Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bill and Bob's Prejudice

Sometimes I find it funny, yet terribly unsettling, when someone makes public statements that show them to be without the knowledge they need if they are to make statements purporting them to be knowledgeable on a given subject.

A case in point that just came to my attention are the comments [see] made by one "Lisa" to the I don't know what comments were originally made by this .org, but we can get a good presumption by reading "Lisa"'s comments:

"Where does it say in the Big Book that we have to get rid of prejudice?...It is very sad that people are so closed minded that they see and hear things that are not even being said. .."

Not even being said? Lisa seems to "see no evil", nor hear it, assuming she has ever been to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting where the Big Book was actually being read.

I recently took my turn speaking at the table on a subject, and from my own "experience, strength, and hope" I spoke about finding a higher power that was not a supernatural deity. No sooner than I was done than someone else began to "counterpoint" what I had said---by quoting Dr. Bob:

"If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you." Big Book page 181

And there is this, from page 56: "In this book you will read the experience of a man who thought he was an atheist. [ ] His change of heart was dramatic, convincing, and moving...He stood in the Presence of Infinite Power and Love. For the first time, he lived in conscious companionship with his Creator."

Bill and Bob seemed to believe, as Bill wrote, that "To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis" left only one alternative, and that was God. But spiritualism has nothing to do with God, except to those who would lead us away from what is to found within us no matter what name you put to it.

Ahh, yes, that pesky idea of what is "natural": " fact, we could will [recovery] with all our might, but the needed power wasn't there. Our human resources, as marshalled by the will, were not sufficient; they failed utterly." (page 45)

Poor, poor Bill, not to have what I have. It must be terrible to be in such need of a power outside one's self.

It is also terribly unsettling when someone makes public statements that show them to be without the knowledge they need if they are to make statements purporting them to be knowledgeable on a given subject.I am atheist, since the age of four, on principle. Yet I had one of those powerful spiritual experiences Bill said people sometimes have in the beginning, yet which some never have though they may die sober.

If acceptance of god as your higher power is the length necessary for you to go to become and reamain sober, more power to you. Unlike the intellectually prideful Dr. Bob, I don't pity anyone for going to the necessary lengths; but neither do I pity them if they find their necessary length to to go is shorter than what Bill and Bob had to succumb to.

Alcoholics can get sober without god, since there is none. Bill Wilson was wrong about self-will; but we must direct our will toward what keeps us sober. A higher power (HP) is no power at all if it doesn't help us. But as you will read in the page titled Higher Power, Part 2, that HP does not necessarily need to be outside yourself. ©

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  1. AA is fool of crap and nothing but an excuse and cop out. Alcoholism is not a disease but a choice. Don't blame it on genetics and predisposition. Is sexual addiction genetic as well? Cleptomania? the only way to live a good simple life is to follow the Commandments, pray daily, ask for repentence and don't drink! Yes a myth. AA is not a disease but a choice.

  2. As an atheist myself, you act as if I defend the irrationality of A.A. Drinking alcohol is the choice; what the alcohol does to you that is different that what it does to others is not your choice. The "disease" is considered to be the effect alcohol has on you, not the act of consuming it.

    But I would not doubt it is a mental disease rather than a physical one. Most of us alcoholics say that we drank to "get out of our own skins", or something to that effect. But the fact is, that after the first or second drink, an alcoholic can't make himself stop. He isn't like other people who can be "social drinkers" and know when to quit. Something that tells him to quit is inhibited, and so it goes on unabated till he passes out or goes home.

    But as an atheist I don't pray to a god I think does not exist, yet by going to meetings I stay sober. How does this work? Being part of a fellowship of people with the same problem is an eye opener.

    And don't believe that all members of A.A. believe what you attribute to them. This wouldn't be the Atheist AA Blog if we all believed some of the crap in the Big Book.

  3. I am an atheist and a long time member of AA. At times the religious rhetoric can be stifling. It's refreshing to know there are others like me, though.

    One thought is that Bills' spiritual experience probably had more to do with the toxic "Belladonna Cure" being administered him at Townes Hospital at the time than anything else.

    I have learned that empty, meaningless terms such as 'spiritual' and 'god' are a kind of shorthand for importantly real things for which these people have no other words. Like ancients before a volcano, they are speechless and unable to properly describe what is before them. So they apply one size fits all, magical concepts to explain things.

    What they are in fact experiencing is very real. For example, individual powerlessness is not a religious lie: no man is an island, and we need peer support in life in order to become our best selves. Step one, in a nutshell.

    Another example: simple Behavioral Conditioning will ultimately result in an alcoholic or addict losing entirely the cravings which once so dominated their lives. This is what happens when we go to meetings, don't drink one day at a time, and begin to practice alternative attitudes and actions. We are radically transformed. But this 'miracle' is just an example of the "miraculous" capacity of humans to change, to re-wire their neural pathways, to change! No religion, no miracles, no gods required. It just amazes us when it happens, that's all.

    Final example: the group is the higher power: Repository of wisdom, check and balance against errant self will, perpetual resource for support, emotional reinforcement, role modeling. Bill, Bob and the Big Book call this a temporary expedient: do not be fooled. This is it! the fellowship IS the Higher Power.

  4. Hey, anonymous of january 13, I agree totally.

    I am ten years sober, I'm in Dublin Ireland, and 55. In my teen years and twenties thirties I was heavily involved in revolutionary politics in ireland. I was also heavily involved in getting drunk.

    Imagine what this revolutionary atheist felt when he sat at meetings with GOD everywhere. But I hacked it. I do not find much or any discrimination from other members. Especially when you bear in mind that, in my early days in AA most of my sharing was a tirade about atheism...

    I am well liked, have made a strong evolution from the hopeless angry drunk that I was to the fairly decent man I have now become. I now live on the west coast of ireland, very rural, amid some very conservative catholic farmer AA members. They have not one problem with my politics or my humanism. We get on fine.

    I got into such trouble with drink not because I was a BAD PERSON and all that, not because I had a DISEASE. Mainly, it was because I was woefully unprepared for life, emotionally, in self esteem terms etc. And Booze was the magic ingredient that made everything okay. Booze was, at the start, the Spiritual Experience I had. It changed me. hence I can buy the concept of a similar sized change being necessary to get sober. It's unfortunate that AA is so intent on sticking with EVEN THE TERMINOLOGY of the 30's 40's 50's which is evident in the big book. I wish that would change. Because when you get behind the archaic phrasing and worldview, the message is strong.

    It got me sober.