In simple and honest terms, Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was a drunk. The terms “alcoholism” and “alcoholic” had not yet become acceptable as they are today. Martin and Deidre Bobgan pick up their story: “After years of struggling with the guilt and condemnation that came from thinking that his drinking was his own fault and that it stemmed from a moral defect in his character, Wilson was relieved to learn from a medical doctor that his drinking was due to an ‘allergy.’ Dr. William D. Silkworth had hypothesized that ‘the action of alcohol on…chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy.’” AA’s official biography of Wilson relates:
“Bill listened, entranced, as Silkworth explained his theory. For the first time in his life, Bill was hearing about alcoholism not as a lack of willpower, not as a moral defect, but as a legitimate illness. It was Dr. Silkworth’s theory—unique at the time—that alcoholism was the combination of this mysterious physical ‘allergy’ and the compulsion to drink; that alcoholism could no more be ‘defeated’ by willpower than could tuberculosis. Bill’s relief was immense.”
Dr. Silkworth’s erroneous theory might have remained in obscurity had not Bill Wilson founded Alcoholics Anonymous upon it, and millions of drunks, as happy as Wilson to be relieved of moral accountability for their abuse of alcohol, turned that theory into an almost universally accepted axiom. The fact is, however, that the theory which led to the founding of AA—that alcoholism is a disease—is false. One of the world’s leading authorities in this field, University of California professor Herbert Fingarette, has written an entire book as well as numerous articles against this delusion.
Fingarette refers to “a mass of scientific evidence accumulated over the past couple of decades…which radically challenges every major belief generally associated with the phrase ‘alcoholism is a disease.’” He explains that this mistaken concept “has never had a scientific justification.” Writing for Harvard Medical School, Fingarette said, “This myth, now widely advertised and widely accepted, is neither helpfully compassionate nor scientifically valid.”
As for the alleged efficacy of AA and other recovery programs, Dr. Fingarette says that “treatments for alcoholism as a disease have no measurable impact at all.” Stanton Peele, author of Diseasing of America: Addiction Treatment Out of Control, agrees and offers research to show that multitudes have been persuaded by “brainwashing” that they have the disease of alcoholism, and that the overall result has been to impede the normal recovery which otherwise would take place. The Harvard Medical School published a paper which refuted AA’s claim that its program is needed because alcoholics rarely “recover on their own resources.” In fact, said Harvard:
“Most recovery from alcoholism is not the result of treatment. Probably no more than 10 percent of alcohol abusers are ever treated at all, but as many as 40 percent recover spontaneously.”
The facts are in stark contrast to Stafford’s and CT’s assurance: “We [Christians] ought to sue them [12-Step programs] gladly. They belong to us originally. They are doing tremendous good.” In fact, 12-Step programs are doing great harm by turning people from the true God to a false higher power, and by denying the sufficiency of God’s Word and robbing multitudes of its transforming power. It is reprehensible for Christianity Today or any Christian organization or church to encourage participation in 12-Step programs. Tragically, with such misguided encouragement, multitudes have embraced not only an anti-Christian pagan system but an outright fraud.