What is it to love with all of one’s heart, soul, and mind? Jesus mentioned doing so in Matthew 22:37. The question is deep.
On one level, it means that our love shouldn’t be merely experiential—that is, entirely emotional. We need to use our minds, not just our hearts. Why do we believe what we believe? Is it a deep reasoning, or is it shallow? (Worth considering, as we are entering into a post-Christian age.)
But it also means that we can’t try to “love” entirely with our minds, as a cold, intellectual problem to be solved. Our hearts have to be involved.
Considering what this all means introduces deep, metaphysical questions, that perhaps we don’t think enough about. Atheism commits itself validly and soundly to the rejection of the soul. In a world where no God exists, all that exists is the physical—and thus a soul, being intangible, is impossible. I’ve explained briefly why that’s true in “Intentionality is an Illusion,” and also mentioned how popular it is among scientists.
The rejection of the soul has shocking consequences. Consider your love of your spouse or significant other. In terms of atheism, it’s really just a chemical state of the brain, because your brain *is* you. You don’t have a soul—that’s superstition. So whatever atoms and chemical states create that “feeling” are in fact you. With technology advanced enough, you could recreate the exact brain state of your “love” and not need the other person at all. You could even have it better!
I disagree with that assessment, and thankfully, I’m not the only one. To re-contextualize the issue, consider a person who has brain damage, like the famous Phineas Gage. Gage’s personality changed after suffering a physical injury to his brain. How does this relate to what I just said above? How does it relate to the concept of God and the soul?
Australian neurophysiologist, philosopher, and Nobel Prize winner Sir John Carew Eccles (AC, FRS, FRACP, FRSNZ, FAA, PhD) says that the soul uses the brain as an instrument to think, just as a musician uses a piano as an instrument to make music.
If his piano is out of tune or damaged, then the pianist’s ability to produce music will be impaired or even entirely nullified. In the same way, Eccles says, if the soul’s instrument of thought—the brain—is damaged or adversely affected, then the soul’s ability to convey itself will be impaired or nullified.
The seminal work in this realm is “The Self and Its Brain: An Argument for Interactionism” by Eccles and Popper. If you can afford to buy a copy, or can get it through a library loan, I encourage it. It’ll change your life.
With love, always,