Apologetics to the Glory of God

An Atheist Explanation of Thanksgiving

I do wonder sometimes what is going on in an atheist’s head.

Take this article for example:

An Atheist at the Thanksgiving table

First, who is this fellow’s target audience? Was somebody arguing that atheists do not have anything to be thankful for? I have never heard such an argument. And yet the bulk of this article is apparently aimed at showing that, “Atheists have plenty to be thankful for — without the need to include anything supernatural or non-existent on our lists.” Okay. Yeah. Atheists do have plenty to be thankful for. Glad we have established that!

Second, the author is not very clear about to whom or what it is that the atheist directs his thanksgiving. Remember, “Atheists have plenty to be thankful for — without the need to include anything supernatural or non-existent on our lists.” Later on he writes, “In fact, around this time of year, it’s easy for people to think god is the only possible answer to the ‘What are you thankful for?’ question.” Really? I don’t know about you, but I have never heard someone express the sentiment that the only possible thing to be thankful for is God. Now it may be that a Christian can give thanks for God in some sense. We are certainly thankful that God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world to die on the cross for our sins, and that He was raised again to life, and that all of those in union with Him will be also, for example. But I dare say that our thanks – for all manner of things – is typically directed toward God. The atheist is missing the point. To whom or what does he direct his thanks? Sure, there are people to express thanks to, but I highly doubt they are at your dinner table, or at any rate not all of them are there. There are also many things we have for which no human is responsible, and hence for which no human can be thanked. For example, “We’re thankful we’re alive when the odds against us even being born are overwhelming.” Sure, there are human elements involved in our astronomically improbable births (Really though, is this guy sending his mother’s OB/GYN a note every year? Not only would that be tedious, it’d be weird.), but they are nowhere near as significant as those elements which cannot be attributed to humans.

Third, what superstition is this that prevents atheists from capitalizing “God”? You don’t see adults going around writing about “santa claus” or “uncle scrooge” do you? Are atheists afraid that if they capitalize it then He will suddenly begin to exist, or what? Or is it supposed to offend me as a Christian that you write “god” instead of “God”? Or are you just that unclear everywhere else about being an atheist that you have to write “god” and hope someone will catch on?

Fourth, the last line of the article is a classic example of atheist reasoning. The author writes, “When you talk to an atheist, though, you realize that there are many other ways to answer that question and they are all equally, and I would argue more, valid.” As alluded to earlier, one does not have to talk to an atheist in order to realize that there are more things to be thankful for than God. As just one quick example, I am thankful to God for my family. Only someone who is really out of touch with reality (and I’m talking narrow-minded, sheltered, bigot) would actually think that theists only express thanks for their God on Thanksgiving (rather than expressing thanks to God for other things on Thanksgiving). Now I doubt the author is a narrow-minded, sheltered, bigot (although he could be). I think it more likely he just needed something to argue against in order to proclaim the alleged virtues of his atheism, and so he set up the straw man that we see.

That’s the difficulty with atheism. It is parasitic upon theism, and so requires lengthy chatter about theistic belief wherever it appears. One cannot have “atheism” without having “theism.” For as long as atheists remain confused and uneducated about theism, they will only make themselves look more foolish by taking their uninformed opinions into the public square. Perhaps that is something for which we can be thankful.