That is the question Al Mohler asks on his blog, saying atheists might think they are thankful, but they can’t really celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday because they don’t believe in God:
Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act, rightly understood. As a matter of fact, thankfulness is a theology in microcosm — a key to understanding what we really believe about God, ourselves, and the world we experience.
A haunting question is this: How do atheists observe Thanksgiving? I can easily understand that an atheist or agnostic would think of fellow human beings and feel led to express thankfulness and gratitude to all those who, both directly and indirectly, have contributed to their lives. But what about the blessings that cannot be ascribed to human agency? Those are both more numerous and more significant, ranging from the universe we experience to the gift of life itself.
Can one really be thankful without being thankful to someone? It makes no sense to express thankfulness to a purely naturalistic system … it would seem that being unthankful, refusing to recognize God as the source of all good things, is very close to the essence of the primal sin.
Clearly, honoring God as God leads us naturally into thankfulness. To honor Him as God is to honor His limitless love, His benevolence and care, His provision and uncountable gifts. To fail in thankfulness is to fail to honor God — and this is the biblical description of fallen and sinful humanity. We are a thankless lot … So, observe a wonderful Thanksgiving — but realize that a proper Christian Thanksgiving is a deeply theological act that requires an active mind as well as a thankful heart. We need to think deeply, widely, carefully, and faithfully about the countless reasons for our thankfulness to God.
Is it really “haunting” Mohler to know how atheists observe Thanksgiving? That just seems sad.