Atheism and the Denial of Love

As I have argued earlier, atheism leads to determinism. (Please notice how I define atheism). The most important reason that atheism leads to determinism is that atheism requires that everything be subject to naturalistic, scientific explanation. From an atheistic perspective, there can be no thing, event, or action which cannot be given a total explanation by reference to physical objects and natural laws. As Charles Darwin put it: “Everything in nature is the result of fixed laws.” Humans and human actions are part of nature; therefore, we and our choices are the result of fixed laws.

Again, I must emphasize that many atheists are not determinists. Many of my secular friends believe they have free will, and live accordingly. This gives them strong, sustained experiences of making rational choices, acting morally, falling in love, and so on.  I am grateful for these friends and affirm that these are wise choices. This post is dealing with the logical consequences of atheism; it is not a personal attack on individual atheists.

In any case, it is obviously difficult to use the fixed laws of nature to explain love. As Albert Einstein is reported to have asked, “How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?”

Here are three reasons why atheism, and determinism, fails to offer a good explanation of love:
1. It implies that we are not soulful, loving people. We lack souls. We are not “loving” or “unloving” people — the entire category is a nonscientific idea. We may be abnormally likely to help others in distress or behaviorally inclined to buy flowers for attractive women, but this is solely a function of the laws of genetic and cultural conditioning.  There is no “loving person” hovering in or around human organisms; we are only biological machines.

2. It reduces all statements about “love” to statements about neurological states. This means that the statement, “I love you”, in a more accurate, scientific form, should be expressed as, “My neurotransmitters are indicating that you are a good genetic match for the production of offspring.” Love fails to be a virtue; it is only a biological impulse.

3. It unmasks “choosing someone” as an illusion. Beavers and Lavia frons bats “fall in love” and mate for life. But this happens to them, and to us, according to the laws of nature, just like everything else. No one picks their “soul-mate”, nor is there any such thing in the first place.

To conclude:
1. Atheism leads to determinism.
2. Determinism denies that we are loving people, that love is a virtue, and that we can choose to love other people.
3. Determinism explains away “love” in terms of natural law, biological impulse and cultural conditioning.
4. Atheism leads to the denial of love.