Experiencing a Higher Power

At an AA meeting earlier this week, we read the Big Book’s chapter to the agnostic, which encourages atheists and agnostics to believe in a “higher power.”

There are times when I really like this chapter, but that time around it was really rubbing me the wrong way. It ridiculed alcoholics who read wordy books to find a reason not to believe in God, and it also pointed to the great number of religious people and asked if all of them could be wrong. Not only was it anti-intellectual in that it smugly blew off certain thoughts without giving them due consideration, but it also promoted group-think: believe this way because a lot of other people do.

I was having a private anti-religious rant in my head, until a woman said something that set me more at ease. She said that she heard of other recovering alcoholics’ experiences of God, and she asked if they could all be lying. She concluded that they were not.

Many people believe that they have been helped and guided by a power greater than themselves. They look back and conclude that someone else was carrying them, working things out for their good. Who am I to say that they are wrong?

At the same time, there are also people who look back at their lives and wonder where the heck God was. They may have experienced tragedy or unanswered prayer. What should we conclude about their experiences?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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