Crawl Across the Ocean

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Giving Thanks

I've never really (before now) stopped to think about whether being an atheist makes a difference to Thanksgiving. If you accept the idea that we are giving thanks for the things we have, and that we are giving thanks all the way down the ladder of cause and effect back to some prime mover (e.g. God) for bringing this about, then being thankful, in the absence of belief in some prime mover, amounts to just being happy with your luck in how things turned out.

And giving thanks for good luck is nonsensical, by definition. After all, who (or what) are you thanking in that case? Lady luck? The fickle finger of fate? (The charming chokehold of chance?) These phrases are just a reflection of a) our love of alliteration, and more importantly b) our inability to accept the pure lack of agency behind random events - choosing instead to see patterns where none exist, to assign cause where there is no cause, and to anthropomorphize each roll of the dice.

As this link suggests, it is perhaps more practical (for an atheist, at any rate) to only look a few rungs down the ladder, and, rather than giving thanks for things, give thanks to people - more specifically, to those people who we know for certain have made a difference in our lives or in the lives of others that we care about.

That's my plan, anyway.


Post a Comment

<< Home