Hypocritical gratitude?

It seems that some of the delusional god-bothers in the US are upset because there President omitted their god in the list of people he expressed gratitude to in his thanksgiving day speech. As PZ Myers put it – you would think that Obama was joining the New Atheists!

The Christian Post had a wee moan about the issue. It mentions Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro who said of Obama: “Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?”

What a pack of whiners!

I have always thought it rude not to express one’s gratitude to those who deserve it. And there are plenty (see Thanks, Thanking those who deserve thanks and Appropriate thanks). What’s with this rude habit of thanking a mythical being for one’s meal and ignoring the cook, serving staff, farmers, etc. Hell, I would even be thanking the agricultural scientists for their contribution to my meal.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Yet astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson relates what could be a common experience. At a thanksgiving meal he attended everyone went around  the table expressing their thanks. Until he spoke they were all thanking their god.

He expressed his gratitude to agriculture – far more sensible and genuine. But he got booed!

How rude.

Sam Singleton presented quite a relevant atheist sermon on gratitude and religious hypocrisy at the recent US Skepticon conference. Have a look at the video below.

Atheist Revival, Sam Singleton Skepticon 4

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47 responses to “Hypocritical gratitude?

  1. You will have to forgive us, but we have a problem here in the U.S. We have a calendar filled with holidays ostensibly meant to celebrate or commemorate various things, but have long since become essentially meaningless. “Memorial Day” went from being a time to remember fallen war veterans to celebrating the unofficial beginning of summer. Independence Day is all about fireworks, and Thanksgiving is mostly about food and American football. Christmas is the most problematical of all, No holiday receives more attention, but most of it has little to do with its original occasion.
    But isn’t that the problem with a modern, secular, materialistic society? Everything eventually loses meaning in a blind, purposeless universe, and our pathetic attempts to celebrate “holidays” are simply reminders of how empty our lives have really become. What is there to celebrate?

    Bob Wheeler, Lawrenceville, PA, USA

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  2. Christmas is the most problematical of all, No holiday receives more attention, but most of it has little to do with its original occasion.
    But isn’t that the problem with a modern, secular, materialistic society?

    Very true.
    Kids today have no idea about the Roman winter solstice or Mithra. Until they invite the bull wrestler into their hearts, their lives will continue to remain empty.

    Christianity and Mithras

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  3. Birmingham City Council renamed Christmas as “Winterval”.
    Unfortunately, this is offensive to those living in the southern hemisphere.
    Also. “Person Winterval” doesn’t have the same ring as Father Christmas.

    Furthermore, have a “Happy Winterval” might be offensive or disturbing to those of a depressive nature.
    “Happy holidays” doesn’t cut it either as “holiday” is derived from “Holy Day”.

    Rather than Happy Christmas or Happy Holidays, I would suggest an appropriate greeting would be

    “Have an emotionally neutral non-season specific differently interesting period of time”. (c/o EU Directive EEY/444/B (subsection 3, paragraph H)

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  4. What’s the problem, Bob? The blind, purposeless universe” has resulted in beings like us. Our material brains allow us to have all sorts of ideas, feelings and emotions.

    I find Christmas a lovely time for getting together with family, etc. And I don’t think we have to wait for thanksgiving to thank those people who do things for us, do we?

    What’s your problem?

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  5. The problem is this: while our material brains allow us to have all sorts of ideas, feelings and emotions, when it comes to Christmas, Thanksgiving, or any one of a number of other holidays, those feelings and emotions are essentially irrational — they are not tied to any objective reality outside of us. In Christian thought Christmas celebrates the triumphant turning point in human history, the time when the Savior came into the world. Today it is significant mainly for what it can do to stimulate the economy. But if we spend all that time and money celebrating a non-event, isn’t that a tragic commentary on how empty our lives have really become? We long for meaning, purpose and significance, but cannot convince ourselves rationally that there is any. Shouldn’t we rather be getting therapy instead of spending all that money — but then what would that do to the economy?

    Bob Wheeler

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  6. …while our material brains…

    There are no other kinds of brains apart from the material. Magic brains don’t exist.

    In Christian thought…

    There’s your problem right there.
    Talk to a Jew about Christmas. They will set you straight.

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  7. Bob, of course feelings and emotions are not rational. Why should they be? We are not a rational species – we do things and make decisions based on our feelings and emotions.

    Now it seems to me wonderful that our feelings about family and loved ones lead us to celebrate the solstice or Christmas. That is a beautiful reason for doing so.

    Very few people tie those celebrations to ancient myths, religious or pagan. But so what? Why should they.

    This gets back to my post. It is rude and dishonest to treat gratitude as related to myth or religion. We should express our thoughts and thanks to the real people who deserve them – not to mythical creatures who don’t.

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  8. So why do you refer it it as “Christmas” then Ken? Why not “Winterval”?

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  9. Ken,
    I guess I don’t quite follow your argument about the alleged hypocrisy of thanking God on Thanksgiving Day. After all, that does not preclude the possibility of also expressing gratitude to the individual human beings who have also showed us kindness. I did, in fact, give a thank you note to the gracious hostess who invited my family over for dinner that day! But the American holiday traces its roots back to the Pilgrims after they had survived their fist year in the New World, and they, of course, were devout Christians. They recognized that for all their labors in the fields, the farmers have no control over the weather, and hence their sense of gratitude toward God. I don’t see why it is dishonest and rude to thank God for something if you sincerely believe in Divine Providence.
    Bob Wheeler

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  10. Bob – yes you do understand.

    You actually thanked your host – and it would have been rude not to. Believing in your god, Thor, Allah, etc., does not excuse such rudeness.

    Surely Obama was human to express gratitude where it was due – yet what does he get? - “Militant atheist. To whom does he think we are giving thanks?”

    And Tyson gets booed for expressing thanks to agriculture for food!!.

    That is extremely rude.

    You are quite welcome to satisfy your own religious requirements. But please respect other people – don’t impose your requirements on them.

    And give thanks where it is due.

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  11. I should mention that as far as President Obama is concerned there is a delicate constitutional issue here. The First Amendment forbids Congress from making a law “respecting an establishment of religion.” As a result we do not have a state church here in the U.S. as there is in Britain. It was President Lincoln, during the Civil War, who was induced to proclaim a National Thanksgiving Day. There are problems with it from several angles. On the constitutional side what authority does the President have to proclaim what is essentially a religious observance? it certainly looks like an “establishment of religion.” presumably On the religious side, one of the things for which Lincoln wished to express thanks were Union (i.e. Northern) victories in the war, most notably at Vicksburg and Gettysburg. But should we be thanking God for wholesale slaughter on the battlefield? Thus President Obama found himself in a difficult position. He was expected to issue the usual proclamation, but by not referring to God he seemed to be undermining the original intent of the holiday and appeasing his political base, which tends to be liberal and secular. Understandably a howl of protest went up from the right. On strictly constitutional grounds he probably should not have issued the proclamation at all. I think it is appropriate for a president to request prayer, but not to mandate it, or to set aside a special occasion on which to do it. On a different level President Obama got caught up in a debate about our national identity: Are we in some sense a Christian nation or are we not?

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  12. Bob – your little history lesson is irrelevant – possibly a diversion.

    I 2was commenting on the rudeness of those who refuser to thank those for who thanks are due – and worse, who criticise those who do express their gratitude because they do not mention their invisible friend.

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  13. Richard Christie

    I find all the “god bless America” rhetoric from US politicians creepy.
    This exposes a cultural divide, we wouldn’t dream of requiring our politicians here in NZ to routinely express such a statement. If, or very occasionally when, they do it’s such a rare thing that it attracts attention.

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  14. It never happens in Australia.
    It would make voters shift uncomfortably in their seats. Religious beliefs for public figures are a quiet, private matter as opposed to being a tin-plated identity badge that you can flash to manipulate votes.
    Foaming at the mouth, handling snakes and rolling around on the floor of Parliament House will get you nothing but nervous speculation about your mental health.

    Speaking in tongues (from Religulous)

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  15. Richard Christie

    being a tin-plated identity badge that you can flash to manipulate votes.

    Sarah Palin speaks in tongues

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  16. I was simply trying to put the reaction to Obama’s action in context.
    A question for those of you down under — do the coins of New Zealand and Australia still bear the inscription “Dei gratia regina” (by the grace of God, queen – – it may be abbreviated, D.G. Regina)? If so, what does it mean? And if it is not true, then to what does the queen owe her authority? Here in the U.S. we revolted against the crown, and justified our action by appealing to “the laws of nature and nature’s God.” Is either side right?

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  17. …do the coins of New Zealand and Australia still bear the inscription “Dei gratia regina” (by the grace of God, queen – – it may be abbreviated, D.G. Regina)?

    There is this wonderful tool unique to the internet.
    It is called…google.

    And if it is not true, then to what does the queen owe her authority?

    Her Majesty has no authority except that which her subjects freely give her.
    Constitutional Monarchy and all that.
    She is a symbol. Her legal powers are great but they are ceremonial. They are never used.
    (Well…almost never.)

    Here in the U.S. we revolted against the crown…

    Yes and…no. The American colonies revolted against a tyranny.
    Yet the king was not responsible for that tyranny.
    The government of Great Britain was the culprit.
    Even back then, the king was only a symbol.
    The king was ‘the crown”. The symbol of the nation.

    The revolution that helped start a process of reform and parliamentary control started much earlier than 1776. The American revolution was but one later chapter of that process.

    Is either side right?

    No. People invoke deities all the time for all sorts of reasons. The Ancient Greeks did it.
    (We will not fight at Marathon because the signs are not auspicious.)
    Football players do it.
    (Thank you Jesus for giving me strength to score a touchdown against our rivals Jerkwater State.)

    Yet there is no evidence that magic, invisible sky daddies exist.

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  18. Richard Christie

    do the coins of New Zealand and Australia still bear the inscription “Dei gratia regina” (by the grace of God, queen – – it may be abbreviated, D.G. Regina)? If so, what does it mean?

    My guess Monarchs only started pulling the divine right confidence trick after the populace woke up and stopping buying the declaring themselves to be living gods trick.

    The answer to the question is no, we woke up to that one too, a long while ago.

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  19. Bob, you are clearly attempting a diversion. The context of Obama’s and Tyson’s expressions of gratitude was the rude response of Christians.

    Rude to Tyson and Obama and rude because they ignore the work of many, many humans and instead thank their, and only their, invisible friend.

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  20. The context for a holiday that is almost 400 years old is much broader than yesterday’s newspaper.
    As for the Queen, the question is this: if it is true that we live in a godless universe, then what is the basis for civil government – the law of the jungle? If, on the other hand, there really is such a thing as divine providence, then what is wrong with American politicians (and the Queen!) acknowledging the fact?

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  21. Richard Christie

    what is the basis for civil government – the law of the jungle?

    Yes, it particularly relies on Section, C sub-clause ii)b of this law.

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  22. Ah, these invisible friends. Not only can they be used to “justify”, give authority to, kings, tyrants, dictators, etc. they can also be used to justify genocide, ethnic cleansing and infanticide (as Craig does).

    I suppose their use to justify rudeness, as in not thanking those who you should express gratitude to, or condemning those who do give honest and appropriate thanks, becomes second nature to believers.

    Hypocrisy!

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  23. …if it is true that we live in a godless universe, then what is the basis for civil government – the law of the jungle?

    Certainly.
    How else can people justify eating crispy, fried baby?
    (…nom, nom, nom…)

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  24. But the sovereignty of God also limits the power of the civil authorities. Consider the Queen’s coronation oath. In addition to promising to respect the laws and customs of the various peoples of the British Commonwealth, she also promised, to her power, to “cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all [her] judgments.” She completed the oath by placing her right hand on a Bible and saying “So help me God.” Herein lies the whole difference between a Christian monarch such as Queen Elizabeth and an atheist tyrant such as Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse-Tung. You have much for which to be thankful , my friends, who live in the British Commonwealth!

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  25. You have much for which to be thankful , my friends, who live in the British Commonwealth!

    Certainly, but it has nothing to do with magic, invisible sky daddies.
    (shrug)

    …………………………………….

    But the sovereignty of Ra and Orisis also limits the power of the civil authorities. Consider Great Pharaoh’s coronation oath.
    In addition to promising to respect the laws and customs of the various peoples of the Egyptian Empire, he also promised, to his power, to “cause Law and Justice, in Mercy, to be executed in all [his] judgments.” He completed the oath by placing his right hand on a jade scarab blessed by the priests of the Temple of Set and saying “So help me Bast.” Herein lies the whole difference between a religious monarch such as Great Pharaoh and a barbarian tyrant such as Piyusti or Piye. You have much for which to be thankful , my friends, who live along the blessed shores of the Great Nile.

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  26. Yes, Bob. “Gott mit uns!” There’s a whole host of tyrants who relied on the authority of your invisible friend.

    And then there’s all those pedophiles.

    No wonder no one accepts your friends authority anymore.

    Meanwhile you still use her to justify rudeness to others and refusal to thanks those who deserve our gratitude.

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  27. No wonder no one accepts your friends authority anymore.
    A large number of the pacific islanders in NZ go to church and believe in God

    Your racist comments are offensive Ken

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  28. The fact of the matter is that polls show large majorities of people throughout the world believe in God, and that atheists only make up a very small minority. So what we have here is a claim on the part of the minority that the majority doesn’t exist! Who’s being delusional now?

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  29. No. 19: ARGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
    (1) Billions of people believe in God.
    (2) They can’t all be wrong, can they?
    (3) Therefore, God exists

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  30. ARGUMENT FROM NUMBERS
    (1) Billions (well, a few thousand) of scientists believe in Global Warming.
    (2) They can’t all be wrong, can they?
    (3) Therefore, Global Warming. exists

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  31. Bob, polls show all sorts of things about beliefs. One clear conclusion is that beliefs are not by any means a way of determining reality.

    But one thing about your belief in an invisible friend is that it enables you to excuse rudeness and inability to express gratitude where it is due.

    It also enables some people, like your mate Craig, to “justify” genocide, ethnic cleansing and infanticide.

    It needn’t be like this. Whatever one’s religious beliefs it is still possible to express gratitude properly and to have humane ideas. Just get into the habit of leaving your invisible friend out of these important matters.

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  32. And what about your “invisible friend”, ManBearPig?

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  33. Which, I might add, you are using to justify deaths. As in a previous thread, where I mentioned the fuel poverty that will result as a consequence of green energy policy.
    You and your little Eco-fachist chums just ignored that
    You are quite happy to let people die to appease your Gaia god.

    That’s what gets me about you and “your lot” Ken. So breathtakingly hypocritical and smug. So utterly wrapped up in your own little universe that you are prepared to see people die because it justifies The Cause

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  34. Wow. I don’t check in for a few days and look what I almost missed!

    Who knew that if you think it’s okay to leave out thanking god and thank real people for their real efforts instead, it turns out to be a step towards the preparation for watching people die for The Cause.

    I honestly had no idea. Okay, then: thank god for Mick 2.0. Now, where can I buy tickets for the good seats (I’m a sucker for supporting a good cause)?

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  35. Richard Christie

    @tildeb, I think you might have the wrong end of the stick, The Cause is Mick-speak for The Conspiracy, which has the sole objective of making Mick pay more taxes.
    Mick doesn’t want to say it out loud because he knows the men in the black helicopters are listening.

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  36. Great! Just hang on outside an old folks house in the UK, and watch them wheel the bodies out when they can’t afford to pay for their power bills.

    Bring your popcorn; I know how much you guys love watching people suffer.

    Have a good giggle while you’re at it.

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  37. “The Cause” is actually a reference to a phrase in the Climategate 2 emails.
    Of course, you guys haven’t read them. You just make pronouncements that they are a hoax.

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  38. Mann: They will (see below) allow us to provide some discussion of the synthetic example, referring to the J. Cimate paper (which should be finally accepted upon submission of the revised final draft), so that should help the cause a bit.

    Mann: I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she think’s she’s doing, but its not helping the cause

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  39. Maybe if you lived in Canada’s far north where permafrost loss is going to cost an additional 450 million dollars to basic infrastructure maintenance this year alone, you’d stop pretending that AGW isn’t real, that the amplitude and frequency of climate variations aren’t increasing at unprecedented rates globally. Reality tells us this is happening and I happen to respect reality far more than I do those who would deny its power to reveal what’s true in fact. Offering substituted conspiratorial wishful thinking in its place is just so sad and on so many levels.

    What such wishful thinking does, however, is reveal just how potent are faith-based beliefs, so much so that not agreeing to pretend they’re true causes so much irrational anger.

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  40. Only Jesse Venture can stop them!!!

    Global Warming 1 of 7 Conspiracy Theory Jesse Ventura

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  41. My comment is based on an actual UK government report that shows that fuel poverty, hence deaths, will increase and are directly attributable to green energy policies.

    So “pretending that AGW isn’t real” has got nothing to do with it. Whether it is real or not won’t affect those who are forced into poverty. The “green” energy policies won’t actually save any CO2 anyway.

    Not that this matters one jot to you eco-zealots. My contempt for you vermin is total. I have more respect for paedophiles and rapists.

    You truly are the scum of the earth

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  42. Richard Christie

    Mick ,is this you talking to Chris Monckton (played by King Arnold) at left of the frame at 0.30?

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  43. Mick, I have had to close off a previous discussion because you had resorted to vile abuse. Now you are referring to people as “vermin” and expressing support for rapists and pedophiles. 

    That is really not acceptable. It drives away honest commenters – not just because of the abuse, but because it presents an extremely low standard. Why should they bother?

    I don’t want that to happen so will take the appropriate steps to prevent any further abuse of this sort.

    You might see that as restricting your “freedom.” I see it as preventing the destruction of an atmosphere conducive to good discussion. That is more important to me.

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  44. I don’t give a shit what you think or do Ken.
    All I hope is that you die a slow and painful death, very soon.

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  45. I leave you all with the words of a very wise philosopher who once said “The mind doesn’t work if it’s closed.” Good day, gentlemen!

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  46. I leave you…

    Don’t let the door smack your delusional loser butt on the way out.
    (shrug)

    Like

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