The Strongest Force on Earth

The Strongest Force on Earth January 18, 2015


22 Words had a collection of technically correct but amusing and in some cases profound student answers to test questions. I had seen a lot of them before. I was particularly struck by the one I shared above. There is a sense in which “love” is bound to be the wrong answer to any question on a science exam. Nevertheless, there is a nice illustration here of the way that something can be a powerful and effective force without being the kind of answer appropriate in the domain of the natural sciences. We need more than one perspective on the world, and just as “love” is not the appropriate answer to a question about forces in the sense that physics or chemistry uses the term, so to chemistry and physics are not adequate answers to questions that deal with the human experience of love. They are part of the answer, to be sure. But they are not adequate on their own.

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  • Love explained from a naturalistic viewpoint as an evolutionary adaptation is adequate to me.

    To use an example as a comparison, physics classes often teach students how rollercoasters work to demonstrate basic physical concepts. Students understand that the laws of gravity, the geometry of track angles, breaks, etc. contribute to a rollercoaster’s function, but when they strap themselves into a car it still a unique and indescribably exhilarating experience. It appears that love as an experience may be similar…

    Love as an Evolutionary Adaptation

    • Either this makes the same point I was making, or misses it entirely. Love, like all human experience, has a basis in human physiology. But describing it in those terms no more does justice to the experience than a description of which parts of the brain are active when we see red would be the same thing as the qualia of seeing red.

  • Josh Magda

    “…just as “love” is not the appropriate answer to a question about forces in the sense that physics or chemistry uses the term.”

    You’re right. For Love is a force more fundamental to our Universe than physics and chemistry. Love is Origin. Love is the soil from which physics and chemistry sprout. The Universe can be explained entirely in terms of Love, without reference to physics or chemistry. To compare the strength of Love to a relatively weak, superfluous, and epiphenomenal “force” like electromagnetism, is to confuse students about the nature of reality.

    Our children should not be taught science in the classroom – that isn’t the place for it. There’s plenty of laboratories where people can go and practice their science, if it brings them comfort.

    – (What my Worldview would sound like if it borrowed the missional materialists’ playbook).

  • TomS

    I’m guessing that the question is asking for which is the strongest among gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear and strong nuclear. And the answer is that it depends upon the distance. In a subatomic scale, it’s strong nuclear. In a cosmic scale, it’s gravity. Unless there is something else accounting for acceleration of expansion. Would I be marked wrong if I wrote “cosmic acceleration”?

  • guest

    Love is covered by the natural sciences under biology, surely? Or psychology/anthropolgy if you count them as sciences.
    I’m not sure I’d call love a force either. We don’t call fear or anger ‘forces’, but they influence human and other animals’ behaviour as powerfully as love does.

    • It depends what you mean by “covered.” The sounds made by musical instruments can be accurately described in terms of physics. But would you say that a description in such terms exhausts what can meaningfully be said about music?