Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Love, Faith and Science

The headline read in this morning’s Times:
“There Is No Such Thing as Love.”
It had been scientifically proven.
The selfish gene would not have it.
There was lust,
exquisite as acid on gold.
There was even a lazy pleasure
in a certain body’s company
when it didn’t outstay its welcome.
There was the excitement of imposing one’s obstreperous ego
on another body and mind
and the exquisite satisfaction in inhabiting
another person’s soul:
what else were the joys of tyranny
and art’s wanton thrill?
All of this was adaptive, said the reporter,
quoting a faceless biologist.

And then, of course, there is habit:
the familiar shadow
against the corridor wall,
the silhouette in the garden,
the footfall in the living room,
the musky smell in the sheets.
This reinforces the survival of the species,
and thus of the monster twined in the chromosome
like the Minotaur in his labyrinth.

There is the notorious obsession,
the adolescent psychosis,
that makes life seem a glory,
ineffable, sublime,
with all its suffering meaningful,
and all its emptiness a garden
of almost unbearable enchantment,
and for a brief hour,
the long humiliation of human life
seems actually worth the time.
But even the scientists quoted in the Times
were not yet certain
how something so clearly maladaptive
ever survived natural selection.
(My own, completely unscientific, theory
is that no completely rational species
would ever reproduce
in the prison of matter and time
we call the universe,
so, to be induced to replicate,
we need to go out of our minds.
But I am no biologist.)

And this brings us to the question
that might make an interesting debate for us here
when I have stopped writing and you have stopped reading:

Is human life worth living
if there is no such thing as love,
as the biologist claimed to have just proven scientifically—
if the human race is not (let’s face it) all that lovable
after the first years of childhood,
and there is nothing but dust, gas, stones,
whirling energetically in a space that is
incalculably vast and essentially dark?
(Scientists proved that a very long time ago – see Lucretius.)

No love—and no intelligence either,
since we are blocked from reality by our very minds
(this was also proven by scientists quite recently,
though they didn’t seem to realize
this obviates, renders null and void,
this and all of their other claims: they’re just
deluded fools like the rest of us!).
We are condemned to live in cages
of darkness and ignorance and pain,
mocked and terrified by our own delusions
from the cradle to the office to the hospice to the grave.
Neither love, then, nor faith, nor science,
those tawdry shadows of God,
to console us or to save us—
so, what are we to do?

I told all this to an atheist friend over a beer,
my dark little thread of speculation
(the newspaper I had spread on the bar between us),
to join me in an interesting debate
that might further our mutual enlightenment.
I thought he would appreciate the logic,
so elegant and simple and clear,
that I had spun from the pages of the Times,
the liberal’s bible, the secularist’s book.
But his eyes burned with a fury,
and I thought he would burn me at the stake.


Post a Comment

<< Home