Let’s talk about love

Thanks to EChew’s generous invite to a talk on logic and religion by Dr Mark Nowacki from LogicMills/SMU, I had my mind pried open and my heart hurtle towards happiness yesterday afternoon. Tiring after a week of hard schooling, yet so enriching that thoughts of it buoyed me to sleep; I’d like to share some gems I’ve gleaned:

  • When we think of morality, we often connect it with rules — a lack of freedom. But just as grabbing the shuttlecock means you’re not playing badminton anymore, rules are there to define what you’re doing rather than restrict your freedom in the midst of your doing.
  • Let’s consider these proposed rules for love:
    1. Put the object of your affection first. (Don’t be selfish.)
    2. Don’t use them. (Don’t see them as a ‘thing’.)
    3. Don’t insult them.
    4. Spend time with them.
    5. Respect their family. (It’s the whole package you’re getting.)
    6. Respect their life. (You’d encourage them to be healthy.)
    7. Respect their bodies.
    8. Respect their property.
    9. Respect their mind. (Don’t lie to them.)
    10. Find contentment with them. (Don’t keep on the lookout for a better model.)
  • Most would agree that the above should make for a healthy, long-lasting relationship. But do they seem a little familiar? Yeah:
    1. Put God first in your life.
    2. Don’t make your own version of ‘God’.
    3. Don’t use His name for self-justification.
    4. Keep the sabbath.
    5. Honour your daddy and mummy.
    6. Don’t kill.
    7. Don’t use others for self-gratification.
    8. Don’t steal.
    9. Don’t give a false testimony.
    10. Don’t covet stuff that belongs to others.
  • So, rules — you can look at them as the means by which you’re living your way of life.
  • Now here’s the series of propositions that thrilled me — make of them what you will:
    • Whatever begins to exist has a cause for its beginning to exist. (You’d have to agree with this if you want to continue relying on science for anything.)
    • The universe as a whole began to exist at some point. (So, the universe has a cause — see if you can stomach that.)
    • This cause cannot be identical to the universe or any of its parts. (It has to be outside the universe because substance cannot create itself — something cannot come out of nothing.)
    • In other words, this cause is transcendent. (That is, outside the universe — not a physical thing within it.)
    • The ability to cause means there is power in this cause.
    • How do you judge how powerful something is? You see the size of the gap between what you start with and what you end with. (A person who can lift a car has more physical power than a person who can only lift a pillow.)
    • Most causes are to do with ‘making’ — taking something and rearranging it to get something new. (You put together a book, a computer or a building with stuff that already exists.)
    • The coming to be of the universe if not a ‘making’ but creation — the gap is between nothing and something. This gap between absolute non-existence and existence is the largest possible gap there is in metaphysical terms. (Another way of looking at this gap — it’s between zero and one, rather than one and a hundred.)
    • The descriptive term for such a gap is ‘infinite’. Whatever is responsible for creation displays infinite power — omnipotence.
    • If you were unable to direct this power accurately, it would mean that you were limited in how powerful you are. But you cannot be limited if you were omnipotent. So, whatever is responsible for creation must be infinitely intelligent — all-knowing — omniscient.
    • Whatever is responsible for creation would also have to be perfectly independent and free in will — since it is transcendent.
  • So far, so good. Now if you like, you can take a turn with me to the Christian worldview.
    • For Christians, the one responsible for creation is God in Three Persons — so this creator is not even lonely!
    • He. Does. Not. Need. Us. Our existence in no way adds to his happiness because he is infinitely, perfectly happy.
    • So, God doesn’t need us. Yet we and everything we know of exists. If there’s any good arising from creation, it all accrues on the side of the created — the creature. It’s only for our good that we exist.
    • The name we can apply to this infinite act, freely done, wholly for the good of the creature, is ‘love’.
    • Love is the reason for our existence. Our existence is the outflowing of the divine love within God himself, spilled over freely so that this love and the joy of it can be shared by creatures.
  • If you turn your thoughts back to the rules of love defining the game of life we’re playing, you could then perhaps start to see some answers to a fundamental question or two. Why are we here? Because of love. What are we here for? To be loved and to love. How do we find our ‘good’? In giving love.

Was a bit breathless after processing all that. Didn’t realise how fulfilled I’d feel when I get satisfied intellectually — when things make a beautiful sense. Am also boggled — well and truly beside myself — by the sheer lovingkindness behind the very fact of our existence. Life, life is meant to be an outpouring of joy. Sin, sin is not seeing, refusing to see beyond ourselves. Christ, Christ is God of the Impossible piercing into existence and through himself to snatch us from anguish, sorrow, death.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12) — no, it’s not even the vast eastness-and-westness of our planet we’re talking about, the spherical nature of which has always made me wonder whether our past would come round again and smack us on the back of the head; rather, it’s the immeasurable eastness-and-westness of the universe, growing wider with each passing day.

Oh, how he loves us!!!

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