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My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA
Six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power, or He.
August 28th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Faithlessness: The atheist way through AA

Editor's note: Marya Hornbacher's latest book, "Waiting: A Nonbeliever’s Higher Power," explores what spirituality can mean to the recovering person who does not believe in God.

By Marya Hornbacher, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Kicked back with his boots on the table at the head of the smoke-dense room, the meeting's leader banged his fist and bellowed, “By the grace of this program and the blood of Jesus Christ, I’m sober today!”

I blinked.

This was not an auspicious beginning for the project of getting my vaguely atheistic, very alcoholic self off the sauce.

I wondered if perhaps I’d wandered into the wrong room. I thought maybe I’d wound up in Alcoholics Anonymous for crown-of-thorn Christians, and in the next room might find AA for lapsed Catholics, and downstairs a group for AA Hare Krishnas and one for AA Ukrainian Jews.

But a decade later, I’ve become aware that 12-step programs are home to people from every religion, denomination, sect, cult, political tilt, gender identity, sexual preference, economic strata, racial and ethnic background, believers in gun rights and abortion rights and the right to home schooling, drinkers of coffee and tea, whiskey and mouthwash, people who sleep on their sides or their stomachs or sidewalks.

Anyone who cares to sober up, in other words, can give it a shot the 12-step way.  The official preamble Alcoholics Anonymous states: "The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

And millions of people want that and find a way to do it in this program. I’m one of them. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, a raging drunk. Now I’m not.

It wasn’t magic; it was brutally hard work to get from point A to B. I do believe I’d be dead without the help of the people and the structure of the steps in AA.

But I don’t believe in God.

And this can be something of a sticking point when you’re sitting in a meeting room, desperate for almost any route out of hell, and someone cites “the blood of Jesus” as the only way to go. Or when you realize that six of AA's 12 steps explicitly refer to God, a Higher Power or He.

But this shouldn't be a dealbreaker. I’m going to make a lot of old-style AA’s cranky with this, but it’s perfectly possible to sober up sans belief in God.

At first that wasn’t clear to me. It’s unclear to most people because AA has a reputation as a cult, a religion unto itself, a bunch of blathering self-helpers, a herd of lemmings or morons, and it isn’t those things, either. It’s a pretty straightforward series of steps, based on spiritual principles, that helps people clean up their lives in a whole lot of ways.

But if you are of an atheistic or strongly agnostic mindset, chances are you’ll walk into a meeting, see the steps hanging on the wall and want to scream, laugh or walk back out.

I tried another tack: I made a valiant attempt to believe. I figured a) these people were funny, kind, and not plastered; b) they believed that some kind of higher power had helped them get sober; c) they knew something I did not.

So I did research. I read every word of AA literature I could find. I read up on the history of half a dozen important religions and a wide variety of frou-frou nonsense. I earnestly discussed my lack of belief with priests, rabbis, fanatics and my father.

People told me their stories — of God, the divine, the power of love, an intelligent creator. Something that made all this. Some origin, some end.

I told them I believed in math. Chaos, I said. Infinity. That sort of thing.

They looked at me in despair.

And not infrequently, they said, “So you think you’re the biggest, most important thing in the universe?”

On the contrary. I think I am among the smallest. Cosmically speaking, I barely exist.

Like anything else, I came into being by the chance, consist mostly of water, am composed of cells that can be reduced and reduced, down to the quarks and leptons and so forth, that make up matter and force. If you broke down all matter, the atom or my body, you’d arrive at the same thing: what scientists call one strange quark, with its half-integer spin.

And I find that not only fascinating but wondrous, awe-inspiring and humbling.

I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is humility. The recognition that we are flawed, that we can and must change and that our purpose not only in sobriety but in life is to be of service to others.

I believe that I exist at random, but I do not exist alone; and that as long as my quarks cohere, my entire function on this hurtling planet is to give what I can to the other extant things.

That keeps me sober. Amen.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marya Hornbacher.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief

soundoff (3,939 Responses)
  1. BGko

    How many idiots are going to claim that Science and God are incompatible? Truly a statement that shows a lack of understanding in Reason and Logic.

    August 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      First, define god. We all know what science is, of course.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • god

      believing a magical man in the sky created the universe out of nothing is totally consistent with science.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • god

      Why do only 10% of scientists believe in me. I blame Satan.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • michelle

      michelle

      So, I'll do more studying, if anyone has any links they could give me it would much appreciated, it is just
      baffling to me to know that man was created around animals in the beginning how ever, was able to pull away from the animals and begin an intelligent form a language, I can sort of see creating things that they needed from need. But somehow I can see them forming their own way of sound but to make an E sound a sound K sound who taught man how to form communication. but to form words from out of nowhere or nothing. (From something more intelligent then themselves) I mean like one may say if a boy or girl was raised around animals (wolves) how when they were found, they did not know how to talk. They talked like their environment or look like their environment; I know man intelligence is phenomenal. However, can we have taught ourselves the great gift of speech from out of nothing? Who did we mimic to know that we could turn a sound into a letter and from letter into words? Ok, say if tomorrow, we took a baby from the hospital, took great care of the baby, but he never heard anything but a dog bark or bird chirp it has been scenically proven that the baby would grow up with communication problems. Someone would have to teach that child speech. The baby would know how to cry yet the baby would need to be taught how to turn his cry into communication. How can we be taught unless we have a teacher.if we were so smart, them we would need schools or teachers

      September 24, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  2. Chopswell

    AA is not a "GOD" program. It speaks of a "higher power." And to some, that higher power is a door knob, to be able to pull themselves off the floor. No one who knows the program ever said it was a religious program. If they did, they completely missed the point.

    August 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • icebalm

      AA sprang from The Oxford Group, a non-denominational movement modeled after first-century Christianity. Most Group members were not concerned with sobriety, but some, such as Ebby Thacher, believed the group was a critical aid in staying sober. Following the Group's evangelical bent, Thacher sought out former drinking buddy Bill Wilson to tell him he was sober because he had "got religion." Thacher also told Wilson he could get sober too if he set aside his objections to religion and form a personal conception of God, "another power" or "higher power."

      August 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Sappho

      Tradition 2: "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience."

      The idea that something can be based on a god, particularly a loving intervening god, and not be religious is absurd. The only thing more absurd is praying to a doorknob to remove all of your shortcomings.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  3. Jay

    If AA is a cult Chris then it is the worst run cult in history. It costs no money, you don't have to believe in anything, you come and go as you please, you can even continue to drink if you want all while getting free coffee and cookies. There is nowhere in any AA literature where Christ is mentioned. I am sorry that your Dad and friend got railroaded by a bad group. I left that Catholic church because they are the most hypocritical group on the planet. They cover up for pedophile priests. I am a member of AA. The two are distinctly different groups. One is a religious group, the other is a spiritual group. If someone credited their sobriety to the "blood of Jesus Christ" in any meeting I've ever been to there would likely be a period of awkward silence afterward rather than the chorus of amens that some may be picturing. AA is a spiritual program not a religious one. Step 3: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
    understood Him. It even puts "as we understood him" in italics in the 12 and 12 book.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      After that they deny scienctific medicine, psychiatry, taking medication, and then they smoke their tails off.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jay

      SCAtheist. Literally nothing that you just wrote is true.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  4. Chris V.

    Your intelligence immediately came through in this article as well as your way with words. I enjoyed this article so much that it inspired me to "Google" you to learn more about you. I did a Facebook search for you. I see that you don't maintain a FB page, unfortunately, as I'm sure it'd be fun for your readers to read what would surely be witty and wise updates. Congratulations on your sobriety. So glad you beat your demons in order to overcome the illness of addiction. May it always be so. All the best to you, Ms. Hornbacher.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  5. kelly

    Then you definatly would not have liked the AA origins. The founders had them in their home, read the bible and in prayer and meditation with & for the addict. I'm glad you are sober. I hope the root causes you carry with you are being dealt with as well. At the end of this life yes hopefully you are still sober. But their is a bigger quest, Your time alive is it a day, an hour, 20 more yrs. Will you get to live a full life or have stolen from you by some horrific disease? Then a more important quest. will be: Did you believe in Jesus Christ, did you know Him and His saving grace? I hope in the end you do! And I will see you on the other side. He shed His blood for me and I have overcome by His blood and the word of my testimony! After this life, I will spend eternity with Him, I pray you do too!

    August 28, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  6. God Bless the Illuminati

    Chud King –

    I have never heard of an atheist hating religion or religious people. They just don't share the same belief system – no hatreed involved. But, Chud, I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours

    August 28, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Mark

      You ought to attribute that quote to Stephen Roberts, the original author

      August 28, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • icebalm

      Well, you have heard of one now as I am an atheist and an anti-theist.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jay

      Mark...you are my hero. Thanks for calling out the pseudo intellectual plagarist.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Well, d'uh, of course that's Stephen Roberts. Do we really need to state the obvious? Here, let's do this.

      I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours. –Stephen Roberts

      Better?

      August 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Jay – you're kinda simple, huh? That's OK.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jay

      I'd rather be simple than a plagiarist. You got caught!!! HAHAHA What a little fool you are. I bet you have a ponytail.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  7. Dr.K.

    Good for you! And good for everyone who loves you and depends on you, I'm sure. Lastly, I am hopeful your testimony is good for our world through demonstrating that one can be deeply thoughtful, skeptical, and human and still have the power to elicit profound change.

    Another thought: I am always dumbfounded by people who see agnosticism or atheism as arrogant – as if believing in natural processes means believing you are the top of the heap (quite the opposite, as you point out). While on the other hand, believers who see themselves as personally created by the most powerful force in the universe (and created in it's image, mind you), and personally watched over and guided by that most powerful force, and able to alter events in the universe through personal telepathic communication (prayer) with that most powerful force, see themselves as – and try to present themselves as – humble!

    August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • SCAtheist

      Doc they do it because anybody that doesn't believe what they do is a threat obviously.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  8. LJ

    However they find sobriety, what counts is to find it and hold onto it for the long haul. My husband didn't even find it through AA, but it doesn't matter. Whatever works! Whatever works for the individual...sobriety that will last and make your life better...THAT is the most important thing of all. Keep your eye on the prize and find a program that works. Whatever works for YOU!

    August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Excellent! Well said. Thank you.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  9. raysny

    Some of the folks writing in seem to think that a) you're not doing AA right and b) you shouldn't talk about it (most likely because of a).

    Why join a religious group if you're an atheist? I tried AA over and over, trying to find that mythical AA where people wouldn't rag on me about my non-belief. In hundreds of meetings in 5 states, it didn't happen. AA members felt it appropriate to attempt to badger me into belief; it was the only topic of conversation once I admitted my lack of faith.

    I'd have to side with the AA members who say you're not really AA, that "only requirement" is a con, there are multiple requirements, the main one is that you have some form of god that you pray to and who answers those prayers. Perhaps you think you can perform some sort of mental gymnastics that allow you to bypass the AA god, but you're fooling yourself and in the process giving credibility to fundamentally flawed program that fails to improve on the rate of natural remission while increasing the mortality rate.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  10. Chud King

    The tiny, angry not-god Richard Dawkins has been invoked! Bow down before his authority. Worship Dawkins, bow down! And buy a book. Don't feed the hungry, buy a book and attack religion. That's easier and you can have a latte and be back in the lab before 2pm.

    And Atheists aren't intolerant blind-followers of some kind of faith? C'mon man! Hilarious.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Read much?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Castiel

      Glenn Beck, is that you? We thought you were still off fapping over the hurricane.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • god

      What do you have against books. Religious people write books too.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Chud King

      Thank you "God Bless the Illuminati" and "Jim". You empiracally prove my point.
      Your comments compel me to say, "God bless the ignorati," of whom you are shining exemplars! ;-)

      August 28, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Chud, Chud, Chud – name calling? Really? Are you out of decent, logical arguments already? We've just begun the debate and you're out of material. That's so typical. Oh well, keep trying.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  11. Bo

    ============== It's sad that we as created mortal beings have to refer to the allmighty God in human terms. God is not a "man in the sky" nor any of the other allutions made toward God. Although we refer to God as having the attributes of man ie hands, feet, heart, eyes and ears etc., God is a Spirit and needs none of these. We even give God a gender when God has none.. God is so emmence we have no way of asigning a size to God. God is larger than the universe. Yet punny man has the foolisness to insult God. There are those who without any proof say there is no God. Nor is there any proof there is a God, only faith in the evidence given.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      Okay so you can't hear it, see it, taste it, smell it, touch it, measure it, quantify it, or prove its existence in any way shape or form. Now how is that different from something that doesn't exist in the first place?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • icebalm

      You obviously are not jewish or christian. Genesis 1:27 – "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." Seems pretty clear to me, although I am not a believer.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Fred1

      Your right. Without proof I say there is no god and as you said there isn’t any proof there is a god. BUT there are mountains of evidence that there is no god and there isn’t even a mole hill of evidence that there is a god.

      Without proof I also say there are no vampires, elves or unicorns again based on the available evidence.

      August 28, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  12. whatever

    My best friend is very much atheist and AA has helped her get through her terrible addiction. It's a place to reach out for support and help from those in a similar position or who have gotten through difficult times and want to be there for others. Some people really need that consistent support structure, and AA happens to be just about everywhere (they even have meeting on most major cruise ships... look for the 'Friends of Bill W.' events) and it's nice for people going through that to have a reliable place to go with people that you know you can relate to. And if the "higher power" bs really bothers you, it can be absolutely anything...my friend uses "art" as her higher power as well as the power of her love for her children. Basically, you can define it as you may or even altogether dismiss the steps that don't work for you. And all "powers" aside, AA has helped so many people that I don't see why some talk so much crap about it. Why don't you guys start your own non-religious group and make it as widespread and accessible as AA? Until then, it's not fair to badmouth people who are doing what they can to get better. And if it doesn't work for you, congrats on trying and being open-minded and move on rather than talking down to those who really get the help they need from this program. I really just do not get why people are against AA so much like it's doing awful things to people (although I know some people may misuse it, not the majority). Get over it and do what works for you, should you need the help.

    Now me personally, I would never go to AA if I had an alcohol problem. That's just because group setting meetings to talk about feelings and issues would not be my "thing" and would make me pretty uncomfortable. So I readily admit that it is great for some people and not the best for others. Leave those alone who enjoy it and benefit from it, like my best friend who is happier than I have ever seen her and a far more useful/better person. And encourage those who don't benefit from it to seek help elsewhere. And if you can't fathom being in a room where God is mentioned then go right ahead and find a better program but don't use your personal qualms to shut down and chastise others who are getting better. Anyway, this post is full of childish and egotistical comments, and I just think everyone should do what works for them and encourage other to find out whatever works for them, but there is no need to be so disrespectful because what works for them is against your beliefs. So go ahead and post your silly replies, because I have better things to do than waste any more time reading them. Too much negativity /rant

    August 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  13. RichardDawkins

    i'm going to create man and woman with original sin. Then i'm going to impregnate a woman with myself as her child so that i can be born. Once alive, i will kill myself as a sacrifice to myself to save you from the sin i originally condemned you to. -jesus
    yep, that is what people believe.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Castiel

      Now I need a drink.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • BGko

      Your problem in that logic is that you're confusing religious beliefs about God with the belief in God. You're taking the imperfect interpretations of Men and assuming that somehow they are correct about the activities and makings of God, rather than seeing that Religion and God are two completely different things. Unfortunately, most Atheists use this failed path of Logic to conclude that there is no God, when in fact all it proves is that Humans think up a lot of stupid stuff.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • god

      Yes, that is pretty much how it happened.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • icebalm

      Humans think up a lot of stupid stuff alright, like a god.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • BGko

      icebalm – that may or may not be. My point is that Science is capable of neither proving or disproving that idea, just as Religion is capable of neither. We have idiots at both extremes making poorly-thought out points, and extremists are never correct. We have religious nuts claiming Science is a hoax, and science nuts claiming that just because I figured this little thing out it means there is no God. Both statements are filled with fallacies in Logic.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • icebalm

      The idea that science cannot disprove god is partial fallacy. While science can not disprove a deistic god, it can disprove any god that would take any interest or effect change in our universe. Science has already disproved the effects of prayer, and the striking lack of evidence that one should find if there were a god, seems to be missing. If a god effected any sort of change in our universe, there would be evidence, and so far, there is none.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  14. BGko

    I'm not sure how knowledge of math, science, and how matter is put together equates to no God. I'm undecided on the whole issue, but I always laugh when Atheists try to say that just because they have a small understanding of the workings of the Universe, somehow that means there is no higher power. That's quite a fallacy in logic in itself, and from people that use the claim that they know the inner workings of knowledge so well to base their beliefs. Rather contradictory.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • RichardDawkins

      Prove god or shut up is basically my point. We can prove science. The problem is the special position religion has even though non of it can be proven and is at best the ramblings of some bronze-age desert tribesman. We poo poo sciene but it just works for us and happens to be a great way of yes, figuring things out. YOUR FAITH IS CUTE BUT FACTS ARE HARD TO BEAT!!!

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • BGko

      Sorry that you have to resort to insults and condescension to make yourself feel smarter. To write off the ancient record with one sentence is pretty ignorant, especially when we find that the farther we go back in archeology, the more amazing the accomplishments of humans in architecture and astrology and scientific understanding become. That is Fact. Rather foolish the disregard anything our ancestors said. Look, Science is great, the Scientific Method is one of the greatest tools man has devised to figure things out. But to say it is the end all be all and nothing else is possible outside the realms of ScienceLand is a pretty foolhardy statement that puts you in the same camp as the people who say there is nothing outside the realm of Religion Land. If you can't draw the distinction between the idea of God and Religious belief, then you are not a man of Logic. Is God provable unless he comes down here physically to show himself? I imagine not. Does that mean his existence is outside the realm of possibility? Absolutely not. All things must be considered possible until proven impossible. Only a fool shuts his mind to possibilities. Just because we've figured out how some things work in no way equates to the impossibility of God. That's a closed-minded a way to think as any religious nut.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Fred1

      @BGko: “All things must be considered possible until proven impossible” WRONG. When we build up a preponderance of evidence for the unlikelihood of something it is reasonable to call that thing impossible. For example the flying spaghetti monster, you cannot prove it is impossible; but, there is so much evidence against it and so little evidence for it that even you might call it impossible

      August 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  15. JG

    I am not an alcoholic, but I know a few. It is a destructive disease that can hurt everyone around you. If a belief in God helps you combat the disease, go for it. I think that the author of the article, who is an alcoholic, is expressing some frustration in the system of AA. The program has some central beliefs that she does not subscribe to...That's ok, too. We are all different. Perhaps another group can develop out of this view – combating the illness without praying or looking to a higher power. AA is not a one size fits all. This is MY opinion. I do not know the answers. I am just throwing this out there.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  16. SeniorSkeptik

    I was an agnostic and an alcoholic who was desparate enough to try anything to stop drinking. I was willing to be open and I listened, and watched. After about 6months my head started to clear and I saw some of my fellow AA members who preached salvation, undying commitment to god and Jeezus continue to beat their kids, cheat on their spouses, relapse time after time. No matter how much they affirmed their love of the almighty, they continued to relapse. It soon became apparent to me that god was not keeping me sober nor was he keeping them sober. What was keeping me sober was my continuing support of AA buddies, therapy and behavioral principles and being of service to fellow man. My last drink was over thiry years ago and god didn't have a damn thing to do with it! My thanks to Marya for her courage to write what needed to be said. Lots of us out here that don't often get heard.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      I like your story. You're a strong human being.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • i get it

      Like - a lot!

      August 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  17. Chud King

    Atheist,don't you have better things to do that hate religious people? Please leave religious people alone and get on with solving all the worlds problems we know you are so rationally equipped to do. When can we expect the cure to AIDs and cancer? Oh, will your alien friends be visiting us soon and enlightening us? ;-)

    August 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • BGko

      True, there really is no difference in the belief of aliens vs the belief in God. By definition, God would be an alien any way you cut it.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      I have never heard of an atheist hating religion or religious people. They just don't share the same belief system – no hatreed involved. But, Chud, I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours

      August 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • what

      Boring troll, don't you have better things to do?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Jim

      Most of us don't hate religious people so much as we hate the hurtful things people do in the name of religion.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      We have medicine for AIDS and vaccines for specific types of cancer. What about you guys over there? How are those miracles coming along? Don't worry, we won't make fun when you need modern medicine to save your life. However, you can expect a joke or two if you give credit to god for your miraculous recovery.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • MadDog

      King of Chud ? next time u get sick don't go to church or temple. You are plain and simple the King of Stupids !! A Chud guru ?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      CHUD: Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dweller

      And he is the king of them apparently.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Rider of Brohan

      First off I don't think anyone here has a hatred of religious people, just many people with a disdain for "Christians" (you never hear an Atheist argue with a Buddhist now do you). Atheists be honest, are you actually replying to comments because you want to defend Atheism or convert Christians, or because you want to get a reaction from them? I have no problems with Atheists, just Atheists that rail on Christians because people who claim to be Christian do terrible things. We should have bitterness towards an entire group due to the actions of a few. Should we hate all Germans because what many Germans in the '40s did? Instead we should let people determine their beliefs on their own and praise those of any religion that are good people. So lets stop yelling "You're wrong" at each other and start making this world a better place. Because I most likely have to live here for another 50 years.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Fred1

      Believe me Chud we atheists would be delighted to leave religious people alone if they would only extend the same courtesy to us. Like not trying to get there religious rules made into government enforced laws (abortion and gay marriage for example). It would also be a wonderful good will gesture if you’d remove your god from our money and our pledge.

      August 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  18. USN Ret

    AA's 12 Steps must be doing something right. It's being used for so many addictions now,

    August 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  19. Sober and confused

    I was in AA for six years and my higher power was god. Then I learned I am dyslexic. Turns out my higher power was a golden retriever.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • USN Ret

      LOL, Thank you for the Humor. You just made my day :)) God Bless !!

      August 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  20. Chud King

    St Augustine said faith is a gift. If you don't believe in god it's o.k. because God thought your precious, atheist wonderfulness wasn't worth him/her/it giving you the gift. OUCH!

    Atheists don't worship goats,they worship themslves. But you can always get an atheist's goat.

    August 28, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • RichardDawkins

      you used science to post your comment not faith or a god because they don't do anything and aren't real. grow up, there is no sandy clause :(

      August 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • God Bless the Illuminati

      Your material was funny several years ago. You really need to fire your writers.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Jim

      Atheists don't worship themselves, but they do have confidence in themselves. Don't you believers have any confidence in yourselves?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • kellycanuck

      As far as the writer being agnostic, and myself a raging alky who stumbled into AA, not believing in God. I found that the 12 steps did not require you to believe in God. My home leader explained to me when I went in, that you can make the toaster your higher power if you choose. This 12 step book and the 'Big book" were written many many years ago and haven't changed. There is no need to believe in anything except the first step which is acknowledging that you are powerless over alcohol. In fact, I always said, that if everyone would take an hour to read the 12 step book, the world would be a better place. Like my sponsor told me....AA is simple..but it's not easy.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Guilty Bystander

      A gift that kills more and people every year. Sounds like a cheap gift...or an STD.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • icebalm

      So what does that say about your so-called god that created me? Your god created me with the inability to believe in him, knowing that he would not give me this "gift" you speak of? Why do you worship such a barbaric creature?

      August 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.