I’m working hard to put aside my ingrained Southern Baptist upbringing to embrace a new faith, a new belief system and way of looking at the world.
I’m talking, of course, about embracing the Force… you know, like from Star Wars.
Now, hold on, hear me out. In the Star Wars films, which I started enjoying at the prime age of 10 with the first one released, we are told that the Force is kind of an energy field that permeates the entire universe; it flows within us and between us, binding all living and nonliving matter together into a cohesive whole.
Now, if we were to put a more human face on this concept, it would resemble nothing so much as… gee, Davey… well, our traditional notion of God.
We are told that God, whatever He or It is, is manifest in all things: that nothing within the material or ethereal multiverse exists outside His influence. Nevertheless, we tend to cast God in our own image, more or less. He resembles a human – usually an elderly man, full of gravitas, who’s still fairly handsome in his later years, like that World’s Most Interesting Man from the beer commercials. In other words, we tend to personify God, to think of Him as a conscious being, much as we ourselves are.
Therein lies a conundrum. On the one hand, we think of God as all-knowing, all-seeing, a thousand times more wise than ourselves, and a million times more knowledgeable. We’re told that He has a plan, and for our small part, we somehow fit into that plan. But oftentimes His plan may seem a bit cruel to us: a natural disaster, war, the death of a loved one or child, can shake our faith in His intentions. How could a God, the God who so loves us (we are constantly told), allow such horrible things to happen? If the death of a child is part of His plan, then shouldn’t we say to Hell with that plan, as we would that of any mortal leader?
Perhaps, then, our problem lies in thinking of God as a conscious being like ourselves in the first place. Now, this goes against hundreds, perhaps thousands of years of worldwide traditional religious thinking, although to be fair humanity’s gods have already taken innumerable shapes and visages. But maybe that belief isn’t quite accurate – after all, we don’t know the true nature of God and are only surmising as best as our human intellects can reckon.
What if we think of God a different way – not as a sentient being with thoughts and consciousness, but more as a free-floating aspect of the universe itself, an energy field (the Zero Point Energy? Quantum weirdness?) that permeates everything, even the supposed vacuum separating worlds? Maybe it has some sort of Will or vast Cosmic Consciousness, but not in the traditional way we usually think of.
Whenever something bad happens, traditional Christians will tend to shrug and proclaim it as ‘God’s Will,’ which means they don’t understand or necessarily approve of it, but reckon that God has a bigger purpose in mind and this current calamity is simply part of His plan – we just don’t have his grand view of the larger scheme.
With the Force, such a concept becomes more rational. We can see unfortunate events as happening not because of some Supreme Being’s whim, but instead as the result of a vast number of forces, many of them unseen or even immeasurable, ebbing and flowing to produce the chaos that is our reality. If that’s the case, then we can more dispassionately observe calamitous events: Could you lose faith in gravity? Would you swear vengeance against magnetism? If the universe is run not by conscious control but by inevitable forces eternally mixing and playing against one another, such questions become meaningless.
Of course, such a belief system opens up innumerable cans of worms. In such a system, do we truly have Free Will? Can the Force bend somewhat to our will, as the Jedi Knights of the films are able to cause? Is the Force a thing to be worshipped, or is it basically just window dressing for atheism? Is there room for such a thing as morality?
As to that last question, much is made in the films of the so-called Dark Side of the Force, which bad guys use to become very powerful. It’s fed by hate, lust, desire for power, all of the notions that are traditionally seen as being negative. If the Force truly exists, would such a negative aspect exist also – the Force soured, perhaps coagulated or stagnant, which seeps into human activities just as much as its counterpart? After all, it’s difficult to think of such a concept without also embracing its polar opposite: One can hardly have Yin without Yang, a cat without a fine rat, protons without electrons, etc. In our grasp for meaning, such a duality strikes us as being ‘fair,’ an explanation for why so much misery and corruption tend to exist in our perceived reality.
I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t have answers to any of these questions. I might be barking up the wrong Yggdrasil and committing the worst sort of heresy. But personally, I think it makes as much sense as any other belief system. After all, none of us knows for certain, and we’ve precious little evidence one way or another.
How does this tie into libertarianism? Well, for me, it has to do with traditional religion and faith. I’ve always had a problem with the idea of ‘worshipping’ someone, or something. To prostrate oneself before a person, or a concept, to declare “I’m nothing and you’re everything,” strikes me as particularly unhealthy. Maybe I’m a heretic for even pondering this, but I think such a surrendering of the will is one of the worst practices mankind has ever performed and a huge part of why the world is the way it is.
Maybe it’s my youthful reading of Heinlein coming out, but I believe the value of human beings lies primarily in our ferociousness, our tenacity, our will to survive and to thrive: not to bow to those who would demand our fealty, but to spit in their eye. There’s a reason why humans have conquered this world and molded it to suit us, and it’s not just because of our intelligence: it’s because that’s the way we wanted it, and we weren’t going to stop until either reality folded, or we did.
Belief in the Force, then, is a religion which suits my nonconformist self to a T. I don’t have to pay a tithe, I don’t have to give deference to a priestly caste. Heck, I can sleep in as late as I want on Sunday morning. I can make up my own goofy rituals if I want to.
I’m not here to try to make any converts; I just wanted to put the concept out there and see what varieties of tomatoes you mugs can throw at it. Maybe I’m just a loon for coming up with the idea in the first place.
But in any case… hey, you knew this was coming: may the Force be with you all.
P.S. – Midichlorians are a bunch of hooey.