I offer new hope for alcoholics put off by the god stuff in AA. Alcoholics Anonymous has a lot of talk about God in its 12 steps and eponymous handbook known as the Big Book. But there was no god involved in the creation of the AA program. The whole concept was built on helping each other. Bill W helped Dr Bob to get sober and then they both tried to help other drunks, but had little early success. Nevertheless the point was that in helping each other, and the joint attempt to help others, they stayed sober themselves.
A great agnostic Albert Einstein said: “To help each other. That is the answer to the question ‘Why are we here’.”
To AA’s credit it is adamant that its program is non-religious, but that doesn’t stop US Christians hijacking its meetings. It is such a pity that this puts off many prospects for AA membership who would otherwise have been helped to sober up. That is why AA meetings are there, so that members can help each other get sober – not as a platform for the ravings of religious nuts. But little is done to stop them because they can hide behind the idea that god is their greater power and helps to keep them off the bottle.
It seems that god crept into the equation because it was simply an idea woven so strongly into the social fabric of the USA that good clear thinkers were powerless against the thundering herd of muddled religious believers.
The idea that religious members can rely on a god as their greater power to guide them through the program is actually extremely dangerous. Believing that god will do the work for them, they may fail to do sufficient work in the program themselves to become contented, useful human beings. The crutch they believe in is entirely illusory.
Things are gradually changing. There are AAAA groups (Atheist and Agnostic Alcoholics Anonymous), freethinkers’ groups and an increasing catalogue of non-AA-approved literature supporting these ideas.
The slogan of a freethinker in this regard is: “You have to do it yourself, but you don’t have to do it alone.” There are other AA members walking purposefully along the same path.
The USA’s Christian majority holds such sway that for years one of the unofficial slogans in AA has been “Fake it to make it.” This is an idea that if you’re not sure whether there’s a god to use as a greater power you can pretend there’s one and complete the twelve steps successfully to stop drinking.
But this rather knocks on the head the idea of the AA program as honest, whereas rigorous honesty is advised. Therefore it would clearly be better for the fakers if they admitted they were unsure about god and called themselves agnostics. There are plenty of alternative greater powers they could pick such as energy, nature, the poetry of evolution.
All that one atheist twelve step program requires is that members choose a greater power that is big. Size is everything to help members realise how tiny they are in the scheme of things to help them downsize their overinflated egos. Other examples are a tree that a park-dwelling former drunk used to tell his troubles to and a Number Nine bus because it passed by the Coach & Horses pub which another member never could.
This program is the subject of Vince Hawkins book: An Atheists Unofficial Guide to AA available on Kindle and www.Amazon.com.
And his latest offer is Secular AA for members who may disregard the 12 steps entirely and wish to construct their own individual program.
A further self-help book in dealing with addiction is available, An Atheists Twelve Steps to Self-improvement – To Accompany Any Program, on this website:- www.addicts12steps.com. This book extends the net to other addicts, and non-addicts who seek help with bad behavior.
Complementary to any/each of these handbooks is the daily reader Everyone’s an Addict.