(Part 2 of a three-part series on God’s signposts; see Part 1 here)
A second signpost that points to the existence of God is the mystery of love. Dr. Victor Frankl spent three years of his life in the concentration camps of the Holocaust, and he said that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which all human beings aspire.
To love and be loved is the deepest of all yearnings of the human heart. In fact, it has been demonstrated that young babies will die if they are not regularly held and loved. They need to be loved to sustain their young lives. Love transforms us, and it is not surprising that we experience the greatest joy in this life when we love.
But where does love fit in a world where God does not exist? If we are nothing but material beings composed of a mass of particles, then what is love to us? Atheistic philosophy readily admits that love has no meaning in our lives other than its pragmatic, physical consequences. As B. F. Skinner concluded, love is an illusion.
Aldous Huxley was very critical of the idea of love.
“Of all the worn, smudged, dog-eared words in our vocabulary, love is surely the grubbiest, smelliest, slimiest. Bawled from a million pulpits, lasciviously crooned through hundreds of loudspeakers, it has become an outrage to good taste and decent feeling, an obscenity which one hesitates to pronounce,” he wrote in The Divine Within: Selected Writings on Enlightenment.
The atheist, then, is forced to renounce the mystery of love, yet he must explain that which much of humanity recognizes to be a true phenomenon. As Dr. William Kilpatrick, professor of psychology at Boston College, tells us that the atheist explains away love as a matter of fact:
Love is a sublimation of the sex drive produced in the right hemisphere of the brain.
Love is a matter of stimulus and response conditioned by family patterns of reward.
Love is the inherited drive to preserve the gene pool.
Dr. Kilpatrick goes on to say that, in order to understand love in a godless world, we are encouraged to forget about Romeo and Juliet, and to think rather in terms of some new study of the sexual behavior of two thousand couples in the Midwest, or some observations on the mating patterns of chimpanzees, or to re-order our understanding along the lines of some such formula as she is the mother that he always wished to possess.
Love is explained away by atheists as a chemical reaction, a biological drive, an animal instinct, a conditioned phenomenon.
What is your experience? Is love real, or are we simply controlled by our hormones, experiencing some type of chemical reaction in the brain?
At the heart of Christianity, there exists a real love, and God is the source of that love. As St. John wrote, "Love is from God and We love because He first loved us." Furthermore, the better form of love is more than the expression of mere feelings toward someone. It is responding to those we love, not out of selfishness or conceit, but in humility and reverence, placing their well-being above our own.
This viewpoint postulates that God designed life to be lived out in relationships characterized by this type of love.
The skeptic will vigorously challenge this position and will point out that the world we live in is not characterized by this picture of love. Violence and hatred seem to envelop the world. Murder and assault, divorce and child abuse, bitterness and oppression are commonplace in even the most civilized countries.
A reasonable explanation is that perhaps the world is not characterized by love, because people, including those claiming to be theists, so often leave God, the source of all love, out of their lives.
To paraphrase the Nobel-prize-winning writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the problem with our world is that men have forgotten God.
What I find most interesting is that the atheistic view of life clearly acknowledges that love is an illusion, and yet, those who identify themselves as atheists often find themselves professing love. It is of notable significance that these atheists, those who profess to seek the ultimate truth, are unable to live an intellectually honest life consistent with the world in which they profess to believe.
The reality of love beyond the chemicals, the brain, and the body is a signpost that authenticates the existence of a God who is the source of that love.
Richard E. Simmons III is the founding director of The Center for Executive Leadership, a faith-based ministry in Birmingham, Alabama focused on counseling businessmen and professionals. His column appears every weekend in 1819 News. Richard is the best-selling author of The True Measure of a Man, Reliable Truth, and The Power of a Humble Life. His newest book, an Amazon best-seller, is Reflections on the Existence of God – a series of short essays seeking to answer life’s most enduring question: Does God exist? You can find Richard's weekly blog, podcast, and more at richardesimmons3.com. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.
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