Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Big Love Sci-Fi Part VII Unconditional Love and Science Fiction - b

This is Part b of a discussion of the nature of Love, continued from July 26th post.

This is Part VII in Big Love Sci-Fi.

So here we are, trying again to probe the general audience psyche for where the rejection of the Soul Mate concept leading to a real HEA and the Love Conquers All theme originates.

Here's the list of links to the previous posts in this Big Love Sci-Fi series:

Here's the first post in this series:

And here's Part II in this series:

Part III in this series:

Part IV in the series:

Part V in the series:

Part VI in the series:
As I've noted before, the Soul Mate Hypothesis requires some kind of notion that Soul is a real thing, over and above and beyond the physical body.

Soul is the word we use to refer to the part of the Self that survives after death.

The notion of Soul doesn't necessarily require the notion that "God Is Real."  It might be possible to believe we generate our Soul from the material level somehow. 

But generally, in the USA today, people associate the word "Soul" with some kind of notion of God. 

So let's work from that assumption and see what we can find to solve our problem.

By going back to the 1st Century C.E. we might find one of the tap-roots that feeds the green-leaves of today's common heritage in our society. 

In the ancient literature, Rabbi Akiva, a great teacher who lived around the 1st Century, C.E., is quoted as having said the big thing in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) is the Commandment Love Your Neighbor As Yourself. 

This is much easier said than done, and one wonders how it can be that the creator of Souls can then "Command" those Souls (imbued with Free Will to disobey that Commandment) to love one another.

Another famous Commandment is to Love The Lord Your God With All Your Heart

Here from Judaism:
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

And accepted by Christianity - I'd suppose in most versions:
The most vital commandment in the Old Testament is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. We should examine ourselves: Do we love God indeed? Do we love him with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength?

I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised if Islam has something similar. 

So the creator of Souls commands us to use our Soul to Love -- to love Him and to love each other, but leaves us free to disobey (with consequences, but it's a free will choice we have).  And, according to Rabbi Akiva, one of the greatest teachers we've had, that Commandment to Love is the most important message He gave us at Mount Sinai! 

Yeah, right, and have you flipped on the TV lately?  What's to love?

How can any sane person think that such an endeavor is possible?  Or that such an order makes any sense?  You can't just decide to have an emotion then have it.  How can you go about doing this?  No wonder the general public scoffs at Romance Genre novels!  How can Love of anyone, least of all God, be possible in this pea-soup of horror we live in?

Well, Kaballah comes up with an answer that plays right into the basic requirements of a Romance Novel, especially one rooted in Science Fiction.

Science is a process of organizing knowledge obtained by empirical experience (experiment).  Science is the process of processing ideas from Hypothesis to Theory to Fact then organizing them neatly so others can learn them - and so they can be updated and revised.

Once accepted as a proven fact, a scientific fact can be tossed out with the next fact that comes to light.

Check out this interesting news item on revising the "facts" of static electricity:

That article will probably disappear soon.  The headline says
What You Learned About Static Electricity Is Wrong -- published June 25, 2011

And the article references a paper recently published:
What You Learned About Static Electricity Is Wrong

    By Ars Technica Email Author
    June 25, 2011  |
    7:00 am  |
    Categories: Physics

By John Timmer, Ars Technica

For many of us, static electricity is one of the earliest encounters we have with electromagnetism, and it’s a staple of high school physics. Typically, it’s explained as a product of electrons transferred in one direction between unlike substances, like glass and wool, or a balloon and a cotton T-shirt (depending on whether the demo is in a high school class or a kids’ party). Different substances have a tendency to pick up either positive or negative charges, we’re often told, and the process doesn’t transfer a lot of charge, but it’s enough to cause a balloon to stick to the ceiling, or to give someone a shock on a cold, dry day.

Nearly all of that is wrong, according to a paper published in today’s issue of Science. Charges can be transferred between identical materials, all materials behave roughly the same, the charges are the product of chemical reactions, and each surface becomes a patchwork of positive and negative charges, which reach levels a thousand times higher than the surfaces’ average charge.

Where to begin? The authors start about 2,500 years ago, noting that the study of static began with a Greek named Thales of Miletus, who generated it using amber and wool. But it wasn’t until last year that some of the authors of the new paper published a surprising result: contact electrification (as this phenomenon is known among its technically oriented fans) can occur between two sheets of the same substance, even when they’re simply allowed to lie flat against each other. “According to the conventional view of contact electrification,” they note, “this should not happen since the chemical potentials of the two surfaces/materials are identical and there is apparently no thermodynamic force to drive charge transfer.”
--------END QUOTE--------- (read the article if you can reach it)

So if that's what Science does (toss out centuries old knowledge at the drop of a fact), isn't that what a Science Fiction Romance novel should do?

Pick a "fact" everyone knows, and toss it out.  Start over with a new hypothesis.

Pick a known fact about Love and treat it as science fiction treats a scientific fact.  Toss it out.  Start over.

Well, "everyone" who rejects the Romance Genre, "knows" perfectly well that Love is just chemistry of the physical body.  Most of the drama on TV and in film today reflects the general public's notion of what Love is -- and that portrait is a portrait of "Conditional Love."

People fall in love -- and then out of it at discovering something they don't like about their partner.

People get married, and divorced -- or just live together and move out anytime.  The percentages of breakups is up sharply since say, the 1940's.

Since everyone either has an "ex" or knows people who have an "ex" -- the fact is quite clear, proven and positive.  Love doesn't last.  There's no such thing as unconditional love.

But wait!  Even today, most parents love their children unconditionally.

Well, maybe that's actually not the case.  How many mass murderers or serial killers have turned up on the news with parents who don't believe their kid could ever do such a thing?

Do they love their child unconditionally -- or are they simply too self-centered to have noticed they love only the imaginary image of their child, not the person.  In fact, the miscreant's behavior might be explained as the result of the parents never getting to know that person, and thus never having loved their child.

Is there a generally accepted notion of "Unconditional Love" in our society any more (or was there ever?)
(google "unconditional love" -- that's an adventure.)

Do we have a role model for unconditional love among families?  We used to.  Just off the top of my head I can think of a number of TV shows that depicted families bonded with unconditional love.

The Waltons, The Brady Bunch, Leave It To Beaver, Little House On The Prairie.

What shows on TV depict such an ideal family now?  What brand new TV series depicts unconditional love bonding a family among generations? 

But just yesterday I was in a gossip session with some women who were talking about a family with 12 children who just adopted a Down's Syndrome child, in an "open adoption" because the family that had the special needs child literally could not handle a problem that size but loved that child.  For a couple of years, the birth parents have been involved as the adoptive parents nurtured this special child who is doing well.

Doesn't that sound like the concept for a TV Series - or at least a film?  Could it get made?  Hmmm, probably not.

We live in a world surrounded by people who love unconditionally -- but the cultural assumptions insist no such thing ever can happen! 

This is not a stable situation, and it might be possible for fiction writers to influence which way this cookie crumbles.

So next week we'll look for sources of dramatic material that might have that influence.  We need a "new fact" to replace the one we tossed out. 

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Of course God can't command us to feel an emotion, because that would be demanding the impossible. The "love" in the command to love God and our neighbors refers to behavior, not feelings.

    As we were taught when we attended a Marriage Encounter weekend many years ago, "Love is a decision." I might feel at some moments like throttling my husband, but if asked at that moment I would still truthfully say I loved him. :)

  2. "How can Love of anyone, least of all God, be possible in this pea-soup of horror we live in?"

    I think the key to unconditional love is that the person doing the loving is not basing that love on merit. The person who loves is quite simply *a loving person.* Such a person does not need a reason to love. The person he or she loves, therefore, doesn't need to deserve it. The loving person simply loves.