Daniel Dennett makes a very small unconvincing case for thanking “goodness” instead of a deity this holiday season. It seems like such a meager offering for one of my favorite holidays. Among my family, friends, and co-workers I have found that the only ones who believe in humanity’s basic goodness are theorists who live in the ivory (and jaded) towers of academia and the wealthy elite, both of whom are well insulated from society. I invite them to come down sometimes and join the masses if they think we should be thanking humanity this Thanksgiving. Live among those who scrounge for food and water, co-existing with rape, abuse, and murder. Come live with those who have HIV/AIDS or other diseases running unchecked by an uncaring government. I have no faith that humans will do anything to solve these ills. They haven’t in several thousand years, why believe it now? I have faith, however, in the higher power that inspires them.
Goodness (and Love) is God personified for most of us ( 1 John 4:8) and if we want to worship this personification, one that gives us a hope and a future, that gets us through rough times and spurs some of us to charitable actions, then that’s our prerogative. Humanity does not give me hope. Humanity does not give me faith. Humanity does not give me a future. I witness the increasing wars, racial and ethnic violence, and fundamentalist religious trends in societies around the globe and I don’t see the “goodness” of humanity. I see striving for prominence, greed, and selfishness. When I see goodness I see only the goodness of the guilt-ridden wealthy towards each other. I see the goodness of academic elites fighting the war of words to make themselves feel superior to the rest of us. I see the increasing divide between the wealthy and their “good” world and the poor and their hand-to-mouth, dog-eat-dog existence and I am unconvinced by Dennett’s and Harris’ atheistic humanism. Because, to be quite honest, the one thing that keeps me continually believing in God is looking at sinful humanity.
May you realize Who is our source and our strength this Thanksgiving.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him (ESV).