I’ve always found this argument weird, because the logical conclusion is not where theists want to end up.

The question, “What is love?” has been discussed and debated for thousands of years, all the way back to the ancient Greeks, who also asked questions such as “What is truth?”

The Greeks realized was that “Love” is not a thing, but rather an abstraction or a label that we use to describe a set of feelings or actions. We say that love exists, but it’s not the same thing as a dog existing or sunlight existing.

So, any argument that god exists because love exists but is unprovable comes up against this problem. I don’t have a problem with theists arguing that god is an abstraction the same way love is, but I don’t really think that’s what they have in mind.

Posted: December 11th 2007

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SmartLX www

I would emphasise the features of love that a believer would not want God to have: that love is entirely subjective and varies from person to person, that it has no presence or direct influence outside of the human brain, that its chemical effects can be duplicated, that people are often tricked and deluded into thinking they love someone or something, etc.

I would ask, “Is God merely an emotion? Can you simulate the feeling of God with chocolate?” and so on. Once the analogy to love ceases to be flattering to God, it’s unsavoury as a theist argument and would probably be dropped. If it persists, use the evidence for love given below.

Posted: November 13th 2007

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George Locke

This is a very silly argument; it fails utterly. First of all, love isn’t unprovable. Sure, it’s can’t really be defined perfectly, but if there are happy, committed relationships, then that’s love and it’s real. QED.

Most importantly, even if the claim, “Love is unprovable but we know it exists,” were true, it would be totally irrelevant to whether or not God exists. Let me paraphrase the questioner’s argument:

There exists one thing whose existence can’t be proved; therefore God, whose existence can’t be proved, exists.

This is nonsense! The conclusion doesn’t follow from the premise.

At best, the existence of some unprovable thing, X, proves only that unprovable things can exist. Thus, if God’s existence or nonexistence is unprovable, then the existence of X thing means only that God might, or might not, exist. In fact, whether or not X exists, God might or might not exist. So, the existence or non-existence of X basically has no bearing on whether God exists or not.

Last but not least, this argument attempts to show that an unprovable God exists. Leaving aside the obvious paradox, let’s say that God’s existence isn’t practically provable. This means that there is no reasonable expectation that anyone will ever see something for which the best explanation was God (if someone saw such a thing then s/he would have evidence for God’s existence, which would invalidate the assumption of unprovability). In other words, for anything I might ever see, there will always be a better explanation than God.

So, the God of the Bible couldn’t be unprovable. That God interacts with the world, as through prayer, the holy ghost, etc etc.

Finally, it’s also worth pointing out that the argument uses the idea that God’s existence can’t be proven to prove that God exists. So if the argument succeeds in proving God’s existence, then it has invalidated its own premise.

Let’s review our assessment of the argument:

  1. The premise is false.
  2. Even if the premise were true, the conclusion would not be proven.
  3. If the conclusion were valid, then the argument would be invalid.
  4. Even if the conclusion were proven, it wouldn’t apply to the Christian God.

By now it should be easy to see why this is an utter failure of an argument.

Posted: October 19th 2007

See all questions answered by George Locke

flagellant www

I recall two studies about ‘love’, done in the last ten years. The first considered the relationships of a series of couples ‘in love’ together with their friends and associates. The loving couples ascribed levels of virtue and faultlessness to each other with which their more objective friends did not agree. Even more interestingly, individuals did not rate themselves so virtuous or faultless as their loving partners judged them. It was a characteristic of these loving relationships that the couples saw each other in a benevolently distorted, i.e. deluded, light. The important thing here is that everyone concerned in the study recognised the existence of love, even if some of them got it a bit wrong.

The second study concluded that the brain states of people ‘in love’ were remarkably similar to those found among sufferers from certain types of madness. This merely confirms what many writers and poets have observed, e.g. ‘Love is merely a madness’ – Shakespeare, As you like it, Act 1, Scene 1.

However disappointing or unsatisfying these two studies are, they do point dramatically to the existence of love, even if one finds it analogous to ‘delusion’ (study 1) or ‘madness’ (study 2).

Argument from analogy can only be used to illustrate, not to prove, a point.
In short, you can prove the existence of love but ‘God’ presents much more of a problem: there is no evidence. You can therefore appreciate the atheist position that belief in a supernatural being is a delusion, if not outright madness. And there are nicer – and more tangible – ways to be deranged…

Posted: October 13th 2007

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John Sargeant www

But I have evidence for love. Body language, the way she talks to me. Her actions, when she sacrifices what would be good for her for me. That morning coffee made the way I like it, though it takes more effort. Going to my favourite restaurant though she hates Indian food. The way we are when we are alone.

Now admittedly there are people that will put up with “bad love” because it is a form of love and they think without that their world would fall apart. That their life would lack meaning and existence would be pointless without this bad love. It is bad love because it is about routine and not actual happiness between two people that are really there for each other.

Bad love is the relationship between god and a person. Because the love is very much one sided.

Posted: October 13th 2007

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brian thomson www

“You can’t prove love”? Really? It sounds to me as if you’re assuming “love” is something ineffable or intangible, and beyond science, when there is no reason to make such an assumption.

There is plenty of literature out there, accessible through a Google search, on the brain chemistry behind love, and its effects. e.g. here. Love is real, as real as anything the starts in your head and influences your behaviour. When someone tells you that something is not real, or is outside the realm of scientific examination, you don’t have to accept any such restrictions – unless you want to.

Posted: October 11th 2007

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