Search for Addiction Treatment Centers Near You Forums Alcohol Abuse can he work the program with out believing in god?

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    can an A work the program if they don’t believe in God and don’t know what their higher power is. He believes in humans being made by molucules and when you’re dead. How to I help him see or search for his higher power, can he still work the program with the higher power because he is having alot of trouble with step 2 and 3.

    Thank you for your advice.



    I know people who work the program without believing in God. Some say they don’t believe in a higher power either and struggle with this part of the program. A friend of mine found a loose interpretation of a higher power (universal connectedness) and was able to move through the steps with this belief.


    @redbear 1474856 wrote:

    He believes in humans being made by molucules and when you’re dead. How to I help him see or search for his higher power, can he still work the program with the higher power because he is having alot of trouble with step 2 and 3.

    Great question. For me I could not define a higher power when I started AA. The only thing I knew is that I hoped there was some power greater than me that could help me. It was using that concept that I was able to work around the God/Higher Power idea.

    I personally do not know if when you die that is the end or if there is some after life. Personally, I think I have enough to work on in this life so worrying about the possibility of a next one is too much for me so I just don’t dwell on it.

    If he believes that we are all made of molecules and atoms, one way to get him to understand the concept of a power greater than himself is to ask him if an atomic bomb is more powerful than himself. If he believes that it is then he has a concept of a higher power. It does not have to be the God a lot of people believe in.

    I personally would never have gotten sober if I had to believe in the God I was raised with (Southern Baptist). My concept of God/Higher Power evolves daily and at this point does incorporate some of the ideas and beliefs held by Christianity although I do not personally believe in religion. I have found with religion it is too easy to let the ego take over and start to believe that one is better than someone else. With spirituality my experience has been that I am no better than anyone else and the only person I can work on and change is myself.

    One other suggestion is have him read the chapter to the “agnostics” in the Big Book of AA.

    I don’t know if any of this makes sense or helps but hope you find something useful in it. Good luck. I hope your friend is able to get past the problem.


    Here is a list of recovery programs…


    I already had my God when I began AA
    so I have no experience with this situation.

    The only way I know to help another find God
    is to lead by example. It’s a personal quest.

    Blessings to both of you


    I work the program and happily remain a total agnostic–there are even AA meetings for agnostics/freethinkers in many areas. My higher power is other people and the practices (meditation, writing, meetings) that help me stay aware of my own messy thinking.

    It helps to have a sponsor and friends in the program who feel the same way, or at least understand, so it might help for him to share his frustrations at a meeting. Of course there is a risk that others at the meeting will insist that “someday” he’ll learn, or try to preach at him, but more likely at least one person will come up afterwards and offer support.

    Feel free to have your friend p.m. me–I’ve been through quite a bit of frustration (don’t get me started on “We Agnostics”) but remain sober and very, very grateful to AA.

    Best wishes.


    I my huble opinion it is not about believing in God, but believeling in yourself. YOU are the who will have to do the work, no-one else, not even God will do it for you.

    Just my 5c


    Hey Redbear,

    When I started the 12 step programs of A.A. and N.A., all I knew about was the God I didn’t believe in and I was pretty darn sure that sooner or later the programs (or people in the programs) were going to require that I believe in the God I didn’t believe in.

    Never happened.

    I believe each person has to find their own higher power and they have complete freedom to assign it whatever attributes ( or lack of attributes ) they need to help them to stay sober and grow in recovery.

    Today I have friends in the program with many different spiritual beliefs and I find I can learn something from each them without having to believe exactly as they do.


    The fact that there is a whole chapter devoted to this in the big book gives me the impresion that the authors were well aware of the fact that there are a lot of agnostic/atheists around.

    What it is promised by the 12 steps is a spiritual change not a religious one. It is a personal thing but it is hard to understand how to find a HP or how to “turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him” if your HP is tree or something.

    I basically replace the word god with good and try to act on that little voice in my head that usually knows the ‘right’ thing to do.

    Insted of ‘let go and let god’ I ‘let go and try to do the right thing’.

    So yea, get him to read ‘We Agnostics’ like nandm suggested.


    Sometimes it helps tremendously when the idea of GOD seems to be a problem to look at it as

    Good Orderly Direction

    or use the group as a Higher Power

    Group Of Drunks

    Just a suggestion.

    Love and hugs,




    Maybe it would help to think of the HP as “the universe”, sort of the collective power of all living things. The power of all that has lived, lives, and will live in the future.


    I do beleive in a Higher Power whom I choose to call God, look up the definition you will find the following:

    1 capitalized : the supreme or ultimate reality: as a : the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe b Christian Science : the incorporeal divine Principle ruling over all as eternal Spirit : infinite Mind
    2 : a being or object believed to have more than natural attributes and powers and to require human worship; specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
    3 : a person or thing of supreme value
    4 : a powerful ruler

    For me I go with a combination of definition #1 & #2 but not the entirety of either. My sponsee is agnostic and AA as a whole is his HP as defined in #3.

    in the BB it says:

    Lack of power, that was our dilemma. we had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?

    Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, a Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things, we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took other simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men.

    All one really needs to do is continue to seek thier HP that they understand, it is a beginning, a HP is available to all who seek one. My sponsee prays, not to a God of any sort, but he says the more he prays the more he senses releif and a Power greater then himself.

    The below from the BB is what my sponsee said stood out to him, yes he is an agnostic, but he said there is something which is allowing him to be spiritual and he feels it growing, he has made the decision to go with living on a spiritual basis rather then facing an alcoholic death.

    To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.

    I have heard folks share that they were so dead set against a God/HP of any sort that they had to start out simply being willing to want to beleive in a God/HP of any sort.


    It’s funny that you posted this as lately I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the whole HP thing. Until, oh bout last year, I would consider myself a Christian. I taught Sunday school for a bit a long time ago, I was raised that way. Then I started considering other points of view on this so decided that I was agnostic. Once I started working my program, of course I’ve been thinking about who/what my HP is. As of right now, I have no idea!

    I know that praying helps keep me on track. I pray for others when it’s needed. Who/if anything is receiving these prayers? I don’t know, and actually I’ve decided that I don’t care. All I know is that when I do prayer/meditate/whatever I feel stronger, more centered, and calm.

    My sponsor has helped me by telling me that as I work my program whatever my HP is will reveal itself to me. I’m going with that!


    As long as you are sincerely seeking your HP, your HP will reveal itself to you, as you progress through the steps you will become closer to your HP, this I have found to be an ongoing evolving process as you draw closer to your HP your understanding will increase.


    I have heard folks say that you can even use a “doorknob” as a power greater than yourself. I used to laugh at this silliness until a member in a meeting explained if you think that a doorknob isn’t more powerful than you are “just try and open the door without it!”

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