Sunday, March 27, 2011


Grateful, I hear that word a lot from the religious. Grateful for the food on the table, grateful for family in their life, grateful that god has provided for them.

It is a word my wife uses often. She's grateful for every damn thing I do, drives me to drink; which apparently she likes also, so once again grateful. I do the cooking, she is grateful. I do what people do to keep busy, I work, I play, I socialize and once in a while I might even think. She is grateful for all. I think her catholic background encourages the use of the word.

I know that you're thinking, what the hell is wrong with him? Grateful is easily understood to be just a word of thanks, of appreciation; something pleasant or maybe even satisfying.

But it is not. It is a religious word. The connotations surrounding the word make it useless to an atheist. I know that you could be grateful that you have friends that surround you, grateful that your boss gave you a raise, grateful for many things that are not associated directly to religion; just seems that thankful would be a better word.

I would maintain that the only sensible use of the word would be in reference to parents or guardians. You may have a debt there, but that will be paid off naturally as life progresses; at least for most of us. 

I am not grateful, since for the religious that would be defined as more than thankful; it is an obligation. It is a debt that must be paid.

There is no supernatural being providing for us, but a theist will easily toss a bit of cash in that basket feeling he's paying some of his debt. He will attend church, repaying that debt, he will spread the word of god, repaying that debt. Useless word for an atheist.

Is the first thought that circulates through your mind when participating in an act of kindness the payback? If you give a homeless guy a couple of bucks, do you expect him to show up the next day and shovel your driveway or mow the lawn? No, only god would corrupt the act of giving.

No, the payback is the feeling that charity gives you.  The payback at work is the feeling of a job well done or a paycheck. 

I'm not sure that theists understand that their gratefulness is just a twist of words to make their slavery somehow noble.

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