The next round went to the inner skeptic. He used a strategy known as reductio ad absurdum, fancy Latin that meant if you could apply an argument to prove something so absurd that everyone knows isn’t true, then that argument structure is false and you wouldn’t be able to conclude anything. It’s the same approach the more vocal atheists take with their whole flying spaghetti monster campaign. This fight used the help of an old Benedictan monk named Guanilo.
Guanilo used the same argument to prove the existence of an island. He imagined an island so perfect that had palm trees, and wine, and oranges, and penguins. Basically it was the greatest island of all time, a utopia. He then went through the motions, talking about how this island could exist as a concept or as reality, and deciding that it had to exist as reality. Except it didn’t. Everyone knows that there’s no such thing as Guanilo’s Island with its lakes of hot chocolate and perfectly constructed baseball diamond. Apparently Anselm’s Ontological Proof wasn’t so solid, if you could use that structure to prove just about anything.
Now it was time to take the fight back to the believer. This would be a harder part yet, since I didn’t have any sort of existing theory to work with. I’d have to get past Guanilo on my own. I noted that there was a difference between God and the perfect island when it came to working with this proof. An island is much more subjective; what one person perceives as a good island might not work for the next person. With God, all-good and all-knowing allows for God’s supreme knowledge would enabling Him to determine what is good, and that He always delivered on doing good, so there was no room for subjectivity. I also noted that an island, by definition has limits, and God, as an all-powerful being, wouldn’t have limits. Then I wrote something that my T.A. really liked, and that probably boosted my grade quite a bit. I threw out the suggestion that if you switch the word island with place, and tried to describe the best place imaginable, Guanilo may have unintentionally proved the existence of Heaven.
Little did my friend know that her question would prompt me to begin ambitiously pining that question. I had been discovering that our lives contain stories, are stories, and are part of a bigger story, and connecting with these stories and their Author results in a life really being life.
Over the course of a month and a week in Argentina, I would spend nights in my homestay without internet just typing furiously away my story. It didn’t feel like work at all, it was as natural as stream of consciousness writing is. When I finished, I wound up with over 200 pages on Microsoft Word. Single spaced.
What I had was my story on paper. It was a story about redefining love, rediscovering faith, and releasing hang-ups. It's a story worth telling, as is anyone's who pays attention to story in their lives.
In a culture so focused on facts and arguments, it's important that we don't lose sight of how humans really experience the world: through story.
This is my story. I'm just putting it out there. There will be some moments I look back on fondly, and there will be some moments where I will be very vulnerable with you.
I will be posting a bit from my story everyday. It's a long read, what I wrote. This will probably be a lot more manageable.
Thanks for following along.
The story begins on 30 January. Subscribe via RSS.