The Athiest

The 12 Steps are the AA program of recovery from alcoholism.
Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:03 am

The Athiest

Post by michmjon »

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")

User avatar
Spirit Flower
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1544
Joined: Fri Feb 09, 2007 5:49 am
Location: Texas

Re: The Athiest

Post by Spirit Flower »

Read the Appendix on Spiritual Awakening. In there it mentions "unsuspected inner resource". This is what you want to tap into. It can be the right side of your brain.
...a score card reading zero...

User avatar
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1480
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:35 pm
Location: Kansas, USA

Re: The Athiest

Post by Duke »

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

Forums Enthusiast
Posts: 54
Joined: Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:30 am

Re: The Athiest

Post by Wiganman »

Hi Michmjon,

Thanks for your post. When I first came to AA I had a similar thought process to you in that I could clearly see the steps worked with others but doubted they would for someone like me - a disbeliever as I was.

I then sought out alternative 12 steps and there are many out there and websites dedicated to agnostics / atheists.

Then one line in the book changed my approach ... " the personality change sufficient to being about recovery from alcoholism has manifested itself among us in many different forms".

From that point I looked at the whole 12 steps as a process for changing my personality which had previously led me to being obsessed with alcohol. That change of mind-set from me allowed me to become willing (step 2) and then make a decision (step 3)to move through the programme. By working the rest of the steps I am able to look honesty at myself, identify my faults, make amends and correct my behaviour going forward.

It works, it really does. That is from someone who would not say the word God at the start of the Serenity Prayer.
"The first requirement is that we be convinced that any life run on self-will can hardly be a success." =ugeek

User avatar
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 5323
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Athiest

Post by avaneesh912 »

Go watch "Bar Rescue" see what the do to failing bars. They bring in new outlook, re-open and money starts flowing. Thats how I see the 12 steps. We change, get a new attitude and we get connected to the inner resource, we live a serene life.
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)

User avatar
Blue Moon
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3676
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2002 2:01 am
Location: New Jersey

Re: The Athiest

Post by Blue Moon »

michmjon wrote:So how does the atheist follow the Steps?
Why can't science be your Higher Power? Or check out Buddhism or Taoism.

No wait, you already defined your Higher Power in Step 11: "life".
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")
"Another human being" is crucial to Step 5.
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")
What's wrong with spiritual? It has nothing to do with god, religion, or anything else. You can have all the God and Religion in the world, yet still be in low spirits.
Ian S
AKA Blue Moon

User avatar
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1370
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:03 am

Re: The Athiest

Post by positrac »

Simple program for complicated people. We all want to feel this importance and it is born in us and not something I believe is manifested and so GOD: Good Orderly Direction. Real simple and it can be a rock, book or whatever until you've grown and matured to accept what you can change and the wisdom to know the difference.

Stop beating yourself up because you are unique! For example the old saying about prisoners and if they are guilty? They aren't guilty and just got a bad rap! So us drunks and druggies are unique...... Seriously? One day at a time is all that is ever really required and you do that without anyone's help.

Get out of your way and I promise it'll sink in and then all of this over thinking will eventually answer itself.

You are fighting change and obviously much more is under the surface on that subject and time will help you with that when you are ready and when you are sick and tired of being sick and tired you'll work that process.

Have a good day.
Work hard, stay positive, and get up early. It's the best part of the day.
George Allen, Sr.

User avatar
Forums Long Timer
Posts: 949
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:45 am
Location: France

Re: The Athiest

Post by clouds »

So, where are all our sober atheists, on holiday?

Michmjon, Hi!

Read through the e-AA forums, you will find a lot of people here who have no belief in a god and who also openly claim their atheism. Many have really solid long term sobriety and have done the 12 steps in their own way.

Best wishes!
" 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.

User avatar
Trusted Servant
Posts: 8822
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: The Athiest

Post by PaigeB »

Doh! Sober atheist here - back from a holiday in my mind! :lol:

Here was the real deal for me. When I came in I saw people looking happy enough and I wanted what they had. Since I KNEW there was no god they had to be doing something that I hadn't tried yet! I set out to find out what it was and found it was working the Steps with a sponsor. In my case, sponsor who considered herself Christian but had no problem taking me through the Steps as an atheist. She said many people use the AA Group but she preferred "AA as a whole" encompassing a larger concept. That was good for me ~ I had already seen that AA had restored sanity to others around the tables - no matter what they attributed the "miracle" to. Maybe it is a statistical miracle.

First I had to learn semantics... when you say "god" or even when I say "god" my brain inserts my own meaning like "AA" or "Group of Drunks" or "Good Orderly Direction". Why don't you TRY a little read through and insert those words... Sometimes I just use "HP" as if that were a name. I have a friend who uses the name "Fred"!
Semantics. noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. Linguistics., the study of meaning.
3. the meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, etc.:
"Let's not argue about semantics."

When we got to the 3rd Step I turned my will & my life,where I said, "thoughts and actions" over to the care of AA. And when my sponsor and I got to the 5th Step I told her, "I can't actually go in and tell my 5th Step at a meeting... How do I tell G.O.D.?" She said, "Let me handle that" ok - there we go ~ done. I have heard others offer their 4th Step to the Universe through a burning & contemplation period.

It worked for me. I have 7+ years of sobriety and no desire to drink. I sponsor other women, most are not atheist. I do not fear the word god. As for spirituality, I too like the Index on Spiritual Experience. I have come to have a Knower, deep down inside, an unsuspected inner-resource. And I certainly have had a profound change in my reactions to life.

I completed the 12 Steps and I am still atheist. Let me know if you want to hear more!

I hope you find what I have found.
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


Re: The Athiest

Post by Noels »

Thanks Paige :D I was wondering where you were last night (mwah xxx)

You've probably noticed that I wonder about quite a lot of things and after reading Mitche's post again tonight I was wondering how is it that every atheist or not so sure person who have posted on the forum about not believing/not being sure in or of Creator knows so much about religion yet I for instance who have believed all my life in Creator did not know what atheist was until I read Mitche's post tonight? I'm not being funny or looking for trouble. I'm honestly just wondering about it?

Thanks for helping out my friend. I'm off to bed. Taaaierd :lol:

lotsa love, Noels xxx

Forums Long Timer
Posts: 501
Joined: Mon May 25, 2015 6:20 pm

Re: The Athiest

Post by Reborn »

When you stop believing that it's all about you and become convinced that you are a small peice of the whole picture you will start to understand what spirituality is.
We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others. BB pg 132

Forums Old Timer
Posts: 1018
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2015 10:51 am

Re: The Athiest

Post by D'oh »

Paige hit it pretty close for me as well.

I was first attracted to the People's serene being. They had something I wanted and offered to show me HOW they found it. The God talk bored me, but if it made others happy, who cared? Even without any proof.

I buzzed through the first 3 steps using the Group as a HP. I was stuck on the 4th step. Then one night "Joe" said at a meeting "Everyone's happy faces you see at a Meetings, that's not them, they are just Messed Up Alcoholics. That is a Higher Power working through them."

I had just enough of an open mind to "Hear That" that night. The "Proof" I had been looking for was right in front of me all along. Not in Lightening Bolts or feeding the starving, but in little everyday things happening around me. Why did I even survive Drinking? Why did Bill W choose the Phone Booth rather than the Bar?

The Book says Many Things about a Higher Power, but it is One's own choice. What it does say is just Open the door a little, the rest will come as easy as we let it.

Keep an Open Mind.
Be quick to see where religious people are right. Make use of what they offer. As we go through the day we pause, when agitated or doubtful, and ask for the right thought or action. We constantly remind ourselves we are no longer running the show, humbly saying to ourselves many times each day “Thy will be done.” We are then in much less danger of excitement, fear, anger, worry, self-pity, or foolish decisions. We become much more efficient. We do not tire so easily, for we are not burning up energy foolishly as we did when we were trying to arrange life to suit ourselves.
It works--it really does.
We alcoholics are undisciplined. So we let God discipline us in the simple way we have just outlined.
pg. 86/87

Religion are for those who want to stay out of He//. Spirituality is for those who have already been there.

Forums Newcomer
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 2:02 am

Re: The Athiest

Post by rpinkard »

How we define our concept of God is placed squarely on our individual shoulders by the authors of the big book. We have to develop our own concept. There is no "We" in this process - clearly the authors meant according to your understanding not anyone else's. I am responsible to develop this concept for me. Semantics maybe; but if you could develop a concept that does not conflict with your atheistic approach and gives you access to a power greater than yourself - great. I recommend that whatever concept you develop; at least include some animation. It is really hard for me to turn my life and will over to a bridge for example. It is very difficult for me to admit to the bridge, myself and another human being. I think the salient points are: something bigger than you which can be a source of strength, your own concept of God, use the latitude the big book authors have provided. Obviously, your fellow atheist who have recovered by use of the program of recovery contained in our basic text would have greater insight.

User avatar
Trusted Servant
Posts: 8822
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: The Athiest

Post by PaigeB »

I recommend that whatever concept you develop; at least include some animation.
True - and a visual is nice. I chose the swirly pictures of our Universe or another Universe - I can't tell the difference, LOL. But another visual, the one of the Group, shows me the Loving faces of my fellows and Love is a big part of this HP thing for me. Unconditional Love seems to be a spiritual ideal I can work for.

I heard "Use a doorknob if you want." That feels a little condescending but I can use a doorknob, until I get up and walk across the room and literally manipulate it! I can use it to open and close any door I want! :)
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

Mike O
Forums Old Timer
Posts: 3253
Joined: Wed Apr 30, 2008 9:55 am
Location: UK

Re: The Athiest

Post by Mike O »

The atheist accepts as fact that there is no god.
Not even " there might be a do I know?"?