Doubting God

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pete1061
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Doubting God

Post by pete1061 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:39 am

I'm on day 13 back in from my 15th relapse. I've been "around" since 1988, sober 13 out of the past 26 years (just not consecutive). I average 6-18 months sober. When I'm in, I'm all in, 1-3 meetings a day, sponsor, working steps, service work, etc. I've been through the steps a few times, as honestly as humanly possible.

Thing is, I have never really fully embraced this "god" thing. Somehow there is always this lingering doubt that there is actually anyone really there. Sure, I can believe in a realm of the spirit. An underlying connectedness of the universe makes sense to me. But it's more just a neutral force, not an intelligence that one can form a relationship with. It cares as much about our individual lives as much as gravity does. An anthropomorphized "buddy" god just seems like a fairy tale to me. Maybe it's because I wasn't exposed to religion as a very young child, I never had that formative programming that people who grow up in church going homes get.

I just don't get this "god" thing. I don't feel like anyone is listening. And "coincidences" aren't enough to prove it's existence to me. On Page 60 of the big book, it's says "being convinced", well, I'm not convinced. I never have been. There has always been a lingering doubt. I'm looking for a god that I KNOW is there, I don't want to have to do mental gymnastics to rationalize it's existence.

There just isn't any real PROOF that there is a real, intelligent, aware entity that cares. It just seems like an illusion that people are convincing themselves of. It's all in our heads. These so called "coincidences" I'm sure can be explained logically if all the data was available. And coincidences are the only proof that anyone have ever given to back up their belief in a loving, intelligent god personal to them. Nothing solid. I've never felt a presence. The most I've ever had is an intellectual rationalization of the existence of "God".

Maybe I'm just part of the remaining 25% described in the forward to the 2nd edition who stays on showing improvement. I guess I'm just destined to keep repeating this pattern of relapsing every 6-18 months. Getting sober is just damage control for me.

People I know in meetings with time tell me that I have to give it more time to grow, many many years to let that spiritual experience of the "educational variety" to develop. So, what? Am I going to have to wait 8, 12, 20 years for a feeling of the presence to manifest?

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Tosh
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Re: Doubting God

Post by Tosh » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:08 am

Can I ask if you sponsor, Pete? It's relevant.

And I think what's troubling you is that your concept of God doesn't fit with reality as you see it. Maybe all that's needed is that you change your concept of God? There are many concepts, some of which could even be fitting to an atheist (seriously). And no-where in the book does it say we have to believe in a Judeo-Christian concept of God (although I admit I think it's implied in places), in fact what it actually says is...
It was only a matter of being willing to believe in a Power greater than myself.
I know I can't force a belief and I definitely tried to fake it till I made it; but didn't. My mind just kept on asking too many questions. Why would this kind of God want to save me, yet kill thousands of children in a tsunami? You know the kind of thing; I just couldn't get my head around it and Chapter 4 (To the Agnostic) didn't help. And there's no chapter to the atheist either.

Even in Christianity the emphasis on faith and belief is only a fairly recent phenomenon. A few hundred years ago it was just accepted, so there was no need. Other religions place very little emphasis on faith and belief and just focus their emphasis on the practise (i.e. what they actually do) and I think A.A. philosophy leans more this way, hence we call it a practical program of action, not a program of beliefs.

My father died a typical sorry alcoholic's death and he did have a belief in a traditional concept of God. I don't and I'm sober. I don't rate beliefs, but I do rate our practical program of action.

But seriously, do you sponsor, Pete? The beginning of Chapter 7 doesn't say that a belief in God will work when all else fails, what it actually says is:
Practical experience shows that nothing will so much insure immunity from drinking as intensive work with other alcoholics.
Intensive work, not a belief in God. But from this intensive work, you may discover a concept of God that fits more with your psychological make-up.
Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” Rumi (No sniggering from the sex addicts)

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Duke
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Re: Doubting God

Post by Duke » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:11 am

Welcome Pete. With all due respect, it sounds like you already have your answer to the God of your understanding. I guess what I don't get is why that translates into regular relapses for you. I've always said that the question we all have to ask ourselves at some point if we've truly accepted our powerlessness is, where do you find the source of strength to carry on once you've admitted you're powerless? Whatever your answer that's your higher power.

What I know for certain is that if I make a daily effort to practice the principles of the program, (admission and acceptance of powerlessness, faith that things will work out if I do my best to act out of love, not fear, and service before self), I have a daily reprieve from the compulsion to drink. It's worked for me for over thirty continuous years without ever having to get beyond the thought that all I really know about God is that it's not me. I'm pretty sure it can work for you too.

Keep sharing. I hope you find the insight you're looking for, but don't forget to take the action daily in the meantime.
"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: Doubting God

Post by Mary » Wed Aug 27, 2014 9:19 am

Hey, welcome,

What i am finding is the promises come true if i want them badly enough. That means getting honest, like properly rigorously honest and with another human being , not just according to my own summation of honesty. CUT THE CRAP, is what i got told. Get off the self-pity pot, stop being passive and waiting for everything to just arrive in a hamper at my door. And God Schmod. It's just a day at a time, who know's what i may think a week from now. Something i heard in a proper meeting recently (i mean where you can see their eyeballs) - reflection causes depression and projection causes anxiety.

I am with Mohammed on atheism :-) but there are plenty in aa who are not and will engage joyously in your lengthy discussions of the deity - Godditis is a condition suffered by atheists i think...but it wont kill you if you just do what is suggested....no in fact maybe you have to do what you are told. Try something different, see if something different happens. I have been called out before on my bluntness but do you know what **** that. We may be sensitive but we are not made of porcelain. I am not saying anything that has not been said to me. What is the real truth hmm?

Resentment is the number one offender but sometimes we try to feel better about ourselves if we wrap up our problem in an intellectual abstraction. Just get real.

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Re: Doubting God

Post by Mike O » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:39 am

pete1061 wrote:
There just isn't any real PROOF that there is a real, intelligent, aware entity that cares.
Quite right.

There also isn't any real PROOF that there isn't.

So....it's possible, isn't it?

All you need to work the steps, in the beginning, is an open mind...a willingness to believe in the possibility that there is a "real, intelligent, aware entity that cares."

Meanwhile, how have you done with the steps over the past 26yrs? My experience has been that lack of belief in God, as I understand him, has not been the cause of relapses in others. The cause in the overwhelming majority of relapses has been failure to work the 12 steps as suggested in the Big Book.

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PaigeB
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Re: Doubting God

Post by PaigeB » Wed Aug 27, 2014 10:41 am

Hi pete1061 - Paige here, alcoholic and atheist. Just celebrated 5 years of sobriety on August 1st. I use the Worldwide Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous as my HP. If I want what they have I do what they did. I adopted an action program since I did not believe that any entity was acting upon us, yet there we were sober for a day, a week, a decade and more.

I might take a bit of flack from a few - but I am the one who is in charge of that too. My sponsor said I didn't have to break out into debate every time someone mentions the word god, I just needed to practice semantics. The Big Book says I can use AA as my HP, so why do I want to argue with that? I could always just tell my detractors I found Jesus and see what happened - I didn't try that but I have noticed people are also uncomfortable with too much detail about an HP.

Last night's reading at an f2f meeting contained this from the Big Book:
"... the moment I made up my mind to go through with the process, I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was relieved..." I equate this with my own Step 3, turning my will & my life over to the care of Alcoholics Anonymous, GOD, as I personally understand my HP to be.

You never have to drink again.
The word GOD stands for Group Of Drunks, obviously. :wink:
Step 6 is "AA's way of stating, the best possible attitude one can take in order to make a beginning on this lifetime job... with most of them we shall have to be content with patient improvement." 12&12 Step Six, p.65

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Re: Doubting God

Post by harry71 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 11:14 am

Forget about the God thing. ,you have not taken step one. Sounds like you come to AA between drunks. If you are ok "showing improvement" then what 's the problem? It's like an 8 cylinder car running on 6 cylinders. It runs,just not very good.
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pete1061
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Re: Doubting God

Post by pete1061 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:40 pm

Tosh wrote:Can I ask if you sponsor, Pete?
No, in all my in's and out's averaging in the neighborhood of 1 year or so, once in the early 90's I had 3 yrs 8 mos, I have never sponsored anyone.
And right now I only have 13 days, so it's a little soon to be sponsoring.

I'm not a very social person, the larger the group, the quieter and more reserved I get. I rarely approach people I don't know. And I'm certainly not going to push myself on anyone. I'm not even on very many phone lists at meetings, I don't want random people calling me and bothering me.

I'm not "anti-social", I'm more non-social. I'm polite & friendly with those people I know. I just try to blend into the background whenever I can.
I'm highly introverted and I find groups of people to be draining. I won't even go to meetings with more than 30-40 people.

During my 'out' periods, I pretty much live as a hermit, only going out to shop.

That could also be a factor in my chronic relapses, I simply don't put myself out there, I mostly keep to myself.
I'm just not a "people person".

pete1061
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Re: Doubting God

Post by pete1061 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 4:43 pm

harry71 wrote:Forget about the God thing. ,you have not taken step one. Sounds like you come to AA between drunks. If you are ok "showing improvement" then what 's the problem? It's like an 8 cylinder car running on 6 cylinders. It runs,just not very good.
bullsh*t.

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Re: Doubting God

Post by harry71 » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:17 pm

That's just what I was thinking!!!
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Peter.H.
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Re: Doubting God

Post by Peter.H. » Wed Aug 27, 2014 7:22 pm

Hello Pete.

You sound similar to me. Either I am drunk or not, in AA or not, all or nothing, do or die, lots of black and white and not much grey.
Sobriety asks me to live in the grey.

I found that AA works because it relies heavily in having a faith in a power greater than myself. This stops me from totally relying on my own thoughts to staying sober. In the past, much of my best thinking got me drinking. It was better for me to hand over my willfulness to power greater than my willpower. By doing this, I suspend/delay my thoughts over to a wiser source, either AA as a group, my sponsor, old timers, or to my God of understanding. This resulted in wiser decisions to guided me and to remain sober.

I had to have faith/trust in others for me to gain the benefits from other peoples experiences. Faith/trust in a power greater than myself is what is required from me to connect with my understanding of God. Without faith/trust, their is no connection with God. Doubt is the opposite of faith.

Faith is going along with a decision, example: to stay sober no matter what goes down in my life.
Doubt is struggling with indecision, example: If it gets too tough I'll relapse.

Faith is taking a risk, and holding onto hope regardless of what we face. Without risk and hope, we relapse.
I rather have faith and hope in a God, or a power greater than myself, than to just rely on myself - feeling doubtful and hopeless.
I rather take the risk and hope of living sober no matter what happens in my life.
"...unless this person can experience an entire psyche change there is very little hope of his recovery" - Dr. Silkworth. [Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Ed, p xxix.]

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Duke
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Re: Doubting God

Post by Duke » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:25 pm

To piggyback a bit on Peter's share, one of my favorite quotes is as follows:

"Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods." - C. S. Lewis

It reminds me that faith is possible for anyone. All you have to do is decide what you're going to believe. The rest is action. If you decide you believe what we're saying and you want what we have, you need to act consistently on that belief.

Good luck my friend.
"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: Doubting God

Post by Lali » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:34 pm

I like Duke's post and I totally agree with him.

Pete, there is something that I do not understand but I would like to. :D You say you have been mostly out in the however many years you said you were in and out and all because you don't believe in a Higher Power. What a waste that you spent all that time out there for that reason. I happen to believe in God, but if I did not, I would have no problem whatsoever considering the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous my higher power. In fact, the fellowship is a HP for me, as well. And your HP can be ANYTHING or ANYONE you want it to be. I apologize in advance for my bluntness if you are sensitive. The fact that this has held you back as you state...well, I don't really think that this is the real reason for your difficulty in staying sober. It seems to me that perhaps you are throwing up roadblocks to sobriety.

The other roadblock is, as you state, that you are introverted. So what? Nobody cares if someone in the meeting doesn't want to share. Just go and listen; there is nothing wrong with that. Heck, I don't share very often in meetings either and I'm sure nobody there cares whether or not I share. I'm still very much a part of the group as I have a few service positions. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. As long as you have that desire, you have earned your seat in the meeting whether you choose to share or not.

Pete, you say "there just isn't any real proof that there is a real, intelligent aware entity that cares." Not so, there is a room full of people who care and can serve as your HP. And if you reach out, they are more than happy to help you. And I'm going to be blunt here again - they are seemingly more interested in helping you than you are in helping them as evidenced by your statement that you don't give out your number as you don't want to be bothered by anyone.

It was stated here by another poster that you had probably not grasped step 1 (not their words, but mine as I don't recall how the poster worded their comment.) Nor have you grasped step 12 as you aren't interested in carrying the message to the still suffering alcoholic. Where do you stand on all of the steps in between? Just curious because the steps are intended to ALL be worked and to be worked in order.

I hope you can resolve the HP issue so that you may work the steps again and reap the benefits of this incredible program. If you are still reading, thank you for letting me share.
Step 1: I can't
Step 2: He can
Step 3: I think I'll let him

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Re: Doubting God

Post by chefchip » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:39 pm

Hi Pete... nice discussion you started here. Here are my two cents' worth.

Only sane, thoughtful people doubt god. I am always highly suspicious of people who maintain they never have doubts. For me, I have absolutely no proof there is an actual being out there. I have no proof there isn't either. What I am sure of is that there is something in the universe that is smarter and stronger than I am. Occasionaly, when I am on the right track, I can tap into that knowledge and strength.

However, it is not important that I be able to define or prove it. That is not what got me and keeps me sober. That particular miracle happened when I removed myself from the center of the universe, when I acted in faith and reached out for help. Believe me when I say that was the hardest thing I have ever done.

I don't know what "it" is. Just that "it" is not Chip. My life, and my sobriety, are just fine when I stay out of the way.
Last edited by chefchip on Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Doubting God

Post by Tommy-S » Wed Aug 27, 2014 8:41 pm

Hi Pete,

(And thanks for the thought out responses folks... Good stuff)
There just isn't any real PROOF that there is a real, intelligent, aware entity that cares.
Not sure if I fully get this G O D thing either, and that's with many continuous 24 hours strung together. But what I did get for sure from my earliest days was that IF AA worked for others, it could work for Me, Too.

The heck with feeling of "the presence to manifest itself"... We ain't saints, and I've yet to hear of an AA getting cannonized by the Church... All I needed to 'feel' was a case of the "Me, Too's"

I had to stop indulging in wordy & windy arguments, trying to figure the deep and mystical ancient secrets... Because there are No hidden inner secrets, No mystical explanations... we ain't even got a special handshake :)

It's just follow the leader... and IF it will work for others, then it can work for "Me, Too"

Thanks... Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!

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