Marya Hornbacher announces that she is writing from an atheist perspective in the title of her CNN blog post, “My Faithlessness: The Atheist Way Through AA.” She talks about believing in Chaos and quarks, references “frou frou nonsense,” and states plainly that she doesn’t believe in God. She also proves that it’s entirely possible to hold these ideas and still be completely blinkered by frou frou nonsense. How can someone who positions herself as an atheist formulate (let alone publicly articulate) the idea that anything based on spiritual principles is “straightforward”? This is like the Triple Lindy of all cognitive dissonance.
Hornbacher is no more an atheist than my mom is.
Not only is she not an atheist, but her own logic undermines her argument that AA is not a religion. The most ridiculous argument against AA’s religiosity is that it’s not “Christian” and doesn’t force anyone to adhere to any other established religion. Like most faithful people who don’t see themselves as members of one religion (among many of equal merit) but as believers in the obvious truth, Hornbacher doesn’t recognize that her position is grounded in faith-based dogma. Or maybe she does, since the attempt to hammer AA into a rational therapy for addiction seems so tortured.
This is the most revealing line of her post:
I believe that the most important spiritual principle of AA is humility. The recognition that we are flawed, that we can and must change and that our purpose not only in sobriety but in life is to be of service to others.
By what standard does she consider herself or anyone else “flawed”? How does this chance composition of cells, water, and quarks with the amazing capacity to reflect on its own existence decide that it needs to change? And toward what ideal? Established by what authority? How can there be a universal purpose (like being of service to others)? Either Hornbacher doesn’t recognize the religious belief system that informs her argument here (and also makes it sound irrational), or her post is just as disingenuous as the chapter “We Agnostics.” My suspicion is that this writer has a more sophisticated grasp of the actual meaning of “atheism” than Bill Wilson did, and is more deliberate in her obfuscation of the religious nature of AA and her own belief system. This whole piece is about what Hornbacher believes on faith.