Can an atheist be a part of Alcoholics Anonymous? Is the AA program compatible with atheism? Some think so - there are atheists who are part of AA, and that seems like a clear demonstration that atheism and AA are compatible, at least on some level. But how is that possible, when AA requires belief in a god?
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Granted, Alcoholics Anonymous only requires that one believe in god "as we understand him," but so long as that god is indeed a god, that is contrary to atheism. As soon as one "understands" this god to be something other than a "god," then it's compatible with atheism but it's no longer, strictly speaking, really compatible with Alcoholics Anonymous.
The "god" of Alcoholics Anonymous, everywhere the subject is discussed in AA literature, is pretty much the god of traditional western monotheism. It's not explicitly the god of Christianity and there is no Jesus, but it's clearly designed to be compatible with traditional Christianity and Judaism, if not also Islam. Note, for example, that it's always male.
"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.
It seems to me that any level of compatibility between atheism and Alcoholics Anonymous is weak at best. There is probably a very good argument for the idea achieving "compatibility" is only done through compartmentaliztion and rationalization, not because the two are truly compatible.
What do you think?