Thanking who?

Here in the States, Thanksgiving time is upon us. The implications for this blog is that I’ll be gone from tomorrow until Monday, as I’ll be spending Thanksgiving in various planes for family business. So, after today, no new posts until Monday.

Traditionally, of course, Thanksgiving is that day when we Americans are supposed to honor that old tradition celebrated first by the Puritan settlers of feasting and giving thanks to a god for all of our blessings. So, aside from turkey, football, and 2 days off, what does this mean to those of us who are godless? Whatever you want, of course. Celebrate it whatever way you want or not. But I actually do think that, in case we’ve forgotten, it can be beneficial to step back, appreciate what we have and be thankful.

So, thankful for what and to whom? Humanity has come a long way. Only relatively recently have women achieved the social equality with men that should have been theirs all along (still work to be done, of course). In spite of the expressions of racism displayed by a few in the last election, significant progress has been made here as well. Scientific and technological advances have increased our average lifespans, allowed us to live lives in greater comfort than our ancestors had known, and revealed to us wonders of the cosmos that our stone age ancestors could not even have dreamed of. In fact, one of the benefits of the age in which we live is that we can dream larger than ever before. One of the benefits of modern science to the modern mindset is to be comfortable with uncertainty. We know there are things we do not know and that’s fine. We know we have the tools to progress.

To whom would I say I am grateful for this progress that has allowed me to live in some measure of relative comfort and to have opportunities to seek out intellectual stimulation? I guess I could be thankful to the universe for existing in such a way that it can, in some sense, be comprehended. Of course, the universe is indifferent, not caring whether or not I appreciate its grandeur. I am certainly thankful for those who came before, who, whatever their motivations, worked to advance medicine, improve our understanding of nature, improve the social fabric of humanity, to, in general, advance the Enlightenment. Most of the people who have been involved in that process are no longer with us, Isaac Newton, Max Planck, Louis Pasteur, Thomas Jefferson, Susan B. Anthony, and so many more. As they are gone, they also can not care about any appreciation I have. It may seem kind of pointless to be thankful, unless one examines the operational properties of thankfulness. In physics, one of the foundational questions is how things such as length or time are defined (This has important implications for the special theory of relativity..perhaps for future posts…). One school of thought hold that they are defined by how they are measured.

So, how is thankfulness measured, or shown? Perhaps one way is to continue the work.

Oh yes..for Dr. Who fans out there, I guess the title of this post implies I am thanking the Doctor.


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4 Responses to “Thanking who?”

  1. hruz Says:

    I am very happy to be able to enjoy life free of ANY religion and other mind polluting propaganda, like nationalism and commercialism … it takes a bit of mental work to go past the social, religious and national myths.

    Greater social equality creates more justice. It takes some education to understanding the fact that morality is not at all derived from religious but social ideas and that Atheism is as good a starting point for the advancement of the human mind. It may also help to remind our US friends south of the border, that the Thanksgiving weekend comes a lot earlier up here in Canada. Because of the shorter growing season our harvests come earlier … bit the main point is to try and see the whole world from an international perspective as a family of nations and stop thinking in terms of ones national identity.

    It is highly questionable to find it moral to give thanks to a non-existing god or just plain old mother nature for having enough to eat while the country wages wares on other people!

    I keep asking the question how much longer will the US use an outdated system from the middle ages while the whole world went metric long time ago? How much longer do you want to keep the US look retarded in the eyes of the world? 🙂

    Do people in the US give thanks for living in a backward society where humanity and culture is not very much talked about in international terms … but where a capitalist system has just about closed the door on any real socio-political development in favour of ordinary working people?

  2. liquidthinker Says:

    Hi Hruz,

    Glad to hear from somebody north of the border, and thanks for the reminder about an earlier Thanksgiving there. Lots of points you bring up.

    Of course, with my little post, I certainly don’t mean to imply that there still is not work to do. Our thinking here is backwards among many of my countrymen, as evidenced by the heightened religiosity. But my main point was that, relative to all of human existence, progress has been made. I completely agree with your ideas on morality. Religion is not necessary to have or maintain a moral system. In fact, the unbending dogma it nurtures often gets in the way.

    You also make a valid point concerning the fact that Americans do need to think on a more international scale. Mrs. Liquidthinker is always complaining about the lack of international news here as she is only recently naturalized and used to far broader content (fortunately the internet fills some of that gap).

    I have also been arguing that we should switch to metric for years now. I used metric when I was doing research and highly prefer it over the outdated system we’ve been stuck with here. When I lived in Europe a short time, it was quite nice to not have to bother with yards, miles, and pounds. One of the factors of course is the cost of switching factory tools, parts, etc. Of course, we’ve been talking about this 30 years now. Perhaps if our auto industries die, we could finally start to make some inroads.

  3. watercat Says:

    hruz is totally right, but looking forward. Thanksgiving is mostly about looking back.

  4. hruz Says:

    Thanks so much for your kind comments! Things are starting to change with a much more refreshing voice coming from the White House!

    Do check out the new links I have posted to my blog here:

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