How do atheists explain members of AA lives improving and them becoming sober by depending on a higher power, if there is no God?


8 Answers

Darik Majoren Profile
Darik Majoren answered

The same way many Atheists do it without the need for a God.

To believe in something, and have that be your focus doesn't imply that "Something" need be real . . . It only needs to FEEL real to them that believe it is.

We are the sum of our Genetics, Environment and Experiences. Given this is our foundation, some are born with a need to look outside themselves to feel complete because of "Poor Coping Skills":

"Why are there genes for addiction? We all have the genetic predisposition for addiction because there  is an evolutionary advantage to that. When an animal eats a certain food that  it likes, there is an advantage to associating pleasure with that food so that  the animal will look for that food in the future. In other words the potential  for addiction is hardwired into our brain. Everyone has eaten too much of their  favorite food even though they knew it wasn't good for them.

Although  everyone has the potential for addiction, some people are more predisposed to  addiction than others. Some  people drink alcoholically from the beginning. Other people start out as a  moderate drinker and then become alcoholics later on. How does that happen?

Repeatedly  abusing drugs or alcohol permanently rewires your brain. If you start out with a low genetic predisposition for addiction, you  can still end up with an addiction. If you repeatedly abuse drugs or alcohol  because of poor coping skills, then you'll permanently rewire your brain. Every  time you abuse alcohol, you'll strengthen the wiring associated with drinking, and  you'll chase that buzz even more. The more you chase the effect of alcohol, the  greater your chance of eventually developing an addiction."

It is important to understand that one should decide the path that best suites them based on their overall mental disposition. It does no one any good to tell another person that thing they used to help them quit and addiction is a lie . . . it is simply what they need to help them achieve "Getting well". In the end this is what we all should want for each other.

Otis Campbell Profile
Otis Campbell answered

Being in aa for over a decade u dont need god but u do need a higher power. U have to realize something or someone created this mess on earth we live on. Now with that said u can have your cat dog wife as your higher power thats up to u. Or it can just be something spiritual

Virginia Lou Profile
Virginia Lou answered

Hi Anonymous,

I cannot explain it, but I can give one wonderful example, this actually happened in eastern Washington State in the 1970's:

An artist had her studio near a small country town there, as artists often do. She wanted to paint Yeshua ben Joseph the Christ, and asked the local handyman, also the town drunk, to be her model.

He did not even answer, he just disappeared. Showed up a year later, clean and sober, and said yes he would be her model now.

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Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Oh Dozy you are SO dear...I have thought about that also...were the qualities she loved in him for her model still there?

You hit the depth of things so often, dear friend.
As it turned out in this case he was even better for her model ... but your point is still a marvelous one, and well taken.
Pepper pot
Pepper pot commented
That made me chuckle, really wonderful.
Virginia Lou
Virginia Lou commented
Hi Pepper Pot
Didge Doo Profile
Didge Doo answered

It's not a "higher power" that helps them but their belief in one and their dependence upon it. It's just a crutch that helps them through the rough patches.

And, no, I'm not dismissing the idea -- merely pointing out while FAITH can move mountains it doesn't require a god to back up that faith; just commitment by the believer.

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Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
You're right, I've never been a member although, like everybody else, I've had friends who were. I'll check out your video when I get a chance, Tom. It's early in Oz but I've things I must do just now.
Tom  Jackson
Tom Jackson commented
It's a long video, Didge---almost an hour and a half. Great presentation for those of us who don't suffer from alcoholism.
Didge Doo
Didge Doo commented
Then I'll probably give it a miss, Tom. Sorry. That's almost Lord of the Rings length. :)
Icee Guldiggarz Profile
Icee Guldiggarz answered

The Placebo effect.

If you believe that something will cure you, then it can cure you. It doesn't help with all diseases or every person who tries it but it has its uses.

If you believe there is a higher power out there who will aid you in stopping an alcohol addiction, then more than likely you will stop drinking alcohol. The higher power hasn't done it but YOU have.

Bikergirl Anonymous Profile

Athiests would easily explain it to be any number of things .. Like for example: The power of positive thinking .. Or as explained earlier, the 'placebo effect". 

As much as I believe in the power of prayer, I don't believe it is God who controls every outcome of our own behavior.  If that was so, then it would also be God to be blamed for being an alcoholic in the first place. I don't believe that to be so .. I believe WE have to take full responsibility for the choices we make .. Not God.  I do, however believe that believing in God fortifies our own personal strength. 

Tom  Jackson Profile
Tom Jackson answered

Well, Otis nailed it.

It's also true that acknowledging that a higher (other than you) power exists and is also loving and caring can result in discovering God.

But believing in something that only feels real may not be sufficient for the typical 12 step program member.

Recovering is difficult enough without having to base that recovery on a fairy tail.

Pepper pot Profile
Pepper pot answered

Maybe handing your will over, means getting out the way of yourself and given time, common sense prevailing over impulse.  I think it gives you time to contemplate what your helpful self would do, or a third party perspective. 


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