Going to AA as an atheist


Hey guys, I’m Amy and 10 days sober. I’ve attending meeting 9 of those days. I’m really struggling with the god aspect of the 12 steps and the Big Book itself. I know that we can see “god in our own image” and what not, but it’s just not working for me. Does anyone have any experience working the program as an atheist/agnostic? How did you get through the 2nd and 3rd step?


@Rain666 @aircircle @Eke (I think?)


Have you asked your sponsor? For me the 3rd step was simply putting my faith in the program and committing to working the remaining steps.


My sponsor has been rather busy the past couple days. We meet on Thursday and I’ll be able to talk with her more about it in person. She already knows that I’m atheist, but reading the Big Book has has just taken me aback. The whole give yourself up to god sounds so forced and absolutely imperative.

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Remember it isn’t god. One of the best analogies that struck a chord with me:

The car is broke. I can’t fix it.
Someone else can (mechanic).
Take it to them and let them fix it.

For many people I know with long term sobriety, the higher power is nothing more than the rooms of AA or another drunk.


They just use the word God bc it was written in the 30s. You can conceptualize your Higher power any way you choose. It’s easier to believe in something of your own creation.


Wow, I really like that analogy. Thank you. I’ve read that some people use their higher power as AA itself. I wonder how my sponsor will feel about this. She’s been asking me to pray… I did a few times. But I told her it would be to the universe and not to god. I really do believe in the program, and I want to work it right and thoroughly. I’ve been trying to figure out what my higher power will be, and I think it only makes sense to just make it AA itself. Thank you.


I know it was written forever ago…I just can’t help but cringe at the word god. At first it was okay, but 30 or so pages in I just wanted to burst. Especially the way they paint agnostics in such a negative manner. Made me wanna throw the book down on the table. I resisted and kept reading though.


Honestly, for me I got sober through my ass. I didn’t jump into the program immediately. I sat there day after day and listened. Eventually, one day it just clicked.


Isn’t it silly how that little word can affect us so much. But for me as an alcoholic, I had to be willing to do what ever it takes. So I realized I needed help. The god dilemma actually turned in my favor. I had to get uncomfortable and do things I would have turned down before.

AA was formed by two guys sharing their experience, strength and hope. I would think of it as that for as long as the god bothered you. You will find your own way of looking at a higher power. Don’t worry.

What I found helped me get through this kinda situations and ideas was talking honestly about how they made me feel. With my sponsor…and also in the meetings. You’ll be surprised by the experiences that others can help you with.

Don’t let religion take AA away from you. Don’t let religion win this one. Cause AA is about spirituality and not religion.


I’ve shared most meetings. It helps when I hear someone respond and have a similar story or problem. I tend to rush into things, I guess I should just slow down a bit. Everything will start to click in time…

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I’m willing to do anything too. That’s why I didn’t put that book down when that’s all I wanted. I’m afraid to talk about my issue with god as the higher power because it seems that the vast majority in the room are VERY close with god. They talk of miracles and the power of prayer and how much god shows them the way. I’ve hated religion for years. I know AA isn’t about religion, and that it’s about spirituality. And trust me I’m not letting the whole god thing run me away from AA. I’m staying, I don’t really have any other choice as I am powerless. I’m just trying to figure out how to not wanna roll my eyes every time someone speaks of god and miracles. Especiallllllly when I’m reading the Big Book.


You have to do you. Whatever that means for you. Slow fast in between.

I was told to approach my sobriety the opposite of how I did everything else in my life. And that’s what I did. I didn’t try to figure out how or why. I didn’t finish the step work in the first weekend. I just sat there in the corner in my seat. Slowly started taking commitments once I got a few months under my belt. But again, for me, had I done it my way, I wouldnt be where I am now.


Hmmm… this hits home for me. I was just telling my husband my frustrations with the program, and I just wanna get through step two and three so I can move forward. Then I said…well maybe I need to slow down because I always rush into things head on. You’re right, I should take my time and let it come to me as it does and will. I’m not a patient person, but this is the time that I need to start learning to be that person.


The universe is a perfect higher power! Or Mother Nature! Because she’s pretty damn incredible. I know some people who’s higher power is the “perfect” version of themselves in the future leading you in the right direction if you surrender, pray, and follow the signs.
I don’t have a perfect definition of a higher power but I do believe in having angels of people I’ve lost looking out for me, so a lot of times I’m praying to them. Whatever works for you. This is your journey and you have to make it work best for you.


I started with the idea of my higher power being the universe. The “spirit of the universe” as Bill calls it. Yet, I find it almost impossible to pray or surrender to anything that I don’t really…believe in. I’m in love with nature and the universe and space, oh my. I could listen to Neil Degrassi talk about the earth and all the multiverses for hours. The problem is that I don’t believe it has any power or control over my life. How am I supposed to accept defeat and then give myself to something that I don’t think will play a part in my recovery? That’s why I’m beginning to think that making AA as my higher power makes most sense. I believe in it, and I know that if I keep going and work the steps that I’ll see a true change in myself and my life.


Well space and time in this universe brought you on this earth and to this point in life so it has some control right? The magic of child birth alone is enough to start believing in the universe creating some magical shit out of nothing.

I find the definition of sonder to be interesting…

n . the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.


Wow, just wow. I’m so glad that I found this section of the app and posted on here. You’ve all said many things that has helped ease my worry about being an atheist in the program.

That word is truly incredible. I had never heard it prior to this nor knew the meaning. But reading it brought be back to when I was 7 or 8, and I was trying to explain to my dad how crazy it was that I was a person and he was a person, and there’s a whole world of people living their own life. I gave up saying I didnt have the right words to explain it. But that definition was exactly what I was thinking and feeling. Thank you for giving me my new favorite word. The universe and life itself is truly inspiring.


Kinda sorta, @Englishd. A very spiritual agnostic.

This is golden. :+1:

When I went into the rooms, I hadn’t realized how far I’d gotten from having faith in anything other than myself. My first sponsor didn’t give a lick if I chose a great, tall tree in the park or the food on my plate. My second and folks here suggested the “Group Of Drunks.”

That clicked. They clearly figured something out I didn’t, so they were a power greater than myself. When in doubt or full of “me,” I turned my trust over to them. That got me through a lot.

Prayer was for asking, and meditation for listening. First, asking in silence about my resentments and fears. In meditation sitting quietly and trying to hear the voices of the people I met in meetings. What was their experience? What did they do? Was I not doing that thing?

In time got a greater sense of my Higher Power: Life, the Universe and Everything. When I’m being short, it’s just LUE. “I dunno. Ask Lue!” I don’t have a better name for it, and it had been a long, long time since I’d been aware of it.


Check out SMART Recovery. It’s a secular organization whose practices are based on science. If they don’t have meetings in your area you can attend online meetings that are held frequently. It’s an empowering program. This atheist endorses it. :grin: