Thursday, August 11, 2011

Love and Science

People love to separate the spiritual from the physical. The old heresy was gnosticism. That said the spiritual was good and the physical was bad. Very few people defend gnosticism explicitly. Yet you still see it as the underlying assumption behind much modern thinking. It is tempting because the physical can get so messy and painful.

Today a lot of people are going the other direction. They separate the physical and the spiritual but prefer the physical. The physical world can be examined by science. That is where the real truth is. The spiritual is nice but just not as important. Spiritual truth is kind of fuzzy. There might be contradictions that could not happen in science. It just does not matter except at a very subjective emotional level. Some people say it matters a lot after you die. You might believe your spirit lives on if in a good place or a bad place based on this or that but who knows who is right about these matters? The really serious minds focus on the physical world. That is the path to progress.

Still most people would say that love is the highest human value. But this kind of thinking says love is not part of what is real. Is it physical? If it is physical then it is just a state of a set of neurons in a person's brain. Apart from the lover's brain there is no such thing as love. But saying a neurological phenomenon is the highest human value does not make a lot of sense. It is like saying having good teeth is the highest human good. Sure neurons are more complicated than teeth but it is still an arrangement of body parts. Love must be more than that.

If it is more than that then it is not physical. That means truth about love is second class. It is in the category of fuzzy non-scientific truth. But how can what is most valuable not correspond to what is most real? So either way love is diminished. It is either a neurological phenomenon or it is something deeper. If it is deeper then it must take a back seat to solid, scientific truths.

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