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Love at first sight: Selective breeding, pheromones, and Divine intervention

Posted on February 14, 2011 by jim.

Principles of natural selection do not seem to require Divine intervention to change the behaviors that domestic animals have been selectively bred to exhibit. This begs the question how either selective breeding or natural selection could result in human behaviors associated with love at first sight. Were we selectively bred by God, as is indicated in the Holy Bible?

I’m not saying that Divine intervention is a requirement for human love. If human love exists, as many people believe it does, I say it requires activation of an existing gene-cell-tissue-organ-organ system pathway. That is a very technical requirement for the involvement of something that is known to exist, but it’s a pathway that also is required for sexual differentiation of the mammalian brain. Given its well-detailed existence, I am asking how animal models of behavior that incorporate this pathway for sexual differentiation of their brain and their behavior can be ignored when it comes to human love at first sight, which in some cultures is considered a sign of Divine intervention. “It’s a miracle; thank God I found her!”

I’m also beginning to realize the seriousness of the fundamental attribution error expressed in the phrase “love at first sight.” This error elevates the salience of visual input at the same time it denigrates the salience of olfactory/pheromonal input. The error results in the persistent cognitive bias that is expressed in discussions of the scientific study of animal behavior when they are extended to discussions of human behavior. Behaviors that are properly attributed to the effects of olfactory/pheromonal on hormones in other animals are attributed to beliefs about visual input. Belief in love at first sight is merely an example of how this persistent cognitive bias expresses itself as an unsubstantiated belief.

How does visual input cause a sex difference in anything? Belief in God seems, at first, to be comparatively antithetical. But when viewed from the same biologically-based perspective, such beliefs are not consistent with what’s observed in animal models of natural selection, which do not require love — especially not love at first sight. These animal models are built upon the established ability of chemical cues from the social environment to influence behavior. Visual cues are not required, although they are typically associated with the effect of olfactory/pheromonal input on hormones and behavior.

Given the existing concepts of evolution and natural selection, Richard Dawkins, seems to think that believing in God makes us delusional. From his fictional perspective, it would follow that people who believe in love at first sight are also delusional. Love itself may be a delusion. The obvious fictional nature of such delusional thoughts leads to the inability to grasp the importance of non-fictional biologically based animal models of behavior.

Using examples from natural selection and incorporating Divine intervention makes love at first sight as logical as cognitive bias makes it delusional. Combining what is known about natural selection with what some people believe about Divine intervention suggests  that either God is love or that thoughts of love at first sight are delusional thoughts.

Arguably, I may simply be deluding myself. Perhaps someone who believes in love at first sight can prove whether or not I have created a false dichotomy. They could begin by proving how what we see leads to a sex difference in behavior, given that biological fact that sex differences exist. Obviously, a scientific approach must be used if there is to be any real proof. If a scientific approach cannot be used to show that love at first sight exists, belief in God may be an acceptable default position, until someone scientifically proves that He doesn’t exist.



Retired medical laboratory scientist

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