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Grapevine : January 2011
found God." Like me, she has stayed sober ever since. After having had my life almost destroyed because of my drinking, I was in desperate need of encour- aging statements (whether true or not). I found a lot of such statements in the AA literature, many of them dealing with the bright prospects of being helped by God. I felt high, soaking up spiritual reflections from many sources. It became clear to me that faith is uplifting, atheism is not. In those first years of sobriety, I felt good when told about a divine principle giving meaning and purpose to my personal life. My vague sense of some kind of divine control took away many worries and disappoint- ments that previously used to tor- ture me (and served as excuses for boozing). If something did not turn out to my liking, I believed that what happened was determined by a force acting for my own good, knowing better than me what that was. With- out that belief I might have relapsed into drink.Iwas brought up to believe in an omnipotent and all-good God, an afterlife with the prospect of be- coming an angel in para- dise, but also the risk of being punished for my sins in hell. As I grew up, it dawned on me that the staggering suffering of innocent beings on planet Earth ex- cluded any idea of an all-good God. The notion of an evil God seemed absurd as well. When I was a young father, my 6-year-old son died of leukemia. This incomprehensible loss raised my rage at God, alternating with a painful recognition of the non-exis- tence of God, as I understood him. Nevertheless I fully understand why so many people cling to religion in order to find some meaning in the ways of the world. I know that faith means courage and hope to count- less humans. But I am unable to be- lieve in what I consider to be untrue. After my flirtation with the idea of some kind of divine power during the first years of sobriety, my reli- gious speculations calmed down. Fi- nally I arrived at a complete indiffer- ence as to whether God exists or not. Consequently, I have stopped caring about whomever or whatever creat- ed the world. Whether the creator of everything including man is a super- natural deity or an evolutionary pro- cess orchestrated by sheer chance or by "intelligent design," seems to me to be uninteresting. In my youth I cherished a proud wish for living heroically in spite of the absence of God. I wanted to walk upright without hope but I wasn't strong enough to do so, for the rea- son (among others) that I was an active alcoholic. After many years of sobriety I started asking myself: Grapevine 39