Our consciousness and perception of reality reveals that God hates the poor. Can He love them instead? Can God love? All Western religion including secular religions such as humanism state either and usually both that God is love ot that love is the greatest virtue. Do either of these popular statements withstand critical analytical examination? Not really. This hype about love, especially by religion, serves to keep the poor happy and the working class in their place.
In my reading of history — for that matter in any reading of history — love such as love of country, power, money, tribe, and even love of family and love of justice have caused much more evil and suffering in the world than hate. Hate has rational limits. Few, if anyone, would risk their life for hate. Almost all who have or who can love would risk their life and that of others and outright kill others for the love of whatever it is they love. Hate may make you a serial killer of 30 to 40 people but love will make you a patriot willing to kill three to four million. Love is not necessarily a good. That conclusion seems to depend on what you love. Love of power is supposedly bad. It is considered bad for the poor. The Powers love the poor and oppressed but only if they are willing to stay poor and oppressed. The Powers worship love of power as a good despite sometimes pretending otherwise. Regardless, love of power is what drives human culture because history is class struggle, so pragmatically love of power may be called the ultimate good in terms of human culture surviving the power of the natural world always trying to kill us. Capitalism at least admits it considers love of power a good — as long as there are equal opportunity and struggle among the Powers which there never is.
Loving your neighbor — now called “the Other” by secular religion that wants to hijack Christianity without the Christ — as you love yourself is supposedly a good but what about the first necessary premise of that command: love yourself? In order to love your neighbor, you must first love yourself since your existence is your only certainty. However, self-love seems to be one of the most harmful evils that has caused just as many atrocities as love of power if not more. Then again without self-love, humans would have died out millennia ago. The ability to love oneself blindly regardless of any faults and thus to have hope for a better life is what allows the poor and working class to survive its miseries and the ridicule of the Powers around them constantly trying to demean their life. Supposedly, according to women at least, love and sexual love are distinct and being addicted to the first is good but being addicted to the latter is bad. You will have to ask a female philosopher to explain that difference.
What a mess this love issue is. In order to determine if God can love, we must first define love. We must first see if we can ontologically define love especially insofar as that word is used in respect to God. Self-love just as consciousness and my existence is one of the few items in the fabric of knowledge that are ontologically certain; we either have it or do not. Thus, we can ontologically — not just pragmatically — rationally contemplate self-love. As long as we exist and are conscious, regardless of what skeptical reason may say, we know and perceive self-love otherwise we would commit suicide. The Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself is more of an attempt to get humans to reduce their self-love than to raise their love of others. There is no doubt as to the existence and strength of self-love, so I will start by contemplating and defining self-love to see through the cultural and social smokescreens created to make self-love a vice for the working class and to replace it with all sorts of hype such as God is love or love is life in order to keep the poor and working class in their place.
The most basic element and requirement of a person having a use and of the usefulness for the word love and thus its meaning in self-love are that the person wants to exist and wants to continue existing. Love is an act of will saying I want to exist and want to continue existing. This does not seem to do it though. If I want to exist living as a heroin addict on the streets of New York earning money by being a prostitute, the conclusion would not be that I love myself but the exact opposite: that I have self hate and am trying to destroy myself. Just wanting to exist would not give much meaning to the expression “love your neighbor as yourself”. If I want to live as a prisoner in North Korea and want the same for my fellow humans, again, the implication is that I neither love myself nor my neighbor. Love seems to demand more than just existence.
Our present United States culture would say that the additional element that self-love demands in order to be love is individual happiness: that we want or will a happy life for ourselves — we have hope. And, thus, when we love others, it also means that we want a happy life for them. This emphasis on happiness seems to be nonsense and a modern cultural phenomena. For much of the world, individual happiness is not a possibility. Never was and never will be. That is why we are asking the question that we are asking. Yet all these people that really have no hope for happiness in life are still able to love themselves and love others. There is more to life than happiness. My favorite example of this need that goes beyond happiness in life is expressed by the eight points of the Maltese Cross establishing the required moral standards for the Knights Templar: faith, repentance, humility, fairness, mercy, forthrightness, honesty, and suffering. Happiness is not in the list of elements for self-love by these warrior monks. Of course, these eight virtues only have power and meaning because the knights expected happiness in the afterlife after giving up on happiness in this life. So we are back to the point that perhaps this additional element is happiness or a want or hope for happiness.
Some philosophers, such as for example Thomas Aquinas, have in fact concluded happiness as a required element for love: love consists of a desire to exist, to continue existing, and to want happiness. Happiness for Aquinas consisted of an afterlife with God. So as to the elements that define self-love, can it be be defined as a desire to exist and to continue existing plus a hope for happiness?
I do not think so. The greatest love is the love of one who sacrifices their life for another such as the soldier who falls on the hand grenade to suffer the entire blast then dies so that others may live. This act of love most certainly did not demand a desire or hope for happiness in this life. It is not clear it demands or requires a hope or belief for a happy afterlife. In the ancient world, the Greeks believed in an afterlife that consisted not of an eternity of happiness with a loving God but with Hades — the word from which we get our word hell. A life after death for the Ancients was simply to exist in a peaceful sleep with one’s ancestors unaware of any past or future but just peace after a life of struggle and war. Despite such a dismal view (from out modern perspective) of the afterlife, this view did not stop the Greek warriors at the battle of Thermopylae from sacrificing their lives to try to save their neighbors. Actually, those so called pagans with their belief in a Hades apparently had more love for their neighbors than modern Christians have either for their God or for fellow Christians. The Ancients fought to save their neighbors. Modern Christians with barely a whimper allow the modern warrior religion of Islam to tramp around killing Christians so as to trample out Christianity.
So maybe the third element that defines love is not a desire for individual happiness but a desire for the happiness of others. This would make some sense and explain a lot because as rational beings we know that the individual dies and always will die. Any hope for humanity to continue must be for humanity to continue not for any individual to continue which is impossible. But, now we are reversing ourselves on the logic. Love of neighbor cannot come first and cannot define self-love. As even the Christian Commandment admits, in order to love your neighbor, you must first love yourself. Ontologically, we know this must be the case. We have to stay focused on the ontological nature of the knowledge we are seeking. I only have true knowledge of my own existence. Everything else could be a figment of God’s imagination as idealists argue.
Love of neighbor must start with love of self. In order to define love, we first have to define and understand what love of self is. So back to square one. Love of self we know involves at least wanting to exist and to continue existing — the desire to continue existing plus a desire for something more. The something more is the open issue. The something more is not only the final element that defines love but is also the element that from the social perspective makes it a good or an evil; and, in the case of self sacrifice love, it is able to negate the first two existential requirements of existing and to continue existing. The only characteristic that I can contemplate that would satisfy these purposes is meaning. Self-love is: 1) the will to exist; 2) the will to continue existing; 3) plus the hope that my existence has meaning. If I find a meaning for my existence, that hope becomes real instead of just being hope thus the first two elements can be negated and I can fall on the hand grenade to save my comrades as an act of love. To love our neighbor as ourselves is to want them to exist, to continue existing, and for their lives to have meaning. If we decide on what that meaning is, it can negate the first two existential requirements for love.
Further, just as finding a meaning for life will allow for our self sacrifice of our own life for that meaning, love will allow us to want to kill and actually to kill our neighbors as an act of love to maintain that meaning. Thus, ontologically, love is: 1) the will to exist; 2) the will to continue existing; 3) plus the will that our existence has meaning. Love of neighbor or love of money is all the same ontologically regardless of whether ethics or morality calls one good or the other evil. This definition may not be very romantic or live up to the hype that love seems to have in popular culture, but that does not make it any the less true or less powerful. It is powerful enough for a person to sacrifice their own life for others. It is also powerful enough for a person to sacrifice others for that love.
What about hate? What is hate? Before we decide whether God can love the poor, I want to go on to define hate and then also see if there is a third option just as there is with morality: can God be amoral? Is there an option between or outside of love and hate?