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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. MaybeAgnosticMaybeNot

    By the logic of the 12 steps, and the Bible, nothing good can come without God. ( James 1:17, John Chapter 9, etc.) By this logic the 12 steps should apply to everything. If you want to get straight A's you have to realize you are powerless to do so. Why is so hard to say you can do something if you use your own will power. Personally seeing people who are too weak minded to improve themselves would sober me up in a minute.

    August 30, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  2. Aikimatt

    I am not sure what the issue is with what this woman is saying? In the Drs opinion it talks about the physical disease and the spiritual malady. Her point is that she does not need a specific God to meet her spiritual malady but uses humility instead. So humility is her God. In my 23 years of sobriety I have seen all kinds of people make it and have seen very very spiritual and religious people die from this disease. The point is to be willing to grow along spiritual lines, The principles that were set down were to be guides to progress, none of us should be claiming spiritual perfection rather we are building our spiritual progress. Humility is one portion of the spiritual side of our program. That is her journey this part I cite comes from step two perhaps someday she will be able to get to step 3 or at least stay sober trying:)

    August 30, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  3. CF

    I like this article and her thoughtful approach to the topic, but her complete disregard of the 11th Tradition really irks me. The 11 Tradition is about far more than just protecting the anonymity of fellow AA-ers, it's about protecting AA from us. When public figures claim AA membership and chronically are caught in DUIs, etc, it reduces AA's potential attractiveness to newcomers. Also, it protects AA from controversy when those proclaiming membership offer person opinions that potential newcomers may find off-putting and that have nothing to do with the program itself. It doesn't matter if you put "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marya Hornbacher" at the end of the article, the damage is done.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Peace2All

      I'm curious... what 'specific' damage do you think has been done...?

      Peace...

      August 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • CF

      Maybe none, maybe a lot. – that's not my point. I'm underscoring the fact that the 11th Tradition was put into place after hard-won lessons in the 30's and 40's to protect both individuals and the program in general, and that to completely disregard it is a dis to the rest of us who value the wisdom of traditions. For someone to carve out an exception for themselves on this is – dare I say? – a bit self-centered.

      August 30, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • StevePi

      Don't worry, I already had a low opinion of your little brainwashing er "self-help" club.

      August 30, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  4. Steve Mitchell

    Six out of the 12 steps mention God. That's almost half! Scared me to death. But I "came to believe" that those funny — sober — folks in AA had something I wanted. So I made them my "higher power," because they certainly had the power to remain sober, whereas I had no ability at all. Eventually, through a few genuine "God shots," I acquired a Higher Power, whom I call God. It was well worth the wait.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Steve

      I'll be 8 months sober next month...& although I'm going to AA, & picked a higher power [the Universe] I do NOT believe that there is any external power that can hear prayers or meditations & 'restore me to sanity'. I don't believe in spirit or spirits, or really get spirituality at all. Addiction is a disease. Turning it over to God/Higher Power or the Flying Spaghetti Monster won't get rid of it...I would like more science & psychology & less Faith/Religion in my 12-steps. I respect everyone's opinions & beliefs, tho I may not agree with theirs'...yet I am constantly told to "Pray", "Let Go & Let God", & "Fake it till you make it". None of that helps me in the least...

      August 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  5. angel

    Genesis chapter 1 verse 26 and verse 27
    It says let us make man in our image and the father of all said God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him;
    male and female created he them. The 1st. Chapter of Genesis tells us how God did and requested life to be. It is sad how the Blessed Father of this world does not get any Praise and thankfulness from some people. I do all so know Jesus, God Son said; Every knee will bow before him and confess Jesus is Lord. We have an earthly Father and we have a heavenly father. God also has a name called Abba Father; Which means Daddy

    August 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  6. winter58

    In recovery through AA, one doesn't need to be a Christian to succeed. I'm a recovering Catholic; my recovery from that addiction is as important to my health as my recovery from alcohol addiction. But, I'm a believer in the precepts of AA, which state that all you need to succeed is a "desire to stop drinking". My higher power is Love. There's no Redeemer, but me. There's no Faith (in the Christian context, anyway) I have except in Love and my ability to give and receive it. I've been sober for 12 years using this. Christianity is just one, albeit common, belief system that is useful to achieve sobriety

    August 30, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  7. *Lori*

    Even an atheist believes in something. Isn't believing in nothing a religion in itself? It's still believing. Wearing a seatbelt makes us an atheist? God stil expects us to take care of ourselves in all ways possible...AND trust in Him that His will be done regardless of what we do.

    August 30, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • LinCA

      @*Lori*

      You said "Even an atheist believes in something. Isn't believing in nothing a religion in itself? It's still believing."
      Not necessarily.

      There tend to be 2 basic "flavors" of atheism. These are characterized by one of the following conditions: Believing there is no god, or Not believing there is a god. The former can be construed as a belief as there is a claim made without providing evidence in support. The latter is simply a complete lack of belief. Most atheists I know take the latter position.

      Even so, while there is a difference, that difference is very small. Both positions are based on the fact that there is, as of yet, no evidence that there is a god. The stunning lack of evidence for any god in thousands of years worth of scientific records, validates to an enormous degree even the former of the two positions.

      The latter is the default, scientific, position. There simply is no reason to assume otherwise. There isn't a single theory that includes a god, that isn't equally (in)valid when the "god" is substituted with any other mythical being or force. Pink unicorns, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and, my new favorite, Bob the Magical Blue Sock are equal to any god. Because there isn't any evidence these creatures exist, to assume that they do isn't rational or reasonable.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Response

      @LinCA First of all Lin there are evidences of God you just choose to debunk or ignore them as implausible but they still do exist. For you the question seems to be there is nothing absolutely definitive that puts the argument to rest. If you believe the Bible, which obviously you don't, there were many times where God showed himself definitively where there was no question of His existence or His involvement with humanity but even then with incontrovertible evidence mankind chose to ignore God. So the answer for you is not that there aren't evidences or proof. There has been sufficient proof throughout human history to know of and to believe in God you have simply chosen not to. I do like the fact that when arguing for rationalism you decide to be totally irrational and throw out extremes like Pink unicorns and magical Blue socks but it doesn't make your point, it's just showing that you're trying to yell the loudest to cloud the issue. You might actually try real, honest dialogue about faith and belief instead of just railing off extremes and trying to cover it by saying all atheists are rational, reasonable people. I believe Stalin might disagree. People are people. Christians aren't perfect. Atheists aren't perfect. We both believe in something passionately and want others to affirm us in our beliefs. Your belief is in science, reason, humanity. Ours is in something beyond that. There can be a point of real conversation over these issues instead of what is always on these blogs. I apologize for most of the Christians on here. It looks like they just like to have a good irrational fight as well and throw out their own pink unicorns or magical blue socks. If you ever want to really talk without all the noise then I'm happy to. I'd love to know more about what you believe and what drives that belief.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • Sovereignty

      The point he was trying to make is that your belief in God does nothing to change the way you are forced to interact with the Universe according to the laws of physics. It just makes you irrational while you're at it.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Roger

      @response you said:"You might actually try real, honest dialogue about faith and belief instead of just railing off extremes and trying to cover it by saying all atheists are rational, reasonable people. I believe Stalin might disagree."
      Your primary argument is that there is "sufficient preoof" of god's existence but Lori simply chooses to ignore it. You spend a lot of words reiterating this statement, but aside from pointing to the Bible, you offer nothing but your claim that evidence exists. Even you acknowledge that the Bible is not proof unless you already believe in its accuracy and veracity, a classic circular argument. So how is your response anything close to the"real honest dialogue" you claim to welcome. I find your claim particularly absurd in light of your staement which I have in quotes. The writer never claimed that all athiests are reasonable, rational people. You have anger issues and act them out by asserting untruths. Good luck with the phony quest for dialogue.

      August 30, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Dave

      Lori, calling atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Response

      You said "First of all Lin there are evidences of God you just choose to debunk or ignore them as implausible but they still do exist."
      If what is presented as evidence is debunked, it no longer counts as evidence. If it is implausible it will only establish tentative support, at best. If there is evidence, please share it with us. If it valid evidence, it will hold up against scientific scrutiny. If it doesn't hold up, it isn't evidence.

      You said "For you the question seems to be there is nothing absolutely definitive that puts the argument to rest. If you believe the Bible, which obviously you don't, there were many times where God showed himself definitively where there was no question of His existence or His involvement with humanity but even then with incontrovertible evidence mankind chose to ignore God."
      Considering that the bible was cobbled together hundreds of years after the alleged events, that makes it circumstantial evidence at best. Even the books that make up the bible are not first hand accounts, making them hearsay. Quite a few of the stories in the bible are contradictory. That alone makes anything in the bible suspect. Without supporting evidence, the bible proves nothing. There is very likely very little truth to be found in it.

      You said "So the answer for you is not that there aren't evidences or proof. There has been sufficient proof throughout human history to know of and to believe in God you have simply chosen not to."
      As indicated above, there is no evidence.

      You said "I do like the fact that when arguing for rationalism you decide to be totally irrational and throw out extremes like Pink unicorns and magical Blue socks but it doesn't make your point, it's just showing that you're trying to yell the loudest to cloud the issue. You might actually try real, honest dialogue about faith and belief instead of just railing off extremes and trying to cover it by saying all atheists are rational, reasonable people."
      The evidence in support of your god is equal to the evidence for the other mythical beings mentioned. Their respective theories have equal merit. None to be exact.

      If you want your god to be in a different category, provide some verifiable evidence.

      You said "I believe Stalin might disagree."
      I disagree with Stalin way more than I agree with him. I don't compare myself with him more than you probably compare yourself to christian dictators.

      You said "People are people. Christians aren't perfect. Atheists aren't perfect. We both believe in something passionately and want others to affirm us in our beliefs."
      True to a point. Where I would draw the distinction is that I passionately disbelieve.

      You said "Your belief is in science, reason, humanity."
      I firmly believe that science, reason and logic are far superior than blind faith to explain the world as we experience it. That does not mean that I firmly believe every claim that science makes. Science never deals in certainties. And science is a human endeavor.

      You said "Ours is in something beyond that."
      Without any valid reasons to believe there is anything beyond.

      You said "There can be a point of real conversation over these issues instead of what is always on these blogs. I apologize for most of the Christians on here. It looks like they just like to have a good irrational fight as well and throw out their own pink unicorns or magical blue socks. If you ever want to really talk without all the noise then I'm happy to. I'd love to know more about what you believe and what drives that belief."
      Don't apologize for anyone but yourself. If you think that pink unicorns are more irrational than your god, there may be little hope for a rational discussion.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Response

      @ Roger @LinCA

      Alright Roger. I'm sorry that you think I have anger issues. I know I do at different times. I believe I'm a very passionate person and that can translate into anger for sure at different points in time.
      Lin also I'm sorry that trying to talk with you about what you meant offended you in the way I approached it. I can't properly answer or talk to either one of you about this issue until maybe you can answer some clarifying questions for me. If you don't mind that is. I'm just looking for you to convince me to be an atheist through your reasoned arguments.

      Question #1 Explain to me about atheism. What does it mean to be an atheist? How did you come to those conclusions? Your story please.

      Question #2 Where do you get your information? Both your information on atheism and on Christianity.

      Question #3 How do you know that's true? You said "That does not mean that I firmly believe every claim that science makes. Science never deals in certainties. And science is a human endeavor." So what is truth and how is it determined? Do we pick and choose when it is true and when it is not true?

      Question #4 Just for kicks...what if you're wrong? I'm totally willing to admit I may be wrong, but if I'm wrong how does it change my life right now and how am I missing out on life through belief?

      Thanks for taking the time to answer before and I hope to hear back on this as well.

      August 31, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Azariah

      LinCA... to a believer, there is no shortage of objective, quantifiable, proven by science proof. In short, EVERYTHING is proof to a believer, therefore NOTHING is proof to an unbeliever. Think about it. To someone who does not believe, their atheist best friend could have a deep spiritual experience that changes their whole outlook on life in the span of 15 minutes, and the unbeliever would probably write their friend off as crazy... "there has to be an ordinary explanation for this" and then they'd start chanting Occam's razor or something.

      For me, the proof is in existence, in creation. There is. There could not be but there is. Simple as that really. Lots of science folk believe that every action has a reaction therefore every action IS a reaction. Then how can one explain the big bang? There had to be something that made it happen.

      When it comes down to it, I realized that justifying atheism by saying believers were wrong is just slaying a strawman. God doesn't exist because people who talk about God aren't perfect? LOL. I still see believers spouting off all kinds of nonsense, and evangelizing really is very difficult to do – an atheist isn't going to ponder the possibilities when a Christian just says "repent or face eternal damnation", because they don't believe in that. I believe in science and reason just as much now as I did then. The truth is I can challenge my faith all I want with science and reason and it just strengthens it. There is more to this world than meets the eye.

      August 31, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Response

      You said "...also I'm sorry that trying to talk with you about what you meant offended you in the way I approached it."
      Don't worry. I am not offended.

      You said "Question #1 Explain to me about atheism. What does it mean to be an atheist? How did you come to those conclusions? Your story please.
      Atheism, for me, is the logical conclusion of rational evaluation of the available evidence. It's not a choice that I made.

      You said "Question #2 Where do you get your information? Both your information on atheism and on Christianity."
      I grew up in a christian home, went to christian schools, and lived my whole life in predominantly christian communities. By the time I was an adult, I had already come to the conclusion that religion was nothing more than rituals based on tradition. I realized that belief in a personal god, while pervasive, wasn't based on much more than superstition. People tend to believe the same thing as their parents and neighbors.

      You said "Question #3 How do you know that's true? You said "That does not mean that I firmly believe every claim that science makes. Science never deals in certainties. And science is a human endeavor." So what is truth and how is it determined? Do we pick and choose when it is true and when it is not true?"
      For me "true" means that it is the most likely scenario. I don't claim to know, with 100% certainty, that there are no gods. I consider it extremely unlikely, but don't dismiss the possibility entirely.

      Even if there is a god (or, are gods), there is no scientific evidence that he/she/it/they are actively involved with the universe as we experience it.

      You said "Question #4 Just for kicks...what if you're wrong? I'm totally willing to admit I may be wrong, but if I'm wrong how does it change my life right now and how am I missing out on life through belief?"
      If I'm wrong about what? That I'm wrong about Zeus not existing? That Ra doesn't exist? That any of the thousands of other gods, once worshiped by man, don't exist? That any of the millions of other gods, not yet invented by man, don't exist?

      If I'm wrong about there being any god, there is nothing I can do about it. Therefor there is nothing for me to worry about.

      There is no evidence for any of these gods. I have no way of knowing which one is the real one. If I did, I would be a believer. If I just pick one, and it's the wrong one, how is that going to help me? Most gods don't look kindly upon believers in other gods. They are kind of selfish that way.

      And even if, by miraculous chance, I picked the right one. Do you think he/she/it would look kindly upon anyone who doesn't believe in him/her/it, but merely goes through the motions, just to hedge his/her bets?

      I expect my odds of winning the jackpot in any lottery, multiple times in a row, are much better than picking the right god. And, I've tried the lottery. I'm no good at it.

      So, now it is your turn. What is the one thing that, if it were shown to be untrue, would make you disavow your belief?

      September 1, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • LinCA

      @Azariah

      Just because you accept something as evidence, doesn't mean it stands up to scientific scrutiny. For any "evidence" to have persuasive powers, it will have to be, at the very least, repeatable.

      You appear to have accepted an "answer" to your question. You accept it without any supporting evidence, and dismiss any evidence that contradicts it. That's fine. That makes you a believer.

      I don't claim to have all the answers. I don't need to. The difference between you and me appears to be that I don't just make shit up to put my mind at ease.

      If you don't know the answer, just say so. Just making up an answer in the hopes of "getting it right" doesn't fly in science. If you posit a god, you have to provide evidence in support.

      Show scientifically valid evidence that there is a god. Show that that god is as you describe him. And show that it was his doing, before you dismiss the scientific evidence.

      Without evidence in support of a god, it is unreasonable and even irrational to believe there is. To believe you have to close your eyes, ears and mind.

      A "personal revelation" and mental illness are indistinguishable. If this is the way your god communicates with his followers, he has chosen a very poor medium.

      If your god exists, he/she/it can very easily make everyone believe in him/her/it. He/she/it is said to be all-powerful, you know. Your god either can't, won't or, more likely, simply doesn't exist.

      September 1, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Response

      @LinCA

      Hey Lin. Sorry about the delayed response I was gone for the Labor Day weekend. I do appreciate your taking the time to reply back to me.

      So your question was: “So, now it is your turn. What is the one thing that, if it were shown to be untrue, would make you disavow your belief?”

      I guess my answer would be that if Jesus Christ was proven to not be a real historical man who walked the earth then I would most likely not believe.

      I did want to take some time to respond to the answers you gave on my questions. First of all I want to say that I totally hear where you are coming from. I was raised in a Christian home, in a Christian neighborhood, in the Bible belt. It is definitely tough to be around people who display Christianity as works based, tradition based, family based, etc. As a child I know that I would read the Bible and believe the things that it said to be true and then I would go to church and all the adults and pastors would seem to live, act, and preach differently from what I had read and it confused me. It all seemed so very hypocritical. I saw pastors marriages fail, infidelity among church leaders, hypocrisy, legalism, traditionalism, etc. from the church but I rarely saw what I read about in the Bible or saw what I had always been taught was “God’s or Christ’s love.” I was passionate about history growing up and my bachelors was in military history and international relations. I have seen the mark Christianity has made throughout history both good and bad. I have seen Christianity used to justify genocide, oppression, slavery, wars, jihad, violence, revenge, inquisition, stifling of art and invention and progress. It is certainly enough to make you severely question and doubt on a consistent basis whether or not you are wasting your time with all of this and would life not be better spent trying to better yourself, believe in nothing, and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and carve out your kingdom while you’re alive. For myself my belief in God and most specifically in Yahweh and Jesus Christ His Son is honestly the purely irrational nature of both of their claims. It makes no rational sense for me to believe in a god that I can fashion in my image and my understanding because then how is he God? From Zeus to Ra to Allah to any other deity that has come out of human history, the one thing that sets Yahweh apart to me is that here is a God who actually reached out in time at a point in human history to establish relationship with humans. Not only that but after His interaction with humans and all the failures that that wrought then you see a claim of His Son coming to earth in human form to live amongst us, to identify with us, and ultimately to die for us so that we could bridge the gap between a perfect and holy being that we shouldn’t be able to interact with and humanity which is just a mess throughout all of history. It makes no sense to me that the mind of man could come up with such a BS story when gods like Zeus, Ra, Allah, Budda, etc. are so much easier to swallow for me and make much more sense. For me a god has to be God otherwise how does it even fit the basic definition of what God is. God, for me, is not a human reflection with superhuman powers and a soap opera life. God is beyond my comprehension and is in fact a God.
      You know the one thing that sometimes helps give me insight into this mystery is looking throughout history at kingdoms and rulers and political systems. Historically, the kingdoms that and the leaders that made the most impact on their respective countries are those where the leader didn’t oppress his people but was considered to be one of them. One who sought to win over the people through love and identifying with them even though they were royalty or a leader beyond the common man’s position. The problem with those rulers is that even though they won over a group of their subjects there are always those who perceived that type of leadership as weak and unfit to rule and therefore a ruling style of oppression and domination would be more effective. This doesn’t explain God to me by any means but as I said before it gives a little insight sometimes as to how this could begin to make sense, a God trying to establish relationship with humanity.

      Anyway, I know this doesn’t help you at all and you still think I’m irrational and stupid. It’s ok. I do appreciate you taking the time to talk through these things with me. I hope that your Labor Day went well and that you got a nice break. It helps to have those breaks from the grind sometimes. If you want to talk anymore about anything else I’m here.

      September 6, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  8. Bobby

    Its just replacing one addicition for another, My arguement is not against how AA is run cause im not all to informed on how they run things but it is for atheism. I would like to take this time to point out that even the religious act like athiests on a daily basis. If you ever wear a seat belt or stop at a red light your an athiest, cause your not counting on god to protect you, your relying on common sense and logic, what an amazing notion.

    August 30, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  9. JanetK

    Humility is not a spiritual thing, it is a human thing. You haven't convinced this atheist.

    August 30, 2011 at 4:28 am |
    • Atheist

      It's a matter of semantics, but for me things can be spiritual, but not supernatural.

      August 30, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • stdnt4lyf

      Don't you think that humility connects us more fully to our humanity?I think 'fundamentalism' in all its forms is destructive and this applies to 'fundamentalists big book thumpers'.

      August 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  10. Nick

    Athiests, like anyone in need, turn to God and religious organizations to fix their problems, their alcoholic problems, their marital problems, their cancer problems, their health issues, their job problems, their drug problems, their x-husband problems, their x-wife problems, their money problems. And after their problems are fixed, they pretend like God doesn't exist and the religious organization is filled with kooks. Nothing new, it's been happening for thousands of years and will continue to happen. Athiests don't offer the world anything better or new. Boring. Move on.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Dave

      Um, no. Any who do, by definition are not atheists. Maybe you should learn what a word means before you use it?

      You claim "Athiests don't offer the world anything better or new". This is a blatant and outright lie, but fairly typical of a "christian". Here's a list of atheist scientists who've advanced the world far more than your backwards and evil religion that would have condemned and burned them at the stake, if they were able:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

      August 30, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Nick

      So, your position is that atheists are a real social blight and drag on society, eh...? Do you want to 'gas' them....? Put them on their own island in the middle of the ocean somewhere, ? What...?

      Peace...

      August 30, 2011 at 3:55 am |
    • Atheist

      I assume, Nick, that God filled you in on all this info about what atheists are about.

      August 30, 2011 at 5:12 am |
    • Herpin

      No, we do just as much, we just don't plaster the word "Our Holy Saviour's" or such before the name of something.

      August 30, 2011 at 6:46 am |
    • marco

      Maybe you're right Nick, but probably atheists can spell "Atheists" correctly. You can't.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:20 am |
    • Martin T

      @Nick – Well I'm sure that all the Athiests in the world do exactly as you say; however, all the ATHEISTS I know find your rationality quite irrational, at best. In all my life's troubles, I have NEVER sought god as the answer, mainly because I happen to KNOW that mythology does not have the ability to answer prayers, nor the power to change my life. Only I have that power, and with the help of family and friends, I am able to do most anything I set my mind to do.

      I really feel badly for people like you who have made a decision that ALL atheists are bad people. We are NOT, we are your neighbors, your doctors, your friends, even your own family members; you just don't know what our true feelings are because many are afraid to openly admit their doubts and disbelief. Only time will allow more and more to openly admit to their atheism, and thankfully, as we grow as a nation and as a race, we will be able to discard religion in favor of rationality and reason.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:32 am |
    • Sovereignty

      Go organize a crusade and touch some little boys, freak.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:07 am |
  11. Reality

    From p. 46:

    WARNING: The Surgeon General has determined that the consumption of this product, which contains alcohol, during pregnancy can cause mental retardation and other birth defects.

    WARNING: Drinking this product, which contains alcohol, impairs your ability to drive a car or operate heavy machinery.

    WARNING: This product contains alcohol and is particularly hazardous in combination with some drugs.

    WARNING: The consumption of this product, which contains alcohol, can increase the risk of developing hypertension, liver disease, and cancer

    WARNING: Alcohol is a drug which may be addictive. "

    August 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  12. BenB

    Actually, the 12 step program was first created by "Handsome Lake", an American Indian, many centuries ago. Scientific fact.

    August 30, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  13. peter

    Someone forgot the 11th tradition I see. 11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

    August 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • ImDave&ImAnAlcoholic

      You are correct and I, for one, apologize to all concerned.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm |
    • Rhonda

      So right! It is sad when someone jeopardizes all our sobriety just to get their name and opinion in print.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Snoop

      Rhonda – The only person who can jeopardize your sobriety is YOU. It sucks when people ignore the traditions and make money off of their recovery like this, but it doesn't affect you one bit.

      If you think it does, I would suggest that you get to a meeting and/or call your sponsor and get your head screwed back on straight.

      August 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  14. Thurbian

    Insomuch as it is within me, I hereby resign for the evening.

    August 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  15. joshua

    @science01, so I am correct yall are mad. No I don't believe in Shiva but I do believe in a God. Jesus is my God, he rose from the dead how about yours.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Epidi

      Mine lives, dies, and is reborn to live again. Nature's cycle. Pagan, thank you very much.

      August 30, 2011 at 3:39 am |
    • Orri

      I find it ihighly ronic that you not chose a Hindi god of resurrection as a a comparison for a god who didn't raise from the dead, you chose one with some highly similar (and far earlier) story details in common with the Christ story.

      But of course YOUR virgin-borne miracle working resurrection guy has to the be the historically accurate one. All these earlier ones just copied Christ, and had access to a time machine.

      August 30, 2011 at 8:34 am |
  16. Mar

    It's simple...AA's Big Book states that the way to sobriety USING THE AA PROGRAM is to find a power greater than yourself, a higher power, to solve your problem. If you don't buy into this, find another way. AA's Big Book also states clearly that ours is not the only way and that we know but a little. We know what works for us and many others using the principles, especially placing our reliance in a Higher Power. If there were some kind of organization for atheists to get sober (and there may be) then I would not presume to walk in there and inform them how they were wrong and should start believing in a God ASAP. For atheists who have no intention of changing their views, or even considering it, please stop walking into my AA meeting to tell me how my principles are wrong.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • BenB

      Actually, the 12 step program was first created by "Handsome Lake", an American Indian, many centuries ago. Scientific fact.

      August 30, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Peace2All

      @Mar

      Hey -Mar...

      It's been a couple of days since I skimmed the article, but did she (the author) actually "inform AA that they are doing it all wrong"...?

      My take on her story was that she, being an atheist, was able to utilize the AA model to achieve and maintain sobriety.

      Unless you're saying that you 'have' to believe in God or a 'higher power' outside yourself to achieve sobriety, (which would, BTW- be inaccurate) I'm not sure what the problem you are having with the author is...?

      Can't atheists enjoy the benefits of working the steps in their own way without telling you that "you are wrong"...? Which, again... I didn't read that she was suggesting that.

      Regards,

      Peace...

      August 30, 2011 at 2:38 am |
    • Gumby

      The very fact that both atheists and believers successfully overcome their addictions says to me that no god is required. But if belief helps you overcome your addiction that's great, and I would never judge you for it.

      August 30, 2011 at 9:41 pm |
  17. Michael

    I have to disagree. I'm a rabid agnostic but you also fall into the same trap that "chaotic" means "random". No! Not so! Emphatically not so. Yes, it's the product of chaos. But, no, it is not "random". In fact, given the probabilities, it is statistically inevitable. It is the Gaia principle. You are who you are or you would not be making these observations. You would be someone else but you would still be here. Rejoice in who we are. That's all we can be...

    An optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is sure this must be so...

    August 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  18. ImDave&ImAnAlcoholic

    If you want to grow in faith, go to church. If you want to get sober, go to AA. The gift of God to the recovering alcoholic is "a desire to stop drinking" and people who care enough to be honest about life in the pursuit of sobriety. The Bible doesn't make much sense to a drunk. But a recovering alcoholic can at least focus long enough to read if he/she so chooses.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • Gumby

      The Bible doesn't make sense when one is sober, either.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • ImDave&ImAnAlcoholic

      Ahh, good point and I agree...The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. From the Bible.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • ImDave&ImAnAlcoholic

      But I must be honest in admitting that I had nothing to do with my ability to understand at least some of the Bible...For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God...From the Bible. I pray you too have this gift from God, the very faith to believe in Him.

      August 29, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
  19. Linddar

    I wish what Jack is saying was true. It would make me very happy. However, is is much too indoctrinated with a belief system to make any sense. People are dying horrible deaths and suffering unimaginable tortures in this world every day. Why doesn't God care about them? Please don't bother with the usual answer that God gave us free will, or that believing in Jesus is the only answer ignoring all other religions.

    August 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  20. Jack

    I am so happy that AA is there for people but I don't think we need a book to
    tell us how to get through it without God. AA has been around a lot longer then
    the author of this book and no one needed a book to make it through before this
    book was written. The author here has really questioned her on spirituality. To
    spend time to write something to help others get through what she claims doesn't
    excist. If it doesn't exist why write about it...Many atheist's who are
    authors inspire Christianity some spending all their time trying to make others
    deny Christ. Actually this opens doors to inspire some individuals to
    investigate their spirituality and find themselves becoming Christians. So thank
    you for your book and keep writing. Thank you for inspiring me to comment here.
    If Christians actually read and understood the bible they know God and Christ's
    love for you is the same as it is for them. But the bible tells us that once
    someone is told how to enter the kingdom of God and refuses to accept God's
    opportunity that we should forget about their souls. The bible says "Don’t throw
    pearls to swine" if they deny the opportunity that's there decision. But It
    does not say that we should not love you and be respectful toward you. As you
    have made choices with your life we as Christians have also. Actually we are all
    loved and cared for by our Lord in heaven no matter what we have done or
    written. Christians just have a little extra insurance concerning eternal life.

    August 29, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Dave

      And your spellbook calling nonbelievers pigs is part of the reason so many people see the sheer arrogance and hypocrisy in your mythology.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:00 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You'll be losing that swagger, Jack, when Jesus points at you and thunders "I never knew you!"

      Yeah, we can all play the "oh, you're really gonna get it on Judgment Day game!

      August 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • *frank*

      Your insane butcher of a god is the biggest swine ever invented.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Snoop

      Calling the Bible a "spellbook" is about a tasteless as rabid Christians quoting Scripture all the time – they're both annoying as hell and a result of a screwed up upbringing.

      August 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Dave

      The "bible" is a spellbook. It contains ceremonies and incantations which it's adherents believe will result in supernatural intervention in their mundane problems. If you find the definition distasteful, perhaps it';s because you have an aversion to the truth. Since you know precisely squat about my upbringing, I'll simply allow your cheap and childish insult to pass. If that's really the best you've got, (the equivalent of "yo mama"), then you've truly got nothing material to contribute.

      August 30, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
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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.