Posts

#025: Of Apes, Men, and Gods (feat. Hector Garcia, PhD)

Why has the belief in a single, all-powerful, and dominant male god been so widespread and pervasive throughout human history, and why does it continue to be so influential and intuitive to human beings today? In this episode, I interview Dr. Hector Garcia, a clinical psychologist and author of the 2015 book Alpha God: The Psychology of Religious Violence and Oppression, to tackle this question. Garcia traces monotheistic religious belief to our primate origins and points to religious differences and our evolved psychology as the common denominator underlying most of the world’s violent conflicts. We talk about religious violence and oppression within the context of Darwinian natural selection and about the ways in which religion is built upon and exploits the human obsession with dominance and submission dynamics and sex.

Doubter of the Week: Thomas Aikenhead (1676-1697), the last person to be executed in Great Britain for the “crime” of blasphemy.

 

Links:

Hector Garcia’s website: https://www.hector-garcia.com/.

Hector Garcia’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Alpha-God-Psychology-Religious-Oppression/dp/1633880206.

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt.

Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org.

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution.

#024: On Love, Sex, and Dating (feat. Harris O'Malley, aka Dr. NerdLove)

On Love, Sex, and Dating (feat. Harris O’Malley, aka Dr. NerdLove)

There are all manner of misconceptions and potentially harmful myths surrounding what women want, what men want, and about how best to navigate romantic relationships, from flirting to dating to long-term relationships. On this episode, I speak with special guest Harris O’Malley, aka Doctor NerdLove, to dive into these issues and set the record straight on the complications and nuances of love, sex, and dating in the 21st century.

We talk about toxic masculinity and how to break away from it, why many men today are afraid of forming emotional bonds with other men. We discuss the myths of the “friend zone” and “dating leagues” and positive ways to navigate the issue of attraction to someone you’re just friends with. What is the difference between harassment and flirting? How does one go about reading and recognizing signs of romantic interest on the part of others? What special challenges are posed by long-distance dating in the age of social media? Is there a distinct moment at which two people are officially in a romantic relationship, or can it be largely unspoken? These questions and more are covered in this illuminating discussion.

Harris O’Malley, aka Doctor NerdLove, is an internationally recognized blogger, YouTuber, and dating coach, author of New Game+: The Geek’s Guide to Love, Sex, & Dating and the newly released book I Got Her Number. Now What? A Geek’s Guide to Texting.

Links:

Doctor NerdLove website:  http://www.doctornerdlove.com/

Doctor NerdLove on Twitter: https://twitter.com/drnerdlove

Doctor NerdLove on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DrNerdLove

Doctor NerdLove’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DrNerdLove

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt.

Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org.

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution.

 

Hey everyone, Nathan Dickey here. On this episode, I’m bringing you a great interview I did with internationally recognized dating coach and author Harris O’Malley, aka Doctor NerdLove, in which we discuss and break down common modern myths and misconceptions about love, sex, and dating. But first I have a brief shout-out to give for two really cool people I know, named Yvette (some of you out there may also know her as the SciBabe) and Alice. They are starting a brand-new podcast that I’m really excited to start following, and which I think might be of interest to you as well. It’s called Two Girls, One Mic: The Porncast. It’s a unique idea and something that I think will fill a niche that’s been missing. I’ll let Yvette and Alice explain why in this promo clip they recorded:

So check out Two Girls, One Mic if you are so inclined. Because how awesome is it that two wickedly smart people are talking about both critical thinking and porn together. And now, on to the interview.

#023: On Human Conflict and Progress (feat. Nabila Jamshed)

Where should we look to find the origins of political violence and crisis? Is political crisis and conflict inevitable? If so, what can we possibly do to improve the human condition and ground a rationale for effecting change in a universe that really is devoid of any ultimate, transcendent meaning? For this week’s episode, I am very excited to welcome Nabila Jamshed as my special guest to talk about these questions and how they bear on the nature of existential crisis in overwhelmingly disastrous times of global confusion and how we might face the world being on fire without being inundated by despair.

Nabila Jamshed, international security and global governance professional currently working with the United Nations. She has previously served as a political analyst with multilateral agencies and the UN in The Hague, in India, and with the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in South Sudan. She studied in Delhi, and did her Master’s in Global Governance and Diplomacy from the University of Oxford, England.

Nabila’s career in the United Nations system began with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, where she worked as a Political Affairs Specialist. She joined the OPCW during the organisation’s work on chemical disarmament in Syria, for which it was later awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. With the UN, she co-authored the UN Environment Programme and UNU’s Inclusive Wealth Report for 2014, written articles in various newspapers and specialises in the UN’s work on preventing conflicts, crisis response, and outlawing weapons of mass destruction.

Links:

Nabila Jamshed on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NabilaJamshed

Blessy Mathew Prasad, “Breaking Down War and Peace,” The New Indian Express, November 21, 2016, http://www.newindianexpress.com/education/edex/2016/nov/21/breaking-down-war-and-peace-1540144.html

Nabila Jamshed’s TEDx talk, “How Not to Have an Existential Crisis,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbV5Gs2d0q4.

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt.

Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist.

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org.

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution.

Website_ Episode #022 Changing Our Myths (feat. Marissa Alexa McCool)

On this episode, I speak with my friend and LGBTQ-rights activist and speaker Marissa Alexa McCool. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with three degrees in English, Anthropology, and Cinema & Media Studies. She hosts multiple podcasts, including The Inciting Incident Podcast, The Cis Are Getting Out of Hand, and We Too – Our Stories, and in the space of two years has authored six books with a seventh in the works, including two novels. She won a 2014 Keystone Award for Excellence in Journalism and co-founded The Trans Podcaster Visibility Initiative with Callie Wright in 2017. According to her website, Marissa “tends to blend her theatrical background and fiery passion for atheism, humanist and secular values, and intersectionality.”

Marissa and I discuss her personal journey as a trans woman bringing her experiences to bear on her activism in the secular humanist movement, including the epic story of how she personally confronted an evangelical hate pastor on the campus of the university she attended. We also discuss the power of myths and the often-subtle ways storytelling and narrative influences culture and society as well as individual lives and attitudes. Along the way we critically examine the concept of echo chambers, identity politics, intersectionality, and how to be a true ally to minority groups and marginalized individuals.

Links:

Marissa’s website: http://rismccool.com/

Marissa on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RisMcCool

The Inciting Incident Podcast: http://www.incitingincident.libsyn.com/

The Cis Are Getting Out of Hand podcast: https://www.spreaker.com/show/the-cis-are-getting-out-of-hand.

Marissa’s GoFundMe page for “Operation Science Vagina Recovery”: https://www.gofundme.com/3z5hf2

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt.

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt.

Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, Chris Watson, and Kim Bojkovsky for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org.

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution.

Website_ EPISODE 13_ PASSIONATE ATHEISM

On this episode, I speak with Sally Hunt, atheist activist and author of the blog and YouTube channel The Passionate Atheist. According to her website, she “advocates for the separation of church & state, comprehensive sex education, sex-positivity, feminism, social, racial, & economic justice, and equal human rights for all.” She is the Public Relations Director of The Original Motto Project, which seeks to replace the divisive and discriminatory U.S. motto, “In God We Trust,” with the original – and rightful – U.S. motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” (meaning “From many, one”) or the first three words of the U.S. Constitution, “We the People.”

Sally and I discuss her public, peaceful opposition to the huge “In God We Trust” display emblazoned in the town hall meeting room of the Board of Aldermen in Wentzville, Missouri, and of her experience being cut off and kicked out of the meeting. We discuss her appearance on Fox News’ show “The Ingraham Angle” following that event, where she faced off with Ingraham and MO State Senator Bob Onder. We also talk about the failure of abstinence-only sex education and Sally’s campaign against Thrive’s “Best Choice” program, a curriculum written by Christians with an agenda to insert religious doctrine concerning sex into public school classrooms.

Links:

Sally Hunt’s website and blog: http://thepassionateatheist.com/author/sallyhunt/

Sally Hunt YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/sallymander44

Sally Hunt on Twitter: https://twitter.com/sallybhunt

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/passionateatheist

Expose Thrive website: https://www.exposethrive.com/

Hemant Mehta, “Atheist Kicked Out of MO Town Meeting After Criticizing ‘In God We Trust’ Sign,” Friendly Atheist, February 16, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/y7jlmchl.

The Original Motto Project’s video of Sally Hunt speaking at the Wentzville, MO council meeting opposing “In God We Trust”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la7TJKVSwsM

Sally’s appearance on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzunZpw-jv4

Sally’s commentary and analysis on her Fox News appearance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYpfG506JmY

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at www.facebook.com/groups/aleapofdoubt/

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, and Chris Watson for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license. The editing was done by Rich Lyons of the “Living After Faith” podcast.

Website_ EPISODE 12_ ROBERT INGERSOLL AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF FREETHOUGHT

In this episode, we are diving into the history of the American freethought movement, specifically the “Golden Age of Freethought” from the late nineteenth-century to the beginning of WWI. The orator, essayist, and freethinker Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), who was widely known as the “Great Agnostic,” was a key figure during this period, and so we talk about his life and work at length. My guest for this episode is Justin Clark. A public and intellectual historian and graduate of Indiana University, Justin wrote a Master’s thesis on the life and work of Ingersoll and is the co-founder of ReasonRevolution.org, a website about secular humanism, atheism, skepticism, and free thought.

In our discussion, Justin and I covered a lot of ground, including: what differences and similarities exist between the Golden Age of Freethought in the American Midwest and the Enlightenment Deism of eighteenth-century American politics? In what sense can Ingersoll be considered a public intellectual of his time? How and why did the freethought movement in America fall apart by the turn of the twentieth century? Are we living in another Golden Age (or Silver Age) of Freethought in America today? We also tackle the importance and under-appreciation of synthesis and popularization of intellectual endeavors for the benefit of all members of the public.

Links:

Reason Revolution website: https://reasonrevolution.org/

Reason Revolution on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ReasonOrg

Reason Revolution on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution

Reason Revolution on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/ydc8fhe4

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_G._Ingersoll

 

Join the official discussion group of this podcast at https://www.facebook.com/groups/alopdiscussion/

Consider supporting me Patreon if you enjoy the show: http://www.patreon.com/aleapofdoubt. Thanks to Jeff Prebeg, Jeanne Ikerd, Torsten Pihl, and Chris Watson for being my patrons!

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheNatheist

The opening clip is an excerpt from the audiobook “God is Not Great” by Christopher Hitchens, courtesy of Hachette Audio. Text Copyright 2007 by Christopher Hitchens. Audio production copyright 2007, Hachette Audio. Used with permission.

The opening and ending music is “Jade” by Esther Nicholson and is used under license.

Alcoholics Anonymous: the Science, Law, and Secular Alternatives by Patrick Hinsel

“12-Step recovery programs do more harm than good.”

This statement, though it can be passionately argued for or against, with emotional resolve and with anger, cannot even come close to being discredited by evidence. That is because good evidence regarding the efficacy of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous eludes us. Most estimates place it at approximately a 10% success rate, or equivalent to cold turkey.  In his recent book, The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry, Lance Dodes, MD, a retired psychiatry professor from Harvard Medical School, measured AA’s retention rates along with studies on sobriety and rates of active involvement (attending meetings regularly and working the program) among AA members. Based on this research, he put AA’s actual success rate closer to 5-8 percent. By definition, AA is anonymous, so honest and reliable statistics are difficult to come by. But insurance companies pay for the 12-Steps. The medical community endorses AA, NA, and the 12-Steps.  Governments sanction AA and NA. Therefore AA is ubiquitous, to the exclusion of more reasonable alternatives.

Untold numbers of people find AA off-putting because of the religious aspect. Yet, AA enjoys a monopoly in the recovery community. Secular alternatives are not available all day, everyday, at multiple locations in every city and town in America like 12-Step meetings are. Secular meetings, even in large cities, may only meet once a week, if at all. So the overtly religious 12-Steps, unacceptable to so many, preclude countless individuals from getting the help they seek and need. They suffer for it, and their families suffer too. When we hear about a celebrity relapsing or a rock star overdosing, why should the assumption be that they failed to work their 12-Step program? It is more likely the 12-Step program failed them.

To be clear, AA is religious.

The courts say so, at least.[1] And then there is the fact that most meetings are held at Christian churches. Meetings begin and end with a Christian prayer, usually the Serenity Prayer or the Lord’s Prayer. And seven of the 12-Steps deal with God, Higher Power, Prayer, and Spiritual Awakening. Only five do not:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take a personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

These Steps are read at the beginning of every meeting, along with statements like, “There is One who has All power, that One is God. May you find Him now!” and, “Probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism…God could and would if He were sought.”[2]

The courts have returned their verdict as well. Between 1996 and 2007, five high-level US courts (three federal circuit courts and two state supreme courts) each ruled on this issue. AA is religious and therefore the State cannot force people to go. Because the cases involved the Establishment Clause, they reached the highest level of judiciary scrutiny, only one level below the US Supreme Court.

While AA and its members may deny that it is grounded in religion, these high court rulings clearly explain that when newcomers are told that they should accept the existence of God as a requirement for continued sobriety, and tell them to seek their God through prayer, confess all wrongdoings to Him, and ask Him for removal of shortcomings, and then expect the newcomer to recite the Lord’s Prayer at the end of meetings, the fellowship is indeed practicing “religion.”

Separation of Church and State

Bill W. and Dr. Bob are the Patriarchs of AA, dating back to the program’s Judeo-Christian roots in the 1930s. With other AA members, they were able to influence medical decision makers well into the 1950s and 60s and made presentations to Congress and Medical Societies that had clout at the time. Physiologist E. M. Jellinek collaborated with early AA member Marty Mann, and published the results of a survey mailed to 1,600 AA members. Only 158 were returned. Jellinek and Mann culled 45 that had been improperly completed and another 15 filled out by women, whose responses were so unlike the men’s that they risked confounding the results. From this small sample (98 men) Jellinek drew sweeping conclusions, and his “medical literature” became AA gospel, leading to the medical community’s eventual acceptance of the 12-Steps as the Gold Standard method of treating addiction.[3] With Medicine’s blessing, government and insurance companies began paying for 12-Step based treatment, opening the door for religion and removing the wall between church and state.

“You’re in terrible shape, you need to get yourself to an AA meeting”.

AA manipulates people when they are at their most vulnerable, desperately seeking guidance. Even agnostics and atheists go to AA looking for help in early recovery, because they cannot find any alternatives to the 12-Steps in their area. Some manage to get sober in spite of God, not because of Him. Criminals, including pedophiles and sex offenders, anonymously mix into the groups. Fragile newcomers are easy prey. The manipulation even extends to a “13th Step”, in which male AA members with some clean-time in the program will befriend a female newcomer, ostensibly to offer guidance and support. But in reality the goal is to sexually exploit, or “13th Step”, the female newcomer.[4]

Secular Alternatives to AA and 12-Step Programs

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is true, why would repeated returns to the 12-Steps be the solution to repeated relapses? It stands to reason that people have better treatment outcomes when they’re offered choices and not coerced to accept one thing or another. In a 2012 report on addiction treatment in the U.S. by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia, researchers concluded: “Evidence clearly demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach to addiction treatment typically is a recipe for failure.” In her book Inside Rehab, Anne M. Fletcher illustrates a science based perspective on recovery and takes a thorough look at the state of affairs of addiction treatment in the US. To be fair, she acknowledges 12-Steps can be helpful for those who willingly pursue it. But other options do exist. Unfortunately, most in the recovery community are unaware or unfamiliar with secular options due to the glaring eclipse that is the 12-Steps.

Refuge Recovery is a mindfulness based recovery program designed by Noah Levine in California. This program is becoming more popular across the US. It emphasizes meditation and Buddhist philosophy, practicing compassion and empathy in the day to day lives of members. In-person group meetings create a social community and support network. Like the other secular groups listed here, Refuge Recovery welcomes people looking to address all spectrums of addiction, including alcohol, food, sex, opioids, meth, and process addictions. There is no mention of any God or Gods as a part of Refuge Recovery. It also has a robust online community.

LifeRing Secular Recovery is an abstinence-based, worldwide network of individuals seeking to live in recovery from addiction to alcohol or to other non-medically indicated drugs.

SMART recovery is science based, and it is probably the largest 12-Step alternative today, world wide. It teaches self-help and common sense with a goal of empowerment.  Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy (REBT) techniques are used to achieve positive, lasting changes in the lives of its members.

SMART Recovery evolves as scientific knowledge of addiction evolves. It welcomes change when there is an improvement. By contrast, The Big Book of AA was written in the1930s and the AA community adamantly resists changing or adapting it. The Big Book’s chapter “To Wives” reflects an overtly sexist worldview that is increasingly considered unacceptable in modern times. Chapter 4, the “Chapter to the Agnostic” is not an argument of persuasion, it is an arrogant line in the sand, “There either is a God, or there isn’t”  (the implied answer is that there is, just one).  SMART Recovery has wider popularity in Europe than in America right now. Also, an interesting difference in Europe is AA meetings traditionally do not say the Lord’s prayer, and the religious aspects are toned down in AA meetings compared to the USA.

SMART meetings are for all addictions and are facilitated by a moderator experienced with cognitive behavioral techniques and who has significant clean time. In-person meetings can be hard to find in most American cities. For the techniques involved, on-line and chat based meetings are not usually ideal.

Secular Organizations for Sobriety (SOS) is a nonprofit network of autonomous, non-professional local groups, dedicated solely to helping individuals achieve and maintain sobriety from alcohol and drug addiction, food addiction and more.

Women for Sobriety A non-profit organization of women, for women, dedicated to helping women discover a happy New Life in recovery from Substance Use Disorders. It encourages emotional and spiritual growth and is endorsed by the American Humanist Association as a secular or religious-neutral option for recovery. WFS has certified moderators and chat leaders leading mutual support groups online and in person, as well as phone volunteers available for one-on-one support. Any woman seeking an abstinent New Life is welcome to join WFS.

Agnostic AA is a website for agnostics, atheists, and freethinkers who are involved with AA but desire a non-religious, safe place to engage in fellowship. It is a great location to find recovery literature, materials, and books that are secular in nature.

Pharmacotherapy is an underutilized, evidence-based option to treat addiction. Experienced  physicians, trained in addiction medicine, help alcohol dependent patients with prescriptions like Topamax (topiramate) and Antabuse (disulfiram). Naltrexone (vivitrol) has shown efficacy in the treatment of opioid maintenance of sobriety, as well as alcohol long term sobriety. A wide spectrum of treatment options exist, depending on the individual and the substance(s) to which they are addicted. The difficulty is finding physicians who are able to handle this, and getting the treatment covered. The American Medical Association recently estimated that out of nearly 1 million doctors in the United States, only 582 identified themselves as addiction specialists.

Therapy.  Counsellors experienced in the treatment of addiction offer hope to those with the means to access this type of care. Unfortunately, in many instances, insurance does not cover mental health treatment like this, or patients find the cost beyond their means. The Secular Therapy Project arose to help secular individuals having a hard time matching with a counsellor in a faith based world. Many offer sessions via confidential Skype-type arrangements with special software. See SecularTherapy.org as an example.

All of these secular groups will help you if you are interested in starting a new group in your area. The costs of attending these groups are the same as the cost of AA:  free or donation only.

The Dalai Lama says, to paraphrase, “Listen to what I say, and keep what you want. If something I say is helpful, great. If something I say doesn’t fit with your experience, disregard it.” The secular recovery programs listed above are all in keeping with this line of reasoning. They don’t require faith. AA has a motto, “Take what you want, and leave the rest.” Many people in AA do modify their program to their personalities and it works for them. But AA and the Big Book’s statements about God are unequivocal. Some nonbelievers may be able to overlook this for a while and get sober. Countless others are not comfortable with this. They cannot square the fabrication of a “God” in which they don’t believe with a “program of rigorous honesty,” so they either never attend AA, or they cut their losses. They end up aborting the misadventure of AA, and go on suffering while they search for that elusive secular alternative.

Progress 

Just in the past couple of years, the American Board of Family Medicine began making changes to its board exam questions, phrasing them to better reflect secular options in recovery. Instead of the answer being simply “AA,” a broader option was given, to the effect of “a recovery meeting,” or “an AA or secular recovery meeting.”  The label “Person in long term recovery from alcohol” is emerging to replace “Alcoholic.”  It’s slow progress, beginning in academic medicine. Physicians practicing in the real world lag behind. Insurance and politicians will eventually begin to follow. It is a step in the right direction.

But still, religion permeates. Can you imagine a world in which a doctor says,“You have a primary brain disorder. It’s called Parkinson’s. You need to get on your knees and pray to God. That’ll be $200.” We wouldn’t accept this for Parkinson’s. Why on Earth do we accept this for the most common primary brain disorder, addiction?[5]

No doubt there is benefit to be found in group solidarity, working through a common struggle. It is hard to dispute the upside of support from like-minded individuals who have been through similar circumstances and can offer general advice and guidance. It is comforting to have a place to go where others believe the same as you do and want the best for you. It is helpful to have an old, well established book to refer to in times of doubt. It is reassuring to hear familiar sayings and chants at every gathering. What does this sound like? It sounds like a church. It reflects a religion because that’s what it is. And like religion, it is comforting and reassuring for its adherents. But that does not mean its faith claims are true, and it doesn’t make the claims of AA/12-Steps superior “efficacy” true either. In the words of the late Stephen Hawking, “It is not necessary to invoke God.” He was speaking on other things, but the words ring true in addiction treatment as well. Bringing God into it just complicates things and slows progress. Bill W. was right about one thing, though, when he said, “We are engaged upon a life-and-death errand.” The recovery community deserves better than faith healing.

 


 

[1] See Griffin v. Coughlin (1996); Kerr v. Farrey (1996); Arnold & Evans v. Tennessee Board of Paroles (1997); Warner v. Orange County Dept. of Probation (1999); and Inouye v. Kemna (2007).

[2] https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/p-10_howitworks.pdf

[3] http://www.a-1associates.com/aa/testimony.htm

[4] http://www.the13thstepfilm.com

[5] https://www.asam.org/resources/definition-of-addiction

Reason Revolution founder Justin Clark gives a lecture on the Freethinker Society of Indianapolis at the Society for German American Studies Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Read more

This episode, Justin spoke with author and activist Hypatia Alexandria. They talked about her Catholic upbringing, her path to atheism and humanism, issues within the Latino community and their relationship to religion, and how political activism and secular humanism can resolve some of these issues. A special thanks to Karen Garst for making this conversation happen.

Contact Hypatia: hypatia@arauco.com

Get her book: https://amzn.to/2KIXYRF

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution

Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reasonrevolutionorg/

Support Us By Becoming A Member: https://donorbox.org/support-reason-revolution

Become a Patron: https://www.patreon.com/reasonrevolution

Theme: “Jon’s on Fire” by Silent Partner

 

This episode, Justin had a conversation with atheist activist Damien Marie Athope. They talked about axiological atheism, skepticism, the value of reason, humanism, anarchism, and other topics.

Check out our website: https://reasonrevolution.org

Give us a like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/reasonrevolution

Follow us on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/reasonrevolutionorg/

Support Us By Becoming A Member: https://donorbox.org/support-reason-revolution

Become a Patron: https://www.patreon.com/reasonrevolution 

Portfolio Items