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An Atheist's Interpretation of the Twelve Steps (x-posted in Atheists and Agnostics)

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qb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-26-10 11:17 AM
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An Atheist's Interpretation of the Twelve Steps (x-posted in Atheists and Agnostics)
I put these together for an atheist friend who has to attend traditional AA meetings. Any comments, amendments, additions?

An Atheist's Interpretation of the Twelve Steps

Step 1: Admitted that I need help to stop drinking.

Step 2: Came to believe I can stop drinking with the help of others.(1)

Step 3: Made a decision to trust my own inner wisdom.(2)

Step 4: Took a good look at the unhealthy thoughts and behaviors that got me into this mess.

Step 5: Talked to someone about these thoughts and behaviors.

Step 6: Was ready to accept help to correct my unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.

Step 7: Asked someone for help.

Step 8: Made a list of the people who have been adversely affected by my drinking and became willing to make amends to them.

Step 9: Made amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.(3)

Step 10: Continued to monitor my thoughts and behaviors and found someone to talk to when harmful patterns returned.

Step 11: Sought through meditation and calm contemplation to stay in touch with my own inner wisdom.

Step 12: Tried to help others struggling with addiction and practice these principles in other areas of my life.


(1) The Power greater than myself is actually the group that supports me: family, friends, and others in recovery.

(2) I thought I would never get past my intolerance of the word "God" in the program, but "Mindful Recovery: A Spiritual Path to Healing from Addiction" by Thomas Bien and Beverly Bien gave me a solution that takes the sting out of it: While it makes reference to "God", it offers several interpretations of the concept. I was surprised to find an interpretation that I, an atheist, was comfortable with. While acknowledging believers in Western religions, the authors went on to describe the Eastern concept of God as everything and all of us as God, and took it a step further to God as the voice in my head, or my own inner wisdom, a part of my own mind. This interpretation coincides with the late Julian Jaynes' hypothesis about the evolution of god beliefs in "The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind". This inner wisdom may be masked by the chaos of my daily life, but I can access it through mediation and calm contemplation. I can also see the value in finding the solution to a problem by "sleeping on it", because falling asleep, dreaming, and waking up are all times when my inner wisdom is active.

(3) In some cases, merely stopping the harmful behavior is enough.
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MrsBrady Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Mar-26-10 12:12 PM
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1. good for you.
I know someone who is a practicing Buddhist who's in the Al-anon program. He said he had a hard time with the word God, as well, until he realized he could just use the idea of wisdom.

In either case, God or not, realizing we don't have control over much that happens and asking for help...and actually doing the steps, will work....
God or not. I'm a Christian Scientist....i think you can be of any persuasion and work the program. It's just a matter of being able to step out of thinking that I KNOW everything, and I have to do EVERYTHING on my own.

Again, good for you. :hi:

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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-05-10 09:45 PM
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2. Number 3, is what got me in to where is was, in alcoholism
A lot of psycho-babel to comvince himself of an easier way. I wonder how long he's been sober?
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get the red out Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-11-10 08:24 PM
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3. More open to Atheists?
Someone announced at a group I attend that GSO is working on creating a pamphlet for Atheists to make AA more welcoming to them. I haven't heard any more about it, but I view that as a very beneficial step. Not only Atheists would benefit but people who don't consider themselves Christian, or who practice another spiritual path would end up being more accepted by default.

I know officially AA does not dictate one's higher power, but I live in the Bible Belt and sometimes it is hard for people to realize there is ANYTHING outside of Christianity around here, or that there should be. Heck, they can't even believe there are Democrats around sometimes. I guess it is human nature to put blinders on.
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jazzhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-21-10 12:14 AM
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4. Cool.
Edited on Wed Apr-21-10 12:15 AM by jazzhound
Here's another version I found on agnosticAAnyc.com:

http://agnosticaanyc.org/12steps.html
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jazzhound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-03-10 02:28 AM
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5. deleted (duplicate)
Edited on Tue Aug-03-10 02:39 AM by jazzhound
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