AA and religion etc...

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Arthur1970
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AA and religion etc...

Post by Arthur1970 »

I have been to many aa meetings in different places
aa as I understand it, after trying my hardest to accept the group is based on religion.
Although not always directly, all references are to god.
For an athiest, this does not work.

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Tosh
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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by Tosh »

I'm an atheist, I have a higher power, I pray, I meditate and I'm cool with the 'God word'. Firstly, 'God' is a concept that means many different things to many different people, but to you, why not start with G.O.D = Group of Drunks; the ethos of A.A. and human beings? So, when you turn your will and life over to the care of God, you turn it over to the ethos of A.A. and the goodness of humanity?

And many members, like myself, tend to have a developing notion of a concept of a Higher Power; we come into A.A. and find a concept, and over the years that concept will change.

However, my experience has been that as long as I do the actions suggested; which was to find a sponsor and start going through the Big Book and working through the steps, that I had a spiritual experience which was sufficient to conquer my alcoholism.

May I also point out (with my judgemental head on) that I suspect that some alkies have left A.A. citing 'God' as the reason for their leaving and subsequent drinking, when really they weren't ready to knock the drinking on the head in the first place. Even Bill Wilson (co founder of A.A.) replied in answer to a question, "Bill, you wrote To The Agnostic, but what about the atheist?" and Bill's reply was to remove the God elements. He said that any drunk could admit he was powerless over alcohol and their lives were unmanageable. He said any drunk could do a fearless and thorough moral inventory of themselves and discuss this with another human being, and that any drunk could subsequently make amends, etc. (I paraphrased him, but Google for 'Let's ask Bill' and hopefully you will find the full transcript of the interview.)

Honestly, it's tough enough in the early days; it does take some grit; so please do not put up any imaginary hurdles in your way; there is no need. And as for my sponsor, he has a strong religious faith in a religion; but that doesn't matter. He's never tried to evangelise to me; he uses the 'God word'; he asks me to pray with him even; and I do all this and can explain quite rationally and logically why I pray (it helps me adopt a psychological frame of mind). I know I could pray for all the drunks in the World to be happy and sober, but I know that aint gonna happen unless I put some action in. I read somewhere in some non-AA literature that it's no use asking God for potatoes if you haven't got a derogatory in your hand. So, by praying for drunks to be happy, it reminds me at a heart level what my primary purpose is (to stay sober and help the still suffering alcoholic).

And just as a side-note, I love being in certain meetings where there's Indian guys wearing turbans and people are talking about 'God', 'cos it's obvious they're talking about 'Gods' from different religions, and no doubt there's people who're talking 'G.O.D' (Group of Drunks) too, and something in me can't help from smiling; maybe we're all talking about the same 'thing', only viewing it from different directions? I find that A.As stance on the Higher Power concept truly spiritual; it's open to anyone whatever their religious or non-religious beliefs. How smart is that when you consider the events shown on the news?

This really is a perfect program; it's given me so much; and I'm an atheist. Try it! You've nothing to lose and maybe everything to gain.

Just my rambling thoughts; hope I've been some help.

Oh, I forgot my manners; welcome to the forum, Arthur; I look forward to reading your progress.
Last edited by Tosh on Thu Jul 21, 2011 8:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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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leejosepho
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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by leejosepho »

Arthur1970 wrote:... aa as I understand it ... is based on religion.
AA/A.A. has *become* a religion/philosophy for many people, and some members do use "religion" as part of their own apologetic. However, the Twelve Steps are nothing more than a set of principles "borrowed from" both medicine and religion ...

... and that is what makes it possible for even the occasional atheist or agnostic, if willing, to employ them. Where religion tends to require belief even beforehand, the Steps only speak of a mere willingness to be willing to at least be willing to eventually believe after the actual evidence of the power of God in human transformation has been made apparent in one's own life.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

Arthur1970
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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by Arthur1970 »

Tosh
Thank you for the eloquent response.
All great points in you post.
I do not believe in any higher power at all, therefore
I can not feel any connection with the program.

I suppose we are all wired differently to some degree, although aa would contest this.

Congatulations on your sobriety.

Arthur

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by John Boy »

AA is a religion in denial.

Look back at the roots where Ebby told Bill "I got religion" where did Ebby find this religion in the Oxford group which was a christian group. Bill did not go through the 12 steps he went through the Oxfords 6 tenets with Ebby. Of course Bill didn't like how the Oxford group was all inclusive and was not just for alcoholics so Bill took the 6 tenets and turned them into 12 steps and called it AA. Before the Big Book they read out of the christian bible and also used the upper room pamphlet. So to say AA has nothing to do with religion is inaccurate. If there was never any religion there wouldn't of been an AA.

Good news is there is NO requirement to believe in a christian GOD or any other GOD including a group of drunks. There are plenty of people who do just fine without the whole higher power thing. I would also contact your local intergroup and see if there is any atheist groups in your area. Good Luck!

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by jakpar »

hi arthur, and welcome to eAA!
looks like you are getting some great input, and there are many terrific people here, and many are Atheist, Agnostic of course and I imagine every category imagineable.
I would like to let you know of the offer currently ongoing at AAGRAPVINE.
it is a 7 day FREE all access trial with no obligations what so ever to anything. You can find it here http://aagrapevine.org/
I have read many interesting articles/shares which may be of interest and benefit to you also.
Anyway, glad you are here, and hope this is of some help. :)
Jack

"We are of service by accepting responsibility for the authority God has given us and by respecting the authority God has given to others"
Anonymous

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leejosepho
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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by leejosepho »

John Boy wrote:AA is a religion in denial.
I can understand why some people think that, but that is just not true. A.A. is simply the common experience of people who have come into right fellowship with God and others even in spite of sectarian religion.
John Boy wrote:Bill did not go through the 12 steps he went through the Oxfords 6 tenets ...
A rose by any name is still a rose ...

From page 13 in "Bill's Story":

"At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time ..."

And now Steps One through Three:

"I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch ..."

And now Steps Four through Nine:

"My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment. I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability."

And now Steps Ten and Eleven:

"I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure."

And of course, we all know Bill wrote Chapter Seven, "Working With Others".
John Boy wrote:... Bill took the 6 tenets and turned them into 12 steps and called it AA.
Not true. Bill and the others called themselves "A.A.", if you will, and then simply referred to the Steps as a "program of action" employed by them all.
John Boy wrote:... If there was never any religion there wouldn't [have] been an AA.
True, but that does not imply any kind of inherent affiliation.
John Boy wrote:... there is NO requirement to believe in a christian GOD or any other GOD including a group of drunks.
That is true: AA/A.A. requires nothing of anyone. However, permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism certainly does!
John Boy wrote:There are plenty of people who do just fine without the whole higher power thing.
True enough: Many people simply piggy-back along amidst fellowship with others of their own ilk.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Tosh
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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by Tosh »

Arthur1970 wrote:Tosh
I do not believe in any higher power at all, therefore
I can not feel any connection with the program.
Yes you can.

Last weekend I just did a Step 9 amend with my Mother, whom had disowned me 11 years ago and I'd not seen since. Making that amend was a spiritual experience for me. I nearly wept at one point, overcome with emotion on the 250 mile back drive back home.

If you do a thorough and fearless Step 4, and an honest Step 5, you will have a spiritual experience. Listen to another man's step 5 and have another spiritual experience. But since you've not had one yet, it's like me trying to describe what the taste of a fruit is that you've never eaten; you can't possibly know what it's like until you've done it. You're just guessing right now.

Honestly, just carry out the actions; it's a program of action; and you will understand what I'm talking about.

Regards,

Tosh
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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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by Mike O »

Hi Arthur,

I'm a practising Catholic. I believe in God. However, there's always the possibility that I'm wrong.

You're an atheist. However, there's always the possibility that you're wrong.

Go from there.

-Mike :D

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by PaigeB »

Wow! BigD and I have sort of the same conversation today at
http://www.e-aa.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=8735 on this very site!
Join us there too for more discussion on his agnostic exploration of Step 2!

It is awesome that my program and your program and the program of each individual is based on bits of the experience strength and hope of others, which we apply to our own beliefs. As an atheist, I found that being Honest, Open and Willing, (HOW), I had to use semantics a bit with the god word. They say god and my brain translates Group of Drunks! All I have to do is add the periods!
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by avaneesh912 »

here is part of 'how it works'

If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any length to get it -- then you are ready to take certain steps.

And part of those steps is to believe in a power greater than yourselves. Some call this God, some call it higher power. The chapter to Agnostics talks about a power within you. After all this if you still can't reconcile with the god/higher power stuff, then probably you have trouble in accepting the 'powerlessness and the un-manageability' of alcoholism.

Good luck with your journey.
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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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by leejosepho »

avaneesh912 wrote:here is part of 'how it works'

If you have decided you want what we have ...
A man (a visitor or "prospect" some people would call a newcomer) in a meeting once asked some of us just what we have that he might want. We told him we have a spiritual manner of living that brings about permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism ... but he had stopped listening at "spiritual manner of living" and quickly said he wanted nothing to do with anything like that. So, we just let him be with this:

"If he is sincerely interested and wants to see you again, ask him to read this book in the interval. After doing that, he must decide for himself whether he wants to go on. He should not be pushed or prodded by you, his wife, or his friends. If he is to find God, the desire must come from within.
"If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience. We have no monopoly on God; we merely have an approach that worked with us. But point out that we alcoholics have much in common and that you would like, in any case, to be friendly. Let it go at that." (page 95)

Right along with "no monopoly on God", neither do we really have any monopoly on permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism. But overall, nothing less than a spiritual manner of living has ever produced the kind of result/s we can see, and nothing can do that as well as the Steps.
avaneesh912 wrote:And part of those steps is to believe in a power greater than yourselves.
Rather than possibly thinking I am arguing here, please try to understand I have a very literal mind ...

To "believe in" is to "place faith in", and our book of experience suggests something far simpler for getting started:

"'Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe there (even) is a Power greater than myself?'" (page 47)

Some people, of course, are not willing to believe there even is one, and that is one of the "old ideas" some of us have tried to hold on to ... "and the result was nil until we let go absolutely." At the same time, however, some people do seem to get away with doing that.
avaneesh912 wrote:The chapter to Agnostics talks about a power within you.
Not really, but I do understand why and where many people believe it seems to do so.

In the final analysis:

"... my friend sat before me ...
"... he had, in effect, been raised from the dead ...
"Had this power originated in him? Obviously it had not. There had been no more power in him than there was in me at that minute; and this was none at all." (page 11)

"We finally saw that faith in some kind of God was a part of our make-up ...
"He was as much a fact as we were. We found the (or we found the truth of that) Great Reality deep down within us. In the last analysis it is only there that He (and our knowledge of our need for Him) may be found. It was so with us." (page 55)

If what we had needed had already been within us, none of us would have ever needed AA/A.A. at all.
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by Tuff Gong »

AAs direct influences: Oxford group, Carl Jung, William James, Silkworth and a few other books that Bill had been reading.

Although its conception was most profoundly influenced by the Oxford group there was a deliberate distancing/ seperation of AA from the OG. The rigid principles were not what Bill deemed helpful to recovering alcoholics. Also, Bill placed heavy emphasis on keeping the doors of AA as wide open as possible. He insured (often begrudgingly) with great influence from other early members that AA was a spiritual program with no prescribed diety.

So, AA certainly has the feeling of a religion (when compared to other normal civilian group gatherings). But it lacks many qualifiers of other formal religions. What this means is that "the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking", that's it. Peoples individual belief systems are frequently cast upon others as the correct path. This is just another form of spiritual materialism (spirituality becomes a commodity that one posesses) and arrogance fueled by fear.

As one of my favorite speakers says "when I am really OK with me I am really OK with you". It becomes less and less about my small belief systems. The spiritual program has been more of a disassembly of erroneous concepts and belief systems. A slow stripping of opinions and approaches that seperate me from others. As I walk along this path, I become less and less convinced or interested in what I think that you may need and become a part of this spiritual/ human experience.

So for me it has not really been about building or believing in a new "religion" or belief system. When I get the feeling that someone is trying to do this to me I am mildly repulsed and it lacks that genuine connectedness that I have found pin AA with other "trudgers". If something draws me closer to others that feels right. Anything that divides progressively feels awkward and incorrect.
I have no issues with God. It's His judgemental fanclub that bothers me.

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by leejosepho »

Tuff Gong wrote:... The spiritual program has been more of a disassembly of erroneous concepts and belief systems. A slow stripping of opinions and approaches that separate me from others ...
Beautifully said, imo!
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================

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Re: AA and religion etc...

Post by John Boy »

leejosepho wrote:
John Boy wrote:AA is a religion in denial.
I can understand why some people think that, but that is just not true. A.A. is simply the common experience of people who have come into right fellowship with God and others even in spite of sectarian religion.

John Boy wrote:Bill did not go through the 12 steps he went through the Oxfords 6 tenets ...
A rose by any name is still a rose ...

From page 13 in "Bill's Story":

"At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last time ..."

And now Steps One through Three:

"I humbly offered myself to God, as I then understood Him, to do with me as He would. I placed myself unreservedly under His care and direction. I admitted for the first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him I was lost. I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch ..."

And now Steps Four through Nine:

"My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with my problems and deficiencies. We made a list of people I had hurt or toward whom I felt resentment. I expressed my entire willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong. Never was I to be critical of them. I was to right all such matters to the utmost of my ability."

And now Steps Ten and Eleven:

"I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within. Common sense would thus become uncommon sense. I was to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and strength to meet my problems as He would have me. Never was I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my usefulness to others. Then only might I expect to receive. But that would be in great measure."

And of course, we all know Bill wrote Chapter Seven, "Working With Others".

Yes in the hospital with EBBY, there was NO 12 steps when Bill had his spiritual experience, he wrote the BB years later and of course he didn't write the 6 tenets he wrote his version of the 6 tenets which is the 12 steps. AA derived from a christian based Oxford group.
John Boy wrote:... Bill took the 6 tenets and turned them into 12 steps and called it AA.
Not true. Bill and the others called themselves "A.A.", if you will, and then simply referred to the Steps as a "program of action" employed by them all.

The name Alcoholics Anonymous came from the title of the BB which was released in 1939, 4 years after Bill got sober.
John Boy wrote:... If there was never any religion there wouldn't [have] been an AA.
True, but that does not imply any kind of inherent affiliation.
John Boy wrote:... there is NO requirement to believe in a christian GOD or any other GOD including a group of drunks.
That is true: AA/A.A. requires nothing of anyone. However, permanent recovery from chronic alcoholism certainly does!

So AA says you must believe in some sort of GOD or your going to get drunk, sounds like religion to me.
John Boy wrote:There are plenty of people who do just fine without the whole higher power thing.
True enough: Many people simply piggy-back along amidst fellowship with others of their own ilk.
Listen the point I'm trying to get across is one of helpfulness to those alcoholics who are scared off by the whole GOD thing.

Believing in GOD is NOT a requirement for membership.

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