My daughter, Emma Grace, turns 9 years old this week, and watching her grow up is overwhelmingly bittersweet. Seeing her sweet face or just thinking of her sends emotions of pure happiness and brings a big smile to my face every time. I simply love her.
Now, she gives me ample times and reasons to not love her – she can be quite disobedient, prideful, and downright mean (she clearly gets that from Dana – JK!). But none of that matters; I love her. Sure I get disappointed and upset by these behaviors, but they never change my love for her. But why? Is love more than emotion? Is it something” deeper? Understanding love has been something philosophers and theologians, sociologists, and scientists have debated from the beginning.
Can the theory of Evolution or the Big Bang explain love? If human beings are the most evolved animal species on the Earth, how and when did the emotion of love evolve? Did it evolve from another emotion such as ambivalence or hate, since all things according to this theory evolve and come from something else? Did small simple prokaryotic cells have love for their daughter cells after cellular fission? Evolution biologists can give no definitive answers, and the theory of Evolution has never been able to explain the existence of love. In fact, love works against natural selection, which is the cornerstone of this theory.
Neurosciences have now been able to say they have the answers, stating love is not from the heart but the brain. Medical and scientific studies have concluded that high levels of the neurotransmitters Dopamine and serotonin and oxytocin within the hypothalamus and nucleus accumbens of the brain are what causes the emotion of love. However, these centers also are involved in the many other feelings, including depression and anxiety, and hunger and thirst. Moreover, the same elevated levels of these neurotransmitters in these areas of the brain are elevated by other substances, most notoriously chocolate and cocaine! Is your and my feeling of love nothing more than eating a Hershey bar?! These neurological studies only show the response to love in the central nervous system. They do not explain the feeling a person gets deep in the core, nor has a study found any science to explain this feeling. Hence, many believe there is still something deeper with love, and further scientific studies are in progress attempting to discover and learn more about love.
Christianity explains love very differently, but also very comprehensively with definitive answers. In the Bible, it is written “God is love” (1 John 4:8). What does that mean? Love is a major attribute or characteristic of God. His love is in balance and harmony with His other attributes: justice, holiness, righteousness, and mercy. Just like everything He does is just, everything is done in love too. So knowing this, we can begin to understand where love was established. But how do we love? God created the universe and everything in it, including mankind. When God created mankind, we were created in His likeness (Genesis 1:27), meaning we have His attributes, including love. So we have love in us because God gave it for us, but where is our love “center”, our brain or our heart? The answer is neither. In Genesis 2:7 it says that God gave man and woman “the breath of life”, which is the unseen spirit within each of us. Love is intrinsically within our spirit. That’s the “deeper” feeling we get when love is exploding within us; when nothing seems to go wrong and all is perfect in life.
As C. S. Lewis put it, “If there is no answers, if there is no creator, if there is nothing really true, when you are in love you must remember that only a psychopharmacological reaction in your brain is happening. There is no such thing as love.” But, I believe both you and I know love is real. I believe that you and I both know real love is more than sub-cellular proteins in the brain being transmitted because we ate a piece of chocolate. You see, real love can not be fully understood by any other science or philosophy, only by faith and knowledge of God the creator.
Love is real only because God is real.
1 John 4:19 “We love because He first loved us.”