Do you want a thoughtful, purposeful life?


Carson Weitnauer (@CarsonWeitnauer)

Searching for God: Community

One often neglected component that is essential, when conducting a thorough investigation for God’s existence, is participating in community.

Think about it: how did you learn math or chemistry or English?  It was almost certainly in community – with a teacher, fellow students, and books written, edited, published, marketed and sold by others you never met.  Almost all of our learning, in every discipline, depends upon participation in a community.  If you want to learn math, you get to know the math professors; for chemistry, with others in the lab; for English, through reading and the English department.  The same is true if you are looking to find God: you simply need to be around people who claim to know God!

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The Importance of An Open Mind

One of the most important virtues, in a genuine search for truth, is open-mindedness.  The Free Dictionary defines open-mindedness as, “Receptive to new and different ideas or the opinions of others.”  Apart from this value, we will only listen to and learn from those who confirm our existing beliefs.

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Early Christian Thinking: Confident Doubt

Let’s go back 1,800 years to one of the earliest Christian apologetic writings. There is a very interesting writing, The Octavius of Minucius Felix, which can be dated to 160-250A.D. In this document, the opponent to Christianity is a man named Caecilius. He is said to speak these words, which are surprisingly similar to what is often said today:

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Prove it to me!

One of the most common phrases I hear as I talk to students at Harvard University is “Prove it to me!”  Have you ever said this or heard this? Perhaps you personally want 100% certainty before you will believe in God.

Whether this is your own expectation, or that of your friends, there’s an important question to ask: what do you mean by that? That is, what do you mean by “Prove it to me!”? Is the idea mathematical proof? Or scientific proof? Or some other kind of proof?

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Postmodern Doubt

Your friend wants to know: “I understand you have a basically trusting attitude towards knowing things.  But this strikes me as naive.  Don’t you watch The Daily Show?  Have you been in a cave while the postmodern deconstructionists dismantled, piece by piece, the problems of modernity?  Are you unaware of the personal and cultural biases which we all bring into this world?  How can you sustain such a basic trust in coming to know things?”

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Know True Beliefs

We all fear being wrong.  Nobody likes to be embarrassed, hurt, or put down because they made an error.  This is, to a large degree, a very sensible fear that often leads us to seek truth and avoid error.

On the other hand, if taken too seriously, such an attitude can cripple us.  It is like insisting, “I’d hate to trip and fall while walking, so I’m only going to use a wheelchair to get around.”  Now a wheelchair is a perfectly respectable means of transportation, but if you can walk, then you are limiting yourself more than is necessary.

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