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Old 07-10-2018, 08:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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AA and God(spiritualism) for an Atheist


Hi

40 days sober here after around 120 days sober and then a month or so of drinking off and on.

This time around I have started going to AA meetings, however I am finding the whole spiritual emphasis that is in the meetings a bit hard to come to grips with.

Just wondering how other Atheists who do AA have dealt with this?

I don't believe in any sort of spirituality, I believe we are born, we live, we die and thats it.

I do believe in a sort of karma, not in a spiritual sense, but more in that the way you treat people is probably how they will treat you, treat them badly then they are likely to treat you badly.

Anyways any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers
Craig
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Old 07-13-2018, 05:13 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I can only tell you my experience.

I came into AA an atheist/agnostic. Someone made the point that I had never investigated the worlds religions. Sure I had been exposed to Christianity but I knew very little about any of the others spiritual traditions.

I investigated them with as much of an open mind as I could. This search lead one morning to mystical experience.

Since then I have come to appreciate so much from Buddhism and the Tao Te Ching that my life will be forever better as a result.

Do an honest search. Keep an open mind. I don't think you will regret it.
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:09 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My experience. I came to AA as an Agnostic. I had no belief and no feeling about God. I had some anti religion bias, but this was based in ignorance and prejusice which is to say that unlike some folk who have had bad experiences of religion, I has no particular reason for being antagonostic.

I also was in end stage alcoholism, and if you think about AA's second step, Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, I had a long list of things I had tried or had been tried on me that I had come to believe would achieve this result, but they had all failed. First and foremost was self reliance. As far as acloholism was concerned this was totally ineffective.

There was only one thing remaining I had not tried. AA. So I went to a few meetings and got drunk. Then I went for total immersion. Like a scientific experiment, I formed a hypothesis based on the evidence before me. I had a well defined condition, there were other people who had clearly been in the same place, they had applied a particular method and now were recovered. I hypothesised that if I was to perfom the exact method, I ought to get the same result. I did and I did.

When it came to the God bit, even with my partially opened mind I had walked out of a meeting that used the Lord's Prayer, I caught on to the idea that this was important, in fact it was the whole of AA recovery. They didn't have anything else in their tool box.

It said in the big book that facing an acoholic death or learning to live by spiritual principles was not always an easy choice to make. Surely there is a third option and anyway, how bad can an alcoholic death be?

Well there were not other options for me and I did actually want to live, so I made a deal. I am willing to believe there could be a Power greater than myself that would do for me the same thing it did for the other people I had met, but only as long as I got some evidence.

So, that was fine they said, the way to that is the same as hypothesised, through working the steps. So I began to look for the Power through working the steps. Before I was half way through I had an experience that chnaged my mind, gave me my proof.

I could have stuck by my non-belief, making that non negotiable, but I don't think the AA program works anyother way. It would have left me looking for a non existant alternative and, honestly, I was so close to the end, an alcoholic death was the most likely out come.

Perhaps your second step might read Came to believe I could restore myself to sanity ( mine did at one time). That is a fair enough choice, but it is a choice for something other than the AA path.
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Old 07-14-2018, 02:08 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hi

40 days sober here after around 120 days sober and then a month or so of drinking off and on.

This time around I have started going to AA meetings, however I am finding the whole spiritual emphasis that is in the meetings a bit hard to come to grips with.

Just wondering how other Atheists who do AA have dealt with this?

I don't believe in any sort of spirituality, I believe we are born, we live, we die and thats it.

I do believe in a sort of karma, not in a spiritual sense, but more in that the way you treat people is probably how they will treat you, treat them badly then they are likely to treat you badly.

Anyways any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers
Craig
Look in the AA directory for agnostic meetings. There probably won't be a lot but if you might find one or two. Some AA groups have a strong religious flavor and you don't want to feel the odd man out so try a variety of meetings in your area. I'm sure you'll find meetings where you can feel at ease sharing your concerns.

People like to say AA is this or that but a lot depends on the meetings you attend. The group vibe can be quite different .
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:38 AM   #5 (permalink)
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https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/4132817-post1.html (My experience as an atheist in AA)

https://www.soberrecovery.com/forums...82-post15.html (The God Problem)

see if these are useful to you.

AA offers a spiritual solution, and is up front about that.
how you deal with that, IF you deal with that, if you experience yourself wanting or needing that...all up to you to figure out.
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:44 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't believe in any sort of spirituality, I believe we are born, we live, we die and thats it.
For me the spirituality aspect is the part between "we are born,...we die", I find it in the how "we live".
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Old 07-31-2018, 10:53 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Hi

40 days sober here after around 120 days sober and then a month or so of drinking off and on.

This time around I have started going to AA meetings, however I am finding the whole spiritual emphasis that is in the meetings a bit hard to come to grips with.

Just wondering how other Atheists who do AA have dealt with this?

I don't believe in any sort of spirituality, I believe we are born, we live, we die and thats it.

I do believe in a sort of karma, not in a spiritual sense, but more in that the way you treat people is probably how they will treat you, treat them badly then they are likely to treat you badly.

Anyways any advice would be appreciated.

Cheers
Craig
How about this one? I totally believe in a Higher Power, but I totally believe that Higher Power doesn't give a **** about us. HP made everything and just set it in motion. So how useful would that be at an AA meeting? I've never considered AA much because of the religion involved. I recently ran across a comment on another sobriety site wherein someone proclaimed that AA isn't really that religious at all. So I looked up some local meetings and almost every single one of them was at a church. Secular my ass!
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:12 AM   #8 (permalink)
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So I looked up some local meetings and almost every single one of them was at a church. Secular my ass!
maybe you're not aware, but they don't have AA meetings at churches because of a religious component. They have them there because most churches A) have extra meeting space to rent that is readily available B) rent for a meeting space is cheaper than a lot of other places and sometimes even free and C) Most churches willingly allow AA meetings because they have a vested interest in helping people recover from addictions in whatever way possible, even something so small as renting a AA group space to have a meeting. That being said, only one of the 4 AA meetings I attend is in a church. One is in a designated Alano club, one in a city hall, and another at a local library. Maybe try keeping an open mind a little bit. Might help the anger.
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Old 07-31-2018, 11:40 AM   #9 (permalink)
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So I looked up some local meetings and almost every single one of them was at a church. Secular my ass!
did the meetings ya looked up state they were secular meetings?
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Old 07-31-2018, 12:00 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Hi LFCNZ!
I joined AA at half a year sober. So I knew I was able to get sober without any spirituality or HP or God. I felt stuck at that point, mostly wanted a bigger support network as I was relying very much just on my partner then.

And of course, people in AA wanted me to try things their way. And I did. I tried to find a HP, I prayed, worked the steps, tried my best to believe in "something" that could be used as a HP. But it just never clicked with me. If there is something bigger, then I am sure it doesn't care or even know about me. And I don't think that preying to it will make any difference whatsoever.
I do believe in karma in a similar way to you though. But I also believe in human willpower. I just believe that we have to learn to use it more wisely, not wasting it on "wanting to make drinking work for me" but "wanting to recover" for example. Even the big book says a few times that this whole "either you choose spirituality or die an alcoholic death" is true for most but a few rare exceptions. It says that if your alcoholism is as severe as theirs, that then there is probably no human power that can help you. It always leaves it open that either you are an alcoholic but a less severe case or that there is an exception.
If you feel like you don't need it, then don't force it. If nothing else works for you and you have tried everything and every other way to stay sober then maybe it's better to give spirituality a try. And when the BB was written AA consisted of the worst and most hopeless cases that found spirituality as a way out of their problem.
As said, even the big book doesn't say that this is the only way for all alcoholics. It always speaks of "them", what worked for those people in their experience.

If people get too pushy or ask you why you even go to meetings if you don't want to work their program like they did, then you can remind them that the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.

I don't have a sponsor anymore and would only get one if they agree on me working the steps in my way, which does not include talking to or believing in a HP, no prayers but journalling and mindfulness.
I still go to meetings and I do find a lot of support there and take what I want but leave the rest.
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Old 07-31-2018, 01:27 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I tried 12 Step. I tried agnostic meetings. Met some great people. Got a pretty agnostic sponsor and tried working the steps.

None of it resonated, so I use other methods, mostly rational recovery, individual psychotherapy. CBT therapy was very useful and helpful as well.

Is there a reason why you feel that you have to use AA as a recovery method?
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Old 07-31-2018, 03:35 PM   #12 (permalink)
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If you believe in kharma, just use the word "kharma" everywhere it says to use "God". I know someone who did that.
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Old 07-31-2018, 03:45 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm atheist & I could never make the "spiritual" side of the 12-Step fellowships work for me. I did, however, find some meetings useful in early recovery - I think the support of others with similar problems is helpful even if you aren't following the program - take what you need & leave the rest. as kevlarsjal2 says above, Tradition Three is your friend here for what it's worth, I found NA/CA to be more inclusive of substances/behaviours other than alcohol & more tolerant of people following a slightly different path.

saying that, it can be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. are there any secular recovery organisations in NZ? LifeRing, SOS, SMART, etc? I believe NZ is about as irreligious as the UK, so I would expect there would be.

if not, it looks like SMART Australia do online meetings which might be worth trying if AA still isn't working for you:

https://smartrecoveryaustralia.com.au/online-meetings/
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Old 07-31-2018, 04:41 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Hi LFCNZ!
I joined AA at half a year sober. So I knew I was able to get sober without any spirituality or HP or God. I felt stuck at that point, mostly wanted a bigger support network as I was relying very much just on my partner then.

And of course, people in AA wanted me to try things their way. And I did. I tried to find a HP, I prayed, worked the steps, tried my best to believe in "something" that could be used as a HP. But it just never clicked with me. If there is something bigger, then I am sure it doesn't care or even know about me. And I don't think that preying to it will make any difference whatsoever.
I do believe in karma in a similar way to you though. But I also believe in human willpower. I just believe that we have to learn to use it more wisely, not wasting it on "wanting to make drinking work for me" but "wanting to recover" for example. Even the big book says a few times that this whole "either you choose spirituality or die an alcoholic death" is true for most but a few rare exceptions. It says that if your alcoholism is as severe as theirs, that then there is probably no human power that can help you. It always leaves it open that either you are an alcoholic but a less severe case or that there is an exception.
If you feel like you don't need it, then don't force it. If nothing else works for you and you have tried everything and every other way to stay sober then maybe it's better to give spirituality a try. And when the BB was written AA consisted of the worst and most hopeless cases that found spirituality as a way out of their problem.
As said, even the big book doesn't say that this is the only way for all alcoholics. It always speaks of "them", what worked for those people in their experience.

If people get too pushy or ask you why you even go to meetings if you don't want to work their program like they did, then you can remind them that the only requirement for membership is the desire to stop drinking.

I don't have a sponsor anymore and would only get one if they agree on me working the steps in my way, which does not include talking to or believing in a HP, no prayers but journalling and mindfulness.
I still go to meetings and I do find a lot of support there and take what I want but leave the rest.

If the Lords Prayer bothers you at the end of the meeting. Don't leave the room out like a guy I knows. Don't refuse to hold hands. Go along with the show. You don't have to saying anything except perhaps, "Keep coming back it works if you work it* when the prayer finishes.

Plenty of AA meetings do have a strong religious flavor but there are plenty that don`t as well.
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Old 07-31-2018, 04:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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If the Lords Prayer bothers you at the end of the meeting. Don't leave the room out like a guy I knows. Don't refuse to hold hands. Go along with the show. You don't have to saying anything except perhaps, "Keep coming back it works if you work it* when the prayer finishes.

Plenty of AA meetings do have a strong religious flavor but there are plenty that don`t as well.
I don't go to the overly religious ones. And I do hold hands and say the prayer. I do like the idea of the serenity prayer but I just don't ask a god to give me those things, I say it more as a reminder to myself that this is how I want to deal with things (serenity, courage and wisdom).

But every now and then people come up to me and ask why I no longer work the steps, tell me I should get a new sponsor etc. It used to bother me but now I just tell them I will do so if I should feel the need for it
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Old 07-31-2018, 04:50 PM   #16 (permalink)
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I am in the UK,the reason a lot of AA meetings are held in church rooms is because the rents are cheap!No other reason.I attend meetings in Catholic,Methodist,C of E church halls and some meetings I have no idea what religion the Church is.

I live in a multi- cultural City,we get people in our meetings from every religion known to man and a lot of people who have no religion at all,that includes me.
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:09 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I don't go to the overly religious ones. And I do hold hands and say the prayer. I do like the idea of the serenity prayer but I just don't ask a god to give me those things, I say it more as a reminder to myself that this is how I want to deal with things (serenity, courage and wisdom).

But every now and then people come up to me and ask why I no longer work the steps, tell me I should get a new sponsor etc. It used to bother me but now I just tell them I will do so if I should feel the need for it
In order for some in AA to maintain their beliefs they need to convince others of their truth.

But there is no need to get into an argument even with those who are pushy.

Be polite and move on.
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:42 PM   #18 (permalink)
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In order for some in AA to maintain their beliefs they need to convince others of their truth.

But there is no need to get into an argument even with those who are pushy.

Be polite and move on.
I don't know why you think I would get into arguments with them. I just said that it used to make me very insecure to be told that I am doing it wrong and it made me feel unwelcome when people told me things like that AA is for those who work the program and that there's no point in coming to the meetings otherwise.
But now I do no longer take it so personally and I accepted that I don't have to adapt to their ways or their beliefs even if they tell me that mine are wrong. I feel more secure now so I politely say that I will do whatever they advise me to do, when I feel the need for that. I don't know how this could be considered impolite or like I was getting into arguments with anyone. I never had an argument at a meeting, I am very conflict averse.
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:56 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by kevlarsjal2;6970521[B
]I don't know why you think I would get into arguments with them. I just said that it used to make me very insecure to be told that I am doing it wrong and it made me feel unwelcome when people told me things like that AA is for those who work the program and that there's no point in coming to the meetings otherwise.
But now I do no longer take it so personally and I accepted that I don't have to adapt to their ways or their beliefs even if they tell me that mine are wrong. I feel more secure now so I politely say that I will do whatever they advise me to do, when I feel the need for that. I don't know how this could be considered impolite or like I was getting into arguments with anyone. I never had an argument at a meeting, I am very conflict averse.
I am not saying you would. My point is meant as a general statement.

Even to politely suggest "you take what you need and leave the rest" may provoke a strong reaction in some members/groups.
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Old 07-31-2018, 08:36 PM   #20 (permalink)
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So I looked up some local meetings and almost every single one of them was at a church. Secular my ass!
maybe you're not aware, but they don't have AA meetings at churches because of a religious component. They have them there because most churches A) have extra meeting space to rent that is readily available B) rent for a meeting space is cheaper than a lot of other places and sometimes even free and C) Most churches willingly allow AA meetings because they have a vested interest in helping people recover from addictions in whatever way possible, even something so small as renting a AA group space to have a meeting. That being said, only one of the 4 AA meetings I attend is in a church. One is in a designated Alano club, one in a city hall, and another at a local library. Maybe try keeping an open mind a little bit. Might help the anger.
No anger here! Anguish, despair, and hopelessness maybe, but not too much room left for anger. I'm just relating what I found. I try to keep an open mind, but when I read the 12 Steps and see several references to God and Him, I get a bit turned off.
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