29 November 2007

Atheists come to believe (or not)

Monday night was my home group's monthly speaker meeting. It was the first time ever in my 15 years that I've seen (or should I say heard?) a group sung to by a speaker. He sang the opening lines of a couple of corny tunes that I didn't know and certainly don't remember. His singing voice wasn't even very good.

Much more impressive was the story of how he, as a one-time atheist, found God. I always find such stories very moving. Just last Saturday night, at the Came To Believe meeting I attended, I heard another such story from an atheist, which moved me nearly to tears. At that same meeting, still another person said he had been brought up an atheist and had been angry at all the same things his parents had been angry at, whatever they were, which of course made us all laugh. These sharings reminded of what the Big Book says about the purpose of including selected people's stories: "Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God."

I must say too that I know several people—not many, but a few—who have what appears to be good long-term sobriety without what I would call a God in their lives. I can think of one in particular who continues to use A.A. as her Higher Power, and she's been coming around regularly since several years before I started to. Every now and then I hear people comment on how it seems like everyone who stays in A.A. and works the program eventually comes to believe in a personal God, but I'd say it's certainly not everyone.

18 comments:

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

My husband calls his higher power "God" and I am getting comfortable with the idea of using "God" to refer to my own spiritual beliefs, but neither of us believe in an anthropomorphic, personal God -- something that is conscious and looking out for us. So, honestly, I never know what to answer in response to "do you believe in God?" Depends what God you're talking about, I guess.

anna said...

That coming to believe part is tricky isn't it?

Sang to you? You sure he wasn't high? :)

indistinct said...

At one time I was a very religious kind of guy. Believed in cause and effect. If I did the right things, believed the right things, then God would act on my behalf. If I didn't then I was going to a toasty kind of place.

The more I drank, the more I hated that God.

In recovery, I rest in God's hands. I am getting comfortable with the idea that God won't act to make my world comfortable for me. That I need to take responsibility for my life. God doesn't have a jar of pixie dust that would be sprinkled on my head to solve my problems and make me happy. The future is unknown. I tend to think that God is unknowable.

My life changed somehow, when I prayed and placed myself in my Higher Powers hand while I was in treatment. I gained the courage and strength to face up to myself. I was never able to do that before. I can't explain what happened. I am thankful it did.

Great topic, thanks for letting me share.

dAAve said...

I have heard a couple of people sing during their shares, but never by a speaker.
I also know of several atheists who have very successful programs.

vicariousrising said...

It's that spirituality that needs to be tapped into. I wonder if you have to believe in a higher power to believe in your own spirituality.

My therapist is an atheist. I didn't know it until I was in AA and started talking to him about some of the AA program things. Kind of blew my mind, but then, he never tried to push his beliefs on me to fix what was wrong with my psyche.

Great post.

sharonsjourney said...

I used to believe in the punishing God, & blamed him/her for the evil in the world. I have a different understanding today. I sometimes call my HP God, sometimes not, I'm not completely comfortable with the term God. All I know is, when I turn it over to my HP, I have sense, a knowing that it's all good. I feel a burden lifted from my shoulders. I a worshipper of reason, & meanings. I accept today, that some things can't be explained, or understood, & that's ok with me.

recoveryroad said...

Some interesting remarks on HPs. Thanks. Mine was the group for quite sometime. Now I flip-flop between the group and a more spectral (!) HP.

Redheads in tshirts...send her round.

Rex said...

For me it's all about what the Higher Power is and what it can do...the name is not important, whatever I feel comfortable with is what I use....I have a friend who calls that power her "cosmic muffin." The only thing that matters is that i believe there is some power at work that is greater than me and that power can and has restored me to sanity. What it looks like, how it works, where it presides really holds no interest to me, let alone what I'm suppose to call that power.

Ginnie said...

I would say "ditto" to everything that Rex expresses. I have almost 19 years of sobriety and I have never had a belief in the man-made God of the different religions. It was difficult for the first few years in AA...since I am in the "Bible Belt" of the South ...but that has all evened out and I find I can follow the 12 Steps very easily. I do believe that there is a "power" and that it is greater than me...and I try to keep an open mind and allow others to believe as they want. I only ask that they do the same for me.

Johnnyboy said...

I went through an evolution...First it was The Force, then I searched for a more god-like presence, then one morning I woke up and realized (came to believe?) that I didn't need to 'know' but rather only needed to believe and have faith. With that I have let my God go, a la Step 3 and I am much happier and fulfilled. My God works in my life, all the time, and the less I mess around with 'my God' the better. By right living and action I improve my conscious contact, so that is taken care of too. Great subject as always.

sharonsjourney said...

Just dropped by to see how you are doing. Hope all's well with you. Merry Xmas!

Anybeth said...

Hi Trinker, where have you been? Hope you're having a good holiday season. take care. Anybeth

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

Hey Mr Trinker, hope you are well!, Have a GREAT christmas! Its been VERY nice getting to know you in your new sober life. Long may it continue!

Kathy Lynne said...

Hey! Where you been?

sharonsjourney said...

I've been checking on you. Where'd you go? Hope you come back soon. Hope you had a very merry Xmas.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

PUT THE SOUND ON AND ENJOY

Happy !! New Year!!

put this in your browser address bar..
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Doc's Girl said...

I hope everything is okay...I haven't seen an update in what feels like an eternity! :)

Happy New Year!

Namenlosen Trinker said...

Thanks to all for checking up on me. I'm still around and doing well despite having not posted anything for a few weeks. Hopefully I'll be able to get around to updating my site in the near future.

Love,
Trinker