I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i do?

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.

Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby michmjon » Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:42 am

Most all these responses do not address the issue of Atheism. For an atheist, such as me, there simply is no god or gods. Agnosticism, which the big book addresses, is a DOUBT that there is a god. For me, and many others, there is no doubt of there not being a god. The atheist accepts as fact that there is no god. This, the Big Book doesn't really address. So, the Chapter to the Agnostic is, well, troublesome.

"To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as 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."

"As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new power and direction, provided we took other simple steps."

So- there it is in a nutshell. In order to succeed, the Big Book says one must accept the presence of a Creative Intelligence.

To the atheist, the concept of a god is nothing but man projecting that which he does not understand to some mythical thing. Through this projection, man finds comfort in what they believe is a reason behind the unexplainable. God is nothing but an mythical explanation of that which is not yet known in order to somehow give purpose to life. It is a comfort that gives man peace and some sort of understanding of that which is yet unexplainable. God, to the atheist, is just something to explain our ignorance. It is this ignorance that many religious people cannot let go of even in the face of logical, scientific reason and explanation because if they accept that scientific reason then BOOM, their concept of God, as preached by their religion and in their scriptures, is suddenly flawed and this cannot be. It cannot be because for the religious person, god is almighty, all knowing and omnipresent in life.

An atheist accepts the fact that there are things that simply cannot YET be explained but in the future, near or far, may (or may not) be explained. Man may never fully understand all the concepts of the universe and to simply project that non-understanding on some god is to embrace ignorance. And NO, this does not mean an atheist thinks that those who embrace religion are ignorant. It simply means that the atheist believes that the religious person embraces their god to somehow bring an understanding to life.

The Big Book simply is saying that the Agnostic must drop their doubt and accept that there is a higher power and that higher power is god. It does not fairly address the Atheist concept that there simply is no Creative Intelligence or higher power. To the atheist this is where the 12 Steps fail by insisting that you accept a Creative Intelligence and that only this Creative Intelligence can grant you understanding and serenity.

So how does the atheist follow the Steps?

Here's my take on this:

1) We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable. (No problem here)
2) Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. (No problem here either- the Greater Power may just be the camaraderie of the group)
3) Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. (Here's a problem... to me, this step can be translated to "Made a decision to accept that our will and lives are flawed and that we must change our thought process)
4) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. (No problem here)
5) Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. (Leave out the "to God" it's just "Admitted to ourselves")
6) Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. (Were entirely ready to take measures to rid ourselves of our defects of character)
7) Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. (Humbly ask others to help us remove our shortcomings)
8) Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. (No problem here)
9) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. (No problem here)
10) Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. (No problem here)
11) Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. (Sought through meditation to improve our conscious contact with life as we understand it, concentrating on what is important in giving us the power to carry that out)
12) Having had a spiritual awakening as to the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. (Leave out the word "spiritual")
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Layne » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:03 am

I don't know if I am an atheist, agnostic, or what. It caused me to struggle with working the steps for years. Little did I realize that qualifying or pigeonholing myself was not necessary for success in me working the steps. When I realized that it was the message conveyed and actions suggested, as opposed to the actual words used that mattered; my journey began.

I still don't know if I am an atheist, agnostic, or what. It is not important and subject to change. Whenever I think that I have the answer, the question changes. My views and beliefs have evolved over the years and I imagine they will continue to do so. I find an open mind to be a useful tool for continued growth.
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Noels » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:38 am

Have you guys read 'Conversations with God " by Neale Donald Walsch yet? There are many truths and answers to questions in those scriptures. Read and then decide for yourself but I'm seriously getting annoyed. God - the word I choose to use - haven't done anything but give us life with the ability to create our own experiences and the freedom to re-choose if we're not happy with what we have chosen. Yet God /Creator is blamed for all your problems which you created yourself. The truth is
Yes. You created your own crap and you can un-create your crap. So leave God out of it now. If you don't believe in It why is It bothering you so much?
Because deep in your subconscious you know that you are here to re-member where you come from.
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Layne » Wed Jan 04, 2017 10:57 am

I don't blame God for anything. I am not bothered by whether I believe or not. I am content to be learning as I go.
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Duke » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:03 am

Thanks for sharing your experience michmjon. I'm sure there are going to be people who need to read this.

My sponsor made it real simple for me when I kept objecting to concepts of God. He said, "You know you don't make the sun rise, the trees grow or control a million other things that happen on a daily basis, so you already accept that there's something greater than you at work. Find the concept that works for you. Quit fighting with ones that don't".
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Noels » Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:57 am

Excellent post thanks Duke
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby michmjon » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:09 pm

Noels- deep in my subconscious I do know where I came from. A night of passion between my mother and father. I am the result of the meeting of sperm and egg. :lol:
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Noels » Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:29 pm

:D and where did your mom and dad and their sperm and eggs come from and their mom and dad and sperm and eggs and great grandma and granpa and their sperm and eggs? We can type back and forth until next year Christmas and not get any further so let's rather go with Dukes response. It's your path and I don't know what you have chosen to experience therefore I respect that but please show the same courtesy.
Looking forward to reading more from you.

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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Duke » Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:29 pm

Just one more thought. Well, maybe just one more. :)

I don't know anyone who's prepared to say there is no power greater than them in the universe. If you don't believe that, than you already have a concept of a power greater than you. All the program asks is that you be willing to work with that idea.

It's your concept and it's my concept. Debate on concepts of higher powers can be interesting, but it's neither necessary nor encouraged to accept and work the program.
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.", Mother Teresa
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby PaigeB » Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:53 am

It took me fully confirming to myself that there was no god before I could come to AA. No amount of proselytizing was going to change my mind to their way of thinking. BUT I had to do what they did, though not on my knees... meditation and prayer are literally exactly the same in brain scans and so I learned to meditate. I admitted to my inner-most self that I was alcoholic, just like it says on page 30 of the Big Book.

After that is is all semantics!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby rpinkard » Fri Jan 06, 2017 4:16 am

A higher power may be just a little bit down the road. Recommend a thorough reading and rereading of the Doctors Opinion in our basic text, the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". Then read Bill's story. The goal is for you to determine if you are an alcoholic as described in our basic text and develop an understanding of the mental compulsion and physical allergy. These are explained in the doctors opinion. We have a solution if you have the alcoholic problem. To yourself you have to dig deep inside and decide if you want to quit drinking.
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby Noels » Fri Jan 06, 2017 9:20 am

Hi Rpinkard :D welcome :D
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby rpinkard » Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:10 pm

TY Noels
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby ezdzit247 » Sat Jan 07, 2017 5:33 pm

Hi michmjon

Congrats on 6 months of sobriety!

I've read several different versions of the 12 Steps which were edited for use by atheists and/or agnostics and I really like the way you edited your version. I would however recommend that you postpone permanently omitting the word "spiritual" from the 12th Step until you've explored the concept of "spiritual atheism" or humanism as described by Erich Fromm. "The Heart of Man" and "The Art of Loving" are two books by Fromm which helped me understand the differences between religion and spirituality which is actually the antithesis of religion.

Paige contributed this Hindu proverb to the forum:

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
All leading to the same place,
So it doesn't matter which path you take.
The only person wasting time
Is the one who runs around the mountain
Telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.


Love it. It is very similar to a later Muslim proverb that says: "All roads lead to Mecca" aka enlightenment.

Glad you found these forums and decided to share your journey with us.

Keep coming back....
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Re: I don't believe in any gods or higher powers, what do i

Postby clouds » Sun Jan 08, 2017 8:51 am

I came to AA without any religion or spiritual education, I didn't even understand basic psychological or character concepts such as pride, self pity, resentment or fear. I did know what dishonesty was, at least I had that. I couldn't identify fear within myself, or resentments, so a lot of what I read and heard was completely foreign.

My home was one where no god existed religion was desparaged and those people who were believers were mocked and derided. Thankfully the groups I went to had no openly religious people in those rooms and I might be dead today because honestly that wouldn't have helped me figure out what I did believe and think about the spiritual terms in the guide book to sobriety.

I was reminded of the slogan 'easy does it' by AA people when I asked how I was supposed to do the steps without this concept of a Higher Power. I was worried that I might not get restored to sanity or keep sober without the concept of god of my grandparents. I knew I didn't have the kind of strong faith they had and I was worried I needed that to do the steps.

I didn't though. I didn't need their faith to get and stay sober. What I needed was to look at what was inside of me regarding the spiritual terms that are required to be able to do the 12 steps. In other words I could ask: did I have any idea, strength, understanding, faith in anything greater than my own ego, self propelled actions? How was I supposed to ceasing to fight any one or anything, attain surrender, tolerance and patience, try to make the identification of defects of character, egotism, selfcenteredness, selfishness, fear? Those things had to go. I knew that. So my attention began to center on how that was supposed to happen. I took a few months just sitting peacefully comtemplating, watching and listening for any sign of a higher power. I mean, I was looking for just anything that could keep me sober and help me with the pain of living without my fix of alcohol.

Somehow I got through that lonely wierd dark time and as the days gathered up soberly while I went to meeings and kept on listening and I read the book and got more familiar with the terms people were using I got a sponsor and made my best effort at the steps that I could.

I got it that every one who stays sober has some power greater than themselves that they go to for help.

There is a good reason we need to resign from the debating society and figure out within ourselves what we believe. Thinking and debating won't bring on sobriety or freedom from defects of character, imo.
In fact I might even be able to say when debate comes in, well, I won't say it.
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
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