Chpt 4, We Agnostics: Short Version

AA Barf ReligionI’m an alcoholic who loves god but kinda wants to kick religion’s ass. I never capitalize “God” in my own writing because that big “G” smacks of scripture. Every time I hear an AA newcomer, potentially dying, say they can’t get over the “religious” aspect of AA, I want to yell toward the ceiling, “Are ya HAPPY, Religion??  See how you’ve fucked up god for BILLIONS of humans?!”

This probably has more to do with me than religion. More often than not I’m sitting in a church basement, after all, kindly rented to an AA group for cheap. Churches do mean well.

The first time I read “We Agnostics,” 28 years ago, I called myself an atheist — despite having had a Near-Death Experience during which I was bathed, for just a short while, in the brilliant intensity of god’s love. That and the paranormal after-effects it brought on were memories slammed away in a DONTTHINKOFIT vault.

Alcoholics can do that.

So I was shocked to find this chapter did open my mind to a higher power, simply by means of its water-tight argument(s).  Here’s my version of how it proceeds — though of course, you should read the original.

We Agnostics…….

  • If you’re a bona fide alcoholic, you have only two choices
    • a) be doomed to an alcoholic death (my note: perhaps slowwwly)
    • b) live on a spiritual basis

Lots of us thought we couldn’t do (b), but we have – so you can, too.


  • IF we could think our way out of addiction, we’d all be fine. We had tons of moral and ethical resolve, but even when we willed with all our might, we got drunk.  What we lacked was power — a power greater than ourselves.

Guess what this whole book is about?  Finding that power.

Screen Shot 2023-02-12 at 11.14.51 AM

“Let’s go kill anyone who won’t believe in me!!”

  • We know you’re going to bum about this.  We know religion makes you puke.  We know even the word “God” might bring up the shit thrown at you in childhood. We all thought [NEXT PAGE] reliance on God was a crutch for cowards. We thought about all the destruction religion’s caused and all the hypocritical assholes in media and small towns posing as holy. We couldn’t even wrap our brains around a Supreme Being, anyway.  We know, we know… we felt all this, too.
  • AND YET…. sometimes, especially in the beauty of nature or awareness of the vast universe, we felt a fleeting sense of awe. As soon as we could just become willing (or willing to become willing), as soon as we said, “Mayyyybe I can kinda believe in a power greater than me,” shit for reals started to change in our lives.

Don’t think about anybody else’s God. What feels like GOODNESS?  Open to that.  God is basically hanging out by the phone waiting for you to call.


  • So, when we say “God” here, just think about whatever works for you (ask why you want to live — it has to do with god).  Don’t let all that negativity stop you from looking deep within.

Ask yourself, “Am I willing (to be willing) to believe there’s something good out there more powerful than me?” If you can say yes… dude, you’re on your way!

We’d aways assumed we’d have to drink major Kool-aid to jump through this hoop, so we were stoked to keep it simple.


  • Being pissed off about spirituality in general — we had to quit that crap because, let’s face it, we were dying.  Alcohol was thoroughly kicking our asses, so we had to open our minds.  You’re asking, why believe? We’ve got some good reasons.
  • People love evidence-based stuff, but most of us electricityaccept all kinds of explanations we’re clueless about.  We’re like, “Yeah, um, electricity is like electrons jumping from one atom to another.  Totally!”  And we let it go without needing to really understand because we just want to use our goddamn phones and appliances. They work, and that’s good enough.

There’s all kinds of shit like this we believe without proof.  Even science itself holds that appearances don’t mean jack.


  • Let’s take your average steel girder (I-beam in a sky scraper) It’s really a bunch of electrons whirling around a crazy speeds according to laws of physics (my note: PLUS it’s 99% empty space and the electrons pop in and out of existence with all kinds of quantum weirdness, dark matter, and anti-matter — and WE are way too dumb to understand any of it.)  We’re all like, “Cool, I got it.”

BUT as soon as somebody suggests there’s a guiding, creative force behind the universe, we say, “Hold my beer! Let me use my grapefruit-sized brain to determine the nature of the universe!” If our atheist arguments were right, then life would exist for no reason and mean nothing.  We like to think we’re the smartest game in town.

  • You know, even organized religion isn’t all doo-doo. We’ve all seen religious people we had to respect. In fact, a lot of them have had their shit together WAY more than we ever have.


  • We were too busy judging to see the upside. We accused religious people of being intolerant, when we were actually the intolerant ones.
  • If you read the stories in the back of this book, you’ll see how each person found their own higher power their own way. What they have in common is that every single one believes their higher power worked fuckin’ miracles in their lives.

You’ve got thousands (millions) of people who’ve lived hardcore but who swear that since they opened their minds to an HP and started working the 12 steps sincerely, their whole world has flipped from despairing to happy.  [NEXT PAGE]  They tell  about how they were the ones screwing up their own lives, alcohol aside. When all these (millions of) people say God changed them, CAN you really dismiss all of us as feeble minded, gullible, deluded cult members?

  • Progress in science and technology gets hampered when people cling to fixed ideas.  Columbus, Galileo — people said they were nuts.  Aren’t you just as stubborn about spirituality as those guys were about science?

For example, in the Wright Brothers’ day, NOBODY thought humans could fly. EVERYBODY was sure that idea was bullshit — how could heavy, big machines possibly go zoom in the air?  But 30 years later, airplanes were just a normal part of life.

If you showed some average Joe / Joette an article about going to the moon (or now Mars) and they’d say, “I bet they will.” More and more, people can throw away the theory or gadget that doesn’t work in exchange for one that does.

  • Dude — what’re you doin’ clinging to self-sufficiency?  It doesn’t work!  Try the new gadget, for chrissakes.

We were bedevilled by shitty relationships, roller-coaster emotions, misery and depression, money problems; we were scared and unhappy and useless.  Wasn’t fixing our lives by ANY means more important than seeing proof?  Duh!!!


Orville and Wilber Wright

  • The Wright brothers built a plane that flew after 50 million failed attempts because they BELIEVED in their dream so purely.  Alcoholics who’d rather suffer than try the new thing — they’re just like those cynics who scoffed at the Wright brothers’ naïveté.


  • Logic is great. Let’s think about how to have faith is actually more logical than the soft and mushy thinking we settled for in our agnosticism.  As alcoholics, we were dying (or wasting life). We had to get fucking honest: either
    • a) God animates everything, or
    • b) God is nothing.


[Here’s a bunch of corny shit about some bridge that I wish they’d cut.]

  • Come to think of it, we’ve always had faith in our reasoning skills,
    Screen Shot 2023-02-12 at 12.26.21 PM

    Life / god happens.

    even though we’re wrong a lot. We’ve all worshipped cool people, sentimental icons, commercial STUFF, $-money-money-money-$, and our private imaginings of someday being badass.  But at the same time, we’ve all felt reverence for a sunset, for the ocean, for a flower. We’ve all loved someone.  And NONE of these things had jack shit to do with pure reason.  Our lives are made of love and faith and feeling, and would be totally empty without them. We believe in life, and we know, deep down, it has meaning.


  • Just think about all those alcoholics who were trapped wallowing around in their own mess for sooo long, and how they say God showed them a new way to live, and how we liked to privately smirk about it.

We were actually full of shit, because we knew, deep, deep down, that God is. That core knowledge may get obscured, but it’s there, always.  Looking inward, we find a lifesource that loves us, that is part of us.

  • Okee-doke!  That’s all we can do to help!  Time for YOU to get honest — but we know you can do this.

[Here’s a corny story about some minister’s son having a HUGE, DRAMATIC spiritual awakening.]

  • If you just find the humility to let down your guard and honestly ask God to help you, God will show up.  But you’ve gotta ASK.

Ta-dah!  I hope this little Cliff Note session was helpful.  I’m one of those people whose lives have been completely transformed by god. I never thought that could happen. I hope eventually you’ll love this chapter exactly as it stands and help your sponsees understand it, too.


1 Comment

Filed under AA, Big Book notes, Faith, God, Recovery, Spirituality

One response to “Chpt 4, We Agnostics: Short Version

  1. Anonymous

    Thank you.


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