Today we will check out AA’s patron religion, Agnosticism. The program claims this belief because they don’t profess affiliation with any other religious philosophy. But what is agnosticism and how does it fit the 12 Step paradigm?
A true Agnostic is a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. They assert that because God, if there is one is immaterial, He can’t be known or proven. The 12 Step Program’s brand of Agnosticism is better described as Pluralism. They basically say, “we don’t know what God we’re talking about here, you pick.” This makes the assumption not that you can’t know God, but that all gods are equal and ready to help you in recovery.
But I digress, let’s take a look at real Agnosticism through the worldview lenses of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny so we have a base by which to follow the 12 Steps. The Agnostic claims ignorance on all of these subjects.
When it comes to origins, the Agnostic states that one can not know why or how the universe came into being. Outside of the material universe is a mystery, so whether there was anyone there to light the match on the big bang is impossible to know. On the subject of man’s beginning, again any claim of knowledge is merely speculative.
This ignorant view (meant literally) claims that we can’t know if there is meaning in life. We are not made in God’s image, or if we are, we can’t know it; therefore the reason for our existence is hidden from us.
God, if He exists, has not revealed Himself to mankind. Therefore when it comes to objective morality, Agnosticism is akin to Atheism with its feet firmly planted in mid-air. Because no immaterial entity exists, we can not know true right from wrong.
Finally, where do we go when we die? Who knows? No one, according to the Agnostic. Things like our destiny are better left to chance. These are the most important questions one can ask in this life, yet the Agnostic claims utter cluelessness.
So through the light of the 12 Steps, how does AA’s claimed religion hold up? Once again we will break the 12 steps down into 3 groups: Reflection, Action, and Maintenance.
The Reflective steps begin with Admission. But the Agnostic must ask, admission of what? To Who? Powerlessness is an abstract concept and immeasurable, therefore exists only in one’s mind. Your addiction is nothing more than a mind game, based on your feelings and thoughts, which makes them untrustable and completely overcomable within your own self. The steps continue by opening your mind to the idea of a higher power. Agnostics tout that they have an open mind on this issue, but in reality, believing something can’t be known automatically closes one’s mind.
Next come the action steps. These include turning over control, inventory, ridding of character defects, and making amends. Since God if he exists is impersonal, there is no one to relinquish control to. Taking inventory isn’t necessary, because our behavior is subjective and our character defects are not defects, they are simply who we are. As for making amends, it is once again unnecessary because morality doesn’t exist.
Finally we get to maintenance steps. Since there is no need for the Agnostic to maintain any of these things, we find ourselves back at square one. And since God isn’t listening if He’s there, there’s no need to pray or meditate. As we did with Atheism, we will rewrite step 12 for the Agnostic:
12. Not knowing or understanding the experience we have had as a result of these steps, we lack information on what message to carry others and we claim ignorance on what principles are the right ones when it comes to handling our affairs.