November 23, 2023 | David F. Coppedge

No, Thanksgiving Did Not Evolve

Atheists mangle the meaning of
gratitude by making it selfish


It’s Thanksgiving Day in America, and once again, the secular (aka non-theistic, atheistic) experts in the media have turned gratitude inside out.

George Washington understood that thanksgiving has an object: a direction toward a Person. His 1789 proclamation stated that gratitude should be directed toward “that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country….”

The Grand Scheme of … What?

Secular thanksgiving, by contrast, is all about SELF. The non-theistic version is how thankful “behavior” makes YOU feel. For instance, Luke Henkhaus at Texas A&M wrote on November 21 that “Giving Thanks Can Be Good For Your Well-Being.” It’s all about YOU. Thinking nice thoughts about comforts and pleasures, like friends and food, warms YOUR heart. It gives YOU:

  • A greater sense of meaning in YOUR life.
  • Release from anxiety for YOU.
  • A focus on things that give YOU comfort and happiness.
  • A soothing sense of nostalgia for YOU.
  • Warm fuzzies while “savoring each moment spent with friends, family members and others.”
  • Thoughts that YOUR “actions actually matter in the grand scheme of things.

These, according to Henkhaus, are what give you a sense of “meaning” in the undefined meaninglessness he calls “the grand scheme of things.” This “scheme” (unlike most “schemes”) was not intelligently designed. It just is: the swirling concourse of atoms that resulted in the emergence of YOU for no reason.

Evolution of Thanksgiving?

Maddie Burakoff at the Associated Press completely mangles Thanksgiving with her title (listed as a “Science” article, no less), “Giving thanks isn’t just a holiday tradition. It’s part of how humans evolved.

She passes the blame for that nonsense to “Jenae Nelson, who researches gratitude at Baylor and Harvard universities” and on Malini Suchak, “an animal behavior researcher at Canisius University.” Her Darwinian definition of gratitude is all about self: payback to help YOU get along with your fellow apes.

Some scientists think the feeling of gratitude evolved to keep the helping exchanges going. In other words, if you were helped, you’d feel like you should repay the debt with a good deed in return, said Jenae Nelson, who researches gratitude at Baylor and Harvard universities.

“This give and take — this is very, very primal and very important to a cooperative society,” Nelson said. “Otherwise, you just get a culture of takers.”

In animals and in humans, these aren’t always one-to-one transactions. Sometimes, an ape that gets groomed by another will later back that partner up in a fight, Suchak said, showing that reciprocity might not be about keeping exact scores, but forming broader emotional ties.

Though we can’t “speak chimp” well enough to know if they’re actually saying thanks, Suchak added, it makes sense that some form of this social debt showed up early in our lineage.

She doesn’t get it. Nothing makes sense in evolution. The notion of “evolutionary sense” is sophoxymoronic.

That’s enough. We don’t want to spoil your appetite for Thanksgiving Day. Do you see why the wrath of God is coming on those who have seen the evidence for his works all around them all their lives, but “did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking”? (Romans 1:18-23).

The behavior of expressing thanks can stimulate hormones that make you feel good, but nice feelings, release from anxiety and a sense of meaning are only undeserved and unexpected benefits of true thanksgiving. We give thanks to God because he deserves it. We wouldn’t be here without him. Beyond the self-evident proof of his existence, he is good; he is gracious, merciful, and forgiving. None of these blessings are deserved by sinners. They are not wages for our good deeds, or selfish behaviors in expectation of payback. “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We love, because He first loved us – enough to die on a cruel cross so that we might be saved.

Let us turn to the Scriptures to refresh our souls with correct thoughts about Thanksgiving. Psalm 100 reads,

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Now that’s the spirit! Start your day with that, and you will be blessed indeed. And to those readers who support us financially and with encouraging words, we wish you a very special…

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