My wife has put me in the dog-house. Leastways, if we had a dog (instead of two cats ) I’d be there. And the dog would most likely have been taken indoors and told how much she loved him - because he wouldn’t, he couldn’t, question the sentiment.
I have made the fatal mistake of not just questioning the existence of God but, worse still it seems, the nature of Love. I dared to suggest it is not some supernatural force between one person to another - between people and places, people and objects even - that we cannot truly understand or explain (and which, consequently, like God-matters, should not be examined too closely).
I am hurt - for this should not be interpreted as suggesting (as her indoors with the dog – if we had one - wrongly concludes) that I myself do not love her, our daughters and so on. As it happens, I do not in fact love the cats, though I can see how folk might, just as they might love food, holidays, money, cars.
It’s just that there is nothing mysterious or other-worldly about love - surely? It is born of familiarity, comfort and/or satisfaction (of whatever kind) with or from a person or object, a place, an experience. The act of loving (No, not just THAT act!) is born of chemical, mechanical and electrical responses and operations conditioned and driven by the factors just referred to. Both nature and nurture therefore, but nothing supernatural or incomprehensible -surely?
King Lear’s daughter Cordelia declares, with no malice I hope, that she loves her father "according to [her] bond".
It is this "bond" that determines and powers love. It is something we should be able to understand and work with. Thus it should be possible to show one party that they have cause, or a particular responsibility, to love another or, as in the case of the battered wife, can and probably should "let go". From our earliest days those from a happy home are taught to love and anybody denied this experience must find it a difficult concept. In this context, those inexperienced in receiving and learning to give love will find it more difficult relating to people (although easier with animals or inanimate objects perhaps?)
There are romantic images built on heart-centred rather than brain-centred reactions: "he/she broke my heart" and so on. Sweet maybe, but a load of cobblers! Your heart is that clever pump that keeps you going till such time as it irrevocably stops. It is your brain that tells you that you are "in love", "out of love" and so on: that amazing organ which through its chemicals and electronics - its strange powers of storage and recall - "logs on" to certain people, places, things, tastes, smells and so on. It can also "log off".
Those with Autism or Asperger’s syndrome provide the living proof of this last point surely? They are said to have difficulty forming and maintaining loving relationships ("Hmm, rather like you!", I hear her cry from indoors). Similarly the elderly, if they fall victim to dementia, gradually lose the capacity to feel or show affection for those to whom they owe it the most. In the former case(s) the machinery has failed to log on as it should, whilst in the latter it has logged off. In either case there's a fault in the wiring.
This is not to say that one should not work at it - that there should be no love in the world. I am not suggesting that we fight the tendency, which is bred into us or in some other way instilled,
of showing basic human care, both for those close at hand and the more abstract hoards of the starving in some foreign land.
I would hope that Richard Dawkins, so admirably clear thinking about "God" might agree with me about the above. As a scientist he should.
Can those who share my total dismissal of "God" remain all weak-kneed and silly about love?