Thanksgiving, Evolution, and Design

by Luke Nix

Thanksgiving In America
Thanksgiving is a holiday 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.

But moving beyond my cultural annoyances with the holiday, I find that the whole idea of “giving thanks” may be difficult (if not impossible) for naturalistic theories of human behavior to explain. If impossible, then it provides a powerful challenge to naturalism. However, whether difficult or impossible for naturalism, it provides evidence for an intelligent designer.

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Requirements of Thankfulness
“Thanking” requires two people: one to do the thanking and the other to recognize it. The person doing the thanking needs to have the desire to thank someone, while the person who is being thanked has to have the ability to recognize that the gratitude is present and that it is a good thing (instead of a threatening or neutral thing).

The First Problem for Naturalism
The first challenge comes from the evolution of the abilities. Most naturalists hold that natural selection (the guide behind the evolutionary process) responds only to the present environment. There is no forethought and no specific goal other than simply survival. In order for “thankfulness” as a behavior or posture of the emotions to survive natural selection’s lack of forethought, both the person offering the thanks and the one receiving the thanks must have developed (evolved) those complementary abilities simultaneously. 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…

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