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Discussion: Atheists in Alcoholics Anonymous

By April 10, 2006

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A forum member writes: I have come across several people who insist that they can be an atheist, that is a strong atheist who does not acknowledge the existence of any supernatural entity and a member of AA. That is a good program-doing, step working, Big Book believing member of AA. The jump up and down screaming that the two are completely compatible. My stand is that the two are incompatible. It is logically impossible to be both. One or the other. The best and most logically solid argument that I have come across from one who is both an AA member and an atheist is: "You can work the steps and be an atheist because I am an atheist and I work the steps. Because I said so." - So far this is the best one. Can anyone here come up with something better? I'm not very impressed with that argument.

Obviously you can be an atheist and be in Alcoholics Anonymous - the above argument proves that and it is a trivial matter. More interesting (and, I think, the point of the question) is whether an atheist in AA has to either compromise some bit of atheism or compromise some bit of the AA philosophy/theology/doctrine. It seems difficult to argue "no" to this - but what do you think? Read More...
Comments
April 10, 2006 at 4:21 pm
(1) John Nielsen says:

It’s been well over 20 years since I stopped drinking and I can say with pride AA had absolutely nothing to do with it. I found an out-patient counseling service that never used the religion ploy. My own counselor was a devout Greek Orthodox churchgoer who suggested that if I felt AA would help, then check it out. One meeting was all it took. I reported back to him that I felt I was in the midst of a cult and couldn’t wait to escape. He smiled and never brought up AA again.

Also, there are now secular 12 step programs and a website, http://www.secularsobriety.org that can be of use. I’ve been running sober on my own for so long, I have nearly forgotten what it’s like to be drunk.

April 10, 2006 at 9:14 pm
(2) John Nielsen says:

It’s been well over 20 years since I stopped drinking and I can say with pride AA had absolutely nothing to do with it. I found an out-patient counseling service that never used the religion ploy. My own counselor was a devout Greek Orthodox churchgoer who suggested that if I felt AA would help, then check it out. One meeting was all it took. I reported back to him that I felt I was in the midst of a cult and couldn’t wait to escape. He smiled and never brought up AA again.

Also, there are now secular 12 step programs and secular websites for sobriety that can be useful.

April 10, 2006 at 11:52 pm
(3) Ersatz Evil says:

It’s luckily something I’ve never had to do, but I’ve had secular friends deal with it, and adopt something secular for their “Higher Power”, like the Sea, or Humanity or the Universe.

April 15, 2006 at 12:29 pm
(4) Stacy says:

DID YOU KNOW…. That if a person gets arrested and charged with DUI, the judge orders you to attend AA meetings, prior to any conviction and even if you are an athiest, agnostic or other non-Christian citizen.

This seems a bit biased towards a particular religeous belief. Where is the separation between church and state in this scenerio?

If the courts are going to order people to attend AA meetings, perhaps they ought to have an alternate, non-denominational , non-religeous option.

This country is a melting pot, made up of many different cultures and beliefs. It’s bad enough that our Commander-in-Chief leads by the Bible and assumes that all Americans subscribe to his religeon.

- Peace

September 20, 2011 at 7:53 pm
(5) Anne Albrecht says:

I’m a sober Christian participant in AA for 10 years and my feeling is that the judge should order the person to attend some form of counseling or consciousness raising, not necessarily AA. You can be an atheist and work the twelve steps but the reality is the group was founded on some spiritual principles that in part come from the Bible and Christianity.

December 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm
(6) John says:

The problem with ‘remandeds’ attending meetings is they often go to closed meetings when they do not have a ‘desire’. Closed meetings are for people who ‘have a desire to quit drinking’. They are not for people who don’t want to be there.
John

July 25, 2006 at 7:49 am
(7) Jonny M says:

I’m an atheist and a member of AA for the past 18 months. Yes, I had difficulties with AA’s idea of a higher power, and with its use of the words “God”, “Creator”, etc. But I am sober and happy and AA works (a good rational argument). My idea of a higher power is not at odds with my atheism, since it does not include any idea of a deity. Non-alcoholics may find it easy to scoff at my idiocy, but if you are an alcoholic do not let your atheism stop you from recovering. Don’t use it as an excuse; suspend judgement, take the steps, get sober, then revisit the argument.Atheism is supremely rational and practical – be practical.

September 21, 2006 at 11:38 am
(8) Jackie T says:

In my opinion, to some Christians, words like “the door knob is my higher power.”, may make Alcoholics Anonymous a Cult while at the same time to Atheists the fact that Alcoholics in the program even say there is a Higher Power may make it religious. And…to recovering Alcoholics it seems quite clear that the program works if you work it, that alcohol itself can be allowed to become a form of a higher power and any step….be it toward the door knob that opens the door to a power higher than alcohol is a step in the right direction. One thing we might consider is that in the rooms of AA, no matter your opinion of God or anything else for that matter, you are welcome and therefore allowed to speak your peace.

October 25, 2006 at 9:34 am
(9) Antoine W says:

I have been nearly 20 years sober in AA, and I am still an atheist. I have benefited from the moral psychology of AA, and have brushed the theistic undercurrent aside. Especially, I don’t subscribe to the “Chapter to the Agnostic” in the Big Book, with is OK as Bill W’s personal experience but not the gospel. Atheists can have a spiritual life…. Recently, Stephen J. Gould’s book Rock of Ages made that perfectly clear. AA’s Big Book is as much a theological book as the Bible is a natural history book. The world around us is full of higher powers – without them we wouldn’t be alive.

So, to be an atheist and follow the 12 Steps to the letter at the same time may be impossible, but that doesn’t matter to me. Those who follow a literal interpretation of the Bible are called Fundamentalist Christians – they are not taken seriously by anyone but themselves, and there aren’t too many of them. The 12 Steps describe a personal spiritual process, and that can only take place when we have a personal understanding of what we read. Mine may be a bit further from the letter than usual, but AA gives me that freedom. I am grateful that I have encountered the challenge of making sense out of something that put me off at first. I like challenges…..

October 28, 2006 at 10:57 pm
(10) tuffy says:

i’ve been in AA for over 15 years and currently have over four and a half years clean and sober. i don’t find the theism of AA to be any big obstacle. i have a problem and AA is the proven cure.

October 29, 2006 at 11:29 am
(11) JBearSmith says:

I’m an alchoholic and mercifully, gratefully sober for 26 years. I’m an atheist.
To me the closest I come to understanding god/goddess comes when I acknowledge a complexity so deep that I can only say, “I don’t know.” , rather than depending on creating what would be to me a fantasticalicty that knows all and does all that can’t be explained. If your deep understanding knows this God, then that is yours, and I respect that. Neither of us will, or need to, convince the other of our convictions’ metaphysical correctness.
However, if AA has an “God of Abraham” orthodoxy, then it can’t accomodate all the beliefs of those who need it to stop drinking and stay sober.
The Big Book is fundamental, but as an atheist I do not believe that God directed its creation or content, despite whatever divininty Bill W. may have felt inspired him in his writing. I think that a profound inspiration was in him, and I am grateful for however it came to him. But, it is not THE word of any god. But Bill W’s words are darn good words, and an essential guide. I need them.
I ask myself, why did I wake up after a binge, remember driving 100 miles per hour, and understand that I would die or kill someone if I kept drinking? Why did I reach for the hotel room’s yellow pages and look for “Alchohol Treatment”? Why did I find a singularly astute, compassionate, clear-eyed therapist who guided me through those fear-ridden days when I first stopped? Why? How? I don’t know. I was lucky, and I am grateful. Was I guided by a “higher power”? If so, was not that higher power in me? I had to find that source, know it, and love it .
Once in AA I stood the statement that “Man was created in the image of God.” and son its head. So, “God was created in the image of man.” The best of who we are as humans, and the best of my person is there, free and available for the taking. But, very imperfectly. I am not god, but I have something worthwhile, decent, compassionate in me that I need to grasp. AA’s steps help me with that.
We alchies need each other, and a path. Mostly, we need never to take that first drink, and how we do that, if it works, and I think AA is part of the answer for most, cannot exclude those of us who are not theistic.
I and other atheists need to work on our sobriety in a way that works for us. I, and I imagine others tilted toward agnoticism and/or atheism will help theists, let you have your path, as it helps you, and as you have helped us. A monolithic, theistic AA cannot work for the millions of souls who need it.
Thank-you

October 29, 2006 at 3:39 pm
(12) steve says:

Thanks for the comment and website. I’ve been sober for thirteen months. AA helped me in the first 90 days to stay focused on sobriety. I’m grateful to AA for it’s support and help. However, after the cobwebs started to clear, I began to realize that for me, AA had run it’s course. Although they use a disclaimer stating that the organization is not a religious group, god is repeatedly referred to in AA literature, steps and various slogans.I started to feel like I was more and more participating in cult like activity. AA has it’s place for many and I know it helps many find a path back to sobriety, but trading one addiction for another is not my cup of tea.

November 27, 2006 at 11:48 am
(13) dave says:

i am a real alcoholic and drug addict, and a non-theist sober and clean over 15yrs. i believe that without Alcoholics Anomymous i probably wouldn’t be alive and surely wouldn’t be a free person, reasonably happy, intellectually curious and productive.
when i got to aa the 1st time i was 33 and knew it was a cult as soon as i saw the capital P in the 2nd step hanging on the wall, and some of the comments about “how god is working in my life” were unbelieveably childish superstition. i had gotten to aa thru the courts, so i did what i had to to not go to jail but there was no way i could intellectually accept any of what i saw as “aa voodoo”.
13 yrs late i came back as a page 151 drunk and decided to make “a decision to believe” in “a power greater than myself” and started to do what my bible and big book thumping sponsor told me to do, the most radeical of which was to get on my knees every morning and ask whatever higher power i could conceive of to keep me sober for that day. i went through various and sundry ridiculous mental acrobatics and permutations of self rationalizations that were impossible to justify in reality, but i stayed sober and gained a reprieve that enabled me to return from a much more serious unreality that was threatening my physical and mental survival, and the safety of others i came in contact with.
it might be well for those who correctly slam the idea of being forced to aa through the courts to keep in mind that it is the justice system that dictates this policy, not aa.
aa unprecedented in provided sanctuary and safe haven for otherwise doomed alcoholics. this is not to deny any who recover in other ways. aa is frank in saying they have no monopoly on recovery. aa states that no one must believe anything to be a member. that anyone can be a member any time they say they are a member, and that no one else can deny them membership or demand that they hew to a certain ‘line’. so necessarily there are all kinds in aa from fundementalist religious nuts, to non- alcoholics who just need a place to get out of the rain (some of whom have various degrees of mental problems), lonely hearts looking for love, vultures, predators, cripple f***ers(meaning those who prey on still very sick newcomers), and just about every other stripe and type, including atheists/agnostics/freethinkers/buddhists/humanists/universalists-unitarians, etc.etc., and they’re all allowed to say whatever they want, and no Master-at-Arms will swoop down and snatch them by the scruff and throw them out.
aa in my opinion is mainly in existence to foster the idea that self is the enemy, and self responsibility is the corrective.
we can all use a dose of humility.

September 16, 2011 at 8:57 pm
(14) Jacquie says:

Dave — absolutely brilliant and perfectly captures my experience. Your description of “mental acrobatics”, “rationalizations” and finally, and most importantly, “reprieve” have given me the words to explain to my atheist buddies how AA saved my skin. Thanks for that. :)

January 23, 2007 at 4:33 am
(15) gurzilla says:

I went to an A.A. meeting tonight. The people talked about how gawd has rescued them from devil drink. Alcoholics Anonymous is unequivically (sic) a religious movement. Obviously, one would think an atheist has about as much buisness going to an A.A. meeting as she does going to church. However, the people are generally friendly and most of them are about staying sober-not that many at all of them will for any appreciable lenghth of time-so its better than sitting at home being alone,thirsty and miserable. Were there secular alternatives to A.A. in my town I’d no doubt be attending those instead of A.A. But, as things are I just go to A.A. and try to ignore the ooga-booga theism as best I can. I also eat food provided by a church food bank-perhaps I’m not a real atheist because of that. If this be treason, I say make the most of it.

April 8, 2007 at 7:56 am
(16) Abbadun says:

Hi

I am a Atheist and go to meetings and think you can use AA to some extent.

I do not read at meetings or do a commitment that requires me to be at every meeting, I may not agree with the message topic of a meeting and plan not to attend.

I throw out any ideas in AA Literature that seems prejudiced or plain dumb.

I listen to the stories of others because they often “distill out” the worse ideas in AA Literature.

I always remember that just because AA has had some success fighting addiction that it is not anything unique. History shows us that people coming together is the best way to solve a problem or do something that they can not do as individuals.

AB

November 1, 2007 at 12:24 am
(17) cole says:

I am an atheist and go to as many meetings as I can. AA is a good place to meet people that like to do sober ****. If you quit drinking and just sit in your living space doing nothing you will lose your mind.

November 10, 2007 at 5:59 pm
(18) apryl says:

i am agnostic and in aa. i loved reading the comments, they make me feel that i am not alone. i have been attending aa and sober for 17mos, and cringe when i hear the word gawd. i haven’t met one agnostic woman in the program, and i’ve tried. happy for the sobriety i’ve had, and will keep trying. hang in there, u are not alone!

January 24, 2008 at 4:52 pm
(19) Jay says:

I have been an alcoholic for a very long time. I have tried many ways of being sober. 15 years ago, I flatly refused to even contemplate AA on the grounds of the god-bothering. In desperation I started attending a year or so ago, and have to say, that it has had a more profound effect than anything I have tried before. I have been very happy to be sober. I am, however, stuck on step 2/3. Re. the serenity prayer: remove the word God, and it works real well.

February 4, 2008 at 6:27 pm
(20) Rax says:

I don’t believe in God, but I do have an understanding of science.

I attend AA meetings and the 12 step / traditions etc does not work for me.
Scientifically humans are very complicated organisms. Unlike other organisms we have a mind. The mind opens us to make choices both logical and imaginative.

And so as an Agnostic, I substitute the “God” factor in AA meetings by tricking my mind. I do this by creating an illusion to experience a power, which is greater than my mind. Like a “super mind”, which is collectively activated by other members as well as I in the AA meetings.

Although I really wish, that there were others in the meeting akin to my thinking.

November 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm
(21) Uukatthy says:

The Third Tradition, in both short form on the window shade and in the long form in the back of the fourth edition lets us all in the door with permission to stay, despite those who jump up and down about their orthodoxy about their greater power. Unity, service and recovery are my orthodoxy. In As Bill Sees It, he says that he wrote the BB etc. At the end of the chapter A Vision for You, it says more will be revealed. The idea of sect, denomination, organization or institution (with which we are not allied) includes religions.
I think the guy who gave up and joined the fellows in morning meditation simply wanted to belong. For about a year now I gave up on saying the Our Father at the end of the meeting. I say the Hail Mary followed by the I Offer Myself. Closer to my spiritual path.

June 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm
(22) Journey says:

I became severely addicted to painkillers and amphetamines prescribed over a period of years to control chronic pain. A hairs breadth from death, I entered a treatment center. I wanted to detoxify in a safe hospital environment. Instead, I wound up in a 24hr a day meeting, the sole purpose of which was to train me to become a good member of AA. AA supposedly does not lend its name to any outside organization — how then explain it’s stranglehold on addiction treatment in America? I’m too intellectually strong to have been swayed by the pathetic pretense of AA being ‘spiritual, not religious.” I mean, come on — the counselors harped on this theme ad infinitum but on my second day they took us — GUESS WHERE? — to a meeting downstairs. It closed with the Lord’s Prayer. Not even non-denominational, let alone not religious!

I’ve used the anonymous fellowships as stepping stones back into the world, places to get support, make friends, etc.

I must say, yes, it is impossible for an atheist to feel comfortable in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. Not so much so in Narcotics Anonymous – the differences between the two programs are profound.

I’ve recently created a blog on this topic:

journeytotheendofnight.wordpress.com

Maybe I’ll see ya there…
Journey

August 8, 2008 at 4:55 am
(23) Jim says:

I am an atheist currently attending AA due to actions I took at work.

I decided that my sobriety was more important than flatly dismissing AA due to its religious currents.

In order for me to be true to myself, and get the most out of the program, I decided to redefine Higher Power for myself. In the end, the actions of so many people coming together to support each other with the only goal of making each others lives better is much bigger than myself. Using that unselfish, goodwill as my Higher Power has worked so far up to Step 4.

In fact, working the Steps REQUIRED me to define my Higher Power before moving forward. There have been a few bumps along the way but I am glad I am part of this organization and might, one day, attempt to start my own meetings for non-religious people.

September 24, 2008 at 12:54 am
(24) Craig says:

I’ve been an AA member for 10years and haven’t had a problem with the god idea. My brother on the other hand does. I beleive he is an atheist. In order to help him with the steps I just twist the big book’s words a little. Afterall, it states in the big book that “above everything we alcoholics must be rid of our selfishness”. and it goes on to say “god makes that possible” … I also believe a deeply psychoanalytic 5th step would also be as affective: provided the atheist AA member meditate daily on the fact of and acknowledge that the selfish behavior is what caused their troubles in the first place. For instance – I suggest, to my atheist brother, to replace the word god in the third step prayer – with “the unfolding of the universe”. I thinks he understands the point of the third step in so doing. Meaning: he turns his life over to the care of the unfolding of the universe. The idea is that he’s not trying to “run the show” himself.

AA’s steps are just suggestions and can be worked whether or not you believe in god.

September 29, 2008 at 12:44 am
(25) tom says:

I’ve been sober 21 years, got sober in gay AA in San Diego in 1987. The recovery was very secular and open minded with lots of Louise Hay , Pia Melody & John Bradshaw. I had issues with God right away, but was willing to do what ever to stay sober, even believe in God. I bought the spirituality, not religious line. Universal force or whatever. I now in in Vista CA (uber-religous). And I have a lot of problems with AA here, I recently read ‘The God Delusion” and discover that I’m an atheist. I don’t believe in deities. At the end of the meeting I don’t say the prayer and have made my views know how inappropriate the lords prayer is, considering it’s denominational. I do end with Abracadabra instead of amen, since a magical word seems to be called for. Many share my views, but are afraid to rock the boat. I make the point that we should be trying to carry the message to all & be less denominational, but they don’t get it that they may be offending people of other religions or be atheists. Pushing others away and maybe killing people in the process. Mostly I get resistance up here, I think I’ll try SOS it sound enlightened. I think the reason AA works (5% success rate) is because we act as if there is a higher power, therefore becoming humble. And in that teachable state of mind we can learn. Whether or not god exists isn’t important. Immaturity, selfishness, and codependency are the underlying causes of addition. The ‘Fellowship’ of helping each other is important as well. Lots of AA of shame and fear based. A paradigm shift in thinking and processing of information is required. -tom

November 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm
(26) Uukatthy says:

I love Abracadabra! Honest, openminded and willing.
I identify exactly with LH, PM, and JB. I didnt remember how important their ideas about codependency were to my early recovery. AlAnon also. At least World Services is developing pamphlets for ath/ags. Sbscribe to Box 459, it may help reduce isolation.
Keep it simple?

November 16, 2008 at 6:01 am
(27) proeliator says:

This is an interesting topic and one that hits home with me. I’m not even technically an atheist, but but being as I am a strong agnostic I’m almost there.

Once I realized that AA was not: 1. A fraud; 2. A Cult; 3. It worked; I had to figure out why the last one of these listed was true. Well, I have thought a lot about it but I’m not going to go into any great detail here as to why I think it works, but it is certainly not because some supernatural force is working through me or other alcoholics to keep us sober. If other people want to believe this, then that is their business. I go on believing in my own higher power which I interpret as being a power greater than myself. No abracadabra, just the power of shared fellowship, that’s all.

November 27, 2008 at 8:38 pm
(28) RODRIGO ALBARRAN says:

Let me say first that many people get sober in different ways, AA is not the only way. Some people do it through church, secular programs or out of will power (My father did).
However, I have found AA to be the only thing that has worked for me. That doesn’t make me right and everybody else wrong or vice versa, that just means that humans are so complicated that the same thing is not gonna work for everybody.
Having said that I will now tell you that I am an atheist, I enjoy the works of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkings as much as other atheists not in AA. I have never felt my beliefs threatened or compromised. I have an “unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it” and nobody will ever be able to take that from me.
AA requires a Higher Power, no necessarily a god creator, but something that’s bigger than you, bigger than life.
My higher power is, as Einstein said it, the orderly harmony of what exists.
I was born alcohol and drug free, when I drink or use I disrupt this harmony and the only way for me to enjoy the harmony of the universe is by staying sober.
The Big Book of AA is filled with the word god, because of a lack for a better word. Not once does it attribute religious connotations or creator like powers or even suggests the idea of a god that concerns himself with the fates and actions of our lives.
It only asks that I turn my live over to the care of a higher power, in my case, the care of the natural forces of this planet and the harmony of the universe. Which is how life was lived by our ancestor before the discovery of fermentation and the invention of narcotics.
It’s stated in the 12 traditions of AA that “the only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking” not a believe in god, it is also stated in the AA preamble that “A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” I’ll agree that many people in AA don’t understand this and they actually turn their personal programs into religion or therapy, which goes against what’s written in the Big Book of AA.

December 1, 2008 at 11:44 am
(29) Steve E says:

This is my 20th year of continuous sobriety and I remain convinced that the good folks of AA were responsible for the changes that made that possible. I’ve recently become vexed by the prayers at the end of the meeting and have flat refused to participate in the whole joining hands and chanting thing – I refuse – and sit down quietly outside of the circle – I’ve recently become aware that this is probably the part of the meeting that labels us as religous nuts or a cult – and is probably the biggest turn off for any newcomer, whatever their position on religion. It’s time we stopped this mumbo jumbo. In AA as in so many areas of life religion has crept in by the back door and poisoned the well.

In Fellowship
Steve E (UK)

December 26, 2008 at 6:06 pm
(30) Craig Mac says:

Hello and thanks to all who have contributed.

And I reckon with those words I’ve just about summed up my personal journey in AA. 13 years continuoujs sobriety was/is only possible for this particular alcoholic through being an active member of AA. I don’t believe in a god, but one of the most important realisiations for me was that I don’t have to in order to remain sober and happy in my sobriety. Many of my friends have a profound religious belief and bring this belief into their sobriety – how could they not, but as long as they keep it at the doors of AA then I’m ok with it. AA is NOT a cult, but a bunch of drunks (some more ex- than others) trying to help each other stay sober and and become relatively useful human beings…as a wise old member said to me “there is nothing more spiritual than one human being helping another”. As for groups which seem overly “religious” in character (the Lord’s Prayer at the end for example) well I respectfully absent myself from that particular activity and leave them to it. I do know that by working the steps to the best of my ability I have had a spiritual awakening which in no way equates to a religious experience. If you’re in doubt because of the “God thing” but you’re trapped in active alcoholism, then I’d suggest you at least give AA a go – I did and it’s the best thing that ever happened in my life. We always end our meeting with the Serenity Prayer and as the words are about me needing to change, I have no problem with it – I just start off with “Grant me the serenity…” instead of “God, grant me…”

December 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm
(31) Chuck says:

Hi all!

I find to interesting to read all of these comments. When I first started AA I too was a little leary if the God factor, but I came to realize that it truly is not a religious program, but spiritual! Little by little I came to believe strongly in a God of my understanding which i think is why AA can work for EVERYONE!!! Some people on here may for whatever reason have a problem with the word “God”, but i don’t think you need to worry at all, just try to be open to the possibility of there being a Higher Power how ever you interpret that. I think some get so caught up in the scientific view of religion and God, the truth is both are compatible, I being a Biology major have met many Christian scientists, doctors etc.., they have no problem with the two realms of reality! Try reading the book “Living Deeply”, written by a group of Phd scientists of all people that are finding and providing scientific measures for supernatural occurance and spiritual awakenings that happen much more than you may think! God can be exciting and life enriching if you let it, our rational left brain does not need to be in control all of the time! :)

December 27, 2008 at 4:45 pm
(32) Chuck says:

Hi all!

I find to interesting to read all of these comments. When I first started AA I too was a little leary if the God factor, but I came to realize that it truly is not a religious program, but spiritual! Little by little I came to believe strongly in a God of my understanding which i think is why AA can work for EVERYONE!!! Some people on here may for whatever reason have a problem with the word “God”, but i don’t think you need to worry at all, just try to be open to the possibility of there being a Higher Power how ever you interpret that. I think some get so caught up in the scientific view of religion and God, the truth is both are compatible, I being a Biology major have met many Christian scientists, doctors etc.., they have no problem with the two realms of reality! Try reading the book “Living Deeply”, written by a group of Phd scientists of all people that are finding and providing scientific measures for supernatural occurance and spiritual awakenings that happen much more than you may think! God can be exciting and life enriching if you let it, our rational left brain does not need to be in control all of the time! :)

January 4, 2009 at 11:40 pm
(33) Tim Gilmour says:

I’m a humanist (athiest sounds so negative).
I tackled the problem of AA and ‘God’ when I first joined. After struggling with ‘God as we understand him’ (third step) I realized that it didn’t matter. I just took god out of it. If you read chapter 5 of the Big Book ‘How it works’, just before the 12 steps is the statement “Here are the steps we took which are *SUGGESTED* as a program of recovery. What I did was drop steps 3,6,7, and 11 and did an 8 step program. Also, unless you are agnostic, skip chapter 4. It tries to deal with athiesm in the chapter, but in my opinion does a poor job.
I have now been sober for 4 years and have never looked back. Remember that it is your program, and if you do it your way and it works, HEY GREAT!!!
I hope this helps anyone who is having simular problems.

January 5, 2009 at 12:06 am
(34) Tim ilmour says:

PS

AA preamble
“AA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their commen problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.
The only reguirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses or opposes any causes.
Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help others to achieve sobriety.”

This is what AA is about. Nowhere is it said that religion is a requirment for membership.

January 27, 2009 at 6:34 pm
(35) Matt says:

I’m an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and an atheist and I’d be lying to say that it doesn’t cause some conflict or controversy. It’s a mixed bag in my opinion, but then again I find being honest about my views with friends, family members and coworkers causes controversy or at least I have to deal with someone trying to change my mind or convince me of the existence of a diety.

By active in AA I mean that I have a home group that I attend weekly, serve as its treasurer, serve as the alternate-DCM of my district and have five years sobriety. I do sponsor people and am very clear about my beliefs when I do. When sponsoring I use the big book and make no attempt to impose my beliefs rather explain how I worked the steps. My sponsorship is controversal to some members, but then again, AA members can argue at length and with passion about what brochures to stock at the local Parole office.

As per the AA program and the book, some of it is useful some of it isn’t for me. I’ve found the chapter We Agnostics unhelpful. I’ve found working steps very helpful. I’ve found that inventoring my defects of character, forgiving resentments and ammending wrongs has done wonders for my peace of mind. I’ve found that letting go of the future, or that which I cannot control – the way I understand the 11th step, and helping others (step 12) to be also very helpful for my peace of mind. I certainly would prefer that the steps didn’t use the word “god.” They worked just fine for me without it. I might even prefer NA if my community had more active groups.

Often when I am honest in a meeting I’ll have members new and old tell me in essence “it’s okay, I didn’t believe in god at first” with the obvious implication that at some point I will believe as they do. When I’m acting in a tolerant way I allow them their space to say what they need to say without arguing.

February 16, 2009 at 1:30 am
(36) IDK either says:

Interesting concept…you need an outside higher power: GOD isn’t real. We invented god. No matter how much you try to dissociate yourself from god he is never going to be an external ‘higher power’ b/c god is a concept that was created by you inside your head therefore it is still inside your head where it was thought up. No ones higher power is really external no matter how much they think it is if you’re an atheist. Of course this isn’t something you tell people ever at meetings their ‘higher power’ is their ‘higher power’ and its keeping them sober. Unfortunately they always say you can’t skip any steps yet I’m always compelled to do so. I’ve been sober for awhile now and never needed a higher power to do so.

March 29, 2009 at 1:29 pm
(37) Angus says:

I am a non-believer who attends AA. It is mandated by the court, which is a violation of my personal rights, but like many laws, if you want to emerge from punishment, you follow the rules. As far as AA goes, I view it this way. Bob and Bill were speaking in a language known to them in 30′s. Buddhism, Cognitive-behavioral therapy hadn’t arrived or been discovered yet. Many of Bob and Bill’s basic ideas have been around for centuries. I think of the Stoic philosophy for example. Moderation of thoughts and behaviors ( except where it pertains to drinking, which does cause changes in the brain, wiping out the abusers ability to drink normally again in most cases ). I view the “God” idea as picking anything outside of your-self – or taking time out to see the bigger picture of life. Most addicts do become very self-centered in a harmful way. AA ( or frankly any other social group ) gives permission to break that cycle. AA is full of people with similar experiences, and that is what makes it an environment for recovery. I would say that most meetings I attend, 50% or more are not believers in a deity. They all have problems with the projected god image. Also, there are a growing number of secular 12-step programs ( buddhist, stoic ).

April 11, 2009 at 9:44 pm
(38) Curtis C says:

Alcoholics can get sober without god, since there is none. Bill was wrong about self-will; but we must direct our will toward what keeps us sober. A higher power must necessarily be something that exists, or it is no power at all. This is a support group for atheists in Alcoholics Anonymous.

April 26, 2009 at 4:39 pm
(39) Mike O says:

After 25 years of continuous sobriety (the first ~20 a regular member of AA) and fair amount of struggle with the whole question of the existence of any God in whatever form, I have come up with something that makes sense to me. First, ‘God’ (whether referring to the God of Christians, Jews, Muslims) is no more than an artifact of superstitious fears and tradition passed on over generaitons however unlike most other forms of mythology, so many people believe in it. I do not. I know I know only a little, and am open to the possibility that there are forms of life, existence, conneciton, whatever, beyond what we can see as humans on planet Earth, but the ideas and teachings of the religions are just mass histeria. I tried to believe,to fake it till you make it, but it was all just faking.

Back to reconciling God and AA, look, anytime you have people gathered together for common purpose with a common philosophy that works, you have a power greater than any one person. I find meditaiton, the inventory and setting right my worngs, improvement in behavior and relationships, all helpfull now. When I do attend an AA meeting, it usually is to listen, as there are plenty of people around who will say all the things that need to be said for the newcomer. I used to worry a great deal about all the treatment center and pop psychology working its way into AA and frankly it is NOTHING like it was in the late 1970′s or some of the places I’ve been overseas where you really had ot depend upon one another, let alone the pioneering days of AA. In those early days (3-4 years) there were as many variations in the program as there were people trying it out.

June 1, 2009 at 8:32 am
(40) roger fierst says:

i am an atheist. i have been going to a.a. meetings since 1999 and like most people i did not get sober out of the gate. i simply was not done. i did not “struggle”, i did not “try”…i just did not “DO”. eventually i became hopeless and thats the bottom line to the first step. 100% hopeless. Then i believed that a.a. over the 8 years i bounced around showed results…prodigise results. thats step 2. step three is were i struggled, i am the child of catholics,however i never bought the whole talking snake magic apple theory. all my life i faked it, i comformed. i carried that into my first 8 years of going to aa. then i got honest with myself. i turned my will and life, my thoughts and actions, over to a power greater then myself. AA is a power greater then myself. i have complete faith that if i show up to some church basement, i know, the irony, but if i show up there will be a room full of drunks willing to not drink with me A DAY AT A TIME. THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THEN THAT TO ME.by myself, my every thought and action, is to drink and put a needle in my arm or a pill, alot of pills, in my mouth. kurt vonagut refered to aa as “THE MORAL REARMAMENT MOVEMENT” in “MOTHER NIGHT”. thats what the steps did for me. rearmed my morals. Steps 4-10 did that. step 11, now that i live a moral life, well the best that i can, my will is in line with that of my higher power, aa, moral life. step 12, and i have had a spiritual awakening, i do not live like i used to, sometimes its as simple as opening the door for someone, i am not as selfish. today i think of others. that is spiritual, i practice the principles and help other drunks.
my sobriety date is May 5th 2007, and i have stayed sober without “CHANTING” not once have i got down to pray, i took rhose steps and applied them to my life. i am a very active member, i sponsor 5 guys, all who believe in god and are sober and loving steps, and i lead here in canton,ohio…ALOT. i am a bur in their ass most times when i comment, when i call them on thier “LET GO LET GOD” BULLSHIT, and remind them of page 88…”ACTION” and more “ACTION”. THE KEY WAS LOOKING AT THOSE STEPS UNDERSTANDING THEM, and i do understand them, and applying them to my morals…or lack of.

June 2, 2009 at 2:46 am
(41) Shannon says:

Wow,I am sooo glad to read all these comments. I am an atheist working on step 3 and 4. I have been sober for 80days so far. The god thing was driving me crazy. I tried to explain to my sponsor but all I got was big book “god as you see it bullshit”. I was really starting to lose focus and that focus for me is not to drink. After reading all these posts I get that a group of people getting together with a common goal is that great power. Thank you guys so much

June 7, 2009 at 12:10 am
(42) crescentdave says:

I’ve been clean for 17 years and am an active member in both AA and NA. I came to atheism late-13 years sober-after having a rather fuzzy and undefined “higher power.”

It’s my basic experience that my views are denigrated, devalued and I am, many times, dismissed as not being a real AA member. Some of it is “under the table” and some of it is verbalized. Those most likely to “cross-talk” in meetings in order to disagree, put me down or set me straight are “old timers.”

I can define my higher power in many ways … and I do have the freedom to do that in the meetings I go to … it’s just that it’s not a personal higher power and ALL the AA literature speaks to a personal higher power. Then too, there are those who say things like “Who’s Father?,” prior to saying “the lord’s prayer,” and I always want to say “your father.” I’ve met good people in AA … many who are kind and loving … almost all who have a problem with a self-avowed atheist. It’s kind of like a good christian who has a problem with gay people.

June 8, 2009 at 11:47 am
(43) Alex says:

I have 20 years Clean and Sober. My Sobriety Date is 7/9/88..What I see in AA is many AAer evangelicals where the focus is mainly on selling God in the second step. Just like Christian fundamentalists do. Very little time is spent discussing substantive principles. Any mention of an atheist in the house threatens the system and very little emphasis is placed on the principle of open mindedness, or Love, or compassion, or understanding, the system goes into lock-down and survival mode and that’s where it ends. Open mindedness need not end after taking the second step. In fact the principle of open mindedness is what I believe enlarges ones spiritual or dynamic life experience. I believe it is those that do not enlarge their spiritual life become static and vulnerable to a slip and perhaps the real higher power is the group of fundamentalists parroting the same thing over and over with catch phrases or sound bites, and it precisely those which are the ones so empty outside of the protection of a group setting.. What kind of psuedo-freedom is that? Open mindedness needs to follow through out all the steps..Don’t get me wrong those things have their place as useful tools but many are not AA literature and many times they are used in as a tool to be counter productive fashion to invalidate any “new thought” and most likely missed by the new comer, thus threating any “control” the group has over their flock of pigeons, but of course denies.. And maybe that’s OK… The promotion of spiritual kinder-garden is what new comers need. I needed it. It fit perfectly with what I believed at the time. Just a step or two ahead. Kinder garden teaches basic fundamental truths, however to live close minded to anything after kinder garden would be intellectual and spiritual death. So the group in reality, for these AA fundamentalists is the higher power as limiting as that is. If you disagree because you may have evolved past what the in place system says you will probably be marginalized. If you hear, I don’t know about my higher power, all I know is I’m not it. ” I would say that those who preach that, “they are not running the show,” are in fact doing so by selling their religious GOD agenda only or, at least before anything else in AA. That’s why AA becomes a slippery place for people with long term sobriety. It’s a closed system which in the whole picture is a very limited spiritual path. I got sober for reality and i believe in an infinite life experience and choices. It is imperative to show the compassion we expect from those with whom we disagree. But don’t hold your breath.

June 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm
(44) adrian says:

Looking at the original post, I think it depends how you define membership. AA’s preamble states that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. I’m sure there are plenty of atheists that fit those criteria. Working the twelve steps as an athiest is another issue. Step two suggests that coming to believe in an imaginary figure is an act of sanity. DSM V would disagree. Magical thinking is a sign of mental illness. Step three is also illogical as it asks us to turn our will and our lives over to a figment of some other people’s imaginations. Why would we bother to do that? The remainder of the steps are equally nonsensical as an atheist. I should have known something was up at step one. I was forever debating how I manage to say ‘no thankyou’ when someone offers me a drink if I’m so powerless.

Methinks when someone’s behaviour cannot be explained by logic, their motives are generally emotional or irrational, in my case the need for affiliation outweighed the need to assert my beliefs or lack thereof, but all along, I knew the twelve steps were a crock of sh*t. I guess I needed some social support long enough to learn how to function as a human being in the real world. Glad I’m out of that cult for good.

June 22, 2009 at 5:10 pm
(45) Joe says:

I am an athiest and a long term member of AA. I see AA as a fundamentalist, male oriented, christian based organization and this makes being in an athiest in AA difficult. It means modifying or disregarding a lot of the AA dogma in order to fit my own belief system.
I started my recovery by ‘pretending’, in that I did the steps, prayed to a god and all the other stuff that was recommended. After achieving some duration of sobrity, I began to examine the basis of AA and found it more and more difficult to accept the tenets put forth in the ‘Big Book’ In order to be more intellectually honest, I had to reaffirm my godless ways and to start the modification process in order to conform to my ideas about God, heaven and the rest of the Christion philosophy.
At present I am an athiest, sober and attending AA approximately 2x/week. I find many of the ideas (such as the suggestion of using the doorknob as a higher power) childish and condesending, and the citing of ‘God’s miracles in my own life’, inane. However, I have developed stong friendships with some other members and just as I don’t select friends outside of AA based on soley on their religous bent, neither do I do the same in AA.
Lastly, recently I have become aware of the many alternative ways of achieving sobriety as well as the very poor success rate of AA. Obviously, we need other forms of recovery aince ‘one size does not fit all’.+

July 3, 2009 at 9:34 pm
(46) Will says:

Thank you for the forum:
I have been a recovered alcoholic via AA’s 12 steps for 23 years.
The original post states that one must be a 12 step big book thumper to be a “good AA member.” This is not true. I have known many atheists who had long term sobriety (20+years). These folks were welcomed members of the AA group, at least by most of the group.
I would break down AA into two parts, the fellowship, and the 12 step program.
The AA fellowship, it’s membership, requires a desire to stop drinking, nothing more. Many atheists belong and are welcomed to keep coming to meetings with no belief required.
The AA program is the 12 steps described in the AA textbook, the big book. The program requires prayers and meditation directed to a “God of your own conception,” a lot of room there, but a God none the less.
I came into AA an atheist in 1985. I was welcomed and felt at ease, though I did not care much for the god talk. After a couple of months, I had to ask myself if my way was working, and my answer was “No” as I was very unhappy and always wanting to drink. I then started practicing the 12 step program and found a God of my understanding. For me, a Source was necessary to lose the obsession to drink.
If AA and atheism work for you, then feel free to practice it, if not, then find something that will.
There are AA members who will sometimes pontificate on the need for God, myself included, but the fact is, that all alcoholics are welcomed regardless of their beliefs or unbelief.
I have a few differences with some of my fellow AA members; the main one is the idea that AA is the only way to stay sober. In fact, there are many ways to stay sober, if AA does not work, than keep trying other ways.

Will

August 8, 2009 at 6:23 am
(47) jesmondgirl says:

I have attended AA for some time and been sober some years now. I am atheist and cannot pretend to be any different. I have been told all sorts of daft things for example “fake it to make it” (an honest programme?) to the downright irresponsible and dangerous, for example a former sponsor informing me that if I did not believe in God I was doomed to a grizzly alcoholic death. We parted company, needless to say, and I am still here, years later, sober, happy, living quietly with my family. I dont have God or a Higher Power, I just have an understanding of what is right. It works for me. Thats all that matters.

August 31, 2009 at 4:53 am
(48) crescentdave says:

I’ve been a member of AA and NA, clean, for 17 years. I’m also an atheist and I came to it late in my recovery- my 13th year.

In my opinion, it is difficult (not impossible) to openly be an atheist in these groups. Although it’s proclaimed this isn’t religion, it’s spirituality, the wording clearly expresses the concept of a personal, male, christian god.

I can “finesse” the concept of god … maybe it’s nature or whatever … but the wording, over and over, presupposes a personal relationship with this higher power. As an atheist, there simply is no god that cares whether I’m sober or not. It’s too absurd.

There are people, however, who want me to be healthy and free and constructive. I take that part of life as being part of my “power(s) greater than myself.”

But there are many people who have a real problem with folks identifying as atheists. I’ve put up with a lot of outright dismissal of my ideas, marginalizing, ridicule and disbelief. I’ve been told I “think too much,” that I “complicate” things. People insist upon telling me that God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself and I just flat out disagree. I am responsible for my recovery. I attend a lot of meetings, hold service positions and also use resources outside of AA, including therapy. My higher power(s) are everywhere. God didn’t get me sober. I did. God didn’t keep me sober. I did, with the help of other people. Try saying that in an NA or AA meeting without getting cross-talked to death.

September 16, 2009 at 8:37 pm
(49) GrantPark says:

I am a lifelong atheist and an active member of AA – sponsered, sponsor others, service work, etc. I have 4 years sobriety and it would have been many more if I could have gotten past my belief that AA is religious, which unfortunately many people inside and outside AA proclaim.

As others have pointed out, religuous belief is not a requirement for entry and can often be an impediment to developing a credible sense of higher power. The “God” shorthand reflects the period and place that the Big Book was written, nothing more.

The requirement that AA has, is that the recovering alcoholic accepts that they are not God and that there is something bigger and more powerful than they. For me this is the power of the group (AA is a Fellowship, not a Program) and all the things I can’t understand, never mind control. I just don’t accept that the answer to an unkowable has to be a religuous god. However, I do accept that much of the Universe, our day to day lives and other people are unknowable.

If you are an atheist, don’t go to atheist meeting ghettos. Get out in mainstream AA, proclaim your view and be there when another atheist newcomer enters. Read Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” and share it with your AA friends.

Whether Atheist, Agnostic or Religious we take the exact same steps – even praying – but we simply have a different explaination for why they work.

September 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm
(50) Kiddo says:

I struggled a lot in AA with the whole God and Higher Power thing. I didn’t think it would work for me because of the religious overtones.

I finally found a workable solution by defining my Higher Power as simply Truth and Reason.

Now some folks will balk and proclaim, Well doesn’t that make you your own higher power? And Your own thinking is what got you in such a mess in the first place!

But this is not true. NOT LISTENING to my higher power (ie: Truth and Reason) was what accounted for my bad behavior and bad decisions.

Everyone has that little “voice” that lets them know when something is right or wrong, some just aren’t happy unless they ascribe that “voice” to God.

I don’t try to convince anyone else that they have to believe as I do, and it no longer bothers me when others feel compelled to wrap their inner conscience in some religious garb.

The whole religious thing aside, AA is really a pretty good behavior modification program complete with peer support, group reinforcement and repetition.

The only bad thing about AA are the few people who can’t understand and accept that someone may have a different view than themselves.

October 10, 2009 at 12:11 am
(51) dopey says:

This evening I told my sponsor that I would not get on my knees to pray as he insisted morning and evening. I also told him that I don’t believe in what they call “god shots” — looking for meaning in coincidence. He said he felt sorry for me and left the room. I met him a few minutes later outside while he was talking about is dilemma with me to his friends, and he turned to me and told me that he couldn’t be my sponsor. I accepted that and thanking him for being there when I needed it the past couple of weeks. What got me were the other people and him telling me that unless I accepted god into my life I wasn’t ready. I told them that if I wanted to find religion I would have gone to a revival, but I was here to work on my recovery and addiction problems. Their response was that this wasn’t the place for me until I was ready to accept a higher power – and I told them that I all I knew of a higher power was that it wasn’t me. Apparently that wasn’t enough for them, so I left. I won’t be going back to that group, as I am apparently not welcome. It was a very strange feeling and left me deeply saddened.

November 6, 2009 at 7:28 am
(52) Gina says:

As a newcomer (for the 2nd time) to AA, I am having alot of issue’s with the higher power mentality of AA.
Right now I am using my children as my higher power because if I continue to drink, I will loose them. I will loose the life that I have and to me nothing is worth loosing that. With that said, I am reading the 12 steps and am skipping over the word god completely. In alot of instances the message is still the same. Just take god out of it completely.
I am so glad that I found this discussion board! I really need to read how others are dealing with this.

November 21, 2009 at 7:40 pm
(53) sarak says:

Hello everyone, I am an alcohol and drug therapist who hears from non religious clients that AA/NA makes them feel as though they are back in church, and becasue of bad experiences with religion, or not, their current beliefs and views about God seem to be discounted. They feel preached to and downgraded. They therefore resisist going to 12 step meetings and lose the good stuff they may find there.

One thing I try to do is introduce the idea of “spirituality” and have them define the term for themselves. I then inform them that AA is Anonymous, and that they can stay or leave at will. If the Lord’s Prayer offends you, leave for a minute then come back for the fellowship. You do not need to apologize or defend this behavior. You are there for YOU not for anyone else. If your are ever confronted about religion in any AA meeting, LEAVE…you are at the wrong meeting. Find a place where you are respected becasue you are sober and clean and for no other reason.

If you have tried your best to commit to AA/NA and find it a barrier to your recovery then do this: APPLY with your regional AA council to begin an atheist or agnostic group. This is very important. CREATE the very group you wish to belong to. People will come…you will see.

I believe people need to do whatever it takes to keep them clean and sober. If what you are doing works DO IT! If what you are doing is NOT working STOP IT! and seek out supports that honor you and your recovery efforts 12 step or not. Do not permit anyone to deminish you for your non religious beliefs.

My heart goes out to all of us who seek a clean, sober and sane life. We are couragious people, we are loving warriors of the human spirit in whatever way it shows itslef to us.

much love to all

December 14, 2009 at 4:34 pm
(54) Jim J. says:

I am an Mild AA Type. Sober 31 yrs. My understanding of God is as a concept, (an abstract,) like Father Time and Mother Nature, not a real thing.. Literalists can be a real pain. I think, about 1/3 of the population dose not have the ability to abstract, oh well. A God Concept is a useful tool, if not taken literally or overdosed on. It’s a head thing, helps with patience, tolerance and acceptance.

December 24, 2009 at 4:59 pm
(55) Free and clear says:

I’m 31-years sober in AA and I have made the progression from having a fight with religions since about age 10 to finally becoming an atheist. I passed through all sorts of stages in between, and I finally realized the end point of the spiritual path is not a rose garden, but saying goodbye to my concepts (and your concepts) of deity. If it happens that God exists, He won’t mind, and if God does not exist, I forgive. The trick to the spiritual journey is to admit honestly what it is that you are seeing.

December 29, 2009 at 2:51 pm
(56) Kevin says:

Just wanted to toss in my 2 cents of support for AA as an atheist. I am convinced that I personally could not have gotten clean without the program.

I grew up in the Baptist church, and was a fervent “evangelical”-type believer throughout most of college. I became an atheist due to learning about the Bible and pure freethinking rational inquiry. It wasn’t until years later that I developed a severe cocaine addiction, which in turn made my drinking worse as well. I experienced consequences such as the loss of my career, jail time, physical health, and worst of all I lost any semblance of self-respect and self-esteem.

I finally decided to give rehab a try, although I doubted it would work – I was just THAT desperate. I was discouraged at first to find out that AA had so much spiritual language in it, but at the same time I met all these people with long term sobriety who said they were proof it worked. Now with almost 11 months, I am proof that it works.

I refuse to compromise my atheist outlook, because I see it as true. I’m not willing to believe in any kind of God, even if that WOULD make me feel better or make it more likely that I’d stay sober. I just don’t have the ability to trick myself anymore.

I am willing to compromise a few parts of the program that don’t work for me. That remaining 97% of the Big Book is plenty to keep me sober. The book even recommends taking what works for you, and leaving the rest. Different things work for different people, and the notion of a supernatural being doesn’t do shit for me, so I don’t use it.

The practical advice of the book… working with other alcoholics/addicts… becoming radically honest about my feelings and things I have done… making a daily discipline of choosing the better side of myself over the worse side of myself… going to meetings regularly and humbly listening to what other people are going through… all of these things keep me sober.

Once in a while, yes it would be nice to go to a meeting filled with people who see things from a perspective more like mine. That’s why I’m looking at starting a non-religious AA meeting in my city. Many cities, especially big ones, have one somewhere. Bitching about the program doesn’t do anyone any good… Instead, try contributing in a way that makes the time-tested program more accessible to people of our philosophical persuasion. Remember that the program started in a time when much more people believed in God. Help AA evolve beyond that by being a part of it, but still being yourself in it.

The link I put on here is my blog about being a sober atheist. Check it out if you like!

January 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm
(57) Melanie Solomon says:

Hi,

I used to be highly addicted to prescription medications and at one time, crack. I had been in and out of AA and other 12-step programs for 12 years, going on what I call a recovery merry-go-round, from rehab, to sober living, to AA, sober 6 months to a year, then relapse, and start the whole nightmare all over again. After ODing one night, I came to and just swore that there had to be another way…and I was right.

I went on the Internet and starting researching feverishly on alternatives to AA, and there were a TON…and NO ONE ever told me about any of them. So I started writing everything down..I just knew that in the 12 years if I never knew there were any other ways, there were probably many other people out there as well who were struggling, relapsing over and over again, and were just being told to “Keep coming Back!!” That’s fine for some people but it’s nice to know that there ARE options. So all of the research I did became what is now known as “AA Not the Only Way; Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives,” which is now in its 2nd Edition. I found out that not only was I not the only one that was “failing” at “The Program” but that it has about a 95% failure rate! So, this book is for the majority of people for whom AA and the other 12-step programs do not work for. (You can see reviews of this book on Amazon.com: AA Not the Only Way Reviews So I want you to know that there IS hope. If you have tried AA and it is not working for you, there are many other ways of getting your drinking or using under control and leading a happy, healthy life…I did it…so can you. I wish you all the best in whatever path you decide to take!

If you need help, I also offer a FREE, first time 30 minute phone consultation to discuss your obstacles, goals, intentions, and aspirations.

What do you talk about during the session?? Start with your vision about your dreams, and the outcomes you are trying to achieve. Or talk about your greatest challenges, and how to overcome them. By the end of the free sample session, you will be IN ACTION. You will have moved from trying to doing! To schedule a free session, dial 310-658-0990. I wish you all the best in your own unique personal journeys back to health and happiness.

Melanie Solomon
Author of “AA Not the Only Way”
AA Not the Only Way

March 13, 2010 at 5:52 am
(58) Jackman says:

I lost faith in a Supreme Being when I was 12 and the reality of the holacaust drove every thought of a merciful god from my mind. I still haven’t changed my mind. If anything I’m more convinced than ever aboout someone magic in the sky causing rain, drought and heartache. When you have a rational argument in favor of a supreme being, or even an educated guess I’ll be glad to listen……..Jack

March 30, 2010 at 12:13 pm
(59) Jesse says:

I’ve been fortunate enough to find an atheist/agnostic AA group here in Minneapolis. They’ve re-worked the language of the 12 steps, skipped the prayers, and what, but it very much retains the feel and structure of an AA meeting. It was interesting to see how many such as myself gave up AA because of the heavy emphasis on turning one’s own life over to God — not only from the literature, but from the members themselves. I still suck it up and go to the god-themed ones a couple times a week (since it’s only been day 8 for me), but the atheist/agnostic meeting has definitely become my home.

April 23, 2010 at 1:26 am
(60) Mathew says:

I’m Agnostic, yet somewhat lean towards Atheism. I have been to countless meetings and I absolutely hate them. They make me feel completely left out because I cannot relate to anyone. The steps CLEARLY state that you must admit that you don’t have the power to quit on your own, and that you NEED God to do so. Only a higher power can give you the strength to quit. BOLOGNA!!!! There are countless people who have quite successfully without the help of some fictitious being in the sky. It makes me ill to think about alcoholic anonymous because I absolutely cannot stand how self righteous the steps are. How can they say anyone can work the steps if they are based on a particular religious belief that is not universal whatsoever!? I personally DO NOT believe I am powerless over my addiction. I think to “admit” that I am powerless over my addiction would be to say that I don’t make up my own mind when I take a drink or decide to use drugs….. I’m not going to ramble on… Alcoholics anonymous is just like church, except at least after church you’re allowed to have a drink…. Screw AA….

November 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm
(61) Uukatthy says:

AA seems like a Ponzi scheme to me sometimes. For people in the rooms, there is a reality of recovery possible.
For selling BB, 12/12, etc., sometimes I wonder.
Ad how about that Grapevine?
Keep it simple. Service keeps me sober.

May 10, 2010 at 10:45 pm
(62) Patrick says:

Glad I found this discussion.

I am an atheist and a member of AA. I was sober & in AA for ten years, relapsed and now I’m back after a hellish number of years drinking and using. I’ve been sober for 9 months now and it’s going very well. I am entirely grateful for the Fellowship and the support I receive in AA. I attend 4-10 meetings a week and have made new friends again who care deeply about my well-being as I care about theirs.

I thought this time I would really, really try and accept the God concept, do what my sponsor told me, praying, looking for God working in my life, etc.

I gave it a shot, but this is an honest program and I was being totally disingenous. Recently during a breakout, I related being stuck on an airplane next to businessman reeking of stale alcohol who ordered two vodkas. When it came to my sponors’ turn, he stated, “God put that man next to you on the airplane.” OK folks, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. If god can indeed affect the physical world, I would like to think his/her time would have been better spent keeping an innocent father or mother from being shoved into an oven in Auschwitz, rather than seating stinky Vodka-Man next to me. My sponsor texted me tonight wanting to get together soon to work on Steps 6 & 7. Boy, is he in for a surprise!

Nobody in AA can force me to think anything, including my sponsor. As it has been stated here: a.) “the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking” and b.) the steps are SUGGESTED as a program of recovery.

If others believe god is working in their lives, great! I’m happy for you.

Any atheist men looking for a sponsee??!! :-)

I suspect my sponsor is going to be troubled with my revelation, but I will deal with that then.

P.S. I no longer recite the Lord’s Prayer and no one has even noticed.

May 25, 2010 at 1:51 am
(63) Frank Miles says:

Patrick,

My experience mirrors yours. I was sober in AA for nearly ten years with a one night slip in the middle. I prayed daily, though I never felt a personal connection to any deity. Ultimately, it didn’t work for me. I’m an atheist because deep in my heart that’s the most honest relationship I have ever found with this world. I couldn’t practice the 11th step with my whole heart, and I couldn’t expand my spiritual experience. As the old-timers say, it’s grow or go. I went.

Now I’m a practicing Buddhist in the Theravada tradition. There’s no god concept, no miracles. And if you’ve ever wondered, we don’t worship the Buddha either. In Buddhist recovery, the 11th step is read as follows–

Sought through prayer and meditation to increase our conscious contact with reality.

That I can and am doing on a daily basis. I’m three months sober again, and the steps are working for me as never before. I have to alter the letter of them, but not the spirit. I may not be accepted by all in AA, but I find the sangha, the spiritual community, that I need in many friends there who are open minded and not Big Book literalists.

In the rooms of AA, you hear a lot about how your Higher Power can be anything of your choosing. Like a lot of what you hear in the rooms, that’s not actually in the Big Book. If you read carefully, you’ll see that starting from Bill’s story the idea is laid out very explicitly that even believing in a Spirit of the Universe is not enough (pg. 10). Fundamental AA says that only a personal god can keep you sober. I respect those fundamental Big Book thumpers, but I can’t agree with them.

It’s the experience of many thousands of Buddhists in recovery that following the Dharma in conjunction with a non-theistic application of the 12 steps also works.

You’ll be misunderstood, and if you “come out” as an atheist in your home group or elsewhere in AA you’ll likely be looked down upon. As Dr. Bob wrote in his story–

“If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you.” (pg. 181)

That’s about the attitude you can expect to encounter, from my own experience. What I’m finding though, believe it or not, is that the prejudice and fear I face are making me a more tolerant and loving person. I try to walk through it with a focus on love and service toward all. I wouldn’t be the first human being to have discovered this path is a spiritual one.

I have the understanding I need from my Buddhist brothers and sisters. In AA I practice the St. Francis prayer, and seek to understand rather than to be understood. So far it works.

Namaste.

May 30, 2010 at 6:29 am
(64) chris says:

The problem with the higher power concept for atheists is that we dont believe in a power that cares about you personally or cares if you use or not. You cant say the sun for example is your higher power because that is totaly different from a caring god. Nature will kill you without hesitation. They also make a point to say the power cant be you which is stupid because thats who decides if you are gonna use or not. People are not powerless, its all in the choices you make. These concepts only apply to the human mind and human society(and other animals to an extent)If you are gonna treat it as a diease than you have to treat it medically and AA is not medical treatment. AA is nothing more or less than a support group. Free will canot be taken or given and that has nothing to do with psychological or biological addiction

June 16, 2010 at 3:55 am
(65) Alex S says:

I’ve been sober over 8 years. I’ve been an atheist for 2-3 years. I will say that, at first, it was difficult. One friend of mine who had me scheduled to speak at her birthday even cancelled my talk after she discovered my stance. I have been overwhelmed by the arguments for atheism and less than impressed by the arguments for theism. However, this information presented a problem: it contradicted a philosophy that I believed was keeping me alive–that of AA. After realizing I couldn’t make myself believe anything, even if believing such would save my life, I accepted my atheism and continued to live my life. When sponsoring I teach the big book as it was taught to me though I do point out to the newcomer alternate ways to view terms like “god,” “higher power” and the like. Even bill w. had problems accepting “a god personal to me who was superhuman strength and direction”–this is a very accurate description of the god often alluded to in meetings. So, bill would have trouble with some of the theistic icons and ideas espoused to in the rooms. The important thing is that the plan of action works regardless of one’s beliefs. If you do the work, you get the results. If you have a problem with the “god idea” you can do as one pamphlet produced by the AA world services suggested (whose title I forget):”[the AA group can be your higher power]. Also important to note that one of the difficulties bill and bob had with the oxford group, whom AA originated from, was the extreme theistic albeit judeo-Christian position heavily expressed in the oxford group. Furthermore, as it had been repeatedly expressed above, there is but one requirement for membership-an honest desire to stop drinking. But I believe that if one earnestly tries to work the steps to the best of their ability (even when unable to accept a god idea) that they can get and stay sober. The admission of self-will gone riot, the admittance of the need for a new design for living, inventory, admittance of shortcomings, amends, meditation (which can be consummated atheistically), and devoting one’s life to the service of others (particularly other recovering alcoholics); all of these should surely spell the necessary ingredients for continued and fulfilling sobriety.

June 25, 2010 at 1:15 am
(66) Astrid says:

Unfortunately, the courts are not the only problem. I’ve met many physicians who cannot understand why an atheist/agnostic wouldn’t want to go to AA/NA. When I pointed out that 6 of 12 steps are incompatible with atheism, I was told those patients could “pretend.” Now I ask—how is that learning to be honest with yourself if you must push aside (even slightly) some of your most closely-held beliefs. Nobody would even consider asking a person to set aside their Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. Mental health & addiction workers simply don’t seem to know what to do with us!

June 30, 2010 at 12:12 am
(67) Bill's skeptical friend says:

I’ve been an active and sober member of AA for about 5 years. I came in an agnostic and was desperate enough to give any idea a shot if it seemed to work for them. No one ever pushed any denomination or dogma on me, but language in the book and in the meetings is still rooted in a monotheistic culture, however ecumenical it may be. I didn’t see how I could believe, but I still did the daily prayer along with the action steps anyway, just out of desperation.

Events in my life eventually brought me back to my prior worldview, based on my limited understanding of cosmology and evolution, which is quite incompatible with a personal deity. The phrase “faith without works is dead” tells me that the works are more important. I’m bothered by the language in “We Agnostics” as I’m bothered by the attitude that getting sober is apparently proof of god to some people. I continued to do everything except the prayer, and my life pretty much stayed the same.

The value in the book, to me, is in the ethical system it spells out. I trust the principles of honesty, self-examination, restitution (when called for), and working with others as a way to live a sober life. Call that a higher power, I guess.

July 21, 2010 at 2:00 pm
(68) Raindog says:

Great stuff

I am 24 years sober and an atheist. My problems with the god stuff kept me drunk for about a year in the beginning. I then realized I was going to die if I didn’t get sober and it seemed like AA was the only chance for me. I still think that is true. AA has saved my life and I have found a way to be part of the program and have a mainly happy sober life.

The Program asks us to be rigorously honest. If we are rigorously honest then we must admit that there is no evidence for a god or any supernatural being. Furthermore, I would say that the ego-driven, self-centered, narcissistic position would be that there is a God watching over me who thinks about me and helps me get sober or not die in car accidents while allowing others to remain drunk or die in car accidents. What could be more self-centered than to think that a being who allegedly created the Universe and its 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars thinks about me and has time to get me out of jams.

To all atheists, I would recommend reading the Spiritual Awakening Appendix near the end of the Big Book. Near the bottom of the first page he mentions that many of us “tapped into an unsuspected inner resource that we eventually came to associate with our higher power” or something to that effect. Now I can completely relate to finding an unsuspected inner resource. I had no ability to stop drinking on my own but after coming into AA and doing the steps I suddenly had this power within to not only avoid alcohol but to start enjoying my life sober and to get up and do the right thing every day. I had no idea that was in me. I think that this inner resource is made stronger through prayer (which I see as a plea to this inner resource to run the show). When this unsuspected inner resource runs the show I go to meetings, help others, and am a good dad, husband, friend and worker. People lose me when they try to say that this inner resource is the voice of a supernatural being. I have no problem with it just being something that is inside me – full stop. Why bring all this goofy supernatural stuff into it at all?

So magnifying the voice of this unsuspected inner resource is one part of my “spiritual” program and the other part has to do with altruistic behavior and reaching out to others. The way I see it, life has no inherent meaning. The way I give my life meaning is through my interactions and relationships with other people. When I am lonely and disconnected I feel meaning slipping away. When I reach out to others and feel part of something bigger than me I feel meaning surge into my life. So reaching out, helping others and being a giver rather than a taker is a key to leading a “spiritual” life. Note that when Bill Wilson was standing in the hotel lobby and he heard the inviting sound of ice cubes in highball glasses in the bar he did not rush off to Church – he sought out another alcoholic that he might help. Of course that alcoholic ended up being Dr. Bob. But the really spiritual thing he needed to stay sober was reaching out to help someone else – not praying by himself or at some church.

So my unsuspected inner resource is my higher power but I also need to be an active part of a group (AA usually works) and to reach out and help others. In my view this is what keeps everyone sober whether they claim to believe in God or not. This is all that it takes.

July 26, 2010 at 1:41 am
(69) Eloise says:

I hated AA from the start. I hated that it was pushed on me in a $1K a day treatment program. No other alternatives were mentioned, and there are many, esp. if one is in a big city.

Out in the real sticks, about 4 hours from any metro center, it is tough to find any 3D support as AA is the only game in town. At the last meeting, I counted how many times “God” was mentioned. I think I was up to 25 in the first half hour. That was it. I left the meeting right then and won’t be back. Online now is my only support.

It is a religious organization, derived from a rather sick and twisted religious org called the Oxford Group. Google that and you will find a bunch of very disturbing stuff that is clearly reflected in AA doctrine.

If you want an even more in-depth analysis of the history of AA and religion, consult http://www.orange-papers.org/

Excellent research and there are alternatives to AA out there. But somehow AA has infiltrated everywhere.

August 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm
(70) Raindog says:

I have to disagree with Eloise – AA is definitely not a religious organization. Bill W and Dr. Bob did get sober in the Oxford Group which was an explicitly religious protestant organization. Bill and Dr Bob first met in mid-1935 and by 1937 the New york branch of AA had separated from the Oxford Group. In 1939 the Cleveland and then Akron branches separated from the Oxford Group. Dr. Bob was more religious than Bill W I think.

When Bill was writing the Big Book, I think he took a huge step away from religion as he found that religion scared quite a few people off and I don’t think he was that religious himself. He realized that it did not seem to matter what sort of God people believed in so the actual religion did not matter. Because Bill did believe in God, he could not fathom that maybe the feeling he was getting was not God at all but something that was all inside his brain. But I think he went out of his way to make the point that there was no religious connection. I do wish he had taken a few more steps away from the whole God thing but the hoop is wide enough for most people who really want to be sober to fit through.

I personally think religion gets in the way of spirituality. It clouds the issue. Read the story on pages 26-27 of the Big Book and it becomes clear that being a good church member does not give one the vital spiritual experience needed to stay sober. The vital spiritual experience has to do with a shift toward doing what one’s conscience (or inner resource) dictates rather than acting on fear, self pity, resentment or addictive thinking.

Note that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking – there is no requirement for belief in god and certainly not in any religion.

AA is the only game in town in most places for a simple reason – It Works! It just requires a sincere interest in living in the solution rather than living in the problem. When we focus on how we are different or in how many times the word god is stated in a meeting then we are living in the problem. I suggest finding a way to translate the God concept into something that works for you. I like the idea of conscience or “inner resource.” That is what people are really talking about when they talk about God. They may think it is a guy in the sky but it isn’t. It is inside each of us.

November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm
(71) Uukatthy says:

Huge emotional displacements and rearrangements.
The steps are all about letting go of the juggernaut of self will.
I love that word, juggernaut.
I resigned from the debating society. Oh, such a waste of time.
Easy does it.

August 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm
(72) bruno says:

Whats the big deal? There’s no Father Xmas either.
Go to AA meetings and enjoy. Do the Steps.Say the Serenity Prayer and whenever you see the word GOD just substitute “AA”.
I have been going for years and have no hangups.
People are scared stiff to say that this big white chap with a big white beard sitting on a big golden throne is a load of nonsense.
I do 12th Step work and loads more in AA and love it.
Bruno
PS Anyone know of an a good online AA atheist meeting?
PPS Agnostiics are worse than believers IMHO.

October 18, 2010 at 11:37 am
(73) Don Severs says:

I think it’s a matter of brute fact that atheists can be good, sober members of AA. The Story of Ed, 12&12, p. 143 is an early example. With over 2 million members, there have to be 10s of thousands who don’t believe.

But the real insight is this: “As we understood Him” ensures that some people will have incorrect beliefs, yet they stay sober. This means that belief in a Higher Power is probably a placebo or psychological trick that helps in recovery.

More here:

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. – 3rd Step in AA and other 12-step programs.

As we understood Him. The founding of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to this idea. Before he sobered up for good, Bill Wilson (one of the co-founders of AA) received a visit from an old drinking friend named Ebby. This story is recounted in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which serves as the basic textbook for the AA program. It’s November of 1934, during the depths of the Great Depression and Bill is at home drinking alone while his wife is at work. Ebby calls and Bill is elated that Ebby wants to stop by. When Ebby arrives, he is sober and explains to Bill that he has found religion. Bill is put off, having been raised with a scientific education, but he listens because Ebby is clearly a changed man. At one point, Ebby says to Bill, “Why don’t you choose your own conception of God?” Bill writes:

“That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.

It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself. Nothing more was required of me to make my beginning.”

Later, in 1939, Bill incorporated this idea into the 12 steps. It appears twice, emphasized each time, in steps 3 and 11. It was vital to make recovery as inclusive as possible and this idea opened the door to just about anyone who wanted to join AA. Bill wrote a lot about the subject of a Higher Power, and even took pains to reach out to atheists, although it appeared he thought they would eventually find some sort of god through the steps.

From a practical standpoint, “as we understood Him” is an inspiration that has led to great success. But there are some logical implications of it that are rarely discussed. There are over 200 12-step organizations and AA alone has millions of members. These people hold a wide range of beliefs which can not all be correct. The unintended consequence of “as we understood Him” is that there is now no requirement that our beliefs be true. A fundamentalist Christian and a strict Muslim can both recover, but they can’t both be correct about their beliefs. One or both of them is wrong.

This is, of course, a problem with religious faith in general. We value freedom of speech and thought and we have abolished religious persecution in the Western world. Tolerance of competing beliefs is essential for living together. But notice that we only do this regarding faith. Say you buy a piece of land and your new neighbor disputes the boundaries. When you go to the judge, she isn’t going to practice tolerance and say you are both correct. That’s impossible and everyone knows it. No one gets their feelings hurt. Someone hires a surveyor and you settle the matter.

In religious matters, some of which can’t be adjudicated scientifically, we have evolved another method. When we hear of someone’s belief that differs from ours, we nod respectfully, while inwardly thinking they are wrong. It amounts to “don’t ask, don’t tell”. Sometimes, we can gloss it over by saying “Everyone’s right!”, but this requires very fuzzy vision and ignorance of scriptural and doctrinal claims that many religious people take very seriously. So, we have a sort of stand-off that seems to work as long as we can tolerate the unresolved logical tension. If the idea that someone has to be wrong crosses our minds, we all assume it’s the other guy who’s wrong; but it’s usually easier just to not think about it at all.

In AA, most people speak of God or Higher Power. These are code words for “my inner belief”. They can’t all point to anything real because they sometimes point to mutually exclusive concepts. Some people believe in Jesus, others are Pagans, others are Muslims, but they all say God or Higher Power. When a term is used in this way, it loses all meaning. It is like having a word, say ‘glovis’, that means “a cat, rat, mouse or weasel”. In religion and AA, though, this imprecision is essential. It’s the way we avoid conflict, yet still act like we have unity. Sure, it’s a bogus unity, but it seems to work for keeping people sober.

So, the question becomes, “can we formulate the 12 Steps in such a way that we can be intellectually honest and avoid tolerating these kinds of contradictions?”

As far as I can tell, there is no way to do that while retaining our respective religious beliefs. For most people, this is an easy problem to resolve: keep my beliefs and tolerate the logical problems. It is a matter of values. If you value consistency between belief systems, then we have to look beyond religion. In typical folksy fashion, many AAs say that God is Good Orderly Direction or Group Of Drunks. This works because it does away with competing, supernatural conceptions of God. But it won’t work for a committed Christian or Muslim. To them, there really is a God and He has specific traits and a specific name. Yahweh or Allah aren’t going to be happy being reduced to a catchy acronym.

It seems that if you are a religious AA who values logical consistency, you’re in a bind. “God as we understood Him” leads to contradictions. Most people I know resolve this by saying that “His beliefs are true for him and mine are true for me. Our beliefs don’t have to be reconciled the way you’re suggesting”. Ok, but notice the price you’ve paid. It’s called Scientific Naturalism, the idea that there really exists an external reality that we can get to know through our senses. If contradictory beliefs can simultaneously be true, then we each live in a unique world of our making. Reality is subjective.

That’s too expensive for many people. What’s the alternative? Can we have a Higher Power without abandoning a shared, external reality? Sure, as long as it’s not a supernatural Higher Power. As soon as you allow yourself to subscribe to or concoct a supernatural being with certain traits, you’ve opened the door to everyone doing the same. And they’re not going to reach the same conclusions.

To avoid this free-for-all, we must constrain ourselves to support from natural forces and natural phenomena. They aren’t hard to find. Bill W himself said that the fellowship of AA is a power greater than our own that we can use as a Higher Power. We are social animals. We can’t exist by ourselves. When we were drinking, we cut ourselves off from social support. When we recover and resume our societal roles, our relationships straighten out, deepen and sustain us once more. Nothing further is required. We know this to be the case since so many people, with conflicting beliefs, have recovered in AA. It can’t matter what, or whether, we believe.

The issue is how much we value consistency among belief systems. When we value consistency, we have the prospect of a real unity, one that is based on a shared, external reality and that is sufficient to recover from alcoholism. We need each other, both for support and to lend support to. It is enough to seek help, clean house, make amends and depend on one another. Believing that we can help each other entails no contradictions, only grateful action.

November 21, 2010 at 1:20 pm
(74) Dri Heaves says:

Open Minded with 20 years of N A experience
As I have matured in the program, and learned to think for myself, I have examined the principles upon which I base my life. In doing this, I found out that I do not believe in any kind of God. Over the years struggling in recovery, I tried many different gods. I found that trying to believe in an intangible and invisible being or force left me empty and with no evidence of a loving and caring god in my life. I finally started to stay clean after I took god out of my program 16 years later. My Higher Power is the power of staying clean. Today, I am an atheist. I still concentrate on my own recovery, because if I am well, then I can be of value to others, but if I am sick, then I am of no use to anyone, not even myself.
Being an atheist does not stop me from working the program. The only thing I do not do, of course, is pray. The main thing is that I do what is possible with what I have got. No one can do more.
I came to NA to stop using, not to get “my feet off of the floor”.
My most significant spiritual awakening was when I realized that the power is in me. I cannot rely on a mythical being or force to do for me what I cannot do for myself, nor do I wish to. After a lifetime spent trying to be everything to everyone, I now know that it begins and ends with me. I have to do the footwork, I must make the effort, and I need to seek the solutions.
Don’t get discouraged when you hear about god and praying
1.) Come to believe you can be clean.
2.) Make the decision to be clean.
3.) Make the commitment on a daily basis.
4.) Get on with your life.
You can and will be clean.

December 12, 2010 at 2:38 pm
(75) thalio says:

I posted an essay on atheism and the 12-steps here
http://everything2.com/user/thalio/writeups/12-step+program

To get the most of this writing form (noding, they call it) check out some of the links.

Hope this is helpful, and best to all.

December 13, 2010 at 9:16 pm
(76) Anne says:

I’m in my 20th year of sobriety and would be dead if it weren’t for AA. I’m a Buddhist and my sponsor (25 years) is an atheist) and we have no problem doing the steps. It probably helps that I live in New York City where no one proselytizes about religion or spirituality.

When I must do a step my higher power is a tree. It works just fine. I couldn’t have gotten sober alone, it’s the group that is a healing experience. So I believe in the collective consciousness.

Remember: the ONLY requirement is a desire to stop drinking. As the Big Book and 12 Steps say, they are SUGGESTIONS.

At the same time, there are a lot of very narrow minded people in AA, one or two have told me it’s impossible I’m sober if I don’t believe in God.

December 14, 2010 at 11:29 am
(77) Joe S. says:

Please visit http://www.indyweagnostics.com/

Indianapolis We Agnostics group of Alcoholics Anonymous
Thursdays, 6:30-7:30 pm
Carvel Club, Upstairs
4627 Carvel Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46205

You’ll find a terrific group of individuals who are practicing the principles and working the steps. And they’re mostly atheist and agnostics.

Cheers!

Joe S.

December 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm
(78) Raindog says:

Something you all might enjoy – there have been atheists in AA right from the beginning

I guess Jim wrote this in 1969 – the date below must be wrong or they waited 30 years to publish it – read the story the Vicious Cycle if you never have:

Sober For Thirty Years
by Jim Burwell
A.A. Grapevine, November 1999

As noted in my story, “The Vicious Cycle,” in the Big Book, I came into the Fellowship in New York in January 1938.

At that time A.A. was just leaving the Oxford Group. There was one closed discussion meeting a week, at Bill’s home in Brooklyn, – attendance six or eight men, with only three members who had been sober more than one year: Bill, Hank, and Fitz.

This is about all that had been accomplished in the four years with the New York Oxford Group. During those early meetings at Bill’s, they were flying blind, with no creed or procedure to guide them, though they did use quite a few of the Oxford sayings and the Oxford Absolutes.

Since both Bill and Dr. Bob had had almost-overnight experiences, it was taken for granted that all who followed would have the same sort of experience. So the early meetings were quite religious, in both New York and Akron. There was always a Bible on hand, and the concept of God was all biblical.

Into this fairly peaceful picture came I, their first self-proclaimed atheist, completely against all religions and conventions. I was the captain of my own ship. (The only trouble was, my ship was completely disabled and rudderless.) So naturally I started fighting nearly all the things Bill and the others stood for, especially religion, the “God bit.” But I did want to stay sober, and I did love the understanding Fellowship. So I became quite a problem to that early group, with my constant haranguing against all spiritual angles.

Continued below

December 24, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(79) Raindog says:

continued from previous post

All of a sudden, the group became really worried. Here I had stayed sober five whole months while fighting everything the others stood for. I was now number four in “seniority.” I found out later they had a prayer meeting on “what to do with Jim.” The consensus seemed to have been that they hoped I would either leave town or get drunk.

That prayer must have been right on target, for I was suddenly taken drunk on a sales trip. This became the shock and the bottom I needed. At this time I was selling auto polish to jobbers for a company that Bill and Hank were sponsoring, and I was doing pretty well, too. But despite this, I was tired and completely isolated there in Boston.

My fellow alcoholics really put the pressure on as I sobered up after four days of no relief, and for the first time I admitted I couldn’t stay sober alone. My closed mind opened a bit. Those folks back in New York, the folks who believed, had stayed sober. And I hadn’t. Since this episode I don’t think I have ever argued with anyone else’s beliefs. Who am I to say?

I finally crawled back to New York and was soon back into the fold. About this time, Bill and Hank were just beginning to write the A.A. Big Book. I do feel sure my experience was not in vain, for “God” was broadened to cover all types and creeds: “God as we understood Him.”

I feel my spiritual growth over these past thirty years has been very gradual and steady. I have no desire to “graduate” from A.A.. I try to keep my memories green by staying active in A.A. – a couple of meetings weekly.

continued below

December 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(80) Raindog says:

part 3

For the new agnostic or atheist just coming in, I will try to give very briefly my milestones in recovery.

1. The first power I found greater than myself was John Barleycorn.
2. The A.A. Fellowship became my Higher Power for the first two years.
3. Gradually, I came to believe that God and Good were synonymous and were found in all of us.
4. And I found that by meditating and trying to tune in on my better self for guidance and answers, I became more comfortable and steady.

J.B., San Diego, California

November 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm
(81) Uukatthy says:

True that.

December 25, 2010 at 3:47 pm
(82) Richard P. Sheaffer says:

While dealing with concepts of a Higher Power and a Personal God, an atheist may find the following comments helpful. The active ingredients of a Higher Power are your mindset, your subconscious and fellow AA members. The mindset is that you are not the highest power and you are not in control. In addition, the mindset is that you cannot stop drinking on your own, and so you must have a submissive and receptive attitude both toward other member of the group and your own subconscious. It should be noted that your Higher Power does not require a name or label as long as it contains the active ingredients. Your consciousness does not control your subconscious. Your subconscious can be an aspect of your Higher Power while your consciousness is not. Your subconscious is as personal as any God can be. According to Step 11, one should be praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. The knowledge of what you should do as well as the courage to do it is well within the capacity of your subconscious. You can interact with your subconscious by various atheistic meditation techniques as good as, if not better, than by prayer. Also, atheistic meditation practices can add a spiritual dimension to your life.

February 26, 2011 at 11:30 pm
(83) Andymc says:

I am an ATHEIST, and yes attending meetings and using some of the AA program I have enjoyed sobriety for 28yrs and had an incredible life adventure with experiences I had only dreamed of while drinking.
That being said, it has only been in the last 4yrs that I have had the guts to “come out of the Atheist closet”within AA. I could/can not understand all the ambiguities that exist within the majority of AA literature. I have always (within sobriety) understood the importance of honesty, healthy relationships, healthy lifestyle and hard work to mention a few of the simple to understand things needed to keep sober and live a full and meaningful lifestyle. I found all the supernatural stuff a denial of the truth…..that there is nothing that can keep me sober but my own actions or inactions.
Unfortunately there are lots of “bullies” within AA whom speak with “forked tongues” when it comes to tolerance of others.
I live in an area where the vocal Catholic/Evangelics have dominated meetings for years with their, “this is not a religious program it is spiritual ! ” BS . Trust me, as others have said, by its very nature it is expected that everyone become “believers”.
Never having been much of a “push over” when it comes to speaking my peace, always I have tried to practice honesty about experiences that have effected my sobriety both good and bad. I now make it very clear that I am an Atheist when asked to speak about the supernatural that exists within AA. Yes I am a bit of a “show boat” and invite great “tongue lashings” after meetings, but I am finding that there are many more like me that will not be forced to do things that we find unconscionably wrong.
I could go on lots more but do firmly believe in the “keep it simple” adage. Thanks to all the contributors and lets “keep it real”.

March 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm
(84) Tom Turner says:

Been sober in AA for 34 years. I personally am not in a 12 step recovery program. I’m in a “fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strenght, and hope with each other, etc”. AA works but not because of the reasons outlined in “How it Works”, which very well could be one the most obnoxious, chauvinistic pieces of crap ever penned on paper. People can believe whatever they want, as long as they share it their belief and not the truth. If they do I can give their share, the dignity and respect it deserves. As for the steps I guess doing them is better than doing nothing. Of course, my view is that trying to achieve transformation or a spiritual awakening, if you prefer, is like using a tennis racquet to row a boat. It’s better than using you hand, but there are countless better ways to achieve the result you want. If you’re in a meeting and don’t like what I have to say, do what I do to you. Tune me out.

November 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm
(85) Uukatthy says:

Tradition Three, long form and window shade version.
Poor old Bill had to write in 1939 . His idea of the religious view (appendix V) was “of practically every denomination”:
A Catholic Jesuit priest
An Episcopal magazine
dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick.
See p. 572 of the fourth edition.
Check out Wikipedia for Dr. Fosdick, an anti-Zionist Baptist minister.
No mention of Unitarians, pagans, Hmong, Buddhists…..
More has been revealed, as Bill stated in A Vision for You, BB.
Keep it simple?

July 27, 2011 at 10:00 pm
(86) Ariel says:

I’ve been married to an AA member for 18 years. The only difference is that they don’t drink, a big difference granted. All the other behaviors are still there, just less obvious. We’ve been cheated by an AA lawyer (our other lawyer said he should be disbarred), dealt with control-freak lying sponsors, and my wife is still trying to get out of adolescence (I have the debt to prove it). She, from 18 years of dealing with this, is one of the better ones…

Go with rational recovery or the psychologist cognitive approach. AA is a Christian approach, masquerading as inclusive, that does not change the essential character flaws, no matter what they claim. The flaws are subsumed but still there. If I had known….

November 22, 2011 at 1:44 pm
(87) Uukatthy says:

We are not saints.
Tried Al-Anon?

August 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm
(88) Chris C says:

I’m so glad to see so many thoughtful, reasoned opinions voiced by atheists about AA. I’ve been an atheist all my life and when my drinking progressed to the point where I needed an outside source for structure and guidance to quit, I finally turned with enough willingness and humility to AA. And viola– 2.5 years sobriety so far.

The “surrender” that the moral psychology in AA tries to invite us to perform is non-religious. Bill just didn’t have enough diversity in his vocabulary to avoid all the God talk. And, by the way, Bill is just another dude. A cool one, but not someone I’d idolize that much.

When we were drinking, we were acting in incredibly selfish and self-destructive ways. AA asks us to listen and learn what we can from others and find out that helping others is directly connected to losing the compulsion to drink.

So where the Big Book says “God,” I rewrite the passage– if it is a useful passage for me. The entire chapter “We Agnostics” is useless to me. (Bill clearly didn’t know much about atheism.) But that’s okay– I don’t have to go back to my old, controlling ways, and try to convince anybody to change anything for me. That behavior was, in fact, my problem in the first place.

My higher power is rational and evidence-based. It is also simple, personal and authentic.

I also like the idea that I have enough respect for others that I can conform to some things that I wouldn’t choose on my own– this makes me a citizen, not a cult member. I conform out of self-interest. Because when I pick my battles based on self-interest (and few, I now pick), I have more peace of mind and few reasons to want to drink.

October 1, 2011 at 7:43 am
(89) Gabito says:

@Chris C:

Thanks for the latest addition to this blog comment section. I’ve been sober 250 days! I’m an atheist, and was an atheist first entering AA and The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center program for 6 months.

I am an atheist who relies on God. I see steps 4-12 as ways to align my will closer to God’s. God, I define as the 12 principles, and as the grand totality of the universe. When I live my life according to the 12 principles, I am living a good life and one in which I have no room for drinking, or living in the problem of active addiction.

I pray, and I don’t believe. But I still pray. I don’t know how it works, and it doesn’t matter. It works, i am sober and I am living life simply, humbly and in the solution.

Learn the 12 principles associated with each step: Honesty, Hope, Faith, Courage, Integrity, Willingness, Humility, Brotherly Love, Justice, Perseverance, Spirituality, and Service. Live these everyday and you will have the obsession of drinking removed.

Just work the steps, honestly and it will work for you.

I am a non-believer, and AA works for me.

November 15, 2011 at 5:21 am
(90) Nathan haley says:

If it wasn’t 4 Jesus and his teachings, there wouldn’t b no recovery as aa literature is ‘borrowed’ from the bible and we wouldn’t b posting comments about recovery

November 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm
(91) Uukatthy says:

Step Two… Power greater than myself. Such as a group of drunks who reach out to the next suffering alcoholic.
Tradition Three… Only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.
The steps are principles. I love the list of 12principles from Gabito.
The end of A Vision For You:more will be revealed.
Keep it simple.
and what the hey is Moral Psychology? Wikipedia is useless on the topic. This is where the long history of AA changes and loses some meanings.
Reach out.

November 22, 2011 at 1:19 pm
(92) Uukatthy says:

How are u so sure about alternate timelines?
If there had been no JC… Oh, but then u don’t believe that is possible.

November 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm
(93) Nathan haley says:

Wot many don’t realize is aa ,steps and principles was founded by Jesus Christ which Reverand sam shoemaker took from the new testament and passed on 2 bill and bob so if there wasn’t Jesus then we wouldn’t b having this conversation. One only needs 2 read aa approved ‘ as bill sees it’ and ‘dr bob and the good old-timers’

December 11, 2011 at 10:42 am
(94) Mike from Va says:

Basically what the Steps are trying to do is get you to take stock and look through your own behavior, make the resolution to change those behaviors and then make amends for wrongs done to the degree possible while continuing to take stock of your behavior. It does so while encouraging the alcoholic to use a trusted “sponsor”, somebody with time and success in the program who has traveled down that same road before and taken the same steps. THESE ARE GOOD THINGS! If AA has value and the program and steps have actually saved people’s lives it has done so through these means. They are positive healthy behaviors virtually any decent psychologist or therapist would try to achieve through cognitive behavior therapy. It does so in a crude and unprofessional manner but the purposely unorganized and unprofessional group support aspect and the fact that the alcoholic is in the same boat as others in the group helps establish trust and egalitarianism. In fact, it can be argued that the element of peer support as opposed to top-down doctor/therapist-patient relationships produces an effect of trust and willingness and therefore success that the medical community alone simply often can’t reach.

Now, for the atheist or agnostic or even just the more scientifically inclined the “surrender” of one’s “will” to a “Higher Power” (which is emphasized to be “not you” the alcoholic) is sloppy theological intrusion and the chapter “We Agnostics” (along with many sections of “To Wives”) definitely reflects the attitudes, contexts and limitations of its time. Reading through it can frustrate the nontheist with its uninformed, condescending and unscientifc assumptions. There is definitely an undercurrent of anti-intellectualism when it comes to matters of “faith”, “Higher Power”, “spiritualism” and the like. It reflects the weaknesses of AA being an outgrowth of the Oxford Group movement and should be taken with a grain of salt.

January 6, 2012 at 10:54 am
(95) Mike O says:

Some thoughts based on my own experience with AA:

- When I was ready to stop drinking I then had a desire to stop drinking. No “Higher Power” did it for me.

- That desire to stop drinking never made me “ready to take certain Steps” as specifically outlined by AA’s Big Book.

(continued…)

January 6, 2012 at 10:56 am
(96) Mike O says:

(continued…)

- In years of being around AA, sincerely attempting to “work” the Steps as best I could as an agnostic I found several very positive and helpful lessons. Among them included:

- being humble and adopting an “attitude of gratitude” for all I was blessed with,
-being able to accept things I did not have the power to change while seeking out circumstances I WAS in control of changing,
- taking responsibility for my own actions and seeking to be of service to others remembering that no matter how far down I may believe my experience took me I can always be of benefit to others.

(continued…)

January 6, 2012 at 11:00 am
(97) Mike O says:

(continued…)

- Despite the many positive attributes of the Alcoholics Anonymous I found many unfortunate aspects. Among them was:
- the central idea of “powerlessness” extending not only to my drinking behavior but ultimately also to “people, places, and things” and therefore submission to a “Higher Power” being my only hope.
- the notion that “no human power could’ve relieved our alcoholism” despite it being my very actions of taking control over my behavior which alleviated my alcoholism.
- the broad, hostile and inaccurate portrayals of atheists and agnostics as described in the “We Agnostics” chapter of the Big Book along with the barely tolerated attitude of nonbelievers by many members of AA within the rooms.
- the lack of scientific inquiry into the nature of alcoholism because of the central “spiritual” nature of the 12 Step program.
- the exaggerated portrayals and caricatures of “character defects” as discussed in the Big Book and the insistence by most fellow members I encountered to “compare in”. This extended to the awkward “lists” set down by the Big Book as a guide to work through the 4th and 5th Step in which intimate life details are disclosed to a sponsor who has no real responsibility to keep confidential.
- the insistence that it “works if you work it” as a way to respond to anyone who might question the actual efficacy of using the 12 Step model for recovery. This creates a closed loop logic which discards anyone who “isn’t ready” to fully digest the disjointed, arbitrary and often confusing nature of the 12 Steps.

January 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm
(98) greg says:

Words like atheist, agnostic, and secular are invented to empower believers of superstition and the super natural. They have no evidence to support their cultist fanaticism, whatever it may be. Like immature schoolyard bullies, they hurl these labels with the intent to demean.
If you find these labels acceptable, and they explain you, then you lie to yourself and deny your humanity: that which connects you to the other inherent life of this planet. I seek true freedom from the burden called religion, that enslaves us all. join me at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/No-religion-too/252352758163198?ref=tn_tnmn

February 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm
(99) Casey says:

Good comments. I am an atheist and have been in and out of AA for the last year. I have recently come back a bit more seriously and am attending meetings every day. I hear nonsense about God all the time at meetings, and it doesn’t really bother me. Just like in any other conversation where someone attributes their strength to god. I acknowledge that they do get strength from a BELIEF in god. Doesn’t mean it’s real. And it works for them. I’ve also heard some non believers say they pray to god every day even though they don’t believe. It’s an act of surrender and meditation for them. That works for those people. The fact is, the program is flexible and you really shouldn’t give up on it just because of the religious stuff. I did try to quit based on my own will power and that doesn’t work. So, right now, my higher power is this connection I feel with the world around me and with the others in AA. I have expressed my atheism at meetings and am never scorned over it nor does anyone try to “save” me. In fact, I get a lot of nods from people. The only person who can truly understand an alcoholic is another alcoholic. That fellowship is so valuable and is found at AA. I find the focus of trying to work the steps, to the best of my ability, as well as the fellowship of other drunks is the best help I can get. Some refer to GOD as Group Of Drunks. I can get behind that.

April 16, 2012 at 10:39 am
(100) Joe C says:

The narcissism of small differences is alive and well in the minds of alcoholics, sober and active. I am guilty as charged as well. I am an atheist in AA and I have the distinct advantage of belonging to an agnostic AA group in Toronto Canada. There are over 100 agnostic AA groups word wide, you can find a link to them all in Rebellious links @ http://rebelliondogspublishing.com

Back to separating the pepper from the fly shit. AA works no matter what we believe. I expect SOS works, SMART recovery or anything we put our mind to. Our group didn’t like theistic 12 steps so we wrote our own. AA doesn’t have any rules about conformity. Oh, there is the melodrama and the finger pointers, but when all the barking is done, there’s no bite. Our own group was taken out of the meeting list in Toronto for being agnostic. That’s petty and it’s discrimination and in Canada that’s illegal ( http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/resources/Policies/PolicyCreedAccomodEN?page=religious-Creed_.html#Heading36 )

But so what, we posted a website, we are easy to find and we are part of AA regardless of what a few religious zealots at Intergroup say.

The term “Selfish” program means it is self-based, it isn’t done to us, it is done by us, we make it our own, if we are seeking answers we won’t go crying because someone with sobriety believes in god or holy ghosts or who knows what. I roll my eyes a lot. That says more about me than them.

It works if you take the medicine.

Joe C
Beyond Belief Agnostics Group
Toronto, Canada

June 24, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(101) Aches1353 says:

When examined closely, the 12 steps do not say god does anything. All twelve are instructions for what we do to recover. I am a recovering alcoholic with seventeen years without a drink. I still attend meetings almost daily so that I can help atheists and others who do “set aside their prejudice towards religion” and find that approach unfulfilling, I am there for the alcoholic that is unwilling to set aside logic and reason. AA works quite well for me while knowing that there is no personal god working in anyones life.

September 29, 2012 at 4:08 am
(102) Don S. says:

Before anything began to happen I had to realize I didn’t want to live that way anymore. I have attended AA and stayed sober for the past 30 years. It has been a constant battle with folks who believe that the god part of AA is necessary. I can say that AA works without the god part for me. After several years of sobriety listening to the magic part of the program I realized that we individually have total control on taking a drink. We are the ones who walk, drive to the bar/liquor store. We pick out the beverage of our choice. We pay with money out of our pockets or container we use to carry it in. we put it to our lips, and we swallow it.
Dont get me wrong I must admit I have no control over what happens after taking a drink of alcohol, it is very unpredictable blacking out sometime after a few drinks sometimes many,
I also think that I may or may not stay sober without the group however my odds greatly increase if I follow the directions given. I did and still do follow most of the directions of the group. The group usually is the only place I get support in living a life without alcohol.
I can say i haven’t given my life over to a magical, mistical, invisible friend who does not talk to me.

September 29, 2012 at 4:09 am
(103) Don S says:

Part 2 There truely in freedom in searching for, trying to understand your part in and sharing all the secrets of your past with another another human being. I truely did not realize the control it had on the daily decision i had made until after completing this part.
Recognizing that I was a participant in my life, making bad and good decision had true put me in the place where I was the day I came to AA.
Realizing the consequences of making bad decisions was a almost a daily occurance in my early days of recovery. They did not stop just because I stopped drinking.
Trying to make things right with people I had taken advantage of or harmed made a past that is unchangable more manageable and easier to live with.
Trying my change my outlook for today and tomorrow is much easier with a daily inventory and promply admitting the part I played in it. Making amends and trying to change so I wouldn’t have to make the same amends tomorrow. Up until doing this I ran more on instinct than on a plan of action.
Meditation allow me time each day to clear my thoughts and have a managable day.
I do share my experience and hope with other people who have lost control of alcohol. I help AA when ever or where ever I see a need. I may not be exact 12 steps but it has worked as a formula for me to live without alcohol.

October 15, 2012 at 2:50 pm
(104) Joe C says:

I am an AA atheist. There are over 100 agnostic AA meetings and I am a member of one in Toronto Canada. The groups don’t promote non-theistic talk or thought so much as treat AA and alcoholism treatment as a secular activity. There are many variations of the Twelve Steps that are secular, humanist, agnostic, etc. The first non-theistic version of the Twelve Steps were penned by Buddhists in the 1

October 15, 2012 at 2:56 pm
(105) Joe C says:

I am an AA atheist. There are over 100 agnostic AA meetings and I am a member of one in Toronto Canada. The groups don’t promote non-theistic talk or thought so much as treat AA and alcoholism treatment as a secular activity. We don’t care if theists attend but most members are atheists/agnostics. There are many variations of the Twelve Steps that are secular, humanist, agnostic, etc. The first non-theistic version of the Twelve Steps were penned by Buddhists in the 1950s. Author of the Steps, Bill Wilson delighted in the non-theistic translation of the Steps. He was interested in drunks getting sober, not religious conversion.

In my group, Beyond Belief, there are many members sober over 25 years, and many more that have gotten sober strictly based on the agnostic treatment of the program. Despite the fact that some zealots proselytize most AA groups and members don’t expect alcoholics to subscribe to anyone elses beliefs or to give up their own.

October 17, 2012 at 6:31 pm
(106) Coburn says:

Yes. An Atheist can work AA, NA, CA, etc. Your post is rediculous because you are putting religion into it. I am an atheist and I belive in Nature. Nature makes the waves, rain, flowers bloom. That is a power bigger and greater than myself. Or, the group? What about the group being a power bigger and greater than myself.
e all love to say that all are welcome and that it is NOT a religious program. But here we go again. STOP PUSHING GOD. Anyone can recovery regarless of faith or lack of faith.

December 21, 2012 at 7:21 am
(107) Philip says:

“The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking” – Therefore anyone, atheist or not can be a member.

However, it is impossible for an atheist to follow the clear, specific directions as laid out in the AA Big Book or the Twelve Steps.

The reason is that the Big Book, very clearly defines God as The Creator. In the chapter, “To the Agnostic”, it clearly gives the example of looking up at the sky and in awe realising that there must be a supreme creator. The books is very consistent and repetitious in describing God as The Creator.

The other reason is that Step 3, requires a belief in “God as we understand him”. So you have a choice of “A supreme being as we understand him”, “The creator of the universe as we understand him”, etc. Look up God in a dictionary, any dictionary.

It is not possible for an atheist to believe in a God of any understanding. If he did, it wouldn’t be a God, it would be something else.

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(108) how to get a lot of followers on instagram says:

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October 29, 2013 at 6:56 pm
(109) Nery Kolmetz says:

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