Are any AA agnostics/atheists out there?

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lluther
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Are any AA agnostics/atheists out there?

Post by lluther » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:20 am

Joined: 30 Aug 2009
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Posted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:53 pm Post subject:

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Thank you for all the responses. this is my first time to use the forum and i see how helpful it can be.
i was in a hurry when i wrote the original question and may not have explained it well. i have read all of the literature numerous times and worked with 3 different sponsors and have managed to stay sober even.
the whole premise of the program is 'we cant do this without the help of an HP.' i understand that HP can be anything i like including nature or love or whatever i decide God/god is. well, i love nature but i personally do not think there is anything in this world i can pray to that is going to affect my life. whatever you want to call it it is still a god of some sort that we must ask to help us daily....so, i am agnostic in the fact that i dont know for sure but atheist by the fact that i do not believe in God. i live in a very Christian area and have not met anyone in the program who even understands where im coming from. they all give me the sly smile and say keep coming back and you will come to believe, blah blah blah.
as i said before i fully know that i need AA and love so many things i have learned that have changed my life besides the not drinking. if i let it though this can really start bothering me so i have learned to just not worry about it and keep going to meetings and think of others more and myself less. i know there are people out there in the program who reconcile similar beliefs as i have and would just like some experience strength and hope from them. Thank you for hanging in there with me on this if you are still reading...

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Post by Chris S. » Tue Sep 01, 2009 6:59 am

1. Clean house
2. Trust The program
3. Help others

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tasman
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Post by tasman » Wed Sep 02, 2009 2:06 am

Hi Luther

I have thought about this a lot and tried hard not to think about it too much. I don't know what I believe in to be honest. I suppose I'm agnostic rather than an atheist. I come from a sciency (is that a word?) background and am not religious at all.

I spend a lot of time outdoors in the mountains so nature is where I get a lot of strength. I pray, even though I'm not sure who to. The serenity prayer says it all for me. Whatever happens, I have to accept it or do something to change it. I don't think that god is particularly looking out for me, more that I am part of the cosmos and if I react in a positive way to what the world deals me, that's better for me.

Anyhoo, that's me.

Kerie

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avaneesh912
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Post by avaneesh912 » Wed Sep 02, 2009 3:47 am

Like our co-founder Bill W, i had to start somewhere. Which I did, with just my Conscious as my higher power. And now I have read lot of books by enlightened masters and am constantly sucking up spiritual laws from various teachers...Today I am just an human trying to adhere to those spiritual laws. If you want more ideas, send me a private message. We can continue our discussion.

I always think Ebby should have been given more credit, for coming up with this statement after seeing Bill struggle with the God concept:
"Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"
And thats Drunk thinking, always want more! Infinite God rather than finite self.
Show him the mental twist which leads to the first drink of a spree. We suggest you do this as we have done it in the chapter on alcoholism.(Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)

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Layne
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Post by Layne » Wed Sep 02, 2009 10:10 am

if i let it though this can really start bothering me so i have learned to just not worry about it
It has been my tendency to over analyze and have to know WHY on everything.

I had a lot of trouble with the whole God issue when I first got in the program. I didn't believe in the concept of a supernatural mystical supreme being watching out and guiding me.

I am still not sure, nor can I pigeonhole my concept of a higher power. It is still evolving and changing as I grow in sobriety.

When I stopped fighting so hard on having to know the WHY, the answers seem to slowly come to me.

The old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will come; is so true for me. Me jumping up and down and screaming how ready I am, didn't make it so.

Hope this helps, to me it makes sense; but that has always been one of my problems "if it makes sense to Layne, why can't the rest of the world see it". :D

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leejosepho
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Post by leejosepho » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:53 am

Greetings to you, Luther.

One thing I have found helpful here is to know we do not have to believe in anything or anyone at all in order to begin recovery (as long as we no longer believe in ourselves). In fact, it is perfectly fine to be a non-believer or even a great disbeliever in everything and everyone as long as we can still meet this single condition (along with no longer believing in ourselves as far as any kind of power to recover is concerned):

"We needed to ask ourselves but one short question: 'Am I even willing to believe there is a Power greater than myself?' As soon as a man can say he is at least willing to believe, we emphatically assure him he is on his way." (excerpted from "Alcoholics Anonymous", the book, page 47)

See, the deal here is simply this:
"When we drew near to Him He disclosed Himself to us!" (page 57), and that is something that always happens as we actually *take* the Twelve Steps.
(Note: "Working" the Steps does not produce the same result.)
lluther wrote:i personally do not think there is anything in this world i can pray to that is going to affect my life.
That is perfectly fine. In fact, I strongly encourage people who think as you do to not pray at all. Rather, just begin taking the Steps and let the process reveal truth to you.
lluther wrote:i live in a very Christian area and have not met anyone in the program who even understands where im coming from. they all give me the sly smile and say keep coming back and you will come to believe, blah blah blah.
The evidence of God's handiwork surrounds us, but that does not make any of us actually believe anything. Rather, it simply helps in ways such as you have already mentioned:
lluther wrote:i fully know that i need AA and love so many things i have learned that have changed my life besides the not drinking.
If you did not already believe there is some kind of power available, you could not say such things. So, just continue on as you are ...

"We found that as soon as we were able to lay aside prejudice and express even a willingness to believe in a Power greater than ourselves, we commenced to get results, even though it was impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power, which is God." (page 46)

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Post by Joe H » Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:03 pm

Welcome, LeeJoseph, good to have ya here on this slow holiday.
In fact, I strongly encourage people who think as you do to not pray at all.
LOL and on the other side of the coin I learnt that I did not need to believe to pray. Just prayed until something happened.

Thanks for sharing,

joe

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leejosepho
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Post by leejosepho » Mon Sep 07, 2009 5:09 pm

Joe H wrote:LOL and on the other side of the coin I learnt that I did not need to believe to pray. Just prayed until something happened.
Sure. The point I hope to make is that A.A. has everything rightly "backwards" in comparison to religion, at least as I have experienced each. In religion I was expected to "believe" and even "confess" certain things even to just be accepted among the "brethren". But here, however, I was accepted on my simple desire to stop drinking and my willingness to let "God and you (do or do not) understand God" (page 164) reveal and prove Himself to me irregardless of what I did or did not believe.

A preacher was once talking to my older daughter about whatever, and he was quite obviously telling her she had to believe this or that in order to have any reasonable expectation of anything along spiritual lines. I stepped between them and told her she did not have to believe a single thing that could not be proved through her own experience ... and a few years later I was blessed with the privilege of 12th-Stepping her into permanent recovery.

Quite a deal we have here, eh?!

And of course, I thank you for the welcome.

Are you doing okay there, Luther?

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ProsaicSteelGirder
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Post by ProsaicSteelGirder » Mon Sep 07, 2009 6:56 pm

Seems to me there are about as many conceptions of "god" or "no-god" as there are people -- even when those same people consider themselves part of the same secular religion. In my case, I find that my personal beliefs and conceptions to be quite different from those adhering to secular religion, but there are some parallels. And, other than perhaps some comfort and assurance from social circles, it doesn't make a bit of difference. Some of the instructions/suggestions/qualifiers in the Big Book point to perfecting and enlarging my spiritual life, and make no requirements in aligning my beliefs with the beliefs of anyone else.

In fact, I find AA principles to be very practical in spiritual matters... an old adage I have heard is that "a person doesn't need to know how a tree grows in order to build a wooden bench." I found that trusting the process led to some powerful insights, even some about tree growing :wink: and it stills continues today.

May you find the peace you seek, it is closer than you might realize. :)
We absolutely insist on enjoying life. We try not to indulge in cynicism over the state of the nations, nor do we carry the world's troubles on our shoulders.

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martin08
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Post by martin08 » Tue Sep 08, 2009 3:38 am

It seems that the founders of AA were already well aware of the agnostic or atheiest nature of alcoholics, as they dedicated an entire chapter to the subject.

Therefore as an agnostic, it was somewhat comforting to know that I was not alone - that many before me began with the premise that God, whoever or whatever He may be, would have nothing to do with a drunk like me.

From page 44:

To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.

But it isn't so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life - or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted.

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Ken_the_Geordie
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Post by Ken_the_Geordie » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:59 am

on the other side of the coin I learnt that I did not need to believe to pray. Just prayed until something happened.
Yes, definately. Do you guys in the US get 'issued' with the Just for Today card?

I mean that's not a prayer is it? But it's good and I read mine each morning. I also do the 7th Step prayer with an add-on about watching out for the stuff you should on page 84.

I doubt if my God is interested in my morning babblings, but it is important for me to remind myself of certain things on a regular basis so I don't slip back into my old way of thinking and acting; and the daily routine of prayer does that for me. I'm happy enough to do it on my knees too, as long as no-one sees me!

So whether I believe in a God or not, prayer is still important to me.
I'm more commonly known as Tosh (it's a nick name, but everyone I know in real life calls me it); just in case there's any confusion; I tend to use Tosh or Ken interchangeably and it confuses some; including me. ;-)

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