I joined AA in January of 1999. That wasn’t my first contact with AA. I knew I was an alcoholic long before I got sober and I had attended an AA meeting several years earlier. But at that point, I wasn’t willing to admit my life was unmanageable and deciding to turn my will and my life over to the care of God was unacceptable. By the time I finally joined AA however, my life HAD become unmanageable. I knew I had to stop drinking and I knew I was going to need help to do that. So I made a decision to set the whole God issue to one side and get whatever I could get out of AA.
What I got out of AA was recovery. But as much as I tried . . . and I really did try . . . I was never able to develop a relationship with a God of my or anyone else’s understanding. Eventually I stopped going to AA meetings altogether because I didn’t feel like I fit in anymore. By that time, fortunately, the Program had done it’s work on me and I didn’t find it necessary to pick up a drink. Fast forward a few years and I found myself back in a Traditional AA meeting. I liked being around other alcoholics again. But I still wasn’t comfortable with the God bit. I wasn’t willing to call myself an Atheist even though I was all but certain God didn’t exist. I didn’t know that for a FACT though. And it seemed just as arrogant of me to claim that God didn’t exist as to claim that he did. I didn’t like the idea of Agnosticism either. I knew the odds were practically nil that I would ever be presented with compelling evidence of God’s existence. So was I being disingenuous by saying that I was waiting for the evidence to appear? Deism wasn’t an option either. Stephen Hawking said God wasn’t necessary to kickstart the universe and he knew a hell of a lot more about it than I did. So I was stuck.
What WAS my position with respect to the existence of God? Eventually I came to the conclusion that Traditional AA was no longer for me and I made my way to Secular AA. When I got here, someone used a word I had never heard before. He called himself an “Apatheist”. He said Apatheism is a combination of the words “apathy” and “theism”. An Apatheist, he explained, is a person who doesn’t CARE if God exists. Suddenly I was rocketed into the 4th dimension of existence. (Big Book citation intentional.) I realized at that moment that God NEVER had any real relevance in my life. I also realized that I wouldn’t live my life any differently if I knew for a fact that God existed or didn’t exist. And God instantly became irrelevant for me.
My struggle to try to figure out what I believed about God evaporated. I didn’t believe ANYTHING about God and I didn’t have to. I was free of God at last! I have a hunch that most people who claim to be Atheists or Agnostics are actually Apatheists at heart. They don’t care whether God exists and they don’t struggle with the question any more than I do. They just don’t know that not caring is actually a bonafide option.
So where do you come down on the God issue? If you’re an Atheist, what makes you so sure God doesn’t exist? If you’re Agnostic, what evidence would you require to convince yourself that God does exist? What’s the likelihood that that evidence will ever appear? If you’re a deist, who created the God that kickstarted the universe and where was he hanging out before he did that? And if you’re an Apatheist, when did God become irrelevant for you?
Bruce D. (Seattle)