Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Atheist in A.A. Part II;

How Does An Atheist Navigate Alcoholics Anonymous?
Part II
Working Within the A.A. Idea

(All phrases you will read that are between " " are phrases written in approved A.A. literature. Any phrase you see in italics are phrases used in A.A. but are not necessarily part of any A.A. approved literature--like One Day At A Time, Easy Does It, or Keep Coming Back 'Till You Want to Come Back. I will supplement the official phrases with references, or with live web links from the Big Book, so you will be able to read it for yourself. The Big Book is online free, by the way, and you can--and should--look at it, either online or in a book.
However, as authors will do, some of what you see in italics are my own writing of things I wish to set apart from the rest of the text.)

In AA we have "12 Traditions" as well as "12 Steps". Tradition One is "Our Common Welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on AA unity."

Entering an AA group, knowing people in that group are going to talk about God, higher powers, and spirituality, is for most atheists an unsettling experience. It was not unsettling for me--not in the beginning. I was familiar with A.A. through AlAnon, which is for people who have friends or family who are alcoholics.

Just being with that group helped keep me sober day by day, so that I did not drink in front of the person I was trying to understand and to help.

How do you become a member of a group? Tradition Three states: "The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking."

I have heard many people say they came to their first A.A. meetings with a closed coffee mug full of booze; or that they went to a meeting every day without fail, then left the meeting to go get drunk with their friends.

But they had a desire to stop drinking. They simply didn't know the way, which is to listen, to learn, and to act on what you learn. If you get sober at an in-house clinic somewhere, they will probably use parts of the A.A. program, initiate you in it, and then on your way out the door tell you that the only way to remain sober is to keep going to A.A. meetings! more

The Academy's "Strong Position" on Naturalism

Given the divided nature of the many categories of "Naturalism," which include "strong" to "weak" definitions, it is necessary to state the position of this Academy as "strong;" and just as necessary to add the caveats at the end in order to distinguish this Academy of Metaphysical Naturalism from other metaphysical schools and schools of naturalism:

"Naturalism, challenging the cogency of the cosmological,i mechanical,ii and moral argumentsiii, holds that the universe requires no supernatural cause and government, but is self-existent, self-explanatory, self-operating, and self-directing, that the world-process is neither mechanistic nor anthropocentric, but purposeless, deterministic (except for possible tychistic* events), and only accidentally productive of man; that human life as physical, mental, moral and spiritual phenomena, are ordinary natural events attributable in all respects to the ordinary operations of the laws of nature; and that man's ethical values, compulsions, activities, and restraints can be justified by non-reductive monism, without recourse to supernatural sanctions, and his highest good pursued and attained under natural conditions, without expectation of a supernatural destiny." (amended from B.A.G.Fuller see Naturalism)

(*Tychism: any theory which regards chance as an objective reality, operative in the cosmos; [ibid])

[definitional caveats] [click here for continuation] Academy's Strong Definition of Naturalism

Atheism is Protected by the Constitution--As Religion

For the purposes of protection under the First Amendment, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (May 13, 1997), decided the Orange County N.Y. Department of Probation could not force Robert Warner, an atheist, to attend religion-based alcoholic treatment programs against the dictates of his own beliefs.

The district court agreed with Mr. Warner's argument that these meetings involved a substantial religious element. Participants were told to "believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us," and that they must "turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand him."

In addition, the "Step" program ordered those participating to "Admit to God ... the exact nature of our wrongs," be "entirely ready to have God remove all these defects ... (and) ask Him to remove our shortcomings," and to seek "through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we (understand) Him. The meetings were also punctuated with frequent prayers of a Christian nature.

"Four months into the program Mr. Warner complained that, as an Atheist, he found the meetings objectionable due to their religious nature. It was then that his probation officer determined that Warner lacked sufficient commitment to the idea of learning the techniques of remaining sober, even though he apparently had not been found in violation of his probation orders to remain sober!

"Attorneys for Mr. Warner relied on a number of legal precedents, including:" [refer to link] [click here for the continuation] Atheism is Protected by Law

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