Author Archive: nicolas

About nicolas

I'm a 21-year-old Brethren peace studies major at Manchester College. I like hot chocolate, black raspberry soda, and unasked questions.

Proving God

Some of you may be familiar with philosophers’ attempts to prove God’s existence. The simplest is put forth by Descartes, who in doubting reality, realized the only thing he could be sure of was that he doubted. Here’s my paraphrase:

I doubt, therefore I think.
I think, therefore I exist.
I doubt, therefore I am imperfect.
I am imperfect, therefore imperfection exists.
Imperfection exists, therefore perfection exists.
God, by definition, is perfection, therefore God exists.
God is perfect, therefore God is good.
God is good, therefore God would not deceive us.
God would not deceive us, therefore the world and my experiences in it are real.

This proof actually shares the same fatal flaw as the other God proof I’ve heard:

Something can exist either in thought or in reality.
I can think of God, therefore God exists in thought.
It is more powerful to exist in reality than in thought.
God is, by definition, the most powerful, therefore God exists in reality.

The flaw, of course, is that we are asked to accept that because something is conceptualized, it must exist in accordance to its intrinsic characteristics. Yet if I believe that God is, by definition, a delicious jelly donut sitting on my desk, there is still no jelly donut on my desk. Those of us not well schooled in metaphysics may not be able to articulate exactly why we know these proofs are bogus, but we do know it.

(Note: I am not a philosopher, so if you’re outraged at how much I screwed up my summary of these ideas, I apologize.)

However, in some of my musings this year, I have come across my own conditional proof that God exists. Conditional in that it does not prove God, but makes God a necessary derivative of another belief. Here it is:

If we have free will, God exists.

The Nature of Truth

In the Church of the Brethren, we have to talk a lot about how to reconcile our beliefs with those of our brothers and sisters who don’t feel the same way. Members of our denomination (my understanding is that Mennonites face the same questions) cover the political spectrum end to end, with varying stances on all the good “moral questions:” abortion, same-sex marriage, non-resistance, the military, salvation… the list goes on. And so we are faced with the sticky task of recognizing the validity of our brother’s faith while still affirming our own as true and right.

Hokay, so. Here’s the question. Is there one truth in the middle of the theological dartboard that we’re all throwing at, some getting closer than others? Or is there wiggle room? Is it possible that when I say homosexuality is A-OK and my dad has a problem with it, we’re both somehow equally right thanks to the logic-defying power of God? If I’m a Christian and my roommate is a Pagan, are we just on different roads heading in the same general direction? (more…)

My arrest in Fort Wayne

I suppose the best way to start all this is to explain who I am and what I’m doing. My name is Nick, and I’m a member of the Church of the Brethren and a Peace Studies major at Manchester College. A couple months ago I was arrested at a witness in Fort Wayne, and was asked by my employers in the Residential Life department at Manchester to write a paper explaining what happened. I posted the paper on my own blog, and was subsequently urged to re-post it here. The paper was intended to be a complete account of my experience, and as such does not necessarily have one coherent message. I’ve edited out the parts that really only pertain to my school, so it may appear to jump around some but… well, read it for yourselves.

Thursday, March 29, 2007, I joined eight other Manchester students, and three faculty and staff in a peace vigil at the federal building in Fort Wayne as part of a nationwide campaign called the Occupation Project, a civil disobedience campaign aimed at literally occupying the offices of U.S. Congressmen who refuse to cut off funding for the continuing war in Iraq. (more…)