Originally posted by DragonFriend
Scientifically speaking, does love exist?
I don't think anybody would disagree that love can be a powerful motivation, but does science say it exists? Since Christianity is built upon love, this seems a relevant question.
'Love' as we all know is a very catch all term for a range of similarly related feelings. For example, a parent loves their children (hopefully) in a different way from their partner, some people love chocolate, whilst others love doing sport or drinking beer (although, admittedly, our chocolate eating friends really mean they really, really like it).
Love does undoubtedly have a biochemical basis in the brain, and numerous studies have shown differences in brain chemistry between people 'in love' and non in-love people.
Evolutionarily, love is an adaptive response to maximise reproductive success. Initially, love is the desire to breed and (unconsciously) retain what is percieved by the brain to be a 'good resource' (i.e. partner). Happily, a good 'proof' of the evolutionary pudding is that guys and girls love in different ways. You see, a girl invests a whole lot in love, whilst guys invest substantially less in their offspring. A guy is required as a sperm source, and that's about it. A girl provides a large egg, then incubates it for 9 months, leaving herself vulnerable to predators etc during that time. Then, when the kid is born she has to nurse it for several years, until it is independant. Because of this large investment girls tend to choose more faithful mates, who will help to share that burden. It is in a males evolutionary best interests to mate with as many females as possible, thereby fathering as many offspring, and passing on his genes, as much as possible. Love, as we know it, is a mechanism which has been selected for which serves to maximise the reproductive fitness of the individuals in species that pair up for mating. It's been suggested that the human cycle for 'love' last 7 years, which is about the time required to reproduce and raise a child to an age where it is relatively independant (doesn't require breast feeding, and can run about by itself). Relationships in childless couples probably last less time than this because it is percieved (unconsciously) by the brain that this is 'failed' mating.