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Athiests in AA??

Old 01-08-2007, 02:51 AM
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Sugah

I've been reading Francis Hartigan's book on Bill W. Your question - am I an atheist - just made me think about something Ive just quoted to another member in a PM -

"Yet there are also ways in which Bill never stopped being the man he was before that event. His belief in God might have become unshakeable, but he could never embrace any theology or even the divinity of Jesus, and he went to his grave unable to give his own personal idea of God much definition"
Piercing the hard shell of ego and self-imposed isolation is the start of the "spiritual" journey. Letting in the energy of "outside". That's as much HP as I need to get sober. Today, it's as much HP as I can handle!
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Old 01-08-2007, 08:39 AM
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I've read similar things about Bill W., Paul. And I can relate to the quote that you posted. No one could convince me that there is nothing out there but nothing.

I fully accept and understand the need of some for a mythology to explain it. Perhaps I just have come to the place where I don't need the metaphors, though I will say that I find many of them very beautiful. I've spent a great deal of time studying them in various cultures, and as a writer, I've found myself creating my own metaphors -- for the things that I've come to believe are beyond the metaphor cannot really be explained in any other way.

I guess when I think of the word "atheist," I see it as a Judeo-Christian way of indicating "other." Though most Native American cultures (from which I descend) have many intricate myths to explain their god(s), they don't attempt to "convert" any other tribe whose beliefs might differ. They recognize them as different, functioning mythologies -- functioning for the tribe, culture, people. There is no need for conversion or even labeling.

Now, I'm straying. I use the word "god" because most people recognize it as an indication of "beyond." And I do believe that I am beyond, as I believe in energy and that my energy is connected to all other energy in the universe -- I am not the universe. (Very similar to your comments, Paul!) Which means that yes, I believe in something higher and beyond myself. I just do not feel the need to clothe it in anthropomorphic ways...MOST of the time!!

Again....*sigh*.... I stray a bit. The subject line of this thread reads: "Atheists in AA??" and I counter with the question: What is an atheist?

I am a member of AA, I practice the twelve steps for recovery, and I am not a theist, except when I am. *whew*

(remainder of post removed as it once again took a turn and may quite possibly have gone on forever!!)

Peace & Love,
Sugah
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Old 01-08-2007, 12:36 PM
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Sugah - thanks for 2 wonderful posts.

"Am I an a.?" is a question you can only answer for yourself...;o)

I would say that I am an atheist. I agreed with so much in your posts, but I tend to interpret it socially rather than cosmically.

My "outside" is the world of humans, living and dead, into which I am born and which forms me. It is the language I use to think my most "personal" thoughts, but which wasn't created by me, but by millions and millions down the centuries. The "energy" is the culture and knowledge through which I understand myself and the world. Again, it's not mine but something made by others, but to which I can contribute. In every way, I can only live and survive thanks to the society in which I live, and it wouldn't be worth living in any other way.

In its good moments, AA for me is a managable little version of that.

But it's all so easy to forget.
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Old 01-08-2007, 01:06 PM
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I thank you, nolonger, for your post, and I like the way you characterize your beliefs.

I don't feel any aversion to the word "atheist." I think it's a relative term, dependent upon ones own personal beliefs. Whereas I might not feel any sting in it, someone who considers it a term to describe something counter to what they believe in might (in using it to describe their opposite). I would say that I'm not an atheist, because I believe in something other than my own existence (though I have toyed with the idea that thought creates reality, and if only I could change my thoughts, I could recreate my reality. Wait!! I think I have!! So maybe.....lol).

I think that we all have a need to feel purpose in life, regardless of the form that purpose might take. Egocentric and self-centered thought and action doesn't work for me, as I start thinking that I can create the reality for those around me. I can control it. And if I feel that way, then I'm never going to come to the point of realizing that I can't change my drinking or using patterns; that once I pick up, I've surrendered all control of my own positve existence, save for the destruction (which is hard to characterize as "positive" even if some consider the value in the bodies we are told we must step over....god, I hate that!). I have chosen to rewrite my existence in such a way that all the experience it encompasses are now of value to me. They help me to relate to others who are struggling to find purpose.

I love these kinds of discussions. They've formed me as much as the energy of the universe, once open to it, has formed me....or the collective memories, if I adopt your ideas (which I like very much). Free exchange with open minds is a beautiful thing.

To me, "atheist" is more of a label for someone who steadfastly refuses to entertain an idea other than that which can be empirically proven using methods recognized as scientific. I try to see all theories as possible. I don't have to accept them as truth in order to see their potential value to those who hold them. I don't even have to like them, nor do I have to refrain from debating them. I just have to (at least, today!) accept that I don't have all the answers. If I did...gee, that would make me god...and that's one thing I'm pretty sure I'm not. At least, not just me

Peace & Love,
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Old 01-08-2007, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by ExDrunk
I was an agnostic when I attended AA meetings, and am an atheist now.
LOL Now there's a rare reversal of a common theme!

"I had to come up with my own workable option - which turned out to be simply STOPPING. I still don't know how I was finally able (I'm sure some of the zealots would say it was the hand of god at work against my will, or somesuch bull) - all I know is I just stopped."

Welcome E.D.

You 'told my story' with that above paragraph. In roughly the following order, I quit attending meetings, then I stopped the drink and lost the overwhelming obsession with drink altogether.

And i don't know why (though I have posited some disease-curve-cycle theories you can find elsewhere on SR; just do an advanced search with my name and the terms, "curve," "bell-curve," or "Vaillant").

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Old 01-08-2007, 06:48 PM
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Thinking about it, i see that "E.D." doesn't "come" off very well nowadays.

Sorry.

We'll, we'll stick with ExDrunk.
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Old 01-09-2007, 04:15 AM
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Hi Taiman

I believe that being a Atheist in AA free a person from blindly accepting the principles of the program. This allows a person to use the best suggestions in the program and truly leave the rest. I think that many people with a HP do this same thing, but it is easier when your sobriety is based on major contradiction with the foundations of the program.

AB

Buddha said.......

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in Anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is Conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.



Originally Posted by Taiman View Post
It is tough for agnostics and atheists in AA. At first you be encouraged to continue to come but they hope you will find some higher power.

I have heard numerous disparaging comments by AA members towards Atheists and Agnostics in AA.

I am not a member of AA but I use to go, I occaisionally go back for a friend's medallion. I attended the last International AA convention in Toronto and I went to the Agnostic/Atheist forum. I heard many people complain about the closed mindness and non-acceptance by AA members.

I am not saying you can't go to AA and be an atheist but you had better be a strong person with a tough skin.
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:00 AM
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Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in Anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is Conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
Love this quote AB. Kinda swings both ways, doesn't it?
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Old 01-09-2007, 04:26 PM
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Hi Paul

Buddha's suggestions do not apply to the issues that I have with AA, in that case it is just plain prejudice and that should never be tolerated.

Still there are many ideas in AA that I have accepted and adopted.

AB


Originally Posted by paulmh View Post
Love this quote AB. Kinda swings both ways, doesn't it?
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Old 01-09-2007, 04:36 PM
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Hi Blake

These Big Book statements sound more like the Almighty than journaling and meditation


From "How it works"

..........This is the how and the why of it. First of all, we had to quit playing God. It didn't work. Next, we decided that hereafter in this drama of life, God was going to be our Director. He is the Principal; we are His agents. He is the Father, and we are His children. Most Good ideas are simple, and this concept was the keystone of the new and triumphant arch through which we passed to freedom.


........Perhaps there is a better way, we think so. For we are now on a different basis of trusting and relying upon God. We trust infinite God rather than our finite selves. We are in the world to play the role He assigns. Just to the extent that we do as we think He would have us, and humbly rely on Him, does He enable us to match calamity with serenity........


As for the Almighty I like this Quote that pre-dates the concept.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?

---Epicurus





Originally Posted by Blake View Post
okay 5, this is how I deal with all those things

God's will- for me this means getting rid of self will, I try to look at a situation and what ever is best for all people involved, regardless of my own interests is "god's will"

Defects of character- "god" doesn't remove defects of character, but the the 6th step says we became entirely ready for "god" to remove these defects of character, which means that our defects become visible to us....through meditation and journaling, a defect is a patern of behavior. the next sted talks about asking to have our "shortcomming" removed, which is about growing enough personally to not have to act out on our usual paterns of behavior (the acting out on a defect of character is the definition of a short comming). Through mediation, writing and discussion with our sponsor, we learn to act correctly in situations and try to do "god's will" instead of reacting and living in self. All the actions of these 2 steps come from individual participation and self searching.

Praying- I am not religious, like I said. So when I "pray" it is more of a way to get intouch with my conscience and is about settleing my mind and resembles meditation more than religious prayer.

Getting humble- I get humble not to impress a diety, I get humble because there is a lesson in it. Humility retards my ego and puts me back into check. I get humble for the benifit of blake, not "god". "get humble or get humiliated" is a maxim I have found to be true in a lot of situation.

Honesty- If you did believe in a god that was omniscient, what would be the need to get honest with it, it already knows everything. The honesty called for in the program is for individual growth, I have to get honest with myself and get honest with the people I trust. Lying is like a wildfire, If I stat being dishonest with people, it spreads and grows and sooner or later I start lying to myself till I start believing "I can go just have one bag of dope, I can handle it" and I end up strung out again.



these are all just the ways I have grown in my program to be able to work it with out religious belief.....just my opinion.
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Old 01-09-2007, 04:39 PM
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AB,

I applaud you in being able to get sober in an environment that at worst is hostile toward secular beliefs, and at best is tolerant, with the expectation that non-believers will eventually be converted.

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Old 01-09-2007, 05:59 PM
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Hi Doorknob

I find few people in AA who are not tolerate of other people's beliefs are worth any contact with anyway (some exceptions are very old people). I am sorry to say that more people are likely to believe my sobriety suspect because of my lack of belief, but I stay sober anyway

I am puzzled by the 100% acceptance that so many habitual relapsers get simply because they use HP


AB





Originally Posted by doorknob View Post
AB,

I applaud you in being able to get sober in an environment that at worst is hostile toward secular beliefs, and at best is tolerant, with the expectation that non-believers will eventually be converted.

Knob
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Old 01-09-2007, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Blake View Post
"or find a new way to live" doesn't translate to NA or the highway. It just says that NA is a simple way to find a new way to live....there are others.....no where does it ever say NA is the only way to recover.


This might sound...I don't know..harsh, but I see in no way how NA is a SIMPLE way to live. Doing step work is not simple in my book, bring back all your resentments you have, make amends to people and places you might have wronged while you were in your active addiction. Letting go of all my problems to a higher power when I am the one that has to deal with those issues in the end. Being powerless. In the end I am the one who has to take action to do whatever it is I need to do, if I just said I was powerless over everything in my life and left it up to a higher power nothing would ever get done.
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:30 PM
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Simple inspringmind, not easy.
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Old 01-10-2007, 12:34 AM
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A lot of interest in philosophy here, so I wanted to share an interesting piece by Nietzsche I found recently. I have read and reread it, and find more in it every time. Doesn't get much more anti-Christian, anti-theist than this. I found it useful to think about what a non-supernaturalist can find in and contribute to AA practices. ("ressentiment" for N. is an extra-powerful, extra-toxic version of resentment.)

"Freedom from ressentiment, enlightenment about ressentiment—who knows how much I am ultimately indebted in this respect as well to my long sickness! The problem is not exactly simple: one must have experienced it from strength as well as from weakness...Ressentiment is the forbidden as such for the sick man—it is his specific evil: unfortunately also his most natural inclination. This was comprehended by that profound physiologist Buddha. His "religion," which it would be better to call a system of hygiene, to avoid confounding it with so pitiful a thing as Christianity, depended for its effect upon the triumph over ressentiment: to liberate the soul from it—the first step towards recovery..."

scroll down here to number 6...
http://www.geocities.com/thenietzschechannel/eh3.htm

peace, NL
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Old 01-10-2007, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Abbadun
When AA does not live up to respecting the beliefs and opinions of others, I would say I am saddened or disappointed.
After an exposure of AA spanning 20 years now and active membership of roughly half that time, intolerance of outside views no longer affects me, but instead simply lives up to my expectations.

Originally Posted by historyteach
It's NOT AA or NA or any other group which fails to live up to what it claims as it's policy. A group is an inanimate object, made of animate beings. So, it's the individual members of the group who act in such a manner.
See the difference?

Shalom!
Originally Posted by Abbadun
Yes they are individual groups, but they all read from the same texts...
What he meant is that the 12 & 12 are unbiquitous throughout all AA groups as an organization; that while each group is autonamous in principle, it nonethess is still an Alcoholics Anonymous group of people who subscribe to the defining text of AA, the "Big Book." This as much as anything, explains how a group can act as a living, breathing entity; when any set doctrine is followed, groups can be said to personify that doctrine.

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Old 01-12-2007, 11:20 PM
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I am new to recovery, and I am getting frustrated with it all ready. I have been asked not to return to one group because of my atheism. My sponsor tells me to ignore the negativity and work the program the best way for me, but every step has a religious twist and it is driving bonkers. Being an athiest in the middle of the bible belt is tough enough, but it should really not be a factor in my sobriety.
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Old 01-12-2007, 11:27 PM
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Don't let it be, then, mowhawk.
Only you have the power to make it or not.
Many atheists have gotten clean and sober at AA meetings, by claiming the group or something else -outside of themselves - as their HP.
And not fighting others for their beliefs.
The important factor here is YOUR sobriety!

Or, you can choose an alternative program. There's a bunch of them. Look in the stickies above.

Shalom!
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Old 01-13-2007, 06:56 AM
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Thumbs up AthEIsts in AA?? ABSOLUTELY

Hey Mowhawk2 ---

Just wanted to give you a little hope and encouragement. I see you're in Round Rock Texas; well, I, for one, as an atheist, did get sober in AA (clean in NA), in what I like to call 'my' little corner of the Bible Belt ---- Houston...and I've been sober since I walked thru the doors of AA, June 23, 1986....so it can be done (I even managed to latch onto a sponsor who was, and still is, an atheist)......keep the faith, baby......lol

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Old 01-13-2007, 09:03 AM
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It's kinda like being a cat at a dog show...

I've met a few Atheists in AA or formerly in AA who said they got sober despite the program.

When I go, it is because I want peer support and a social outlet, but it usually doesn't take me long to remember why I quit going the last time. And I keep going back expecting different results...

Last edited by doorknob; 01-13-2007 at 09:25 AM.
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