Do You Believe in a “Higher Power”?
It’s almost an institution, in our culture, in our nation, to describe God as a higher power, something greater than ourselves. What’s that, “the force be with you”? What is this higher power—gravity, lightning, earthquakes? Now one thing about this nebulous, amorphous, nameless, characterless power, is that first of all it is impersonal, and second of all and most important, it is amoral. See, there’s an upside and a downside to worshiping a higher power—a nameless, faceless, force like gravity, or cosmic dust, or lightning, or thunder.
Here’s the upside to a sinner. A force that is impersonal and amoral makes no ethical demands on anybody. Gravity does not make judgments about people’s behavior unless they jump out of windows six-stories high. But even at that, there is no personal condemnation that comes from gravity, or an earthquake. Gravity has no voice; it says nothing, it sees nothing, and it knows nothing. We could describe this higher force that is the god of our culture like the three monkeys: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Nobody’s conscience is seared by gravity. If the higher power is impersonal and amoral, that gives you a license to behave any way you want to behave, with impunity.
But what’s the downside? The downside is that there’s nobody home out there. That this force means that in the universe there is no personal god, no personal redeemer. What kind of a relationship, what kind of salvific relationship can you have with thunder? Thunder makes noise, thunder booms through the skies, but in terms of content it’s mute, it’s tongue-tied, it has no revelation, it gives no hope; and gravity has never been able to forgive anybody for their sins.