Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank Goodness

When someone sneezes, I say "bless you". It's one of the many common English phrases that I use that have a religious origin (e.g. "heaven forbid", "you're a saint", "a good soul", and many others). I'm an atheist, so lord knows I don't mean it literally. More thoughtful atheists substitute these phrases with non-religious equivalents like "Gesundheit". One example of this is using the term "Thank Goodness" instead of "Thank God".

A couple of years ago, I read an excellent essay in the Skeptical Enquirer called "Thank Goodness" by Daniel C. Dennett. In it, Dennett makes a case for why it's more sensible to thank goodness (because "there really are lots of ways of repaying your debt to goodness—by setting out to create more of it" ) than to thank God ("what could an omniscient, omnipotent Being (the Man Who has Everything?) do with any paltry repayments from you?")

Last year, I shared the essay with my atheist friends at the Corvallis Sunday Group. Since rereading it has become my new Thanksgiving tradition, I wanted to share this link to the essay.

2 comments:

systemsgo said...

Thank goodness!!! I see Goodness as God so there is no conflict of thought. Bless you my son in whom I am well pleased. Love, Mom

Karen said...

Tools, Andrew. He needs tools. Amazon lists what he wants.