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Old 02-10-2010, 08:06 AM   #1 (permalink)
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AA for non-believers

I do not believe in God as religion paints him. I am an agnostic who believes that humans just don't know what's really out there.

As a result of this I have been in two minds about going to AA as I am really quite an opinionated and stubborn person and I am concerned that I will not want to listen to half of the steps or find a spiritual awakening. I certainly don't want to end up as a born again christian.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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ElChupacabra,

I came to AA as a staunch atheist with a lot of disdain for religion or people who believed in a higher power. Bunch of delusional, weak minded sheep who needed a crutch to get by. But, I was hopeless, and the crutch I was using (booze) wasn't working any more.

I took the 12 Steps, had a spiritual awakening, and recovered from alcoholism, just like the BB describes. I'm no more Christian than a rock is.

In the chapter We Agnostics, it says that about 1/2 the original 100 (or so) recovered AA's were either agnostic or atheist. The majority of guys in my AA home group started that way as well. All had some kind of revolutionary psychic change, usually gradually, as the result of the Steps. All believe in 'something'. Very few are Christian. All understand what the word 'reborn' means on pg 63.
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:47 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hi,

I am in the same spot you are. I go to AA meetings with an open mind and am just getting into the third chapter of the big book. I absolutly do not believe in god. AA is a great thing for me at the same time. I say the serinity pray, not because I believe, but because there is great wisdom in it. Sitting and listening to other people's stories, and understanding that I am not alone has been great for me. And to see people that have come out the other end of alcoholism is an inspiration and a relief. The first time I had a trigger to drink I used my contact list. I'm so happy to the person that talk to me. I basically just listened to him and one other tell me what thier struggles with booze was like. This was enough to let the feeling pass, and remind me of my motives to get my life back to together. It does not have to be all about god to be a successful program.

A trick that I use that gives me great insight. Replace the word god everytime you hear it in the program with the word truth. I think that even a believer would agree that they are basically the same thing.
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Old 02-10-2010, 08:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElChupacabra View Post

... I am really quite an opinionated and stubborn person and I am concerned that I will not want to listen to half of the steps or find a spiritual awakening.
That describes about two/thirds of the people at my local meeting...LOL!
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:18 AM   #5 (permalink)
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It might be useful to you if you actually attended a
few open AA meetings in person...before decideing....

Just go sit down and listen. It's free ..takes an hour.
You can always walk out and
no one will try to stop you from leaving

It certainly would be worth your time ...

Here is info about UK-AA

Alcoholics Anonymous UK Newcomers
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:40 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElChupacabra View Post
I do not believe in God as religion paints him. I am an agnostic who believes that humans just don't know what's really out there.
As long as you can have an open mind to the possibility that there is something out there, beyond the tangible, concerned with this good and evil stuff, you are probably at a better starting point than those that start with a head full of religious doctrine.
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:49 AM   #7 (permalink)
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My sponsor tells this story of a guy that came to AA got sober for about 10 years and then went off to become a devout christian and do lots of work for the church etc, he tells this story like the guy transformed into some kind of AA mutant, i have to defend the poor reformed christain guy in his absence, you know live and let live...trust me you have nothing to fear about being turned into a born again christian unless you yourself decide that is what you want to do when you get sober?!

Try and keep an open mind, also remember that you are knocking on their door for help, as a washed up drunk, and be a little tolerant of people different to you...IMO if you can keep that attitude you will get what you are looking for a lot sooner than later...good luck:-)
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:53 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I'm a non-theist, at that I don't have any supernatural beliefs yet it is possible for me to benefit from AA. My Higher Power (HP) or Helping Potentiality as I am now inclined to call it, can come from a lot of sources. SMART Recovery Tools and Zen are two examples of my HP's.

I have found for myself that I do better in my addiction treatment to have a HP of my own understanding. I don't use Bill W's or the authors of the Big Books understanding as to what constitutes a God or Higher Power. It may work for them and others, but that sort of stuff has no meaning to me.
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Old 02-10-2010, 09:57 AM   #9 (permalink)
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What made sense to me was and is this... God (in a general sense) can not be proven or disproven. Accordingly, both the athiest and believer have the same starting point; faith. Higher Purpose works for me in the context of making the aa program work in a constructive way. I am intellectually capable
of buying exclusively into a concept of God as expressed by an institution managed by man. Other stuff is out there as well, SMART, rational recovery etc. We all pick our own poison as well as our own cure.
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Old 02-10-2010, 10:01 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
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I came to AA as a staunch atheist with a lot of disdain for religion or people who believed in a higher power. Bunch of delusional, weak minded sheep who needed a crutch to get by.
I was that guy too.

I started with asking myself what it takes to be greater than me. And then decided it doesn't take much.

Greatest power in the universe, omnipotent, parting the Red Sea, etc... Maybe/maybe not.

HP doesn't have to be the greatest power in the universe, just greater than you.
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:10 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ElChupacabra View Post
I am concerned that I will not want to listen to half of the steps or find a spiritual awakening.
Why wouldn't you want to have a spiritual awakening?
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Not sure if, there's a heaven but my life was pure hell before AA
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Old 02-10-2010, 01:41 PM   #13 (permalink)
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You WILL believe what you want to believe..

and once you make your mind up, you can still change your mind.....

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Old 02-10-2010, 02:32 PM   #14 (permalink)
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check out the secular 12 step forum please...there are a number of "non-god-believers that post there...
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Old 02-14-2010, 09:30 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Personally I wanted to quit drinking so bad I would not have cared if they were sitting a circle holding hands bowing to Ronald McDonald, if they really had an answer.

They did.
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Old 02-15-2010, 08:58 AM   #16 (permalink)
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This is not an AA Approved answer, but I did not believe when I came in, and about 3 years in, I still do not believe. I've found that most of the alcoholics who have god issues are usually the types whose issues were (and yes, I know I'm oversimplifying) "I didn't like having to wear a tie on Sunday, I don't like the bible says not to be gay, I hated the nuns at Catholic School" then they come up with a god of their own understanding and become spiritual not religious.

I've always found the spiritual, not religious stuff, a bit hokey. But I've come to accept that if thisworks for them, and I fully support it, and it's not my business.

In contrast, I was (and remain) very conservative. I went, and continue to go church out of tradition, and enjoyed the social aspect. I used to try to believe because I felt I was supposed to as a conservative Southerner, but I never did. Now I just accept what I enjoy out of Church.

Similarly when I began AA, I really tried to believe, and did all the praying and steps hoping to have a spiritual experience, because that's what is supposed to happen, but it never did.

I've since learned to use what I believe in and is helpful for me from AA, and not expect it to conform to all my beliefs and that's worked well for me.

The fact of calling a "group of drunks" or a light bulb as a higher power really makes no sense to me if you're supposed to have some personal relationship with God who you are asking to intervene in your life.

Instead, I recommend that newcomers with God issues simply go to

1) go to as many meetings as they can
2) do the actions in the steps regardless of what they believe. A lot of people manage to have their "spiritual experience" just by doing the steps, and if that happens, great. If it doesn't, don't obsess over it.
3) Focus on the positive aspects on AA that you agree with and benefit from, as oppose to using the parts you don't like as an excuse to completely ignore the program.
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:23 AM   #17 (permalink)
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robertl ....Thanks for joining us on our Alcoholism Forum

Well done on your AA recovery years
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:44 PM   #18 (permalink)
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There's no AA requirement that you believe in anything. Never has been. If you're agnostic, that's fine. You won't have religion forced down your throat at a meeting. If you do, get out of there and find another meeting. People in the program usually refer to a higher in their lives, and usually call that higher power God. I think this is more of a cultural thing, and if you went to a meeting in Asia you may hear the same power called Buddha, Allah, or any number of things (you hear that around here sometimes, too). Believe in whatever you want. But be careful with the stubborness. If you want to work the steps, you have to keep an open mind and willing to listen to others who will try to help you get sober.
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Old 02-16-2010, 03:02 PM   #19 (permalink)
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he tells this story like the guy transformed into some kind of AA mutant
Thats great I love it! Thanks for the laugh.
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Old 02-16-2010, 03:46 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I was raised Cherokee Indian and I didn't really feel connected to any sort of HP.
My mom died when I was five. In early teens, my dad's mom tried to 'convert' me to her faith. Catholic. I behaved and listened. Still nothing clicked.

When I surrendered in rooms of AA at age 31, my first sponsor said just believe in ANYTHING more powerful than YOU. Okay. I picked her, then the ocean....and I went thru all the steps.

I still am not religious. AND I find that people in the meetings do gravitate toward me if I tell my story at a speaker meeting and I come to find out some of them are 'converters'....I politely listen and leave.

I haven't found it necessary to drink since 1996.

I keep it simple when I share. I say G_O_D...good orderly direction. I was also anxious about being beaten into secular faith submission ---at first. Now, years later. I don't worry about it. Its a 24 hour deal.

I hope you do come to AA. It helped me in so many areas of my life. I wouldn't have any inner peace without it.
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