Faith & Reason Ministries

Writings from Berkeley

While at UC Berkeley, John D. Callahan took a course in political military strategy, and for the class he wrote the following paper and supplement (two parts). It is an interesting commentary on the nature of good and evil and the fall of Satan. It has been modified only slightly from the original to correct spelling and more closely reflect the author's current views.

Analysis of the Basic Reasons of War or Conflict

John D. Callahan, Copyright © 1998 by Faith & Reason Ministries

Political Science 124 (UC Berkeley)
Professor Seabury
November 24, 1975

The peace of mortal man with immortal God is an orderly obedience unto his eternal law performed in faith. -- Augustine

This paper will deal primarily with the basic reasons of war. It will be concerned with the ideas and concepts which lead to war and not so much as to whether human nature, political institutions, or international systems are good or bad. Human nature has many times chosen the way to peace as well as to war. So too all types of political institutions and international systems have often chosen peace as well as war. The fundamental reasons for any conflict between two entities will be studied. From this will come the knowledge that human nature, the type of political institution or international system is important but secondary, and every entity, no matter what its make-up, is always faced with the decision of light or darkness.

For an entity to exist it must have life. The things which are the basis of life for man are food and water, etc. Let us call the basis of life vital interests. All beings have a certain degree of life which is based on the amount of vital interests. The man with emphysema has less life than the man without emphysema because he can get less of a vital interest for life: air. When enough vital interests are taken away, a man's life ceases. Similarly better vital interests will provide even better life (i.e. better food produces healthier humans). Having knowledge, power, and material possessions are all vital interests which support life. Since life is so closely linked with the amount of vital interests one has, henceforth many times only the word life will be used. More life meaning more of the things life is dependent on, and less life meaning less of the things life is dependent on.

Life, then, is dependent on vital interests. Since vital interests are in fact life because one cannot live without them, vital interests are dependent and related to each other. A sense of happiness, order, and well being are conditions which promote life. A body that is sick and in danger of losing life causes miserable feelings for the person. Sick can be either mental or physical, but physical illness will probably affect mental health and vise versa because of the principle of the interrelationship of life.

If a person enjoys healthy feelings, he will want to keep healthy by procuring good food, taking care of himself, etc., and he will want to increase his life and feelings of well being, again because of the interrelationship of life. But no entity has all life except God. No being has all power, all knowledge, all wisdom except God. All other beings are imperfect to some extent but have a degree of life which promotes them to achieve more life. How successful one is at this depends on himself (how successful he is at using what life God has given him), on others, and ultimately on the mercy of God. For a man can have only what God allows him to have.

It is natural to want to increase one's life. But doing something in an attempt at this which produces ill feelings is a warning that what was done does not promote life but takes it away. A man must be very patient then in his search for more life. Patience itself therefore is a vital interest which promotes life. Patience will produce understanding about which way is the road to life. Patience is based on faith or the belief that it can be done. Faith promotes life then also. Often a being sees a chance for more life all around him and thinks he knows the way to get it; yet his feelings tell him that the road he wants leads to less life. If his faith is weak, he will lust for life and in so doing lose life. He may gain what he wanted, but overall and ultimately he will lose life. The lust for life against patience based on faith is of course a cause of conflict and on a large scale war.

A lust for life is related to pride. Pride is the elation or satisfaction over one's achievements or possessions (how much life one has). It is pleasurable to feel that one has much life or is in other words great. But there is always a feeling that this is somehow wrong (leads to death). When one has much pride, he naturally feels superior and above others. He feels he has the power to rule and otherwise do what he wants. If he wants something it is his right to take it since he is wiser and knows better than others. (reference 1) The more pride a person has the harder it is for him to control his lust for life. And when another person feeling similar pride does something to show his superiority (i.e. takes something), a fight naturally erupts to determine who is the greatest: who is the ruler and who is the slave: who will have greater life by having more power over others. The paradox is of course that to fight and kill is to destroy life.

If nobody worked together (one person a servant to another) there would be no life at all. Without cooperation, without submission and service there can be no life. If everyone in the world decided he was the greatest and to make himself so by gaining more from others and by dominion over them, there would be great fighting and great loss of life. If everyone's pride was great enough not to stop it, life would cease to exist on this planet. This happens to a lesser extent all the time in many ways. People work together, which is good, but only to a limited degree in groups which fight other groups. Thus management takes from labor; labor takes from management. Various groups fight various groups for their "rights." The result is a loss of life, not only for the defeated but for the victor. Because no victor has all power and is all self-sufficient, he needs the help of others to live. The defeated are weakened after the fight and feel resentment at a lose of life. They are therefore not as able to serve.

If everyone served everyone else through humility and submission, greater life would result by a similar but opposite argument as the one above. How is one to serve others, however, when others and oneself are inherently imperfect? To serve someone by doing what he says unquestionably may result is a loss of life. To know how to serve others best comes from the one who is perfect and knows the best way. The way to life and peace then is submission and humility in service to God, and with his help submission and humility in service to others. The greater the number of individuals who do this, the greater the extent of life and peace there will be on Earth.

Making oneself a servant and lowering oneself in humility is the road to life. Making oneself great and a master in pride to increase one's life is the road to a loss of life. This is one of the greatest paradoxes about the nature of the truth. But God who is the master, the ruler, the greatest being is the humblest in nature and the greatest servant. For he is the source of all life. Life is a gift to all entities from God. He serves constantly in this way and by not destroying our lives when we insult him by taking life from others. But when we take from others, God takes from us. God treats us the same way we treat others. When life is taken away from us we have less power, wisdom, etc. Our life is in danger, and also we are less able to serve others. By lusting for life the people around us lose life and so do we. We may get what we wanted but overall life is lost. A loss or gain in life for an individual is always related to a loss or gain in life for others. The wicked still want to live because they are still alive, but it becomes harder and harder. Wicked men eventually only have their hate for the truth to live by. Evil grows and grows and becomes harder and harder to stop.

When one lusts for life a curious thing happens. It is inherent that we lose life. But it happens without us knowing it and very subtly, indeed we think we are gaining. In trusting in pride and the pleasure that comes from making oneself great, one actually loses his power to do the things which lead to life. Power is reduced, knowledge is reduced, wisdom is reduced. On the other hand when one serves God, which is the same thing as serving truth (what is), in humbling and thinking of oneself as serving he actually gains in his ability to do the things which lead to life (good). His power, knowledge, and wisdom are increased. This is why leaders so often feel helpless in what they "must do." They have been following the easy way of pride for too long. Their understanding of God (the truth) is too small to take the action necessary to avoid war. They may actually wish to do good, but past mistakes now make it much harder. "Whoever does sin is a slave to sin." (reference 2) Not understanding what one is doing is like being in darkness. One fumbles around and eventually falls into a pit. When one walks in the day one can see what he is doing and avoid the pots. This is why darkness is such a suitable word to describe lies and death and why light is used to describe truth and life.

To serve God is to do the things which lead to life. Everyone naturally wants life because he has some life to begin with or he would not exist. To have life and gain more life one must understand the truth. Understanding the truth means understanding the things which lead to life. It becomes obvious then, that God, truth, and life are all related. Similarly lies, death, and Satan are all related. Satan exalted himself and challenged God's authority to rule. Many spiritual beings aliened themselves with Satan. The result of Satan's pride is that he and his followers have lost almost completely their ability to do good. It is no wonder that Satan is referred to as the father of lies and the prince of darkness. His kingdom is the kingdom of darkness. But Satan's attitude is very well put by Milton: "It is better to rule in hell than serve in heaven." (reference 3)

Why mention demons? It is because they are very much greater beings than ourselves (but nothing compared to the infinite God). They often seek to dominate and control human lives, to satisfy their pride. And because they cannot rule God they love to destroy God's kingdom and take life from others. Whenever a person sins (disobedience to God) he not only loses ability in his own person to do good, but runs the risk of demonic possession (the sin could have been spurred by the demon's lies). If he chooses darkness and is ignorant of God and truth, God is usually merciful and does not give him the evil desire of his heart. But if a demon wishes control of that individual, God respects the demon's will as an entity he created with certain powers. Demons are a definite factor in the affairs of men and as such contribute to lies, darkness, death, and war.

What happens when a person serves God and his wisdom naturally increases? If the person takes pride incorrectly in it as something he achieved himself then that person stops dead in his tracks on the road to greater life and starts going in the opposite direction of death. All wisdom and all life come from God's mercy; therefore it is the truth to give credit to God for whatever one has. As Paul says, "Whoever wants to boast must boast about what the Lord has done." (reference 4) The greater one is then, the more humble and serving he must be to God.

God is the ruler, the supreme being. What he does and says is truth and cannot be challenged. Man's wisdom is utter foolishness next to God's. God gives to every being a certain degree of life. Depending on how that person handles the responsibility of life and on the degree to which evil is done to that being by others, a great amount of life can be obtained. For a human being, life eternal is possible through the mercy of God. God's covenant with man in this day is as follows. Our faults and our lust for life (evil) naturally lead to death. But God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, in human form to take on the consequences of our actions. Any person who claims this gift and looks to the Son and believes in him will live forever. God will work in a personal and very real way in the person's life, and God's presence will be known to the individual.

Peace may be obtained by every individual believing in God. To believe in God is a daily fight against one's own desire for greatness, against pressures from the spiritual world, and against other humans on the road to destruction. Having true wisdom and power not to do evil and cause wars depends on this daily fight. To relax and trust in one's own wisdom and men's instead of God's is disaster. No set formula such as a way to control human nature or a new government or a new international system will create peace. Only enough individuals believing in God will do that. Every individual can contribute to peace by steadfastly seeking the truth and helping other individuals to do the same.

Why are wars seemingly caused by people who say they believe in God, and why are wars seemingly averted by people who show little or only a superficial belief in God? It is because to say one believes in God and to actually believe in God are not necessarily concurrent. God is truth. Obeying the truth to a degree leads to peace in degree. All things occur in degree, and many people who do not know God obey him very much by understanding and practicing the truth which they have searched for and found all around them. For the truth is everywhere and so is God. The degree of peace on Earth is due to the efforts of every man to struggle and keep the truth daily. If every man struggled harder for the truth then there would be greater peace. If every man steadfastly sought the truth hard enough and long enough he would come to belief in God and his Son. Every man's life would be insured, and every man's ability to do good would greatly increase to a point where there would be no war.

Man has obviously increased in his knowledge of the universe. His ability to sustain life has increased through technology. But as man's seeming greatness increased so did his pride. With pride came the desire to be greater by lusting for life. Man therefore throughout the ages has used his greater technology to kill rather than serve. The result is man's total ability to do good and knowledge of the truth roughly remained the same. His true amount of life and greatness and truth likewise are about the same.

A generalization should be made here. A being's total amount of life and ability to do good always depends on how much he serves God. No matter how much wisdom, knowledge, power, etc. a being has, it can all be perverted and lost by doing evil and not serving God. Satan knows all the things written in this paper and much more. He is far greater than any human being could imagine (but again nothing compared to the infinite God). Yet Satan's lust for more life was great also and he chose darkness.

In summary, God, who is perfect, having all life, through giving and sharing (which are part of the nature of life and truth) grants the responsibility of life in varying degrees to many creatures throughout the universe. Having life naturally promotes the desire for more life. If a being seeks and obeys the truth which is to obey God, he will gain in life, and for man life eternal is even possible because of the love of God. It seems paradoxical, however, to do the things which lead to life. One must be humble, submissive and a servant. To be proud, dominate and a ruler leads to less life. No matter how much life a being has he is always faced with this dilemma because the greater a being is the greater is his temptation to exalt himself. All life comes from God; therefore, one should always be a humble servant to God. The greater one is the greater he must be a servant to God and to his fellow man. Conflict and wars, which lead to great losses of life, occur because people, because of pride, make themselves great and rulers. Augustine writes, "For herein is perverse pride an imitator of the goodness of God, hating equality of others with itself under Him, and laying a yoke of obedience upon its fellows, under itself instead of Him." (reference 5) Men disobey God (the truth) or in other words they sin. The less people sin the greater the degree of life and peace there will be on Earth. It is always a great tragedy when a being chooses pride over happiness as this writer can well attest.


1. Kenneth Waltz, Man, the State and War, p. 21.
2. John 8:32.
3. John Milton, Paradise lost, p. 67.
4. I Cor. 1:31.
5. Saint Augustine, The City of God, II., p. 248.


Augustine, Saint, The City of God, II., John Healey's translation edited by R. V. G. Tasken, MA BD, New York, E. P. Dutton & Co. Inc., 1962.

Brodie, Bernard, War and Politics, New York, Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc., c. Bernard Brodie, 1973.

Stoessinger, John, Why Nations go to War, New York, St. Martin's Press, 1974.

Waltz, Kenneth, Man, the State and War, New York, Columbia University Press, 1959.

Supplement to
Analysis of the Basic Reasons of War or Conflict

John D. Callahan, Copyright © 1998 by Faith & Reason Ministries

Political Science 124 (UC Berkeley)
Professor Seabury
December 4, 1975

This supplement to the "Analysis of the Basic Reasons of War or Conflict" will deal with four main points. The first of these will be the relation between individual behavior and group behavior. The second will deal with the relation between individual conflict, group conflict, and war. The third point will stress the roles of human nature, governments, and international systems. The forth point will deal with the relevance of man's efforts to form better political systems in light of the discussions concerning the other three points.

Before the four points are dealt with it is important to understand one thing. Individuals would not act the way they do unless they believed they were right. The comments about to be made are certainly not believed by many. People do not believe that pride is the cause of their conflicts but a sincere desire for justice, not only for their side but for the opposing side as well. And even if pride is not denied as the basis for their conflicts, they feel that their pride is justified. Indeed, many people contend that pride is a good or right thing. It should be pointed out that feelings of worth and self respect which come from God and are a natural consequence of obedience to Him are not wrong. Pride as used here refers to self exaltation apart from God.

Every individual is granted the responsibility of life by God. No individual has all life except God (life meaning again more or less vital interests). Wanting to gain more life is a natural condition for a being because of the principle of the interrelationship of life. The road to life is paradoxical, however. Giving and humility lead to life. Taking and pride lead to death. In the "Analysis of the Basic Reasons of War or Conflict" it was stated, "If everyone in the world decided he was the greatest and to make himself so by gaining more from others and by dominion over them, there would be great fighting and great loss of life. If everyone's pride was great enough not to stop it, life would cease to exist on this planet. This happens to a lesser extent all the time in many ways. People work together which is good but only to a limited degree in groups which fight other groups." Pride leads to conflict among individuals, but how is this related to group conflict and large scale war?

When a conflict occurs between individuals one person usually wins. The loser gives in at some point to a varying degree because his pride is resulting in a loss of life. The two individuals are essentially one now in will. In a similar way groups can grow to three, four, five, etc., with the stronger ruling and the weaker serving. Often an individual will be impressed by the ideas of an individual or group and will join forces without an initial conflict.

Groups, then, form with the ideas of the leader the dominant force in the actions of the group. The group is good to a degree depending largely on the leader or leaders since they have the authority to make decisions for the group. Yet the leaders would not have any power if it were not for the members of the group either giving in to the group or joining freely. Every individual of a group is responsible for the actions of his group. Ideally, of course, everyone would give in to God and there would be one group.

Individuals, then, have conflicts. Someone wins, and a group of two is formed (although one member of the group might be dead if he didn't give in soon enough). Groups can grow in a similar way by conflict with other groups. If no one gives in soon enough, death for individuals will result. When an individual joins a group he only adheres to and serves the group to a degree. When groups join other groups they only work together to a degree. The closer an individual's ideas match a group's or another individual's ideas the easier it will be to serve the group or individual with the least amount of conflict occurring. The degree of service depends on the agreement of ideas and the amount of coercion. Thus a man may be a member of a labor union because of pressure from other members of the union and partly because he agrees with the principles of the union. The man serves the union only to a degree depending on just how much he agrees with the union and how strongly he is pressured.

The labor union in turn may be a member of a larger union. The degree of service depending again on how much the group agrees with the larger union and how strongly the group is pressured. Depending on these two conditions violence and death may result. The larger union in turn is a member of a nation. The degree of service depending again on how much the larger labor union agrees with the nation and how strongly the group is pressured. A nation may cooperate with another nation or group of nations. The degree to which this is done depends again on agreement and pressure. If no nation gives in before a certain point, war breaks out. All along this line there is a hierarchy of authority which reaches down to the individual, who tries to keep order within his own person.

An individual is aligned with other individuals and other groups to varying degrees also. Thus an individual is influenced by family and friends and his political party. Also groups, which are a reflection of individuals, are aligned and influenced to varying degrees with other groups. Some of these groups may form even larger groups, etc. It all comes down to the individual however. How is an individual to know what to do? He could want to become a leader because of a sincere desire to serve other people or a follower for the same reason. What conflicts should he engage in and to what degree? Does the end justify the means? The answer of course is that one must be a servant firstly and always to God and the truth. From understanding the truth will come the knowledge of how to act.

Human nature is just the way men act. Therefore, the way an individual treats another individual, the way a group treats another group or individual, the way a nation treats another nation or individual are all part of human nature. The very governments and international systems men create are just the consequence of human nature. The very fact that men seek to change the organizations under which they live shows that human nature is not fixed. Every group or nation is built on individuals and as such are reflections of individual wills. And what individual would get out of bed in the morning without the hope that he will end the day a better person? Men can sense that their nature is changeable. The way governments change is just a reflection of this hope or faith. It is absurdity to assume that men are moral; yet when they organize with other moral men the result is immoral behavior as Niebuhr contends.

It is easy to show that human nature is indeed changeable. God can do anything; therefore, anything is possible depending on the will of God. It is certainly the will of God that goodness and truth permeate the universe. Yet free choice is part of the truth, and ultimately man's change in nature depends on his desire to change and be good. But then again to be good involves giving and humility and service. It involves suffering when no one sees instead of seeing others suffer. True life and true happiness come from this ironic behavior. If a man tries hard enough and never gives up in his search for truth, he will come to understand this paradox and will ultimately find God. A man must always believe, however, that it is possible to find truth. The importance of faith is again seen.

Governments are simply a philosophy about dealing with the world. They are what many men have agreed upon to be the truth. If the system works to a degree it is a sign that the system has truth to a degree. As was stated in the "Analysis of the Basic Reasons of War or Conflict," truth to a degree leads to life to a degree. Yet governments change as men's concept of the truth changes and as men's concept of the truth changes so does human nature. One cannot separate men's nature from men's philosophy.

No matter how great a system may be, it just can't work if nobody cooperates. God has a great system (the best); yet if an individual or group of individuals do not follow God's plan it won't work. Should men then strive to create better political systems that will hopefully eliminate war? Of course, but the system cannot be separated from the people who agree or disagree with it. It is this writer's belief that the U.S. Constitution was one of the best political systems ever written. However, it is doubtful that it would work in a country with strong prejudices against it. One reason the U.S. Constitution has survived so long is that it has the provision within itself to be changed by the people who are under it.

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