Our family went recently to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug at the movie theater. While watching the previews, we saw an advertisement for St. Jude Children's Hospital. It is for their Thanks and Giving fund-raising campaign.
They have an all-star cast doing the advertisements - Jennifer Anniston, Robin Williams, Michael Strahan, and others. One statement made by Robin Williams caught my ear. "If you have healthy children, give thanks" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60NEqP_8iP0). The ad is also seen on TV.
Thanksgiving. The word means "giving thanks." Look at that word - giving. It takes an indirect object. Giving to whom? How can you give anything unless you are giving to someone? The very idea of giving thanks requires a person to receive the thanks.
So, when you are talking about children or good health or life in general and you give thanks, there has to be someone who is worthy to receive the thanks. Someone who is appropriate to receive the thanks.
Can I really give my wife thanks for my children? She clearly had a lot to do with it but she did not create the child. She did not give neither me nor herself the child. Someone bigger and more powerful than the two of us gave us the child.
My point is that the very idea of thanksgiving requires the existence of God. To give thanks "to the stars" is nonsensical. To give thanks to the wind is just as ludicrous.
I do not know to whom atheists offer thanksgiving but when they do, they implicitly affirm the existence of God, to whom all thanksgiving ultimately belongs.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
The next time you hear an atheist express thanksgiving, ask him/her thanksgiving to whom? Let us be thankful to God for big gifts and small.