Tuesday, November 09, 2004

That silly superstition called Love...

Check out Jonah Goldberg's The Sore-Loser Party. An excerpt:
Love, in fact, is just as silly and superstitious a concept as God (and for those who believe God is Love, this too is a distinction without a difference). Chesterton's observation that the purely rational man will not marry is just as correct today, because science has done far more damage to the ideal of love than it has done to the notion of an awesome God beyond our ken. Genes, hormones, instincts, evolution: These are the cause for the effect of love in the purely rational man's textbook. But Maher would get few applause lines from his audience of sophisticated yokels if he mocked love as a silly superstition. This is, in part, because the crowd he plays to likes the idea of love while it dislikes the idea of God; and in part because these people feel love, so they think it exists. But such is the extent of their solipsism and narcissism that they not only reject the existence of God but go so far as to mock those who do not, simply because they don't feel Him themselves. And, alas, in elite America, feelings are the only recognized foundation of metaphysics.
Hat tip: Rev. Mike


Paul said...

An interesting argument. As far as I'm aware no scientist denies the existence of love, nor is there huge confusion about how it comes to exist. I feel something that I understand to be called love, and my wife and most other people say they feel a recognizably similar thing. In fact it's so prevalent, and so accepted, that people who are incapable of feeling it are considered mentally ill.

You seem determined in your belief that science means that everything is deterministic, presumably because if you can show that some things aren't then it overthrows science and makes room for your god. But that's a false argument; if you're talking about the movement of planets science believes that determinism rules, but it also recognizes both random (e.g. brownian motion) and directed (e.g. emotion) chaos. Abstracts can exist, emotions can exist, even your god *could* exist. The problem for you is that we have good reason to think abstracts and emotions do exist, and absolutely no reason to think that your god does.

Rusty said...


Merely acknowledging the existence of the abstract has no bearing on whether it can be generated by purely naturalistic means. Doing so is tantamount to circular reasoning (e.g., “our reality is completely natural; the abstract exists; therefore, the abstract was derived through natural means”). Naturalists continue to posit naturalistic pathways for the generation of the abstract, yet it is still obvious that they haven’t a clue as to how the process could occur. It’s one thing to argue that the concept of morality came about through a natural selection process; it’s quite another thing to actually provide evidence that such a process occurred in the past, or of such a process occurring at present.

I do not limit M/PN to determinism alone but, rather, determinism and chance. E.g., the Mars-sized body that presumably impacted the Earth about 4 billion years ago was guided by determinism in areas such as its mass, orbital speed, etc.; but that it impacted the Earth when and how it did, was more a matter of chance. Also, I don’t believe that science is limited to determinism and chance; I believe science to be the study of the natural order, in its entirety.

From a naturalistic position we have virtually no good reason to think that the abstract can exist. Consider that there is no way for you to empirically demonstrate the validity of the abstract. You have no way to bottle up, measure, or analyze the abstract itself. Yet you believe that it exists but for the simple reason that you perceive that you experience it, and that you perceive that others also experience it.

That’s all well and good…

But it’s not naturalism.

Paul said...

We know that abstraction is an evolutionary advantage, for humans and other animals. We know that chemical processes affect the development of the brain, and that changes in those processes change the structure of the brain, giving a mechanism for evolutionary differentiation. We have a fossil record showing that evolution works on us on a physical level, and a pattern of cultural development that *suggests* it works on an intellectual level. The only thing we can't do is prove a process that takes millenia in a few months.

Contrast that to the ID explanation, which is that a fairy made us smart (I'm summarizing here). There is no evidence at all of any kind that this is true, so purely on the balance of evidence it seems clear which one to choose.

As to evidence of the abstract - we don't have to be able to weigh things to know they exist. There are plenty of ways to analyze love, for example, so that we can know it exists. What we're not able to do is find a mechanism for storage or transmittal - I'm not aware of the presence of "love-beams" for example. A very different matter.