Journey To The End Of Night
Adventures in Active Addiction and Recovery — A Philosophical Perspective

Recovery in a nutshell? “Get right with God!” — Atheists Unwelcome At Twelve Step Groups Most Basic Doctrinal Level

“We admitted we were powerless over our addiction — that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Step one is said to involve surrender.  Initially, this surrender is supposed to be simply to one’s addiction.  “Stop fighting it.”  The notion reappears, however, in step 3 where one is asked turn one’s will and one’s life over to God.  I guess somebody somewhere believed the phrase “turn over one’s will” would be found somehow more palatable by the masses than a more frank statement: “surrender to God’s will, surrender your will to god, etc.”

The notion of surrender necessarily implies the existence of something outside of ones will to which one surrenders.  Unless we are willing to so intellectually debase ourselves as to accept the prevailing nonsense that floats around, the crap about surrendering to anything, the notion that even a lamp post can be your higher power, a doorknob, or even – as in one sweet & sappy tale of woeful sentiment, a rusty beer can — it’s painfully obvious that it’s God addicts are being told to surrender to.

As a philosopher, atheist, & classical scholar this comes as anathema to me — as it should to any intelligent contemporary thinker.

This notion of surrender before god, of turning one’s will over to god (forget for now the obvious metaphysical impossibility of the task – I’ll discuss that in a later post) is the very cornerstone of each and every twelve step group I’ve researched.

So despite the Anonymous Fellowships supposed welcoming attitude toward non-theists and non-xtians their message is quite clear:  “You’re quite welcome to hang out with us.  In fact, we might be a damn good religious influence on you.  So come to meetings but be warned — you’ll never recover till you get right with God (or that comic book tragedian, Christ).”

And that, in a nutshell, is the code word “RECOVERY” defined.

“Get right with God.”


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