Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What about love?

My last post got me to thinking about another conversation I had regarding the existence of God. For some reason, a lot of believers seem to think that they have an answer that destroys the "I'll believe when there's evidence" argument. They'll ask me if I believe in love, and when I say that I do, the reply is, "But what is the scientific evidence for that?" (Or something along those lines.)

I don't see why this is such a good argument. For some weird reason, we humans take a wonderful concept like love and turn it into something that it's not. While it's hardly romantic, love is perfectly explainable. After all, what is love but a feeling that you have? The sheer fact that I feel love is proof of its existence. Not only that, but I feel all types of love. (A good thing, as otherwise my cat would get awfully nervous.) So there, it's proven.

From there though, the conversation turns to the believer saying something along the lines of, "But just as you know that you love your wife, I know that Jesus is real." (Of course, if we were in India, it would be Ganesha.) The argument is that they FEEL that Jesus is real. Well, there's not much I can say other than the fact that there's a big difference between feeling an emotion and feeling that God had a son who was himself only to later sacrifice himself to himself so we could be forgiven for something somebody else did. In other words, all I need to prove love is to feel it, because that's what it is by definition. Postulating the existence of a deity though, that's making a statement about the very nature of the universe.

I mean, I don't go around saying that I "feel" that photosynthesis exists, do I? Even if I did, it wouldn't matter. All that matters is the evidence. And I hate to break it to you, but the evidence for a water-walking carpenter is fairly weak.


Matthew said...

Actually, I really like this argument for the existence of God. It doesn't answer any theological details about God's existence, but I think it does at least demonstrate the existence of God to the individual (at least as much as the feeling of love proves its existence). The problem is in the definitions of loaded terms like love and God. We assume a particular God viewed from a specific metaphysical perspective, but we're happy to simply accept that all our definitions of "love" are the same.

If I disagree that your wife loves you, and I can site reasons for my opinion, does that invalidate your proof that she does in fact love you? Of course not. Something like love is not a scientific term and cannot be measured in any real terms (even though people have tried). I suppose a term like "God" would be the same. In my opinion, the feeling of God's love does prove God's reality to an individual even if we cannot define that God in any real terms, or even if that proof does not translate to any other individual.

I'd even add that this view and acceptance of God is "irrational." But that doesn't make it any less real to the individual. We would all agree that a man who beats his wife and kids repetitively does not actually love his family. Try convincing the wife and kids that the father doesn't love them.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Indeed, and this is why religious belief continues to thrive in this world, even if it is somewhat of a muddied-down version nowadays (as when many people speak of "God", they don't even consider whether they're talking about Yaweh, Jesus, Thor, or Zeus).

Just to clarify though, the love that I'm talking about is the love that I personally feel. You're right, it might not very well be the same for you as it is for me, but that doesn't hurt the proof for its existence, since it's subjective by it's very nature. The existence of a God though, that's either an objective fact or it isn't.

Matthew said...

I understand what you're saying and I agree to some extent. As a supernatural being, God (by definition) exists outside the purview of science yet remains an intensely personal truth for millions of people. That's why I like the love example, it does a good job of demonstrating that the existence of either depends entirely on the perspective of the individual.

Alice is not my Name said...

Obviously, most people are talking about Thor.
If the Vikings feared him, he must be worthy of mad respect. Plus, any dude who fights off giants with a hammer is a god I want on my side.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

Well, they sure as hell aren't talking about Heimdall. That would be silly.

Alice is not my Name said...

Someone has proven the existence of God.
It's all ver ver scientific. Thought it might interest you.

Lance Christian Johnson said...

I've seen worse proofs.