroy all life and start over.

While the second argument could lead to the conclusion Earth should be rebooted, it does not justify it.  Einstein reportedly defined insanity as repeating the same action and expecting different results.  Why should we expect the next version of human life that evolves to not have the same problem?  The larger and more complex a system is, the more difficult it is to understand all of the connections.  Therefore, we should expect as human life moves beyond small disconnected communities to large ones with distant connections, the same problems will result.