Frederick’s experiment

 
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Back in the thirteenth century, the German king, Frederick II, conducted a diabolical experiment intended to discover what language children would naturally grow up to speak if never spoken to. He thought it would be German. Some things are just obvious, right? So King Frederick took babies from their mothers at birth and placed them in the care of nurses who were forbidden to speak in their hearing. But a second rule was imposed, as well: the nurses were not allowed to touch the infants. To his great dismay, Frederick’s experiment was cut short, but not before something tragically significant regarding human nature was revealed. As you may have guessed, the babies grew up to speak no language at all because they died. In the year 1248, an Italian historian named Salimbene di Adam recorded, with an air of scientific observation, “They could not live without petting.” The babies literally died for want of touch.

Astounding! Modern medicine calls this phenomenon, “failure to thrive.” For some reason, we humans flourish under the influence of love and we gradually die without it. The implications of this fact are huge. Consider the research of Dr Dean Ornish. In his national bestseller, Love and Survival, Ornish presents study after study demonstrating that love is a chief influence for mental, emotional, and even physical health. On page 29 he summarises the unexpected message of the rapidly accumulating body of data: “Anything that promotes feelings of love and intimacy is healing; anything that promotes isolation, separation, loneliness, loss, hostility, anger, cynicism, depression, alienation, and related feelings often leads to suffering, disease, and premature death from all causes” (Dean Ornish, Love and Survival, p. 29).

Modern science is now proving through controlled studies that human beings are literally engineered for love. We are made for love, as if our DNA contains the message, “You must love and be loved in order to survive.” But this presents Dr Ornish, and the mainstream of modern science, with a serious problem. He explains: “The scientific evidence… leaves little doubt that love and intimacy are powerful determinants of our health and survival. Why they have such an impact remains somewhat a mystery” (Ibid., p. 22). So to solve the mystery, Dr Ornish posed a question to a wide range of scientists. The basic gist of the question was this: Why are human beings so vitally dependent on love? The bottom line answer was along the lines of, Well, it is strange, isn’t it? We don’t know why. Dr Ornish then concluded: “Mystery remains. No one can fully explain . . . why love and intimacy matter so much” (Ibid., p. 171).

Scientists are baffled by the existence of love and the fact that we need it. But why are they baffled? Well, quite simply, because love creates a break, actually a contradiction, in the train of logic in the evolutionary worldview. The problem for many scientists is that they are trying to understand the human need for love within a paradigm of reality that does not allow for the existence of love! Because Darwinian evolution begins with a survival-of-the-fittest premise, it dictates that self-preservation must be the highest law and the main factor in our survival. Love, by contrast, is essentially self-giving rather than self-preserving and therefore, makes no sense in the evolutionary context.

If materialistic evolution is the truth of human origins, then human beings are merely biological animals and there is no such thing as love. And yet, here we are, creatures who thrive on love and are utterly dependent on it. A tenacious desire to love and be loved pervades every human heart. We try to explain it with no reference point beyond ourselves, and we seek its satisfaction in countless material pursuits, but it remains—larger than anything this world can offer, more persistent than our most determined resistance and insistently fixed on something more than ourselves. We can’t help but ask the obvious question at some point: What is that something more that we so desperately long for? In two simple declarations, the Bible offers this answer: “God made mankind in His own image” (Genesis 1:27). And “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

 

Ty Gibson is a father to two sons, a bestselling author and co-director of Light Bearers. This article is adapted from the Digma.com video series. Used with permission.