After a Christian Wonders Whom Atheists Thanks at Thanksgiving, One Offers This Powerful Response

The week before Thanksgiving, Allen Stephenson wrote an article for the Greenville Advocate in which he discussed what we ought to be thankful for:

Abel on the other hand, remembers that even the very air he breathes is a gift from God. He knows that if there is anything good in his life, it is directly from the hand of God. So his focus this weekend is take the energy he would normally devote to school and/or work, and direct it towards thanking God and serving others. So he is quick to help set the table and clean up afterwards, he is intentional in listening to others, and active in participating in the family traditions. At the end of the day he makes a list of all the blessings of God and thanks Jesus for each and every one of them.

At the very end of his article, he asked “And by the way, whom does an atheist thank at Thanksgiving?”

That was all the inspiration atheist Doug Beville needed to respond to Stephenson’s article:

I thank science for the vast improvements it has made to our lives, how virtually no person is willing to live without the comforts and health benefits it has provided, and how more of us are accepting the knowledge of science as fact.

I thank the sound logic and reasoning, and the changing morality that has allowed equal treatment of all people regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation (almost). I thank our founding fathers for the wisdom that guaranteed every American citizen his or her freedom to worship or not to worship, and that the government would not show prejudice to either group.

I thank bold, freethinking atheist authors who trumpet the fact that nonreligious people can and do live moral, altruistic, meaningful, purposeful, joyful, fulfilling lives. Finally, I thank the progressive strides we have made even in small town Alabama that allow me to write this letter without fear of a cross being burned in my yard.

Beautiful :) And that’s not even half the response. You can read the full piece here. It’s a powerful piece with the unintentional consequence of completely showing up a “man of god.”

(Thanks to Sackbut for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • APatheist

    Way to go Doug! Woohoo! He is an amazing person. We have a great group here in AL, believe it or not. 

  • Lily Stolc

    You can’t thank “science.”  Thank scientists instead.  It’s about time someone did.

    • Anonymous

      You’re exactly right. I knew something didn’t feel quite right about “thanking Science,” and scientists certainly do deserve recognition and thanks. Thank you for hitting the nail on the head!

    • Geeforson

      Someone pointed out on (Slashdot? Pharyngula?) that news articles about science often don’t even bother mentioning individual scientists. It’s always “scientists have discovered” or “researchers at suchandsuch University have found”. Scientists don’t get the recognition they deserve. This type of dehumanizing probably makes it easier for critics of science to do what they do, too.

  • http://onefuriousllama.com/ onefuriousllama

    RAmen.

  • Hollyml

    How about thanking PEOPLE?  We all owe at least a thought of thanks, if not a verbal or tangible expression of gratitude, for many people whose existence and actions have affected us, made our lives better in one way or another.  Our parents.  Our spouse’s parents and our siblings and the people, besides us, who love and care for our children.  Our teachers and coaches and teammates and colleagues.  The first person with whom we fell in love, and the person who gave us our first job, and the person who let us have a chance or gave us a break when we needed it.  Not only the scientists who invented and engineered all of the marvels of modern life, but also the people who go to work on Thanksgiving Day in order to keep those things running smoothly.  The people who entertain us, with football games and parades on Thanksgiving Day and in those and other ways all year round.  The writers and philosophers and politicians and psychologists who have informed our understanding of the society and culture in which we live, and the people who dedicate their lives to seeking greater liberty and justice for all.  And, not least, the PEOPLE who have obtained and prepared the food we are about to eat.

    It’s silly, after all, to thank God for our daily bread; it makes more sense to thank the farmer, the miller, and the baker.  Directly from whose hands it came.  (And if you want to give thanks for the very air that you breathe, I suggest watering the nearest tree.)

    • APatheist

      Are you referring to his response? He does thank many of those people in the letter.   

    • Anonymous

      People are only useful if someone is needed for blame

    • Anonymous

      You should read the full letter. 

  • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

    How about my response? To whom are atheists thankful? – http://t.co/hUv1m70B
    I would have thought you would have enjoyed the picture alone. 

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

      Terriffic! Check it out, everybody!

      You didn’t thank your lucky stars.

  • Marella

    As my yoga instructor says, “happiness is gratitude”.

  • Drew M.

    Blargh. I dry-heaved a few times while reading Allen Stephenson’s initial editorial. Thank you, Doug, for that damned-brilliant reply!

  • Anonymous

    I simply thank real people for real things. Just like I feel guilt, about real things done to real people. I don’t thank imaginary beings and I don’t feel guilt about imaginary sins.

  • Newavocation

    I’ve got to be thankful for Robert Ingersoll. Talk about guts to say what he said in his era. He also wrote a Thanksgiving piece.
    http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/robert_ingersoll/thanksgiving_sermon.html

  • Dark Jaguar

    I’ve always, even during my Christian days, thought “Thanksgiving” wasn’t specifically religious and thought that it was about thanking people you know right at the table.  This is probably because that’s what my family actually DOES.  I thank whoever cooked the meal right off the bat, for example.

    To me, that seems obvious.  I can’t fathom the sort of thinking that this person has that prevents him even considering thanking the other people around him at the table as even a possible alternative to thanking a god.

  • Anonymous

    I give thanks for grammarians who know how to use “whom” correctly

    • ed-words

      “Correct” usage is determined by people,not dictionaries.

       If “who” obliterates “whom” in everyday usage, 
       then”whom” becomes a linguistic relic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1222114820 Rick Pua Pila

    So I suppose I (and others) are doing with Buddhism is somewhat similar to what Thomas Jefferson did with the Bible – cherry picking the parts that I think are true and useful, and discarding those that don’t work for me.  (Of course, everyone does that with religion, I suppose I’m just being more open about it.)  I’m trying to do it with wisdom, though.  Just because something doesn’t agree with me doesn’t mean that it’s not true or helpful.  If it stands the test of rationality, it stays.  If not, it goes.

    But right after attending a Life in the Spirit seminar in 1987. I discovered a unique power within me where all my knowledge and Know-how falls down because our mind is limited and what I read in the bible about the infinity of Christ struck me. Thanks God I am save as I am now a Christian and even since right after that seminar retreat that took place in 1987. I praise God for changing my life forever.

    URL: http://www.addvalue.com.au


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