Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Love Myth

I believe in the idea that humanity invents what we need to explain things that have no explanation. This idea is illustrated by the hypothesis that if there was no God, humanity would invent one, because it is something that we as a species need in this stage of our development. Many people need the idea of "God" to be able to lead their lives. It is a lot easier to believe in God to explain why things happen than the idea that we live in a random and chaotic universe where the only laws that really apply are the rules of nature. And, therefore, since humanity believes in God, God is real. Belief is perhaps the most powerful tool human beings have, for it can shape the present, future and past, and make miracles. Maybe it’s true that there is a little bit of God in all of us, and when we effect reality with the power of our beliefs, maybe we are tapping into that shard of the Maker that’s in all of us. Or maybe it’s all in our heads.
Which brings me to the subject of my discussion; love at first sight. Now before you people go getting your panties in a bunch, this does not mean that I do not believe in Love, whatever you happen to define that as. I just do not believe in Love at first sight. First of all, first sight is just that, sight, it’s visual. I maintain that you cannot fall in Love with someone just from looking at them, unless they are doing something spectacularly good for you when you first see them, like saving your mother from a burning building. Then I could maybe excuse Love at first sight. But in general one cannot fall in love at first sight. You can fall in Lust at first sight, you can fall in Lust from 200 feet away, but love? No. People are very good at rewriting their own personal history. It’s one of the perceptual biases we all have. People rewrite events to be what they thought it was, or what they believe it to be. For instance, a person may have only been physically attracted to another person upon their first meeting, but then fall in love later. What will happen is that the first person will superimpose their feelings of love onto their memories of the first meeting. So in their minds they will remember being in love at first sight, but that is not what happened. This is part of the power of the human brain to rearrange the past. That’s why police have such problems with eyewitness testimony; often people did not see what they thought they saw.
Like I said this does not mean that Love cannot happen ever, it is just that Love is a construct, a thing that we make, not something that happens. What people fail to understand is that their anecdotal evidence of something happening is flawed by not only their perceptions, but by their failure to take notice of when their individual theories about the workings of the world are wrong. In other words, we never think about how many times we don’t fall in love at first sight with people who we might otherwise. To go back to my previous example, if the first time you saw your future significant other he were, say, kicking the shit out of your mother, I don’t care what he did after that, you would not fall in love with him. I don’t care how good a reason he had for kicking the shit out of your mother, you just would not be that into him. And these sorts of things happen all the time. We often see people we would otherwise fall in love with, but it doesn’t happen because they don’t give very good first impressions. In fact, I would say that these occurrences happen a lot more than love at first sight. A lot of things that we attribute to fate or luck or God are usually just constructions of our minds. But our minds are so powerful that what we imagine can sometimes be very, very real to us. When our personal realities clash with consensual reality, we run into a lot of problems, which is where some mental illness springs from. What people fail to do is look for events that contradict what we believe. If you looked at the world truly objectively, one would find that an equal number of events happen to counteract those events that we wish or think were true. The world is truly random, which is the major truth I want to bring out here. That doesn’t mean that good things can’t or won’t happen, it just means that we should take a little more personal responsibility and initiative in making sure that those good things that we believe in actually do happen. We can’t expect God to do the work that we can do ourselves. We can’t let faith be responsible both for the cracks in our understanding of things, and for those things that we actually do understand and have control over.
Of course I expect that some people will disagree with me, and claim that love conquers all, etc. But some people need that sort of thing to fill in the parts of their life that they don’t understand. We all have cracks in our understanding of the universe and reality, and faith is what we use to fill in those blank spots. Whenever I express my theories about things, people inevitably crawl out of the woodwork with thousands of stories that directly disprove whatever I think. But these stories never stand up to reasoned questioning, and the person I am arguing with usually just gets angry and shuts down. It’s really hard being right so much, but I don’t know any other way to be.

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