Materialists Accuse Humanity of Love-ism

The logical conclusion of materialism is materialists accuse humanity of love-ism. It is a telling feature of that particular worldview. The way that it bumps up against reality is obvious. These two facts point to its absurdity. (1)Love is a feature of reality. (2)Materialism when played out, says love is an illusion.

While preparing lesson plans the other day, I was thinking about what the suffix “ism” does to a word. I considered how it might be best to explain words like relativism and rationalism. It occurred to me that most of the time when the suffix “ism” is added to a word, it’s as if the idea contained in the word is given ultimate meaning. A word used to communicate truth becomes an ultimate meaning in and of itself. In fact, it’s almost as if the idea becomes a worldview worshiped.

Many times, when the suffix “ism” is added to a word it is meant as a pejorative. In almost all cases an “ism” is a description of a belief system, not just an idea. When an “ism” is meant as a pejorative and a description of a belief system, it’s presented as absurd. That is the context of my accusation toward materialist’s ultimate view of humanity’s obsession with love. My accusation is made possible because materialists accuse humanity of love-ism.

 Materialism-the logical accuser!

Materialism is the worldview that all is material and there is nothing immaterial. In other words, all things are made of matter.

Now it’s obvious that the physical body of a person is made of matter. Skin, flesh and bone, each have material qualities. Other material features of a person are not so obvious but are no less material. The firing of synapses and the releasing of endorphins are also material or physical, if you will. Even DNA and the smallest parts of human cells are material. They are made of matter, albeit very small matter.

That is easily acceptable. Science tells me so.

“The supposedly immaterial soul, we now know, can be bisected with a knife, altered by chemicals, started or stopped by electricity, and extinguished by a sharp blow or by insufficient oxygen.”
― Steven PinkerHow the Mind Works

What may be a little harder to swallow is the argument that follows. Consciousness can be reduced to matter.

Cross-examination

Materialism argues that human consciousness boils down to nothing more than matter. The physical things going on in our brain cause us to feel certain emotions like anger, fear, and joy. Those emotions, according to that worldview are nothing more than that physical brain activity which, by the way can be measured by modern medical equipment. According to materialism, all emotion can be reduced to simulation with a physical cause.

Materialism asserts that anger is not an emotion that drives the brain to respond physically. It is the physical response. Fear is not an emotion that forces the brain to release certain chemicals into the body. Fear is those chemicals and their physical outworking. Those emotions are physical activities that fool us into reacting to certain stimulus. That’s all they are, period, according to materialism.

That view tends to make some sense when we think of ourselves as merely animalistic. There are situations that ought to stimulate our bodies into a self-preservation mode. It’s appropriate when we are faced with a charging lion for our brains to respond by releasing chemicals into our bodies that cause us to flee. The same might be said about anger when another person invades your familial space and threatens you and your family.

But is that all that emotions are? Are they mere instinct that can be reduced to material?

Humanity-the defendant.

Love is a different kind of emotion, when we look at it like this. It seems to be more than involuntary physical brain activity that can be reduced to matter. If that’s all it was, then it doesn’t seem that it’s really love at all.

In that case, love is nothing more than a physical response aroused under certain material conditions and is on a physical par with a burp, sneeze or wheeze. -Doug Groothuis[1]

Think about this.

When you leave for work and you tell your spouse that you love them, what does that mean if it is an involuntary physical brain activity? How valuable is that expression if it is nothing more than synapses firing or endorphins being released? When you tell your spouse how much you love them, is that more than a description of what’s going on inside of your brain?

Love is a funny sort of emotion. We inherently and transcendently believe it’s much more than material. But, according to materialists, we have been duped!

when we love another person, we believe we are entering into a condition that is a moral ideal (assuming the love in question is not pathological, adulterous or otherwise vicious). It is a condition that many have experienced for thousands of years and have expressed in song, poetry, painting and prose-Doug Groothuis[2]

You-the juror.

I don’t want to debate the philosophical reasons that materialism is not true though. I don’t even want to defend the reality of love or its immaterial nature. My case rests on my description of the ultimate assertion of a materialist’s worldview as it relates to humanity’s understanding of love. You make up your own mind. Decide whether you are alright with love the way materialism defines it. Determine whether humanity has been duped by their DNA when it comes to love. Judge whether materialists preach the truth of materialism but live as if an immaterial God exists as love itself.

we all function as personal agents in the world, and love is an ineradicable element of our experience (e.g., even the naturalist kisses his wife when he gets home from work)-Greg Bahnsen[3]

I realize that this is not necessarily a proper argument. It’s not laden with evidence and it follows no particular syllogism. It is admittedly a rhetorical effort. It is literally an appeal to emotion. That’s okay.

You see, in the case of a bad argument it doesn’t always matter so much that my worldview is right. We can talk about that some other time. What matters, at least in this case, is the absurdity of theirs. When we get down to the nitty-gritty, materialists accuse humanity of love-ism. That’s my case.

You deliberate. Reality will pass the verdict.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Groothuis, Douglas

2011

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos.

 

[2] Groothuis, Douglas

2011

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: IVP Academic; Apollos.

[3] Bahnsen, Greg L.

2008

Presuppositional Apologetics: Stated and Defended. Joel McDurmon, ed. Powder Springs, GA;Nacogdoches, TX: American Vision;Covenant Media Press.

 

 

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