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:
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?