By Wes L.
Most often when I hear discussions about the second step, folks have gone way beyond the sentiment of the step and are busy attempting to define God, or at the very least trying to reach some conclusions about what constitutes a belief. One of the most restricting of those old ideas that Bill suggests that some of us have tried to hold onto, is the notion that faith and belief are inextricably linked, i.e. that you cannot have faith without a belief to have faith in.
Interestingly enough, in the 12 and 12 where Bill expounds on the step further, his comments are much more relevant to faith than they are to belief. Unfortunately, he too seems to use the two interchangeably. So what is faith?
Through the means of inductive reasoning, which establishes a reasonable expectation that certain things will continue to be simply because they have always been, we have developed faith in all sorts of things and processes. And almost all of that has been done with neither consciousness nor effort on our part. There is no need to believe that the sun will continue to make an appearance every day, we simply have faith that that will be the case. The very ebb and flow of the universe goes on virtually unnoticed. We seldom pause to think about, much less worry ourselves with, the faith we have that the universe will continue to unfold, and that this tiny speck of it that we have come to call the world, will continue to go round and round.
So it would seem that faith is inherently instinctive, and operates intuitively without our consciousness of it, or even the awareness of its existence. What then is the relationship between faith and belief? Lack of faith, or more accurately described, failing to recognize that intuitive faith, is the fertile soil in which the seeds of hope and fear are sown, and quickly grow.
When you get the thinking mind involved, and along with it the egoic consciousness, things can change rapidly. Lack of faith precipitates fear, and the mind creates hope to alleviate the fear. Hope is fueled by imagination, and as the hope grows so does the illusion. Because the illusion is so appealing and the hope so fervent, we begin to actually believe whatever it is that we have dreamed up.
As the dynamics of our lives change, new fears continually manifest themselves, and since by now we have very little faith in the way things are, we become more and more reliant on hope.
Belief is nothing more than fervent hope. So oddly enough the traditional concepts of God have come from the lack of faith, not through it.
It does not require much faith to create or modify your concepts of God. A little imagination and some ego driven desires are all that are needed. On the contrary, it is in the willingness to discard those antiquated perceptions that faith is essential.
About the Author, Wes L.
Wes spent the majority of his working career in the construction industry and always thought of himself as superintendent material, but it was not until after he got sober in April of 1990 that he began to find employers that agreed with him. We has been active in AA from the beginning, but much more so since he retired in 2010. He has lived in Las Vegas since 1989 where a small group is starting a new freethinking AA meeting in Southern Nevada. At the urging of several friends, Wes began to write seriously about a year ago.