Gratitude

Several weeks ago, I found myself in the frontlines of a semantics war with a Christian blogger. What I will euphemistically call “the discussion” centered around my use of the word thankfully. According to this individual and some of his readers, I had forfeited my right to feel gratitude when I left religion, since gratitude can only be understood in the context of theism. While I have no intention of reigniting the debate, with the USA ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I did think it an apropos week to dive in a little deeper and explore the concept of thankfulness.

I acknowledge that the way I use the terms gratitude and thankful may be unusual to some. I have always operated under the assumption that being thankful for something and being thankful to someone were completely different concepts that utilized the same word. For example, “I’m thankful to my sister for those fat pants she gave me.” Or, “Boy am I thankful I wore my fat pants today.” In the second phrase, I am simply expressing joy that I can eat that third piece of pizza “thanks” to the fact that I wore my fat pants. There is no human or supernatural recipient of my gratitude. In this second example, thankful is a synonym for glad.

(If you’re interested in hearing more about my fat pants, or reading the blog that started the debate, here’s a link to my post Language.)

The intention of the theist’s blogpost was to make me look foolish, crazy even, for thinking that I could be thankful as a nonbeliever. But as we engaged in conversation, I realized that the heart of the matter was a difference in semantics, not spirituality. I was simply using a word in a different way than someone else was. It made me wonder how many times Christians and atheists get into heated debates without ever clarifying if the words they are using mean the same thing to each of them. Whether my usage of thankfully can be authenticated (it can) is less important to me than the clarity of my communication. Do most religious people think that atheists, agnostics, (I’ll throw toddlers in there) can’t be thankful for anything, since they have no understanding of or belief in a creator?  I am genuinely curious! If this is true, then I will be forced to find another word, at least if I am ever to be understood by theists on Thanksgiving.

Maybe it’s nonsensical to be thankful if there’s no one to thank. On the flip side, why does ascribing a recipient make more any more sense, if the recipient of your gratitude may be imaginary?

Exhibit A: Children who are thankful to Santa Claus or the tooth fairy.

Exhibit B: Ancient Egyptians who were grateful to the sun god, Ra, for heeding their supplications and reappearing after an eclipse.

Exhibit C:  Devotees who give praise and thanks for prayers answered by Chango, Krishna, Ahone, Elegua, Zeus, Jesus, Allah. (Unless, of course, it’s your god, in which case it’s perfectly legit.)

If I had to, I would struggle to come up with a replacement for the term thankfully.  It’s not really the same as luckily.  While I might feel lucky that it’s sunny out (especially in Wisconsin), I don’t think it’s lucky that the sun is there. “Luckily, we have a planet that sustains life,” is not a phrase that would easily fall from my lips. Happily doesn’t have the same ring either. Although a feeling of thankfulness is closely related to joy, it isn’t always interchangeable with joy. Sometimes thankfully can be a way of seeking the positive in a truly unhappy situation. “I’m sorry about the loss of your pet, but thankfully he had a good life.” Conversely, sometimes thankfulness entails something greater than joy. “I’m so thankful I have my daughter in my life.” I am happy she is here too, but it’s even greater than happiness. It’s a feeling of happiness beyond what I deserve. Whether or not she came into my life by beautiful scientific chance is irrelevant to my immense, indescribable emotions at her being here.

I think, especially this week, I will keep feeling thankful and saying “thankfully.”  I’m quite confident in my ability to be thankful outside of the confines of religion. Maybe I will go so far as to suggest that some theists are using the word thankful when what they are really feeling and trying to say is better conveyed by the word blessed.

That one, I’ll let them have.

 

121 thoughts on “Gratitude

  1. The thanks giving day according to reliable information was not a Christian invention, it was an English Anglo Saxon religious day when they presented food crop offerings to the fertility gods and when Christianity arrived they just hijacked the day as their own like they did with Christmas day 25 December from all the other legitimate gods.
    “Thankfully” may be considered a Christian term by Christians due to the word “thanksgiving,” however they have highjacked a word for a day used for worshipping a pagan goddess such as Frige.

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  2. That is very interesting! I have researched similar events with other holidays, but never with Thanksgiving. I’m intrigued. I believe you have inspired my next year’s Thanksgiving blog post. 🙂

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  3. Sigh. I find myself having less and less patience with opinions rooted in Bronze Age death cults. Marriage is another thing they claim didn’t exist outside the blessing of the church. They have a problem explaining human history predating christianity. People got married with regularity. They lived their lives and not once did the problem of not having the sanction of a cult that hadn’t been invented yet come up. I would submit to you the same applies to being thankful. Semantics aside, of course 🙂

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    1. Oh my, you guys are so inspiring today. Mind if I steal that thought for a future blog post? I’m thinking maybe Valentine’s Day would be good. The really ironic part about the “Biblical marriage” is that most (if not all) concrete examples of marriage provided in the Bible look nothing like the ideals painted by the Christian church, so I’m not even sure what they are designing “Biblical marriage” on. It’s certainly not on the Bible, where you have Solomon with several hundred wives, David with concubines and famously committing adultery, and women being taken by force into “marriage.” Who gave Adam and Eve that all important paper document? 😉

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  4. Are you enjoying your “Holiday”? (Holy Day) Sorry, I had to say it 🙂 Or that people worship Jesus on Sunday, which has nothing to do with the “Son” but the actual sun 🙂

    But yes, I have had the same thought process as you when I became atheist. I asked an atheist friend what they say when someone sneezes and they said ‘nothing’, lol

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    1. Well, the pure definition of atheism is not having a belief in god or gods (where theism would mean a belief in god). I think many atheists do not subscribe to any type of belief in the supernatural. But personally, I have lots of theories about the afterlife. In fact, I’m gearing up to share them in an upcoming post. I don’t consider myself an atheist in the purest sense, only because I think being fluid with my beliefs and opinions is a valuable asset when it comes to debating people (often fundamentally religious people) who are unwilling to be flexible with their beliefs and who consider their opinions to be truths. I have to acknowledge that my “truths” (when unprovable by current science) are also opinions. Since I think god and spirituality cannot currently be proven nor disproven, I guess that makes me an agnostic. None of my afterlife musings currently involve a god figure, though. I firmly believe that what we think of as life may someday be scientifically proven to extend beyond what we currently perceive. So while my thinking tends to lean more towards the unknown map of scientific time and space, I suppose it could drip into the world of what most would label “spiritual.” Thank you for the question, Patty. It’s something I intend to explore in great depth on this blog!

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      1. Because it is not scientifically proven, therefore it is an opinion? That is new to me. Going to think about it some more. Thank you for your thought provoking answer.
        XxX

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  5. “While I might feel lucky that it’s sunny out (especially in Wisconsin), I don’t think it’s lucky that the sun is there. “Luckily, we have a planet that sustains life,” is not a phrase that would easily fall from my lips. Happily doesn’t have the same ring either…”

    Fascinating statement!
    Apparently, this isn’t merely about semantics for you. “Lucky” is a much better word for an atheist than “thankful”.

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    1. In my opinion, luck would imply that the sun could disappear tomorrow, with no laws to govern the universe. I believe there are laws governing the universe, rooted in science. Therefore, no, I don’t feel that it is by sheer luck that the sun appeared again in the sky today. Conversely, a religious person (especially in the days before science) would do things like pray to the gods that the sun would reappear, and feel “lucky” or “blessed” if these strange and fickle gods answered their prayers. Even today, you are “lucky” if God answers your prayers. How many mothers have starving children and are praying to god to change their situation, and god never answers? It sounds like theists rely more on luck than atheists, who have laws of nature, research, medicine, and knowledge on their side. But like I said, that’s only my opinion. I’m sure that as a Christian you believe that God makes sure the sun hangs in place day after day to warm us, and there is poetic beauty in that fantasy.

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      1. “I believe there are laws governing the universe, rooted in science.”
        Lucky thing there’s science, huh?

        “How many mothers have starving children and are praying to god to change their situation, and god never answers?”
        Praying to the laws of science doesn’t feed anyone either.

        “It sounds like theists rely more on luck than atheists, who have laws of nature, research, medicine, and knowledge on their side.”
        Theists have all those things as well.

        It is telling that you want to use the word “thankful” vs. “lucky”. The laws of science don’t are how you feel about them.

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      2. “The laws of science don’t care how you feel about them.”
        I’m not sure why you think that there has to be a recipient that “cares” whether I am thankful in order for me to feel thankful. As I illustrated quite clearly in my blog post, there is no Santa. Santa Claus doesn’t “care” whether children are thankful to him, but it doesn’t prevent them from feeling gratitude to an imaginary being. That is not an opinion. It’s a fact.
        “Theists have those things too.”
        It doesn’t help emotionally to have the laws of science, nature, and medicine on your side if you believe that some big abusive father in the sky can override all of them, healing some and wiping others out at will and whim. It also doesn’t help physically to have these things if you are one of the thousands of people in this country alone that refuse medical treatment for their own children because of faith.
        “Praying to the laws of science doesn’t feed anyone either.”
        Are you suggesting that atheists “pray” to science to feed starving children? That’s simply silly, John. I think you’ve had too much turkey! 😉 While the faithful rely on things like prayers to solve problems, scientists, activists, humanists, and realists are busy actually solving problems by implementing solutions. For example, while some Christians might prefer to pray and leave the fate of the earth in “god’s” hands, scientists and realists are developing ways to reduce the carbon footprint. I know so many intelligent Christians that are probably shaking their heads right now that you would make a statement like “praying to the laws of science.” I find it kind of sad, but also great (in a self-serving way) that you happen to be a Christian that illustrates my own points so well, over and over, to everybody who reads your comments. Are you sure you’re not an atheist, posing as a Christian? Because you do a better job of making Christians look silly than I would ever, ever attempt to do with my own blog posts, out of sheer respect.

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      3. “I’m not sure why you think that there has to be a recipient that “cares” whether I am thankful in order for me to feel thankful.”

        You think the same thing. That’s why you don’t like to say, “lucky”.

        Of course it’s silly to “pray to the laws of science”. That is exactly what you’re doing when you “give thanks” to the universe. That’s why “luck” is a much better word than “thankful”.

        When you are “thankful” the sun came up, you’re expressing worship just like Christians. You’re just paying homage to a false god.

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      4. If it makes you more comfortable to think that I worship a false a god, then have at it! Who am I to wreck your weekend? I’m just happy that my so-called imaginary god isn’t as mean as the one you believe in. Hope he’s nice to you and all your prayers come true, and thanks for chiming in!

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      5. “If it makes you more comfortable to think that I worship a false a god, then have at it!”

        C’mon, Danica! I thought this was an open forum for discussion. That’s a cheap shot.

        There’s no reason for “chiming in” if you’re going to dismiss me with “well if that’s what you think good for you”.

        Are we agreed that saying “thank you” to the sun is silly?

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      6. The problem is not that I’m unwilling to engage. It’s that I can see you have missed the entire message of my blog post, and I value my time more than trying to explain it to you over and over. You are unwilling to properly read my posts, in the same way you are unwilling to properly read the Bible. Because no sane individual could read what I read in the Bible, and think it comes from a loving god. So much the way you pick apart my words and change them to meet your own notion that I actually worship the sun, or whatever, you adapt the Bible to your own vision of a loving god and it makes you happy. I am not interested in taking away your happiness. Why would I answer the question about thanking the sun, when this entire blog post served to dissect the semantics of the usage of thankfully. In other words, I have already written a blog post that answers your question. I even provided a link to show that an authenticated use of the word “thankfully” is “gladly.” I can be glad there is a sun without being glad “to” the sun for existing. And yes, it is a proper use of the word, as I have already taken the time to prove. The entire message in the blog post is that Christians and atheists might not always define terms the same way. That’s why I mentioned that you are illustrating my own point, over and over by continuing to insist that my usage of a word is proof of your god. That IS the point of my blog post, John! It’s almost comical that you don’t see it. Why don’t you click on the link that I graciously provided, try to comprehend that the feeling of thankfulness does not (by my own definition or by the dictionary’s, or by the real-word examples I provided) need a recipient, and then ask me a relevant question. If you still think that my being thankful is proof of god, then we have nothing more to discuss. And I like I said, I truly don’t want to break you out of your delusions. I want you to be a happy person, and read the bible and my blog posts however it best serves your needs. If my blog posts serve as proof of god to you, then I am honestly happy that you can live and thrive in that bubble. It’s a great bubble to be in, until you dissect the cruelty your imaginary god has imposed on millions of people, both in the fictional bible and in the real world. So enjoy your bubble!

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      7. I thinks she was referring to “Wisconsin”, if it’s anything like where I live, there are plenty of clouds due to the “Lake Effect”. ie. Thankful it’s not cloudy today! It is not worship.

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      8. “Lucky thing there’s science, huh?”
        Yes

        “Praying to the laws of science doesn’t feed anyone either.”
        We don’t pray to science but science has helped us understand better farming practice that enables us to grow more food.

        “Theists have all those things as well.” They do! I cringe anytime a parent doesn’t get their children medical treatment because they would rather place their health in the care of a god.

        “The laws of science don’t are how you feel about them.”
        No, they don’t but we can still be thankful to the people in the field who help us understand the nature of the world, who come up with real solutions to various issues we face today and will in the future.

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      9. I disagree. Gratitude can be expressed towards anything. (ie. I am grateful the sun is shining today, it has been raining for a week). We can still be grateful to Science for their advance in medicine. We can appreciate things that are “unconscious”.

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      10. Referencing the laws of science, you said:
        “…we can still be thankful to the people in the field who help us understand the nature of the world.”

        And then you said: “We can still be grateful to Science for their advance in medicine.”
        You are referring to people when you used the word “their”.

        I still don’t understand why the atheists insist on using words like “grateful” when “lucky” is more appropriate. Why do you want to appreciate things that are unconscious?

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      11. Maybe I should have said “for it’s advancement…” but “it’s”, “their”, it is still referring to science.

        Grateful, Thankful, Appreciation – Why do you think atheists can’t express these towards inanimate objects? I appreciate a walk in the woods, I’m grateful there are places like trails… luck doesn’t seem to fit.

        Unconscious, Inanimate: Why can’t an atheist express their appreciation that the sun is out and melting the snow?

        Luck… that’s a big topic, lol

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      12. “Why can’t an atheist express their appreciation that the sun is out and melting the snow?”
        Atheists can express their appreciation in any way they want. Go for it! Knock yourself out!
        Why can’t Theists express that it’s silly to say thank you to stars?

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  6. Did you not read my answer to your question? It was right below your question. (And in my blog post.) The blog post is the answer to your question. That’s the irony. Oh well, John. I’m honestly happy you’re here. Again, I think you illustrate my points brilliantly. Please do continue to visit and comment.

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    1. Happy to help illustrate your points for you!

      You mentioned that children say thank you to Santa Claus (see…I did read you reply). Would you be cool with your children continuing to thank Santa Claus after they learn he doesn’t exist?

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      1. We didn’t do the Santa Claus thing. But being thankful for something, and being thankful to someone are two different things. I’ll be happy to stop reading your blog, as your daughter suggested. Not to let either of you down, but the only blog posts of yours I ever read were the two that were about me.

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      2. We didn’t do Santa Claus either. We didn’t want to tell our kids lies about fictional beings.

        You maintain that you can be thankful “FOR” the sun without being thankful “TO” anyone that the Sun exists.
        Which brings you right back to square one. Expressing gratitude FOR the sun is silly unless there is someone responsible giving it to you.

        If you buy a friend a car, when the friend says, “I’m grateful for this car” they are thanking YOU for the gift.
        Right?

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      3. Not if you read the definition of the word thankfully, as I have suggested several times to you. By the way, I’m laughing out loud right now that you didn’t want to teach your children about fictional beings. That’s the best irony I’ve heard all morning.

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      4. Yes, I know. And you’re good at what you do. That’s why I sometimes wonder what side you’re really on. But either way, you’re welcome here. Yes, by all means somebody please buy me a car. Haha. I’ll be thankful for the car, and to the person who bought it for me. But I can also be thankful for things that exist, without being thankful to imaginary beings for them. I’m thankful, as one philosopher brilliantly said, “for forces outside of my control.” If that means God to you, like I said, wonderful! To me, it’s science and the laws of nature.

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      5. In your mind, it may not be. But in the minds of many rational people, it is much sillier to say thank you to an entity (like Ra, Chango, or Jesus) that exists only in works of fiction, at the moment. There is no evidence that any of these gods exist, outside of the books written about them. So how is it somehow rational to thank them? You thanking god is just like a child thanking Santa. It is a work of imagination. And you have a great imagination. I am not diminishing that in any way.

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      6. “There is no evidence that any of these gods exist, outside of the books written about them.”
        And yet, you are not an atheist.

        I have not made a case for belief in the biblical God. You keep trying to change the subject to my beliefs. All I have done is suggest that gratitude is pointless unless it is directed toward an intelligent being.

        If it is irrational to thank imaginary gods, why does it bother you to say “lucky” about impersonal forces? Why are you fighting so hard to use the word “grateful”?

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      7. The point is I shouldn’t have to fight to use a word. Christians are not exclusively allowed to feel gratitude. The point I made in my blog post was that the use of the word “thankfully’ does not require a recipient. This is the point I am making over and over, because you have refused to read the definition of the word. One thing that I really do not enjoy about Christians is the sense of exclusion and entitlement that they often project. Your continuing to confront me, through two blog posts of your own, and all morning on my own blog post, is a very brilliant illustration of one of the reasons I rejected Christianity. No other group of people that I know is ever so hellbent on controlling the thoughts, feelings, choices, beliefs, and joy of other groups of people. It really defies all logic. Can you not be happy just thanking your god, and letting me feel gratitude in my own way? What is your obsession with my semantics or my belief system? Do you not have other things this morning to spend your time on? Why don’t you pray for your all loving god to beat some reason into me? He certainly seems like the type that would enjoy taking a hammer to somone’s skull. And you are a fine representative of his cult, with your relentless questions which I have answered, and answered, and answered, and answered. But now, I do have more enjoyable things to tend to. My daughter and I are putting up a Christmas tree. GASP! Wow. We can have Christmas too. Sorry if that offends you and your cult mates. Christmas happened to be a pagan religion before it was stolen. Have a good morning.

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      8. How silly can you get; do you thank God that he decided to allow the sun to rise today and do you get on your knees every evening and pray that the sun will rise in the morning? If it doesn’t you must understand that you are likely to be dead.

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  7. First time reader here. Being “thankful” doesn’t make as much sense for an Atheist as feeling “lucky.”

    “Anyone who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful in his reading.” –C.S. Lewis

    (I recommend you stop reading John’s blog…)

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  8. This is inspiring. This coming Christmas, I’m just going to be thankful for the gifts that I’ll have been given and never give thanks to those who gave me those gifts. Oh wait, am I making the right choice? Or, is it better to give thanks to the person- even if you don’t like the gift?
    Or, maybe, when you see that the givers are more than a product of their physical processes- you understand that the gift given was a true act of love. So, then, you can truly appreciate ( be thankful for) the gift given because it was given in an act of love ( from one person to another) and not because of the gift’s physical worth.

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    1. Hmmm, I’m not sure why this turned into me not being thankful, when what I am saying is that I have a right to feel thankful, to be thankful, and to thank whomever I please. Explain to me why you think I wouldn’t be thankful to someone for a gift?

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      1. I’m not sure how this turned into you not being thankful. I haven’t said that you weren’t. I just granted that your being “ thankful for” and being “thankful to” were different- as you said.
        But you didn’t answer my question- am I making the right choice in being “thankful for” the gift and not being “thankful to” the giver?

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      2. Clearly a gift, yes. But not all things I am thankful for come from a giver. Some are coincidences, or things I myself have done (the example being a certain item of clothing that proved practical.) Obviously if something is given to me, I am thankful to the giver. I do take issue with thanking a fictional or supernatural creature though. For example, if you were surrounded by people who practiced voodoo and voodoo was not your belief, and they prayed to one of their gods for something you recieved, you might be uncomfortable thanking their god for it. You might assume that your god gave it to you, or that it was happenstance that whatever item they prayed for came into your possession. I would not blame you for not thanking their ficticious god. Likewise, I will not allow anyone to make me feel uncomfortable for not thanking their god. However, the point of the post was semantics. And the comments suggest that there are many people who are still unclear as to the different usages of the word “thankful.” They are not my opinion. They are in the dictionary, and I provided a link. I also know a thing or two about believers, since I spent 10 years on the inside. Many are in a state of what I believe to be brainwashing. I don’t think they’re able to see past the argument for god, to even engage logically in a point that has to do with semantics, not spirituality. To be clear, I am not suggesting that Christians stop thanking their god for anything. If beliefs in a supernatural being provide comfort and joy, I think it’s wonderful. However the problem comes when my own rights are infringed upon (as in being told I can’t use a word) because of another’s belief system. This blog post has proven to be a spectacular illustration of many of the reasons I reject Christianity. Thanks so much for your thoughts!

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      3. So, is it inappropriate for a person to not be “thankful to” the giver but still be “thankful for” the gift? I’m still not sure where you stand on that. You keep wanting to talk about “fictitious gods”, which I haven’t brought up.

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      4. Absolutely not. That was the whole point of both of my blogs about gratitude. A person can be grateful for something without being grateful to an entity. It’s defined in the dictionary, which I also cited. The word can be used as a synonym for “glad.” I’m glad I wore my fat pants. I’m thankful I wore my fat pants. That is the example I shared in my blog. A person can feel thankful without feeling thankful to a particular entity, spiritual or otherwise. (Again, not my opinion. A validated use of the word per the dictionary.) I’m thankful I woke up this morning, for example. I don’t have to believe in god to be thankful to be alive. I’m thankful that by scientific chance my atoms came together. I feel thankful every day for things that happen in my life. But again, I think there are rational reasons for the things that happen. A person can be thankful they won the lottery by pure chance, or thankful they acomplished something they worked on for 30 years. You don’t have to believe in god to win the lottery or to achieve something. That is also not an opinion. There are many nonbelievers with incredible accomplishments. It boils down to a proper use of the term “thankfully.” Again, one of its proper usages is as a synonym for “happily,” or “gladly.” We each experience emotions in our brains. They aren’t derived from external sources, though external events can influence our emotional responses. Does that clarify at all? Sorry if I unintentionally skirted your question, but since the question was answered in both this post and the Language post that preceded it, I thought my viewpoint on being thankful “for” something was understood already. Thanks again!! And please feel free to post and question as often as you like. 🙂 I hope the pushy influences of more religious commentators don’t make you feel uncomfortable in any way. I strive for healthy and respectful conversation here, though sometimes things go awry.

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      5. So, in my illustration of my future upcoming Christmas (the holiday on December 25th- not the celebration of Jesus’ birth; just in case you were thinking that I was getting religious), it is not inappropriate if I just feel thankful for the gift given but never actually thank the giver of that gift? (Please, don’t rant about not giving credit to fictitious gods- we are on the same page, I don’t give credit to fictious gods either. I am talking about a real, yet hypothetical- in this scenario- being (the giver of the Christmas gift) now).
        Basically, if you know the giver is real, is it inapproatiate to not be “thankful to” the giver yet still be “thankful for” the gift?

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      6. No, not at all. I never said it was inappropriate to be thankful to anyone. There are two ways to use the word thankfully. One involves a recipient of your gratitude, and the other is an expression similar to “gladly.” The point of my blog post was that John Banyan told me I had lost my privledge to feel grateful when I relinquished religion, since gratitude or thanks could only be understood in a religious context. I realized that we were using the word “thankfully” two different ways. You can be thanfkful to a person for a gift, but you can also be thankful for somethign that did not involve a giver, like the many examples I’ve already cited. Thankful can also be used interchangeably with the term “glad.” There seems to be alot of confusion about this, and I’m not sure why. My blog post is simply talking about the proper definition of the word “thankful.” When I google “thankful” this is the definition I get: Pleased and relieved.
        “they were thankful that the war was finally over”
        synonyms: grateful, appreciative, filled with gratitude, relieved
        “she was thankful that the evening was over” Neither of those examples involve being thankful “to” someone. That doesn’t mean that, by default, you can never be thankful to anyone. It simply means that the term “thankfully” can be applied when there is no particular entity to thank. That is one of the two proper usages for the term “thankfully.” It has nothing to do with me not wanting to thank someone when thanks is due. Then I would choose the other definition of the word thankfully, which is “filled with gratitude towards someone for somethign received.”

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      7. I’m not trying to be repetitious here, but you changed my question ( in the second sentence- so you know where I am coming from). I’m asking if it is inappropriate for a person to NOT be thankful to the giver ( if the giver is a real being) but still be thankful for the gift. And, just for clarity, I am talking about any point in time ( but especially when the gift is given, like at Christmas). You answered that it was appropriate (and not inappropriate) to give thanks to the giver; I’m asking if it is inappropriate to NOT give thanks to the giver for the gift.
        Again, I apologize for the repetition, I just want to know where you stand.
        In other words, is it inappropriate to not give a person the thanks that is due? ( Referencing your last sentences).

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      8. Haha, indeed. But to answer you, Matthew, we’re definitely moving into the area of opinion here. In my personal opinion, it is usually appropriate to thank a giver. I would go so far as to say I would consider it inappropriate to not thank someone for something they did for you, or gave you. However, there are cases when it is indeed inappropriate to thank a giver. For instance, if someone leaves you an inheritance, and the person is dead. Or if the person is struggling to find a way to repay you for something and they are pleading with you not to thank them. In some cultures, giving thanks directly to a giver is sometimes considered inappropriate. Here’s an excerpt I found in my research.
        In India, people—especially when they are your elders, relatives, or close friends—tend to feel that by thanking them, you’re violating your intimacy with them and creating formality and distance that shouldn’t exist.
        Here’s another:
        One of the most jarring yet subtle aspects of my experience with Mandarin Chinese was the counterintuitive use—or lack of use—of thank you (xiexie), please (qing), and other softeners like “would,” “could,” “I’m sorry,” and “excuse me” that liberally season vernacular American English.
        So as you see, the appropriateness of giving thanks to a person can be based on society, opinion, and status of the giver. However the usage of thankful, as defined in the dictionary, was the purpose of the blog, not any personal opinions of my own on when it is appropriate to give thanks. I think it’s a relevant comment though. Thank you!

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      9. Well said.

        Have I missed something (I suspect I have), but why the need for this to be black and white? Clearly there are a times when a “gift” is not the greatest thing.

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      10. John Zande, I’m talking about the act of giving and recieving gifts at Christmas time ( or a person’s birthday/ anniversary- if people are uncomfortable with Christmas being mentioned). I had already asked a few questions upstream- so if you would like to join in to the discussion, can you answer my questions first? I try to go by a “first asked, first answered”.
        I am also going to work, so I’ll be several hours delayed in a response.

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      11. Firstly, why the need for this to be black and white?

        It isn’t.

        Some years ago I gave my nephew a Papua New Guinean drum. I knew his mother would hate it. Should she be ‘thankful’ for this beast of an instrument entering her house?

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      12. Thank you for your answer Danica, when time permits, I’ll give my thoughts on what you have said. But I am on my way to work now- so it’ll be a while.

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      13. First, I do know several people from India, China, other parts of the world- being grateful to someone is never looked down upon by them. Quite frankly, people I know that are in third-world countries are the most thankful people I know.
        Secondly- I’m getting conflicting views- am I being “black and white” or entering a statement of opinion?
        Thirdly, to John Zande- if you noticed, I had already asked “or is it better to give thanks to the person although you don’t like the gift?” So your subsequent replies are just begging the question that I had already asked. If you’d like to answer it yourself, I’d be thankful for your answer.
        So far, Danica has answered my first question ( which I greatly appreciate). Now, we are on to the second: Is it better, worse, or just as bad, to thank a person for a gift you aren’t thankful for than to not give the person thanks for a gift you are thankful for? And should the person give thanks to a person for a “bad” gift?
        And yes, I am asking your opinion on what you think is right.

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      14. In my opinion, it’s always a good thing to give thanks to someone who has given you something, whether or not you like the gift. As they say, it’s the thought that counts.

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      15. Thank you for your response, Danica. As far as “gift” goes, as in Christmas/birthday/anniversary- gift ( the illustrations I had offered) you and I are in agreement. (I’m not sure an inheritence and diseases are equivalent examples of “gifts”.- there are differences among them.) It is the thought of a person that counts- and for that it is best to give thanks to them.
        I have enjoyed this conversation, but I am off to bed and work tomorrow morning ( life of a college student). I apologize for some of my repetition- but as you said, sometimes it is best to clarify some semantics. I may have some follow- up questions after I ponder our discussion further, if you don’t mind.

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      16. Anytime, Matthew! I enjoyed hearing from you. Hope you get some rest and enjoy the day tomorrow. When you write again, let me know what you’re studying! I wish you well. 🙂

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  9. First, I want to say it’s clearly obvious why JB chose comedy.

    Second, I agree wholeheartedly with everything you’ve written, Danica. Both in your post and the several comments.

    I especially identified with this: No other group of people that I know is ever so hellbent on controlling the thoughts, feelings, choices, beliefs, and joy of other groups of people. Yea, baby!

    Keep it up, girl!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey Nan,

      Thank you specifically (as opposed to a general expression of gratitude to the uncaring universe) for acknowledging my comedic talents.

      I’ve got no interest in controlling the thoughts, feelings, choices or beliefs of anyone. In fact, I’m sold out to the idea letting people speak for themselves. That’s why I ask questions.

      Since you “agree wholeheartedly with everything” Danica has written, we’re all in agreement that gratitude requires an intelligent being to receive it.

      Keep it up, girl!

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      1. Here’s one of the techniques of brainwashing : Humiliation and enforced public confessions, including self-criticism over breaking of trivial rules. Sounds like a day in most Christian and Catholic churches. You must be brainwashed to some degree if you can read a verse like this: How blessed will be the one who grabs your babies and smashes them on a rock! (Psalm 137:9) and think that a loving god spoke it. Oh, don’t get me quoting scripture now. You really don’t want me to quote scripture. Stay brainwashed. It’s way easier.

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      2. I’ll discuss whatever scripture you want to discuss. Truly, I do not fear Bible quotes.

        In the spirit of fair play, however, I would advise against quoting a book that you have described as “fiction” in order to support your worldview. I’d have to be brainwashed to take your arguments seriously.

        I’d recommend spending your time shoring up your own thesis. It’s possible that a strong case can be made for expressing gratitude to impersonal cosmic forces but you haven’t made it yet. That doesn’t mean you cannot go ahead and be grateful to nothing specific. Luckily, you have that right.

        Since you started it…here’s another scripture:

        “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.” (Rom 1:20)

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      3. I wouldn’t quote it as nonfiction. I would quote it as reasons I find it vile and disgusting. Like bashing babies against rocks at so-called-god’s command. Or god claiming to be against people he supposedly created, and using rape language to insult them in a vulgar and reprehensible manner. Behold, I am against you, says the Lord of Hosts, and will lift up your skirts over your face; and I will let nations look on your nakedness and kingdoms on your shame. I will throw filth at you and treat you with contempt, and make you a gazingstock. (Nahum 3:5-6) Please hold me back while I rush off to worship and revere such a loving, honorable “god.” Not.

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  10. Danica. I think this post was very well thought out and written. Too bad jb and antebellum amanda, his daughter by the way, had to trash up your comments with their own brand of …. ‘humor’ and ‘apologetics’. I subbed. Good to meet you. -kia

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    1. Thank you, KIA. I just followed your blog and look forward to reading more. You know, on one hand, I agree with you about the comments. I almost regret having spent a few hours on them this morning. However, they ironically serve to elucidate my own points so well, that I truly can’t be upset about them. I think many readers enjoy a sense of confirmation that they have made the right choice by separating themselves from a group of people that typically refuses to see past its own agenda, and the comments by JB fit well into that category.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree . They are illustrative to lurkers watching how others ‘defend’ the faith. That’s how I started questioning. Seeing the behaviour of other Christians trying answer the unanswerable

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      2. And unbeknownst to them (until now perhaps) I have gained at least as much readership through their attempts to debunk my thinking (both on my own blog and on theirs) as I have via my own efforts. 😉 I’m very happy to have made your acquaintance!

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    2. Hey, mike! (what’s a capital letter among friends, right?)

      You and Danica are kindred spirits. She isn’t a Christian and isn’t an atheist, just like you!

      It’d be awesome to read a post about what the two of you believe (besides that I’m a brainwashed, hateful, bigot, etc.) You know, actual information about your current beliefs now that you have loosed yourselves from shackles of faith. We already know Christians suck. We already know Christianity is evil and wretched and deluded and terrible. We know that you’re super-smart for getting out.

      What we don’t know is, where you went after you left.

      Any chance you guys might spend a moment or two thinking about that?

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      1. Sure. I need less than a second. Your question paints the world as if Christianity were the default, and a person had to “choose” an alternate upon rejecting or leaving it. In fact, belief in the supernatural is considered irrational by many, even delusional by a few. You don’t need to choose another delusion. You simply take the blinders off your eyes and live in the real world.

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      2. I don’t need to know that to reject Christianity. Your assumption is that the unknown must be accounted for by myth. Not true. Many things that were unknown to the Ancient Egyptians were accounted for by imaginary supernatural beings. Now science has proven that thunder doesn’t come from Thor, for example. So not knowing everything yet does not mean that I must, perforce, adhere to some kind of myth to explain it.

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      3. I suppose in the strictest sense I am an atheist. I don’t believe in god figures. However, unlike many people who think their opinions are truths, I am open to admitting that I don’t know everything. That doesn’t mean I have a hole in my soul that I need to fill with imaginary gods. It just means I’m open to the fact that there may be a real god out there, who clearly is not the god that had anything to do with inspiring the bible. The god of the bible is filled with contempt, jealousy, rage, and other petty human qualities that I don’t think a real god would possess. If the bible was written by a supernatural entity, it was someone more like Beelzebub.

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      4. Right. Christianity sucks. It’s awful. I get it. Now that the blinders are off, you are free from all of that nonsense.

        You’re open to the fact that there may be a real god out there who clearly is not the god of the bible. Have you spent any time thinking about what that god is like?

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      5. Tons. Of course, I’m willing to admit that it’s all a potential fabrication of my human mind. I can tell you for sure the traits any god I can imagine being worthy of worship is nothing like the biblical one. And the difference between my pondering a possible god and the Christian belief in god, is that I’m not out trying to pass laws because they please my god, or tell people they can’t get married because my god will get mad, or teach toddlers that my god created them worthless sinners deserving of death.

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      6. “I’m willing to admit that it’s all a potential fabrication of my human mind.”

        Cool.
        Then we can summarily dismiss your god as easily as you dismiss the Christian God. I thought when you referenced the ‘real world’ you were talking about something that was relevant to the rest of humanity.

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      7. By all means, dismiss. Finally we agree. Gods are made up, things we imagine, and ought to be taken as such. Not something we build laws on, persecute people with, and condemn others for something as simple as they way they phrase their thoughts. For now, I’m off to enjoy this beautiful sunny day. Have a good one yourself, John.

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      8. “Not from where you think it does.”
        Right! I know! I know! You’ve told me a million times I’m wrong! I get it.

        Forgive me, “Why does it matter?” isn’t a satisfactory answer from an enlightened, rational, thinker.

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      9. Oh forgive ME! Sorry I didn’t answer the question (as an enlightened rational thinker) to your liking. But it is what it is, John. Take it or leave it … and I know which one you choose … so nothing further to discuss. 🙂

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      10. Do you really get it John? If so, congratulations. I don’t blame you for holding fast to beliefs that are truly irrational. I’ll say it again. It’s a matter of brainwashing. The religion you likely grew up in has caused you to believe in mythical creatures, etc.

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      11. The religion you currently hold causes you to believe gratefulness should be expressed to impersonal forces and laws. Congratulations. I don’t blame you for holding fast to beliefs that are truly irrational either. Just a different brainwashing.

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  11. John, why do you think people have to replace one god with another? I don’t need a new god. I especially don’t need the Judeo-Christian god, who commands genocide, and murders infants.
    Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'” (1 Samuel 15:3) Wow, murder infants and children commands the loving god you serve. Hope you anticipate having a lot of fun with that dude in eternity. I’ll stick to reality. It’s less Scary!!

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      1. Of course, JZ.
        You can be spiritual without spirits.
        You can be grateful to impersonal forces.
        You can be vegetarian and eat meat.
        When you write your own dictionary, words mean whatever you want them to mean.

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  12. I think the belief that non-religious and non-Christians can’t be thankful comes from a misplaced sentiment of divine authority. At the outset, it’s a little ridiculous for people to tell each other they can’t use a word; nobody has copyright to the English language. It gets more ridiculous when people demand others join their thought club in order to have gratitude at their own good fortune.

    That’s really what generic thankfulness comes down to. It’s a recognition that one’s life is better off at the moment. Nobody has to be responsible for that benefit. Otherwise, you’d need to thank the people who sewed your fat pants, the company who paid for its manufacture, the people who delivered it to the store, and the store personnel who made it available for purchase. None of those people except the sales clerk probably knew you’d be the ultimate purchaser.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sirius,

      At no point in this conversation did I say non-religious people can’t be thankful.
      At no point did I “demand others join my thought club”.

      I merely stated that “generic thankfulness” is pointless. It is akin to thanking cotton plants for fat pants. Those plants truly are oblivious to the ultimate purchaser. On the other hand, if you sent a thank you note to the manufacturer, they would probably appreciate it.

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  13. In this day and age of fake outrage and taking offense at every word, you may have to be specific in your words. Is grateful a Christian word too? I hope not because I am as grateful and I am thankful, depending on what word I decide to use.

    Liked by 1 person

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