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Old 06-17-2011, 07:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Do you have to believe in God to be in AA?


I am 5 days sober right now. This is my 3rd attempt at sobriety and this time it has to work or I will lose my family, I want it more than I ever have and am very confident I can do it this time. I plan on attending some AA meetings to help me in my recovery. I've never been to AA but I've been listening to podcasts of speakers at meetings and their stories of recovery and the common theme is always "nothing is possible without God's help". Problem is; I don't believe in God and am not interested in any religion based recovery program. If that is pushed on me I will run screaming. I have no problems with other's beliefs and I know that faith has helped many people live a fulfilling sober life. But it's just not for me. Is it still possible for me to work the program?
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:55 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Oh gosh no. I like SAM (sure ain't me) or GOD (good orderly direction).
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Old 06-17-2011, 07:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Believe it or not we don't get a lot of "little sunbeams for jesus" in AA. If you are just willing to drop out of the debating club you'll be just fine.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I am eight months sober. I didn't believe in God. I went to AA. I had to almost die in withdrawals to get sober. I prayed.

And it worked.

And then I realized that throughout my entire life I believed that with the moon and black holes and stars and babies that I did believe in a power greater than myself for a long, long time. I was just to drunk to realize it.

I don't pretend to understand God. You are only required to believe in a power greater than yourself, a power that might have created the moon and the black holes and stars and babies.

The tenant of AA states that you only have to believe in a God as you understand him.

To me, that began with the simple premise that there just might be a power greater than myself.

And I stayed sober.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:06 PM   #5 (permalink)
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No, you don't need to believe in a religious "God" to be in AA. Just a belief that there is a "power greater than yourself". "God" is one way that many refer to that power. There is lots of discussion on this topic here, and that is a good thing, but sit with that idea for a while... Forget the whole deity thing, the guy with the beard and all that... That simply there is something besides yourself.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:07 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Yes, of course it's possible. There are Agnostics/Atheists AA meetings, particularly in the large, metropolitan areas. The AA literature, including the Big Book,as it is called, recognizes that one's higher power need not necessarily be God or any other supernatural being (although the Big Book discussion may seem to waffle a bit on that issue). I have seen many agnostics achieve long term sobriety, using whatever AA steps, traditions or other wisdom they find congenial and helpful. Also AA is not the only program which provides group or other support. There are others, such as Rational Recovery for example. Many of these are accessible on the internet. I would personally be wary of programs which maintain that alcoholics can eventually drink moderately. Statistics show that some can but I know one thing. I can't. And, for many, it's risky to try to find out.

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Old 06-17-2011, 08:10 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Welcome to SR Dano

For the sake of completeness: there are other alternatives to 12step programmes too - here's a link to some of the main players (including AA)

http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...formation.html

good to have you with us
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Also depends on the group. Some require more literal interpretation of the Big Book and Twelve Steps than others. If you don't feel comfortable, keep looking until you do.
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Old 06-17-2011, 08:51 PM   #9 (permalink)
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This can be tricky...some would swear that ((YES)) there is a God and life can't exsist without him. Others say, ((NO))...don't be silly, I don't believe in God and I'm still alive.
Then...there are others like myself that have pure faith in a higher power 'within my own soul'. Even though I don't 'pray', so to speak, I do know that there is something mystifying about the universe. It intrigues me. It is an awesome feeling to have faith in life. Life is series of sequences that in due time will evolve in their own measure.
My higher power is within me, my subconscious, my gut. You know when something doesn't feel right. You know when your life feels out of balance. My faith helps me to remain confident and positive that things WILL work out.
I digress, AA is not a religious based group. HOWEVER, most do close the meeting with the Lords Prayer which I do out of respect for my friends and 'their' beliefs. The respect goes both ways. But that doesn't mean you have to sit in your chair chanting and reciting the bible. The power they refer to is how you understand it.
Don't NOT go because of the controversy over beliefs...you get out of AA what you put into it.
Welcome.
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Old 06-17-2011, 09:33 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I am coming up on 12 years sober with AA as the vehicle that got and keeps me sober. I have a spiritual basis, but not a belief in God per se. If you care to get the details feel free to private message me. I know several members of the fellowship that are either agnostic or have what would be called an unconventional view of a higher power.

As was suggested earlier by BadCompany, don't enter AA with an agenda, just a need to stop drinking and you will be amazed what is possible.

In my first meeting I asked the guy next to me "is there a non-religious meeting somewhere?" He smiled and suggested that I "just keep coming back." He and I shared a speaker’s dais last Sunday where we both recounted to the auditorium how it is the fellowship and support of AA that makes sobriety possible if you are sincere and willing to do the work. We find after some time that few of us are the same people who walked into that first meeting.

I hope you find what you are looking for, don't bring preconceived notions with you, just the desire to stop drinking and I am quite sure that you will be glad you came.

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Old 06-17-2011, 09:48 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Dano,

I think those were 10 of the best replies to your question, without going off topic, anyone could put forth.

I have nothing more to add except thanks for posting the question and thanks to those who responded using good etiquette.

Good luck to you and welcome!

Edit: Full disclosure, I'm a full time member of AA as well as SR. I stand by my comment though!
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:11 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If your a strong non-believer then AA will never work for you. You can give it a shot if you want but if you can't get pass the high power or G.O.D (Group of Drunks) like some people use then it will be a waste of your time. Do some research on different recovery programs and see which one will work for you.

My thoughts on recovery is that it should help you with dealing your problems/issues/cravings without alcohol and not change your world view. Addiction is really hard to break finding the right tools for use is better then any tools.

Good luck to you and welcome to SR!
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Old 06-17-2011, 10:42 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Welcome to SR eleven07. Good to have you here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dano
Problem is; I don't believe in God and am not interested in any religion based recovery program.
Your in luck man. AA describes itself as a spiritual program. But one needs faith in a Higher Power or God.
"I must quickly assure you that A.A.'s tread innumerable paths in their quest for faith. You can, if you wish, make A.A. itself your 'higher power.' Here's a very large group of people who have solved their alcohol problem. In this respect they are certainly a power greater than you, who have not even come close to a solution. Surely you can have faith in them. Even this minimum of faith will be enough."
In AA God usefulness in sobriety is described in a few ways:
"God either is, or He isn't. What was our choice to be?"

"we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities."

"Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God"

"You can't win unless you try God's way."

"So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined."

"Refusing to place God first, we had deprived ourselves of His help."
And I could show you more examples of Gods importance in AA. So be prepared to hear a whole lot of God talk in AA. Also you can personally have an unique interpretation of how you understand God or come to faith in a HP/God.So that's not too bad because if you have any preconceived notions of God, those don't need to be your God/HP.

All AA quotes are from; The Big Book, 3rd edition, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.

Me, I utilize many resources that make-up my addiction treatment plan. Stuff like being here at SR, SMART Recovery Tools, CBT, AA open meetings, depression/PTSD groups, Zen and so on. Basically crafting a better new life with my ability to gather and implement a recovery plan. I found I have the all the innate power I need to live a good life drug/alcohol free.
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Old 06-17-2011, 11:25 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Wow, thank you everyone for your replies/help. I plan on going into this with an open mind. I know that the main benefit, as some of you said, is the fellowship of other drunks, knowing you're not alone and that others are going and have gone through the same things you're going through. I've asked my wive's cousin for advice on where to begin as she's 10 years sober with the program. Now if I could just get back to sleep, these early days without booze are wreaking havoc on my log-sawing schedule!
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Old 06-18-2011, 12:54 AM   #15 (permalink)
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This is my experience...i "believed" in God when i walked into AA, a judgemental, punishing, vindictive God who hated me as much as i hated myself and i thought i was definitely going to Hell, i was taught about this God in school, at Church i was forced to go to at school and it was re-enforced by media and some people...

I then found out that this isn't true at all and God is a word that is used to describe whatever a person believes in as a higher power, anything ranging from what i believe which is an entity that is just plain loving and is the creator of everything (not a man with a beard) to, what i also believe too, the energy that we are all made up of, this has been proven by sceience, which can neither be created or destroyed...basically we aren't just a body! Some people in AA look to gravity as their higher power, assuming that you can't levitate yourself to the clouds, and other use the group of people in the room as their higher power, i.e. the love and compassion that comes from alcoholics helping other alcoholics...it's so open!

Fundamentally as long as you believe that there is a power greater than you, remember i mentioned gravity, and it is NOT you...i.e. you aren't running the world or in control of everything, which is insane insane thinking in itself because our bodies will all die...i guess anyone who is going to live forever would have a problem with this concept?!

There is a huge stigma about this God thing created by people outside of AA who base their opinions on the teachings of religions, which i did too, so get down there and prepare to be pleasantly surprised!

There is a whole chapter in the Big Book "Chapter to the Agnostic" which will help too...agnostic meaning that the person accepts that whether there is a God or not cannot be proven and is therefore as mute a point as whether the easter bunny exists...athiests, on the other hand, absolutely do not believe in God and, in my experience, will fight their corner to prove that God does not exist which i've always found weird cos i don't believe in the easter bunny but you don't see me citing sources and getting upset if someone else does...i've always found the athiest as fanatical about their belief, or as they would say non-beliefs, as the religious sort...weird huh?!

Anyways a good convo to be had over coffees with the many people you will get to know! Like you said stay open-minded and on midddle ground with this one and you will be fine:-)
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Old 06-18-2011, 01:47 AM   #16 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yeahgr8
.athiests, on the other hand, absolutely do not believe in God and, in my experience, will fight their corner to prove that God does not exist which i've always found weird cos i don't believe in the easter bunny but you don't see me citing sources and getting upset if someone else does...i've always found the athiest as fanatical about their belief, or as they would say non-beliefs, as the religious sort...weird huh?!
I'm a atheist. I do not care if God exist. Weird huh? No not from my perspective. I have no interest, no citing need about the Easter's bunny mythical existence, fanatical weirdness about my non-belief...nope, none of that funky stuff.

I as an atheist and I personally do not care, or have any need to believe a God is anything useful, necessary and helpful for me. Also I have no desire, inclination, want or need to dissuade anybody that God dose or not exist. If you believe in God...cool by be. I just don't give a big G*****m one way or the other.

Maybe you lack an encounter of a better quality of atheist...well I am here to help
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Old 06-18-2011, 03:57 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I'm a atheist. I do not care if God exist. Weird huh? No not from my perspective. I have no interest, no citing need about the Easter's bunny mythical existence, fanatical weirdness about my non-belief...nope, none of that funky stuff.

I as an atheist and I personally do not care, or have any need to believe a God is anything useful, necessary and helpful for me. Also I have no desire, inclination, want or need to dissuade anybody that God dose or not exist. If you believe in God...cool by be. I just don't give a big G*****m one way or the other.

Maybe you lack an encounter of a better quality of atheist...well I am here to help
Cool and i wasn't singling you out Zen:-)

From what you have written, you are an agnostic though, you aren't an athiest...

The whole definition of agnostic is someone who literally doesn't believe of disbelieve in God, doesn't care either way...thinks it's all a bit silly...

The definition of an athiest is someone who absolutely does not believe in God, and definitely someone who cares about that belief, i.e. the belief of believing there is a not a God is a powerful one it is not the same as the agnostic who does not care either way...all athiests i have ever met have had a reason for not believing in God, agnostics don't have reasons the whole debate is as stupid to them as if care bears really exist.

It's really important to distinguish between the two because if both of them need to be addressed in different ways, e.g. you can talk about God to the agnostic until the cows come home and they won't mind, the athiest will withdraw and become offended...
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Old 06-18-2011, 04:38 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Dano,

Great advice here and I only have one thing to add. You said you were listening to AA speakers on the internet. That is all cool, but do not confuse an AA speaker with the program of AA. For that matter, do not confuse AA meetings with the program of AA. The program of AA is the 12 steps. While meetings are important, for the most you work those 12 steps during the 23 hours a day you are not in a meeting.

I'd try to find a newcomer's meeting and a Big Book or 12 step study meeting. Speaker meetings are focused on one person's story, and open discussion meetings can sometime get mired in the events of the day. Both can miss the message of the 12 steps and the Big Book, JMHO.

If you don't have a Big Book you should get one ASAP. Most meetings sell them very cheaply to newcomers (some actually give them away).

Good luck and keep posting.
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Old 06-18-2011, 05:06 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Dano1975....glad you are in early sobriety...Welcome....

I've been in AA for many years...not once has anyone asked what church or religion I follow...or even if I do...

Most AA meetings in the US do have a bit of prayer in their formats.
during these brief moments....some people do not join in for whatever reasons. I've yet to ask anyone why or why not. .

Please just go to listen....and try more than once or twice....each meeting has it's own flavor.

All my best to you and your family as you head into a future without alcohol..
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Old 06-18-2011, 05:23 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Is it still possible for me to work the program?
You can go to AA meetings, and you can be 'in AA' with no further effort than a desire to stop drinking, which clearly you have. Many people do just that and nothing else.

'Working the program', or taking the actions that others in AA have found necessary to recover from alcoholism, has some requirements. One of those requirements, in Step 2, is a willingness to believe in something greater than you. The only reason that I became willing to believe in something greater than me, was because I was convinced (through my own experience) that I could not stay sober for long.

About half the original AA members came to AA as either agnostics or atheists. I came in as a staunch atheist who thought the idea of a higher power was a crutch for weak-minded people. But I was badly enough beaten down, and hopeless and desperate enough, to do anything to recover.

People in AA recover as the result of a spiritual awakening from taking the 12 Steps. Like you, I had zero interest in that concept. But that desperation, and my repeated failures, fueled a willingness.

That 'higher power' is left to your own understanding. It need not be anything other than what makes sense to you personally.
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