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Love as Evidence of God’s Existence

by Dr. Eitan Bar
4 minutes read

Does the universal regard for sacrificial love as the highest moral value suggest the existence of God?

Love, a concept often portrayed through various art forms, including literature, songs, and films, presents a compelling argument for the existence of the God of Christianity. I believe the universality of sacrificial love and its profound impact on human values and behavior are substantial evidence of God’s existence.

The Universal Resonance of Sacrificial Love

From timeless narratives to modern-day superheroes, the theme of sacrificing oneself for the greater good not only captivates and inspires but also echoes a universal moral truth ingrained within the human psyche. The pervasiveness of sacrificial love in narratives across cultures suggests that such expressions resonate with a fundamental, inherent understanding of love. This universality points to a shared moral foundation among diverse societies. If love, and particularly sacrificial love, were merely social constructs, we would expect considerable variations in its value and expression based on cultural, historical, and social contexts. However, the consistent reverence for sacrificial acts across different societies implies that this concept is not an arbitrary invention but rooted in the intrinsic nature of human beings who are created in the image of a loving God.

Acts of sacrifice are universally admired and seen as the pinnacle of moral behavior, reinforcing the idea that these values are intrinsic to human nature. Sacrificial love is a recurring motif in global storytelling whereby heroes lay down their lives for the sake of others. These characters are not merely products of imaginative fiction but represent the epitome of human understanding of ultimate love—sacrifice. In Narnia, Aslan’s voluntary death to save Edmund, Tony Stark’s self-sacrifice to save humanity, or Superman’s readiness to die to protect the world from Doomsday, each mirrors the Christian theological understanding of love through Christ’s atonement—a sacrificial act meant to redeem humanity.

The Theological and Philosophical Implications

This leads to the argument that if sacrificial love is a universal truth innate to humanity, it strongly suggests the existence of a divine creator who has embedded these moral capacities within us. According to Christian theology, humans are created in the image of God (Imago Dei), which includes the capacity for love. The Christian concept of God is inherently relational and sacrificial, as epitomized by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Therefore, the human capacity for sacrificial love can be seen as a reflection of God’s character imprinted upon humanity.

Moreover, sacrificial love transcends the boundaries of fictional tales and is celebrated in everyday real-life heroes who lay down their lives for others. Such individuals are revered across various cultures, embodying the highest virtues that society aspires to uphold. The widespread appreciation and honor given to those who perform sacrificial acts confirm that such behavior is not only admired but also considered the pinnacle of moral excellence. This admiration is not confined to any one culture but is a global phenomenon, further supporting the idea that sacrificial love is a universal value, indicative of a divine law written on the human heart. Though there may be exceptions, these exceptions are just that—deviations from the norm and distortions of what is good and true.

Philosophically, the existence of a moral order that includes sacrificial love as an ideal points to a moral lawgiver. As C.S. Lewis famously argued, the very concept of moral law implies a Lawgiver. If moral laws exist in a manner that they are discovered, rather than invented, by humans, then it logically follows that there is an external source of these moral laws. The consistency and universality of sacrificial love as an esteemed value are difficult to explain without invoking a higher moral authority. In other words, if there is a law that we ought to love sacrificially, it suggests a Lawgiver to whom such love is fundamental.

Critics might argue at this point that evolution can explain sacrificial love as a mechanism developed for the survival benefits it offers, such as enhancing the survival of kin or group, known as kin selection or group selection. However, this evolutionary explanation does not necessarily disprove or negate the theological argument. Evolutionary biology primarily seeks to address how traits might develop and spread within populations based on their survival and reproductive advantages. It does not delve into the metaphysical or existential meanings behind these traits, such as whether they are inherently and objectively good, and therefore point to a divine law or a moral lawgiver.

Additionally, sacrificial love is intrinsic to human parenthood—even when it defies survival logic. For example, parents might dedicate significant resources to a dying child with severe disabilities, fully aware that these efforts are temporary and won’t improve their own survival, their child’s longevity, or their genetic lineage. They do this purely out of profound love and commitment to uplift their child’s spirit in their final days.

In essence, while evolution—whether we believe in it or not—seeks to provide a mechanism by which sacrificial behaviors could have developed and been advantageous, it does not address the deeper philosophical or theological interpretations of why such behaviors are universally seen as morally good or why they should exist at all. The existence of sacrificial love as a universally admired virtue and its resonance as something beyond mere survival advantage can still be viewed by believers as evidence of a moral dimension instilled by a divine creator.

Sacrificial love is not only a central theme in global narratives and revered in societal values, but it also forms a compelling argument for the existence of God. Its universal recognition and deep resonance among humans across cultures and ages suggest that this form of love is an inherent, created characteristic rather than a mere social construct. Thus, the existence of sacrificial love, a reflection of divine love, offers substantial evidence of a loving Creator, grounding the moral intuition that such love is good and necessary in something beyond mere human opinion—pointing towards the divine.

Sacrificial Love as Evidence of Divine Love

If God is love, and true love involves the willingness to sacrifice one’s life for others, then it logically follows that God, through an ultimate act of heroism, would embody this principle of self-sacrificial love. You might consider suffering or even dying for someone you love, but the pinnacle of love is dying even for one’s enemies (Romans 5:10), which defines true altruism. This concept remained theoretical until it was personified by Christ, allowing us to tangibly see, witness, and fully understand it.

Thus, the Gospel reveals a loving God who “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus’s life on earth demonstrated that, unlike other deities, He does not despise us. Instead, much like a loving parent, He loves us profoundly—to the extent that He was willing to die for us, establishing Him as the only one worthy of our devotion, love, and worship.

This article was taken from my book, “The Theology of Love: Christianity’s Most Underrated Doctrine.”

The Theology of Love
The Theology of Love

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist