Thank God for Atheists

I’m sure many people, both theists and atheists, will find the very notion of being grateful to God for those who profess disbelief in God’s existence to be odd or even outrageous.

For those of you who are of the Christian persuasion, consider the following: 

Ephesians 5:19-20 “Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)

1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”

1 Timothy 4:4 “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving…”

The first two verses I listed are general admonitions to early Christian communities, and are not instructions that are purely dependent on cultural customs or technology contemporary to the author, nor was the author using a metaphor, so as far as I can determine they are quite applicable to us today.  The third verse I listed is, in its context, talking about the acceptance of marriage practices and the eating of certain foods.  But the principle I’d like to enumerate from it is that everything that God has created is good.  Everything.  And we’re supposed to be thankful for everything.  It’s an absolute, no exceptions allowed. 

I don’t see any particular reason to disbelieve that atheists exist (oh, the irony), so I can’t help but include them in the class of all things, which means that as a Christian, I should be thankful for them as well.  And I am thankful for atheists.  I’m thankful for my co-workers who are atheists and do a great job of helping us reach our goals as a center.  I’m thankful for my friends who happen to be atheists; their support and companionship are valuable to me.  I’m thankful for atheists in general, because their challenges to our faith can keep us from stagnating and can often help us see how much more Christ-like we need to be through their observations on Christianity.  I’m thankful for the atheists who pull people out of burning buildings, who are willing to fight to defend freedom, and do the science and engineering to make things better.

If you’re a Christian, are you thankful for atheists?  Why or why not?

If you’re an atheist, do think that it would be consistent with Christian belief to be thankful for atheists?  How would you view Christians who were thankful for atheists?

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12 Responses to Thank God for Atheists

  1. SerenaDante says:

    Lol. I’m atheist, but I have a feeling I’d know what other Christians would say – “We can’t be thankful for sin! You’re asking us to be thankful for things like murder and thievery and gay people!”

  2. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @SerenaDante – Hehe.  Nice. But if someone were to make the argument that we should not be grateful for those who sin, I’d be inclined to mention that from a Christian perspective, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” which would mean that according to their position we could not be grateful for any person who ever existed.  Not our family, not our friends, no one.I suspect that most Christians would find that an unacceptable position to hold. 🙂

  3. i don’t think you have to be thankful, however why not be, atheists force us to think outside of the box sometimes.also, i would say you have to love the atheist and treat him with respect more than you have to be thankful for him/her

  4. Zipporiah says:

    I’m thankful for atheists in general, because their challenges to our faith can keep us from stagnating and can often help us see how much more Christ-like we need to be through their observations on Christianity.Amen, Amen!  I could not agree more on everything, but especially the above quote.  This is an excellent post.  Thank you!

  5. asrial86 says:

    @SerenaDante – I feel the same way.  If you are required in your religion to be thankful for everything and everyone, we should be included as well.  It would be more Christ-like to love and love and love instead of judge, which has also been pointed out, to be God’s job, not any Christian’s.

  6. In Ephesians, Paul was writing to this early church, reminding them of the joy they have found in Jesus and encouraging them to together give thanks to God to unify the people of this church. This letter was written while he himself was imprisoned; he reminded them that even out of bad circumstances, one can give thanks to God and continue to worship him.1 Thessalonians was also written by Paul, and this letter was to a similar effect as the one to the church of Ephesus.The author of 1 Timothy is not known as fact, but evidence points to Paul again. At this time, early Christians began to treat everything material as evil. Paul reassured them with this passage that what God has created is good, but he also reminded them to “pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11)Back to your post:I think it is true that God calls us to be thankful for every person and their life, but I certainly do not believe that that applies to their choices or beliefs in life. In fact, countless times Jesus showed compassion and love for people but also charged them to leave their lives of prostitution, thievery, etc., and to instead pursue God.

  7. Without the atheist, I would not understand the expanse, breath, width, depth, distance, and multitude of the grace of God the Father through Jesus Christ as well as His love for us.  There is nothing left to reveal that to us.

  8. Nous_Apeiron says:

    @SnowGlobe2954 – That’s fine.  I’m not asking you or any other Christian to be in favor of atheism as a belief.  I’m just asking you to be appropriately thankful for the goodness of the person God created even if they happen to have that atheistic perspective.

  9. @Nous_Apeiron – Of course, and I am thankful. I was just making the point that I doubt these passages apply to being thankful for atheism, in and of itself.

  10. raiderjester says:

    Hey, Sam, where did you ever go??

  11. where’ve you been, dude?!

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