«

»

Oct 21 2011

From the Archives: A Skeptic’s View of Love

Since I moved to the Freethought Blogs network, I have a bunch of new readers who aren’t familiar with my greatest hits from my old, pre-FTB blog. So I’m linking to some of them, about one a day, to introduce them to the new folks.

Today’s archive treasure: A Skeptic’s View of Love. The tl;dr: A skeptical/ materialist view of love — not seeing it as destined by God or as a union of perfectly matched souls, but as a human emotion and connection and series of choices between flawed people — is not only more accurate, but more sustainable… and more richly satisfying.

A nifty pull quote:

First, obviously, I think the whole “soul-mate/ romantic destiny” thing is just wrong. Mistaken. Not true. I don’t think we have souls, much less mates for them; I don’t think there’s an invisible hand pushing people together (and if there were, it’d have a seriously sadistic sense of humor, what with putting people’s true destined loves on opposite sides of the country and whatnot).

But maybe more to the point:

The “soul-mate/ romantic destiny” vision of love puts the focus on love as something you feel — rather than something you do.

It puts the focus on love as something that happens to you — rather than something that you choose.

And I find it much more romantic, and much more loving, to see love as something we do, and something we choose.

Enjoy!

6 comments

1 ping

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Emmet

    A thoughtful article: a good antidote to how love is often portrayed.

    I think you would find much to agree with in the thought of Polish philosopher Karol Wojtyla, who wrote extensively on love.

    “However, Wojtyla is concerned that people today often think of love only in terms of feelings. His concerns seem all the more applicable for a culture like ours, in which love songs, romance films, and TV shows constantly play with our emotions and get us to long for quick, emotionally thrilling relationships … .

    Real love, however, is very different from “Hollywood love.” Real love requires much effort. It is a virtue that involves sacrifice, responsibility, and a total commitment to the other person. “Hollywood love” is an emotion. It’s something that just happens to you. The focus is not on a commitment to another person, but on what is happening inside you—the powerful good feelings you experience when you’re with this other person.”

    http://www.holyspiritinteractive.net/columns/edwardpsri/loveandresponsibility/04.asp

    Wojtyla is, of course, better known as Pope John Paul II, and I suggest that what you describe as a “skeptical/materialist view of love” is much the same as the Catholic view of love, as expressed in the above quote from Edward Sri or in this article by Peter Kreeft:

    http://www.envoymagazine.com/?p=376

    and of course, in many other books/articles/sites in many other places.

    I think you could read both articles I’ve quoted here, discarding as you go their Biblical references and and mentions of God or Christ, and still see that both you and Catholics are aligned together against the prevailing modern view of love!

  2. 2
    Timothy (TRiG)

    The first gig I ever went to was last Saturday: Tim Minchin in Vicar Street. And this Saturday I’m going to see him again at Galway Comedy Festival.

    The man is amazing. And yes, this song was part of the show. (So was “Storm”.) He also spoke for a bit about Pastor Terry Jones, and did some stuff about the Qu’oran and what it means for something to be “sacred”.

    I love the comments Tim himself made about “If I Didn’t Have You”.

    TRiG.

  3. 3
    Flimsyman

    “The “soul-mate/ romantic destiny” vision of love puts the focus on love as something you feel — rather than something you do.

    It puts the focus on love as something that happens to you — rather than something that you choose.”

    My wife and I had the humanist minister quote this in our wedding, almost exactly a year ago.

    Excellent, extraordinary article, needless to say.

  4. 4
    Ray Ingles

    One minor point about ‘love’, when people claim that “atheists can’t believe in it ’cause they only believe in things they can touch” or some such twaddle – atheists in general are just big on having evidence for things.

    Thankfully, there can be plenty of evidence for love. As a simple example, how many songs are there about the difference between saying you love someone, and actually behaving as if you do?)

  5. 5
    Greta Christina

    I think you could read both articles I’ve quoted here, discarding as you go their Biblical references and and mentions of God or Christ, and still see that both you and Catholics are aligned together against the prevailing modern view of love!

    Emmet @ #1: Right. Except for the part where the Catholic Church thinks the love Ingrid and I have for each other is a horrible form of wickedness, and we deserve to be punished for it by being burned alive. And the part where they think our marriage is not just wicked, but actually invalid and non-existent.

    And, of course, there’s the part where they think this sort of love is only valid if a magic man stands up in front of you and says some magic words before you start your life together. And the part where they think this sort of love should only happen once in someone’s life (unless their partner dies, in which case it’s okay to go for seconds). And the part where they think this sort of love has to result in as many children as your bodies can produce (or at least be willing to have this result). And the part… oh you get the picture.

    And, of course, there’s the part where they think all this without even the slightest scrap of good evidence, on the basis of what some duly appointed magic men pulled out of their asses as the right way to interpret a book of hearsay written 2,000 years ago about what a man who supposedly claimed to be God told people what to do.

    Yeah. Not so aligned. On the whole, I think I’ll take the prevailing modern view of love. You know. The one that says Ingrid and I have a right to it.

  6. 6
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Greta, you should snark more often. You’re brilliant at it!

    TRiG.

  1. 7
    My View of Love Apparently Aligned with Catholic Church | Greta Christina's Blog

    [...] I got the following comment from Emmet: A thoughtful article: a good antidote to how love is often [...]

Leave a Reply