Thanksgiving is another holiday (see my previous post about Halloween) that I see has lost a lot of its meaning in American society. I remember being taught that Thanksgiving was a time to stop and thank God for everything that he has bestowed upon us (be it material goods, health, understanding or anything- even suffering).
It seems quite difficult to do such a thing when America has abandoned belief in a personal God who affects our lives or has abandoned belief in God completely. I would hope that I would be able to see people at least showing gratitude to each other for something, but I don’t even see that anymore. Instead, I see people calling it “Turkey Day”, almost in an effort to remove the idea of being thankful to anyone for anything- which is a direct logical conclusion of America’s narcissistic materialism (“its all about me”).
I think that Americans have been trained to be unsatisfied with what they have and to always want more. This desire for more is so strong that it minimizes the recognition that the person has many reasons to be thankful to God and other people. Instead, their focus is on what they don’t have, thus they don’t see a reason to be thankful.
On another thought (please read the posts from the last two weeks before you continue- “Is Evolution Repeatable?” and “Thoughts on Evolution and Genetics“), I think that the desire to “thank” someone, for something they have sacrificed, provides powerful evidence against naturalism. The ability for “thanking someone” to improve survival of a person or society relies on a “chicken and egg” system to be in place before it works. “Thanking” requires two people: one to do the thanking and the other to recognize it. The person doing the thanking needs to have evolved the desire to thank someone, while the person who is being thanked has to have evolved the ability to understand the gratitude as something good (vs. bad or neutral). Since Darwinian evolution does not have a way to produce this “chicken and egg” system it cannot explain its existence.
What’s more is that the behavior most likely being practiced at the time (right before thankfulness supposedly evolved), would be that when a person did something to the advantage of another, that other would likely do something to prevent the survival of the first, thus increasing the survival of him and his offspring (evolutionary psychology- I’ll get into this in the next few weeks). The one who sacrifices to further the survival of others is expending energy and resources that could be used to further his own survival, thus dramatically reducing his chances. Especially since random mutation would only allow this new behavior to evolve in one person (or a minute number of people), he would be greatly outnumbered by those who don’t have the mutation also. One could argue that the others may have mutated genes that provided the emotion of sympathy- but that, again, would only be a single person (or minute number of people). It could also be argued that maybe both sets of people evolved these abilities (respectively, altruism and sympathy) earlier and passed it on to many offspring and the offspring recognized that it would be to their disadvantage to exhibit those traits- which would require the prior evolution of a mind that could make such a determination. But this whole idea is starting to sound orchestrated (not random)- which would require an orchestrator.
Complementary behaviors in humans provide quite the powerful evidence for planned design. Does this provide evidence for a God? Unless you want to say that this orchestration came from super-intelligent aliens, I would say so. Of course, you can always deny that any orchestration happened at all, and continue to believe that random processes produced something that looks like an elegant system.
Anytime that we look at something, even as simple as a paper clip, we can recognize that it was designed. How? We recognize that the probability of nature producing the paper clip we are looking at is extremely remote. Examine one with me. First you have the metal that provides a specific malleability (resistance to bending). Second, you have the specific shape- three specific curves and four straight sides that are positioned in such a way. Third, think of the precision of the movements and the precision of the strength required to obtain the specific shape. (If you can’t, unbend a paper clip until it is as straight as you can get it, then try to get it back to its same precise shape it was before you straighten it- compare it to a second one from the box if you think you were successful.) The only way that a person, who had never seen a paper clip before, could ascribe random processes to its design, is a complete ignorance of the natural laws and basic engineering. We would say that they are not learned in the ways of science and cast that conclusion away as not accurately reflecting reality.
Question: Why would we do such a thing, then turn right around a claim that an exponentially more complex design was the result of random processes?
Answer: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for the images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles…They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator- who is forever praise, Amen.” –Romans 1: 21-24 NIV