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The power of unselfish love

From the June 2004 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Unlimited Love: Altruism, Compassion, and Service

Unlimited Love: Altruism, Compassion, and Service
232 pp. Philadelphia:
Templeton Foundation Press
$24.95 (pb).

Scientific Research into spirituality is glowing more brightly on the cultural radar. Interdisciplinary studies of spiritual realities such as purpose, gratitude, and forgiveness are lighting up thought screens in academic and scientific communities. There are even awards. George F.R. Ellis, professor of applied mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, was recently named winner of the $1.4 million 2004 Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. He is trying to fuse cosmology, theology, and social sciences into a unified whole.

And now scientific investigation into what the Apostle Paul praised as supreme See I Cor., chap. 13 .—what Henry Drummond circa 1880 called The Greatest Thing in the World—is getting off the ground. Three years ago, Stephen G. Post, professor of bioethics in the School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, launched the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love ( His new book, Unlimited Love, lays a foundation for this research. Professor Post draws on his vast knowledge of the theological and philosophical history of the idea of love. He explains attempts by 20th-century evolutionary biologists and social scientists to decode love's nature. The highest form of love? Post leaves little doubt: unselfish love. And when someone extends unselfish or helping-behavior love "to all others without exception," Post, Unlimited Love (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2003), p. vii . they express the measureless human capacity for what he calls unlimited love. Such love also has a divine, "capital L" meaning, too. "Unlimited Love is God's love for us all," Ibid., p. II , he writes. Love is the ultimate reality, the "Creative Presence" Ibid., p. vii . and power underlying and integral to life and the universe.

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