Love: An Amusing Illusion or God’s Greatest Gift
What is love? Here are two possibilities:
- chemical reactions in your brain perceived as feelings of loyalty toward a single co-parent for the purpose of rearing a child together, at least until it’s weaned
- the ultimate good, a reflection of the image of God upon humanity
Arguments often arise by using the same words to mean different things. One worldview (Christianity) views love as the ultimate good in the material world and beyond.
Let’s look at how love is viewed by two different worldviews: Christianity and naturalism.
On Christianity, love is ultimately:
- the state of affairs existing prior to the creation of the universe, flowing between the Father and the Son via the Holy Spirit, the vehicle of love
- the highest good
- the ultimate goal, an act of worship.
On naturalism, love is ultimately:
- the evolutionary mechanism to ensure the survival of children and the propagation of our species
- a nice concept, something to distract you from the depressing thought of a meaningless existence
- an amusing illusion
Your worldview will shape how you understand the concept of love.
Should we describe amorous behavior in the same manner Dawkins describes religious behavior, as “a misfiring, an unfortunate by-product of an underlying psychological propensity which in other circumstances is, or once was, useful?”²
Or is love in all its forms a gift from God?
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”
as commanded in Matthew 22:37?
Is loving your neighbor as yourself a holy commandment, or an optional attitude?
Jesus tells His disciples in John 15:13 :
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
In this context, sacrificial love is one of the highest virtues.
On naturalism, sacrificial love should be selected for extinction. Only the less self-sacrificial should survive. Eventually the gene for self-sacrifice would be gone forever.
But it’s not.
Medal of Honor recipient Corporal Jason Dunham jumped on a grenade to save his fellow Marines from immanent death.
District Court Judge Mitchell McLean gave his life while trying to save a woman from drowning.
Nineteen brave firefighters gave their lives fighting an Arizona wildfire to protect others from harm.
After all these years, the spirit of love is well intact.
You don’t have to be able to explain love in order to give it.
But if you understand it properly, you might want to give a whole lot more.
What’s your conclusion? Greatest gift from God, or amusing illusion?
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¹ Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2006), 185.
² Ibid., 174.
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About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.