Who (or what) do non-theists thank — for whatever they are “thankful” for — on Thanksgiving?
That’s the question I was pondering, however briefly, this Thanksgiving. I mean, I think most non-theists here in America participate in the holiday, and you’ll often hear them mention things that they are thankful for. But, if one is giving thanks, there needs to be an object to whom or to which that feeling of gratitude is directed and expressed. Right? And it only makes sense if that object is a person; giving thanks to impersonal things is absurd.
But, someone who believes there is no such thing as a supernatural being known as God (or a god) — i.e., in particular, a “supreme being” with some control over their lives and the world around them — has no one, no Person, to thank. Seems to me, the most they can say with any accuracy is that they are expressing to anyone who will listen that they enjoy or appreciate some people and/or things in their lives that got there by happenstance. Or, as one Facebook acquaintance put it, “Today is a day to be THANKFUL for the things that dumb luck has dropped in our laps.”
So, it was with great interest that I saw the following audio-podcast posted on Thursday night. In his first “Cold-Case Christianity” podcast in over a year, J. Warner Wallace addresses this exact topic. (Well, that’s part of it, anyway.) He mentions that some atheists who have written about this or developed ‘secular’ benedictions for use on Thanksgiving will direct thanks to people such as the Pilgrims or farmers or the military, etc., for what they have done that benefits that person and/or family, society, the nation, the world. Note that some of these people are dead and others alive, some they know/knew personally and others not. However, Wallace points out that even that is inconsistent within a materialist/physicalist worldview. (I’ll leave the explanation to him, ‘cuz I want you to listen to the podcast.)
Wallace takes a brief look at Scripture, too, observing the consistent offering of thanksgiving to God and explaining the link between sin and ingratitude. He also references an article from the previous day, in which he explores the history of “Thanksgiving” in America and the clearly Christian origins and reasons for this day of celebration. Here’s the link to “Enjoy The Distinctly Christian Holiday We Call Thanksgiving”. And with that I wish you all a…