Category Archives: Atheism

Does Love Exist? The Burden Of Proof.

When I say, “I love my family,” most people respond, “That’s wonderful!”  When I say, “There is a God,” many people demand, “Prove it scientifically!  You now bear the burden of proof!”  Yet, there is more empirical evidence to support the existence of God than my love of family.  Why such doubt and skepticism about God?

It is complained that “Religion has caused wars, deaths and oppression.”  Has not love triggered the jealousy of many a murderer?  Has not love broken the hearts of people and led to crimes of passion?  Was it not love for a beautiful woman that launched a thousand ships and led to the destruction of Troy?  Isn’t it love that people seek after, often to the point of despair and anguish?  Isn’t it really a longing to love and to be loved that imprisons and oppresses many a heart?  Why do we not hear anyone demanding that the existence of love be proved scientifically?  Why has the burden of scientific proof not been placed on those who love?

Can love ever be scientifically proven to exist?  Is it simply a chemical reaction or a firing of nerves?  Where does love come from?  What exactly is a “broken heart?”  How many people would be satisfied by a scientific explanation of why their lovers were unfaithful to them?  Is love simply an evolutionary adaptation for human mating?  Why am I able to love people that I cannot or will not mate with?  Why am I able to feel love, or affection or sentiment towards a childhood toy?  Why form attachments to inanimate objects or places?  When I say, “I love being here,” no one responds, “Prove it!”

A woman may want a man to prove his love for her.  He may try with all his might to no avail, or he might succeed.  The outcome depends on the woman and her level of trust.  Different people will draw different conclusions.  Does he love her or not?

It has been hypothesized that there is no such thing as pure altruism.  Every good deed has an ulterior motive no matter how generous or self sacrificing it may be.  A good deed is partly done to make the doer feel “good” in even the slightest way.  Hence, the act is not purely altruistic, since it contains the least bit of selfishness.  So, can love really exist at all?  Are we all just walking around foolishly believing in something that does not even exist?  “No,” says the lover.  “My love is real.”

The belief in love is not based on science but on faith.  We give and receive love in good faith, all the while risking the possibility of a broken heart.  Why is it so hard, then, to believe in God?  The poet who writes, “I’ll say goodbye to love” has done so from a broken heart.  Those who reject love have been hurt.  I think the same applies to God, for God is love.  God does not cease to exist, but, in our wounded state, we may reject his existence.  Science cannot resolve such a dilemma any more than it can conclusively determine if, or exactly how much, I love my family.

Atheism And Thanksgiving

Gratitude is similar to a gift.  Without a recipient, it ceases to be.  I cannot give a gift to “no one.”  The very act of calling it a gift presupposes that it has an intended recipient.  The same is true for gratitude.  If there is no one to direct the gratitude to, it must be something other than gratitude, for gratitude requires someone to be a recipient.

An atheist can experience and express gratitude, but only on a limited basis.  For example, an atheist can be grateful to the gardener for planting flowers, but not for the flowers themselves.  Why?  Because the gardener did not create the flowers, she merely manipulated what was already in existence, even if she planted the seeds.  It is folly to direct gratitude towards “nature” because nature is not capable of receiving gratitude.  Whatever the atheist may feel about the existence of the flowers, it is not true gratitude until it can be directed at “someone.”  Nature is not “someone” although attempts have been made to personify it (Mother Nature).  It is also useless to thank “the universe” because the universe is not “someone,” either.

An atheist can be grateful to a spouse, but not for a spouse.  It is one thing to say, “Thank you for loving me and for marrying me,” but quite another to say, “Thank you for existing.”  One might thank one’s in-laws by saying, “Thank you for conceiving my spouse,” but that also falls short.  The in-laws did not create the life within one’s spouse, they were merely instruments used in the process.

An atheist can say to a doctor, “Thank you for saving my life.”  But there is no one an atheist can thank for life itself.  Once the atheist begins to express gratitude for life itself, the atheist has consciously or subconsciously acknowledged that there is “someone” able to receive that gratitude.  Until we imagine there is someone we might give something to, we do not call that thing a “gift.”  Until we imagine there must be someone to thank, we do not call it “gratitude.”

If one is truly grateful for life itself, there is no point in calling oneself an atheist, for one has already, to some degree, yielded to the One who transcends us.