Love Is a Science, But Not An Absence of Faith, part 2
April 5, 2012 § 3 Comments
Hi God, are You there? It’s me, Satan- I mean Kenneth. I am definitely NOT Satan in disguise as a blogger. Think what you want, fine, but I am NOT Satan. Would Satan-I mean Kenneth- lie?
As you can probably tell, I am not a man of God or religion. I don’t have a problem with people that do believe or have faith in the existence of an afterlife, it’s just that I lacked the ability to believe in something that I couldn’t see. In something that we couldn’t prove. It’s not that I don’t want to believe, either. Who wouldn’t want to know that this isn’t it? That life’s not the only time when you exist? Sounds like a good deal to me, to know that after we die we don’t just stop existing in spirit- but I just can’t believe it.
“Faith consists in believing when it is beyond the power of reason to believe” – Voltaire
Just because I couldn’t have faith in da Lordy Lordy Lord, doesn’t mean I can’t have faith in other things, even when the subject is “beyond the power of reason.”
As I discussed in part one, the feeling and emotions of love are basically controlled by hormones and chemicals in your body. It might be a smell or a sense of another person that attracts you to them, or it might be something entirely else like that they remind you of somebody or that they said all the right things.
Even beyond chemistry (the laboratory kind, not the Ryan Gosling-Emma Stone kind) and biology, love and attraction are also controlled by other sciences such as psychology. Psychology and how your brain functions in society, is a major part of why you lust, love, or like like. Mommy/Daddy issues? Lost your virginity when you were 12 and still chasing after that feeling again? You just can’t love anyone that doesn’t tie you up because whips and chain excite you and/or sticks even if sticks and stones may break your bones?
The entire idea behind relationships, love, and attraction can all be boiled down to a science and there’s a reason that thousands of studies have been done on the subject: We know that love exists somewhere but we don’t know where. Or at least, we believe that it does. If scientists could find “The Love Particle,” then a Love Potion no. 9 would be out there on the black market or supermarket because it would sell like Shamrock Shakes, even if it went against the moral code.
Humans search endlessly for existence of God, but God will not reveal himself to us in anything other than a potato chip.
And what of Love? One of the top Google suggestions for “Definition of” is “Definition of Love.” I would say that it is the TOP suggestion, but then I’d be assuming that it wasn’t just because Google knows how lonely I am. Here’s the thing about the definition of love: Fuck that, you can’t define it. You can define almost everything in this world, but when someone says “I love-” whatever, it’s an opinion. They’re making an opinion (which is not a fact) about something and therefore the entire word is sort of empty and without definition.
I love you, Wendy Peffercorn.
I love you, Alf.
I love you, Starbust Jelly Beans.
That doesn’t mean that love does not exist, it just means that it is something that you feel and then you make your best determination as to whether or not your feelings are love or if they are just caused by the suicide hot wings you just ate. Is love unconditional? How many people have said “I love you” and how many of those were said to people they aren’t with anymore? At which point did you manage to find conditions on the unconditional?
That sounds really cynical but that’s not the intent. It’s just that it doesn’t path the math test:
X = Unconditional
Y = Forever
Z = Love
If X+Y=Z then why did Stacy just come and take all of her records back and change her phone number?
The love of a mother to a child, now that almost always passes the math test of unconditional love (not always, making it an imperfect math) but it’s pretty damn close. If 50% of marriages end in divorce and 66% of second marriages find the same fate, then it almost seems to suggest that Love does exist somewhere on the same plane as the idea of God; That science has better explanations for your “irreconcilable differences” than anything else.
Imagine standing there on your wedding day and looking deep into your partners eyes. (Or if you have already been married… you know… just remember…) In that moment, you can’t imagine loving someone more than you do right now. You picture the future…
You’re growing old together. You’re going to be in your house one day, cooking together in the kitchen, Jimmy is back home from college for Spring Break, it’s a perfect day. Jimmy tells you that he’s in love and that it’s with his roommate Robert, but you’re cool with it because you’re super hip parents and you say “We already know.” Years later, you’re holding each others hands in bed and you know that this is it. You look at her and tell her that it was you that left the gate open when Zippy ran away. She tells you that Jimmy is actually the son of Jose the gardener. You say “I already know.” Neither of you wake up the next day, having slipped away in the night, but you’ve managed to stay through it all together. All because of love….
And then there’s the other path, where four years later you file for divorce because he constantly takes three weeks to get anything done around the house and she is constantly nagging him about it. The neighbors have called the police twice in the last month because they can’t take the arguing anymore. She threw a lamp at your head and you put her favorite dress in the toilet and screamed that you’re sleeping with your assistant.
Both of these paths, whether they be good or bad, started in that same moment when you said “I Do” to somebody that you said you’d spend the rest of your life with and unless you’re a Kardashian you meant it with all of your heart. You said and meant it all because of one word: Faith.
When you tell a person that you love them and when you confess that you are in love with them, you’re saying it because you believe that’s what your feelings are telling you; the fact that you can’t get them out of your head, that you may love them more than you love yourself, that you would die for them. These are feelings that you know are true and so it is true: I Love You.
And if the day comes that you are no longer together you have to say this: “I love you but I am no longer in love with you.” That you love them “as a person” but the thought of seeing them every day for the rest of your life literally brings out a gag reflex like the smell of a Port-A-Potty at a Faith No More concert.
“So what was all of this then? All lies?!” the scorned ex-lover exclaims.
A couple of years ago I was at a party and this guy was there, a guy that I had never met before. However, we shared a common bond that we didn’t have to even speak of to know what the bond was, sort of like seeing someone driving the same year/make/model/color of car as you. We gave each other the metaphorical “honk and wave” based on this bond: the gift of height.
Of course, other people at the party also want to chime in on the height and determine who is taller. “Well, I am 6’5″” I say.
“No sir, you must be mistaken!” he retorts, “for I am 6’6″ and you sir, are taller than I!” (In my memories, this was a medieval-themed party, although sadly I know it wasn’t really.)
This made no sense. How could I be taller than him (which I clearly was physically) but not be as tall as him, as he claimed? There was only one way to find out; to the measuring tape! After we determined who had the bigger penis, as men always do, we finally got around to measuring our heights. What happened next would blow my mind forever.
Can you imagine going around for over ten years telling people something that you believed to be a truth, something inherent to you, something that defines who you are, and then finding out that you were actually wrong? For the majority of my adulthood when people asked me how tall I was (and I get the question an average of once a week, if not more) I told them the truth: I am 6’5″.
We pulled out the measuring tape that day, something that I would have never had any need to do since being in high school, and we found out the facts: I was actually 6’6″ and he was actually 6’5″. “What the fuck?” doesn’t really do that moment justice… for either of us. We both found out that we were spreading lies for most of our lives, even though we always believed to be telling the truth. I had never lied about my height, I was just wrong about it. I had misinterpreted the data, fucked up the numbers, didn’t check out my facts….
What does that mean?
My last relationship was two years long. We fell into each other in weird places in our lives and immediately found ourselves intertwined, not going a day without being together, not going an hour without talking to each other. It was like puppy love for adults, I guess you could say, and it was entirely emotional and far from rational.
Yet, for two years we always told each other that we loved one another, and it was never a lie. It was never something that I said just because I thought it was what she wanted to hear or because I thought it would make her sleep with me. She was having sex with me way before I ever told her I loved her! It was something that we said because we meant it.
When I missed her, I was sad. When we argued (which was often) I was mad. When we were together, I was glad. These were all emotions that I can base on more fact than I can with the “emotion” of love, but when I add them up I had my answer: I love you.
Fast forward to today. To a time when we’ve gone way past the last time that I was “in love” with her. To a time when the pain of breaking up was gone. To a time when I can’t even remember what it felt like to have any feelings for her at all. Now I can look at the relationship rationally: She annoyed me and I probably annoyed the shit out of her too. We had some stuff in common, but not a lot. Our values were different. Our opinions were different. I could never see us being real friends in another universe where we never hooked up.
Now add all of that up: How could I possibly LOVE or be IN LOVE with her? Rationally speaking, how the hell does that make sense? In all honesty, it doesn’t. I can’t actually sit here and tell you that my brain would ever agree that I loved her and if it did and the love was returned, then I suppose there’s a strong possibility that we would still be together.
That’s not meant to dismiss the words that we spoke to each other, because as I said before, I meant it every time, it just puts it in a box and that box is labeled as such: Shit That Your Hormones Make You Feel.
Just like with my height, I was never telling a lie, but I think I was just wrong. So, where does that leave us with love and faith?
Something that I never understood about the God versus Science debate is why there has to be a debate at all. Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Why couldn’t it just be that God created Science?
Science and Evolution are things that can be proven. The Bible is not. The Bible is something that you have to believe in beyond reason. That’s faith. But it doesn’t meant that The Bible, or certain parts at least, aren’t real. It just means that we can’t prove the important bits, like we can with science.
I know that Love exists because I have witnessed it and I believe that I have felt it but somewhere in there, Love still exists on a similar plane to God; you have to believe in it and you have to believe that just because your body is, in a way, forcing you to have feelings for somebody it doesn’t mean that it’s not right. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t the person you are meant to be with.
Why do the two have to be mutually exclusive?
Why can’t your body be telling you, with Oxytocin and Seratonin and all of the other scientific particles that create emotions like lust and attraction, that this is the person you are meant to be with?
Why does it have to be that just because I can sit here and tell you that it is rationally unfeasible that I could have loved my ex-girlfriend, that irrationally I loved her to death for the time that we were together? Maybe I just have faith that my brain is a stupid-dumb-idiot-head and my heart was in the know.
If you’ve been divorced twice before and you’re thinking of getting married for a third time but are concerned by the statistic that three in four third marriages end in divorce, should you be thinking with your head or following your heart? Rationally speaking there is only one answer:
When it comes to Love, you absolutely have to have Faith.