Must the cause of love itself have been loving?

The short answer

There is no reason to think so.

The longer answer

Whether or not love can be a natural phenomenon, there certainly is no reason to believe that its cause must itself have been loving. Indeed, it is difficult to understand why anyone would think this must be the case unless they are motivated by some hazy intuition that for all x, the cause of x must be x-like.

However, the contention that the cause of x must itself always be x-like would, as Michael Ruse points out, mean that manure—one cause of the growth of “tasty and nutritious” rhubarb—must itself be tasty and nutritious (Ruse 1982: 305). Michael Shermer makes the even more devastating observation that creationism would instantly be refuted if it were true that the cause of x must be x-like, as this would entail that the cause of nature must itself be natural (Shermer: 4).


Ruse M. 1982. Darwinism Defended. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.

Shermer M. 25 creationists’ arguments & 25 evolutionists’ answers. Skeptic 2(2). Put into pamphlet form by Skeptic magazine, 2761 N. Marengo Ave., Altadena, CA 91001. Phone/fax: 818/794-3119.