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Athiests in AA??

Old 11-08-2006, 07:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Leo_the_Cat
I'll look at this. I am having a difficult time with the concept of a "secular higher power" or "secular spirituality". One definition of secular is "of or pertaining to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritial or sacred".
I'm with Leo on this one.
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Old 11-08-2006, 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by nolonger
I go to AA meetings, and mostly I let the specifically religious stuff wash over me. I don't have a God, nor do I buy into a lot of the "there are no coincidences" stuff, nor the "cosmic force that orders the universe" either. But there are smart people, in meetings and elsewhere, who have experienced something worthwhile from their religious belief, and it's intriguing for me to try to make that meaningful for me, someone who doesn't have any particular belief in transcendance.
Greetings NL,

I find your ability in itself to be intriguing. See, once I began to embrace philosophy (logic and reason) over its polar opposite, religion (faith; by definition blind faith, in fact) I could no longer sit there and listen to these people talk on and on and on about "working" this or that Step and hear "God" or "Higher Power" in every other sentence.

It was weird, and I freely confess that: You see, I am describing a slow midlife transformation (people on philosophy forums have said to me, "congratulations on your enlightment" - LOL! - hey, I don't know about all that, now) from Baptist upbringing to weak agnosticism.

If you look to Wikipedia and type in "agnostic" you'll get a fantastic cross-referenced education on the full definitions of "atheism" and "agnosticism," of which there are "strong" agnostics and "weak" agnostics.

A weak agnostic says he simply doesn't know; a strong agnostic believes you cannot know if there is or isn't a God - and there's your difference. Interesting, huh?

And it just gets 'interestinger' and 'interestinger' the more you delve into the many branches of philosophy. Some diehard lovers of philosophy (most of whom are extremely well-read, btw.) insist on spelling it with a capital "P": Philosophy, so strong is their passion for the field. And it is stunningly large, too.

Well, cheers - just wanted to say, interesting post, NL. Got quite side-tracked.

Sigh. Me and my love of writing, i guess

-TCD-
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Old 11-09-2006, 02:54 AM
  # 123 (permalink)  
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Hi TCD,
many thanks for your thoughtful response. I can see where you’re coming from. But for me, the key word in my earlier post is “experience”. It is not a question of intellectual debate – if I wanted to, I could sit in an AA meeting and wheel out Voltaire and Feuerbach and Darwin and all the rest, but what would be the point? Either people would respond with exactly the “blind faith” you refer to, or else (maybe) they would wheel out Augustine and St. Paul and Kierkegaard and Albert Einstein and I don’t know who else. That's not to say arguments about theology etc. aren't interesting, just that there's something else going on.

What interests me is not so much “logic and reason” as the human beings who bring that logic and reason to light, with their bodies and their minds and their life stories. And those human beings include ones who may describe their experiences, hell even experience their experiences in religious terms, but that doesn’t stop me having a lot to learn from that experience. I lose a lot by just thinking (as I used to) “religious? what a f***ing idiot!” and shutting myself off.

There’s a chapter in the 12 steps/traditions book which is about the second step, so about all this, basically. I really dislike it: I don’t like the tone or even the ideas in it. But in the spirit of “making it meaningful for me”, I would take one phrase from it that struck me: “quit the debating society”. I understand that to mean “intellectual surrender” but to give up being like the people I remember from debating societies at university. They were petty-minded, hair-splitting, cleverer-than-thou, point-scoring jerks mostly, and I hated them and at the same time really wanted to be one of them. Not being like that means opening myself up to admitting there are things I don’t know, not about the universe so much as about myself and about how to live and survive without alcohol (I certainly won’t l and s with alcohol, that’s for sure). I can’t philosophize that for myself, I can only learn it from listening to and being with others – in other words, being a human being.

Mind you, that's just me. In my favorite internet phrase: YMMV.

much wishes,
Nolonger.
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Old 11-09-2006, 02:56 AM
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sorry, meant.

"I understand that not to mean “intellectual surrender”..." ;o)
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Old 11-09-2006, 06:47 AM
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Nolonger said:

What really matters is just that process - sitting and carefully listening to others, trying to really pay heed to what they say, and shutting the f*** up for once in my life. It takes me out of my own self-centreness, which I soooooo badly need. It's not just learning, it's practising...
You know what I like? Kindred spirits!

Can't we have a new one? Kindred humanism?

Nolonger expresses a profound philosophical sentiment - and my first degree was in philosophy, so I should know, shouldn't I? - which goes to the heart of alcoholism, as I choose to understand it, and it is this.

Shut the f*** up.

When I stopped having the expectation that I SHOULD be able to agree with everything in the BB and in AA - lo and behold, I began to experience the benefits. And I'm sure that's the case for all the other methods of recovery. When we are able to wholeheartedly experience recovery, rather than debating it's minutiae, we're on the right path, aren't we?

Feel the love. Live the life! lol!

Your friendly neighbourhood weak agnostic
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Old 11-09-2006, 09:48 AM
  # 126 (permalink)  
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This about sums up my perspective:

agnostic atheism

Agnostic atheism is a philosophical doctrine that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. While the concepts of atheism and agnosticism occasionally overlap, they are distinct because atheism is generally defined as "a condition of being without theistic beliefs" while agnosticism is usually defined as "an absence of knowledge (or any claim of knowledge)". An agnostic may identify as an atheist or a theist in certain circumstances (see Agnostic theism).

One of the earliest explanations of agnostic atheism is that of Robert Flint, in his Croall Lecture of 1887-1888 (published in 1903 under the title Agnosticism):

"The atheist may however be, and not unfrequently is, an agnostic. There is an agnostic atheism or atheistic agnosticism, and the combination of atheism with agnosticism which may be so named is not an uncommon one." (p.49)

"If a man has failed to find any good reason for believing that there is a God, it is perfectly natural and rational that he should not believe that there is a God; and if so, he is an atheist... if he goes farther, and, after an investigation into the nature and reach of human knowledge, ending in the conclusion that the existence of God is incapable of proof, cease to believe in it on the ground that he cannot know it to be true, he is an agnostic and also an atheist - an agnostic-atheist - an atheist because an agnostic... while, then, it is erroneous to identify agnosticism and atheism, it is equally erroneous so to separate them as if the one were exclusive of the other..." (p.50-51)
And it's relevance to my addiction, mental health problems, relationship problems, car problems, etc... I just don't find any.

I guess I'm an extreme secularist.
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Old 11-09-2006, 04:56 PM
  # 127 (permalink)  
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thanks doorknob.

i went in there asking for a little help then i get waylaid. i feel, um, dirty.
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Old 11-09-2006, 05:10 PM
  # 128 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by windysan
thanks doorknob.

i went in there asking for a little help then i get waylaid. i feel, um, dirty.
You betcha!
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Old 11-10-2006, 08:12 PM
  # 129 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by nolonger
I could sit in an AA meeting and wheel out Voltaire and Feuerbach and Darwin and all the rest, but what would be the point? Either people would respond with exactly the “blind faith” you refer to, or else (maybe) they would wheel out Augustine and St. Paul and Kierkegaard and Albert Einstein and I don’t know who else.
Originally Posted by paulmh
Nolonger expresses a profound philosophical sentiment - and my first degree was in philosophy, so I should know, shouldn't I? - which goes to the heart of alcoholism, as I choose to understand it, and it is this.

Shut the f*** up.
LOL, whoah now. Though I'm sure you are not directing that toward me or others like me, I do take offense.

This is a secular subforum in which we share diverse roads to recovery--not one of debate. Right?

I was describing my journey - nothing more.

Certainly nothing less!

-TCD-
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Old 11-10-2006, 11:24 PM
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Hi TCD. Well no offense taken all round. <scratches head for a bit, stops>
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Old 11-11-2006, 01:34 AM
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Easy does it, here.
Paul was repeating no longer's statement about himself.
No harm; no foul here.

Shalom!
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Old 11-11-2006, 03:11 AM
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Originally Posted by historyteach
Easy does it, here.
Paul was repeating no longer's statement about himself.
Shalom!
Exactly. Thats how I read it: "quit the debating society" means STFU in 1930's language. Paulmh was actually being very positive about the posts he was referring to, as far as I can see.

Originally Posted by paulmh
...kinda thought though that if I had said "religion and the humanities and science", that there was nothing which didn't engage with the unknown. lol
That's what I was getting at. Moreover 'metaphysical' is a bit of a non starter for those with reservations about there actually being anything beyond the physical.

For myself, the point about the term 'secular spirituality' is that it provokes thought about what it means in practical terms. Those two words are seemingly contradictory, but perhaps they could be reconciled. To what end? How? Why? It is a term that begs definition, and then defies it.

*Yet another* defintion of 'secular spirituality' could be a spirituality that is not allied with any sect, denomination creed, religion (or lack of religion), and encourages followers to grow along 'spiritual' lines, acknowledging no ultimate authority save that of a loving god as expressed in group conscience and so on and so on. Its no surprise that the last page or so has returned to twelve step discussion. Many of the posters on this forum already have a working definition of 'secular spirituality'.

Why are the so-called spiritual vales called 'spiritual', and not just 'good', or even plain 'human'?
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Old 11-11-2006, 03:48 AM
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Originally Posted by carlton
"Isn't it enough to see that the garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?" - Douglas Adams.
That sounds like something I'd say.

For me, 'spiritual growth' is about learning to be better at being. I think that the word ''spiritual', with its connotations of 'Holy Spirit' and the like, causes confusion. I have never been able to understand what is so "sprirtual" about these so-called 'spiritual values', like honesty, integrity, generosity and so on. These values are human, natural, and most definitely of this world, not some imagined other world.
And so improvement in these areas would be human, natural, or maybe just positive growth.

But praying to any of them? What for? I might as well pray to a doorknob!
LOL!

For me, praying is like wishing. You can pray in one hand...


Last edited by doorknob; 11-11-2006 at 04:16 AM.
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Old 11-11-2006, 11:41 AM
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Apologies for the confusion, thanks for clarifying Teach.

I seem to struggle with my communication TCD. You describe your own journey and experience - just as I try to describe mine. I get frustrated when we start talking about recovery - a very personal and very "real" experience which we all share - and end up talking about G*d - a very divisive topic. STFU is one of those really useful principles - pragmatic and practical, I mean - because it helps me move from being someone who has to defend their opinions, and who is therefore not open to changing them, to being someone who can genuinely listen and be open to "the new". That's a process, (if I describe my own experience) and an aspect of recovery which ostensibly has little to do with stopping drinking, but one which I find personally liberating none the less.
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Old 11-11-2006, 08:37 PM
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[. . . later . . . ]
:beerchug: <--- LOL! Love those smilies.

Paul it's all good. I did say I did not take "STFU" as directed toward me.

Then said I was offended. LOL!

So who's more confused - I take that prize.

It's all good - peace and cheers.

=-=-=-=-=

Having hopefully conveyed an effective mea culpa, I do have follow-up thoughts on the subject in general. There is nothing wrong with the old "take the cotton out of your ears and put it in your mouth" but I got to a point where AA's message simply did not resonate.

I could no longer sit and pretend to pretend (an advanced art-form of "fake it 'til you you make it" mixed in with a peculiar politically correct self-denial. [1] LOL)

I mean shoot, after I'd "made" it, what was the need of faking it?

Suddenly, there was no longer that need. I was sober, thinking, reading, and transforming. I became bored to death and began to realize that in a very real sense, I had worked and outgrown the Steps of AA.

I'm talking back to the days around 15 year ago of cursing- and smoke-filled rooms. I gagged on more than the smoke, but the prerequisite that in order to fit in, you'd damn well best park thy brain on the front steps first, please.

=-=-=-=-=

To nolonger, I was never suggesting open debate in an AA meeting: You would no more stand up in an AA meeting and begin spouting the foundations of existential psychology born of Nietzsche and expanded upon by Kant & Kierkegaard than you would the unique take on metaphysics of Martin Heidegger after them.

You learned quickly that you'd be told to STFU and listen.

Philosophy and debate is out of place in AA, period. And in fairness--it is rightfully inappropriate. AA is a "program" of intellectual surrender and resignation, remember?

Outside those walls, I underwent my own period of raw skepticism of the Anglo Saxon Western theology; its godhead and trilogy and... somehow, I dunno. Came out the other end quite at peace with the notion that there simply is no more a God than there is a Santa Claus.

Obviously, I cannot reconcile atheism with AA. LOL But again obviously, some people manage. [1] cited above comes in handy for cult-like orgs.

I evolved spiritually at first. After reading the Bible through and breaking free of strict religious dogma, I branched out and read works by such noted authors as Gary Zukav, Deepak Chopra, Wayne W. Dyer, Marianne Williamson (a lovely soul and beautiful writer. "A Return to Love: Reflections on A Course in Miracles" is truly a must-read. DO NOT be fooled by Williamson's title; it's a wonderful introduction to modern day, new-age (or metaphysical) thinking and does well in tying together ALL the world's religions including Buddhism and Hinduism. Hinduism by the way, is the world's oldest religion, predating Jesus Christ by over two millennia!)

All this occurred right about when I hit thirty. Through my thirties, I studied much of Eastern theology--Buddhism, Hinduism, and Lao-Tzu's Taoism...

Cut to present and I'm fascinated by philosophy - still sober. LOL

STFU won't fly outside AA, folks, and is for the newcomer in AA, in crisis.

Thanks again,
-TCD-
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Old 11-12-2006, 05:09 AM
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Hi TCD. Loved the post!

I think you're right about not only the "STFU" principle, but many others in AA - they're for the alcoholic in crisis. I'm much more recently in the fellowship than you and I still benefit from all the cursing, adamant, brook no nonsense attitude, and the "BB way or highway" unequivocality. And I can very much sympathise with you that there comes a point when one thinks - hey, I don't need to fake anything, I've made it! BUt at the moment, today and for this alcoholic, I continue to benefit from the fellowship and from trying to work the steps - simply because, as you no doubt understand, I'm trying to "re-train" myself to live differently, and the new stuff is kind of ill-fitting just now. And I like the fact that the emphasis is on recovery from alcoholism, which blighted my life - so it's the whole of my life that is under scrutiny. So it's still all to the good, for me, but I can see how it can come about that it's no longer in the slightest bit nourishing - and becomes in fact an impediment to your own development. But it's probably about, as you so accurately say - crisis. It's about getting us out of crisis, and for those of us who remain so inclined - keeping us out of crisis!

And here again I'm speaking about myself, so please don't misinterpret what I say - but when I look back on my philosophical period, I see someone who was trying to avoid life, someone who was having opinions on what a good life might look like, rather than actually trying to do it myself.

I'm not a Christian. In fact in many regards I'm vehemently anti-Christian. I find it hard to differentiate the mindset of the Islamo-fascist from the Christo-fascist. BUt I find much that is beuatiful throughout the Abramic philosophies - firstly of course becuase I'm like a guitar string tuned to those particular scales, but also I like to think because I am rationally able to respond to certain insights or perspectives, regardless of my own baggage. I studied existentialism pretty hard. For a long time in the eighties I was very heavily inlfuenced by Marx. Now I'm in recovery, and I think I just had to bite the bullet and join the wide stream of people who try and live a little better. When I was an active alcoholic I didn't do that. I'm enjoying a different life, and I very much feel like AA "gave" me that. And at least partially by teaching me the value of STFU (&L).
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Old 11-12-2006, 05:29 AM
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Thanks to all for some great posts – they have really had me thinking, and sometimes arguing with/against myself too. I'll post more when I settle the argument in my head a bit clearer.

Originally Posted by paulmh
For a long time in the eighties I was very heavily inlfuenced by Marx. Now I'm in recovery, and I think I just had to bite the bullet and join the wide stream of people who try and live a little better...
To be fair to old Charlie Marx, he was the person who said “The philosophers have only interpreted the world differently, the point is to change it.” If you just add “beginning with one’s self…”, he’s not far off what you’re saying…

best to all, NL.
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Old 11-12-2006, 05:37 AM
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- but when I look back on my philosophical period, I see someone who was trying to avoid life, someone who was having opinions on what a good life might look like, rather than actually trying to do it myself.
This struck a cord with me, too.
Today, I want to try and live a good life.
I've spent enough time trying to figure out what it is. Spending lots of time in my head; alone. I think I romanticised it.

Thanks for sharing!
Shalom!
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Old 11-13-2006, 03:52 PM
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Hi

I use my group for guidance, but I make it clear that it is not a "power" or a conscious entity beyond the experiences of a bunch of drunks coming together. I view the use of the word "power" in the same vein as the concept of a magic pill for addiction

AB



Originally Posted by Blake
Yeah I preffer the term "power greater than myself" to the term "higher power"...I can deffinately see plenty of powers greater than myself in life, so it helps me...
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Old 11-14-2006, 01:19 AM
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That is a perfectly fine way to use it, but it's not necessarily the only way for someone who is non-theistic to use HP as a part of their recovery. If the problem for an alcoholic is "themself", then the solution is "not-themself". The fact that some of the early members run off with the notion of "a loving G*d" does not diminish the therapeutic power - in fact the life changing experience for an egotistical drunk like me - that power to change can be derived from outside one's self. That's all. Acknowledging a power greater than one's self is the starting point in recovery, not arriving at a conclusion about it's height, weight and superpowers. That's why AA is so good for so many different people - because it actively discourages people from bringing their notion of G*d to the forefront - "you've got the benefits of a power greater than yourself? Good. Then we don't need to know anything else"

Don't you agree abadun? I know you don't like some of the references to atheists and agnostics - though I think you do take them out of context quite deliberately - but can't we non-theists simply learn the benefits of tolerance and forgiveness from our theistic peers?
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