aish.com > Philosophy > Know Way Blog

Love - Not Just About Chemicals Anymore!

July 3, 2022 | by Rabbi Adam Jacobs

Here is some standard materialist thinking about emotionality. In a nutshell:

  1. Physical existence is the only kind of existence
  2. People experience emotions, therefore
  3. Emotions have a physical cause

For many years we have been hearing about the causal link between the experience of love and a chemical called Oxytocin. The story went something like this:

  1. People have genes
  2. Genes have a "drive" to reproduce
  3. Evolution selected Oxytocin to help ensure that parents would care for their offspring
  4. "Love" is really just Oxytocin tricking us into keeping our genes going

So leaving aside the high improbability of a functional gene ever randomly developing and not attempting to account for how a chemical arrangement like a gene would come to "want" something like reproduction and not bothering to ask how the species could have survived before it had evolved its Oxytocin, materialists have a new problem - Oxytocin, it seems, doesn't even do what they thought.

A science writer known as Neuroskeptic has recently published a piece in Discover entitled "Oxytocin: Two New Reasons For Skepticism." Apparently, according to researcher James C. Christensen "quite a lot of previous Oxytocin research may be flawed." Later in the study, Chistensen details how he and his team extracted and measured Oxytocin levels in people who were asked to play "the Prisoner's Dilemma" game (which requires participants to make decisions based on trust or lack thereof). They assumed that there would be an obvious relationship between the Oxytocin levels and the level of trust but what they found was that there are "no significant correlations between Oxytocin and behavior."

And there's the rub. Maybe there's not much of a correlation between chemicals in the body and behavior overall. Could it be that chemical changes generally occur on the heels of emotional ones and not the other way around? If so, what would then be the true source of our emotional experience? Theists have long asserted that there is both a physical and non-physical component to a human being. These components work in tandem to create the full experience of being human.

Science is at a loss as to how to explain many aspects of human behavior and experience. The main reason for this lack of explanatory prowess is rooted in materialist assumption #1 above. Once science comes to acknowledge that there are aspects of existence that are not rooted in physicality but rather in metaphysicality they may be able to explain the human experience of love.

Please enjoy this full service exploration into the idea of love with Oxford anthropologist Dr. Anna Machin.




🤯 ⇐ That's you after reading our weekly email.

Our weekly email is chock full of interesting and relevant insights into Jewish history, food, philosophy, current events, holidays and more.
Sign up now. Impress your friends with how much you know.
We will never share your email address and you can unsubscribe in a single click.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram