Boethius (2): Love, Reason, and God

I’ve been thinking lately about the difference between a Christian view of love and reason and a naturalistic view of love and reason.  In a Christian worldview, the fundamental reality is the triune God.  Within the being of this one God, love and reason have been going on forever among the three persons of the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Spirit.  Many theologians have even correlated God the Son to the thought or speech (i.e., reason) of God the Father, and God the Spirit to the love that exists between God the Father and God the Son.  This means that love and reason are objectively real and good, and that they predate the universe – that they are, in fact, more basic to reality than even time and space.  For the Christian, therefore, as we love and reason, we are moving closer in to the very core of reality – into that which was before the world, into that which governs the world, into that which will outlast the world.

In the naturalistic worldview, in which matter is all there is, there is no connection between human activities like love and reason and anything ultimate – they have arisen, like all other aspects of our existence, as a result of their ability to help our ancestors survive.  When we experience love and reason, we are moving further away from the core of the reality, into something new and foreign and eccentric.  They are tiny dots amidst an ocean of impersonal chance, the accidental byproducst of meaningless clashings and struggles, ultimately reducible to chemical events in our brains.  They did not predate humanity and they will not postdate it.  Reality will one day swallow them up forever, like a computer eventually overcoming a glitch or virus.

As I’ve been reading in Boethius’ The Consolation of Philosophy, the poem concluding Book II highlights this connection between the human experience of love and what ultimately stands behind the universe.  This is a worldview that not only has explanatory power, but is beautiful:

What governs earth and sea and sky

is nothing less than love

whose tight rein if it ever slackened

would leave creation in chaos

of civil war’s utter ruin.

Love binds people too,

in matrimony’s sacred bonds

where chaste lovers are met,

and friends cement their trust and friendship.

How happy is mankind

if the love that orders the stars above

rules, too, in your hearts.

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