Alcoholics Anonymous is bullshit (revisited)
Thanks to The Thinking Atheist, I’m not the only one who makes this claim.
And now to heap praise upon EllenBeth! (Times are approximate.)
2:22 “And when you turn to AA, you have to turn to God.”
Oh yeah. I can’t even begin to corroborate how true this is.
But I’ll try…
During my time in the 12-step programs, which was about ten years or so, I heard all about God (of your understanding) and spiritual, and all the like. Keep in mind that I was a theist for most of this time, so it didn’t bother me. But when I started to question my faith, I also started to question the program. One of my questions I thought was simple. What does this “of my understanding” mean? My parents and other adults (I was a minor at the time) told me that it simply referred to a higher power. I asked what a “higher power” was. I never got a straight answer, but one answer I did get was “It could be your mom, God, Santa Claus, a doorknob.”
What, then, was the point?
If I’m turning my life over to a doorknob, that’s obviously ridiculous. And if that’s what I’m doing, why don’t I just call it what I’m actually doing, which is taking care of my problems myself?
Whenever I made that claim, I was either met with “It has to be a higher power” or “It works for other people.” To the latter I ask, well, even if it seems to, why should that be the umbrella doctrine for all, especially considering the “higher power” doctrine has such a broad definition as to render it meaningless?
Never any straight answers.
2:30 “…If you are not spiritual, you are not sober.”
I didn’t feel such a hard line of this, but I definitely saw the tendency. The talk of sobriety and spirituality went hand in hand. Never the one without the other.
2:48 “What I saw in AA was people being told they have to surrender to win. That they are powerless over their own choices. That they have to turn their will and their life over to the care of God as they understand Him. That they are not responsible for what happens in their own life. And I see that as incredibly damaging.”
I couldn’t agree more. The central point here is personal
responsibility. In effect, there’s very little difference between “The Devil made me do it” and “It’s in God’s hands.” Both relinquish ownership of responsiblity and place it onto an unverifiable entity.
3:21 “I will be sober for 26 years. Without the help of any god.”
The same for everyone else.
I’m often asked what my objections to AA are. They are simple, straight-forward, and they are these:
1. 12 Step Programs, in part, rely on an unverifiable, theistic doctrine for which they provide no evidence.
2. In many states, as a consequence for DUIs and other crimes, people are often compelled by courts to attend AA. Given 12 Step Programs’ theistic doctrines, this is an indirect, but official, endorsement of a theistic doctrine by the state. It is therefore a church/state separation violation, illegal, immoral, and unethical.
3. The automatic reverence granted to 12 Step programs is unmerited. I can’t tell you how many times, when I claim that AA is bullshit, that I’m given the defense “it works for a lot of people.” First, that’s an unproven claim. Second, even if it were proven, “a lot” is unquantifiable. Third, even if a lot were 1,000 or 1,000,000, that doesn’t equal everyone, proving that the lack of a 12 Step Program leading to sobriety is at least as likely as a 12 Step Program doing so, and therefore that 12 Step Programs are more a lifestyle choice than a system of sobriety no more valid in seeking sorbriety than simply quitting drinking. And yet, when we hear about someone simply quitting drinking, we rarely hear the universal praise heaped upon AA.
AA may be popular, revered bullshit, but bullshit it remains.