Re: Projected thanksgiving

Anders Sandberg (
27 Nov 1997 22:07:38 +0100

Kennita Watson <> writes:

> This sounds wonderful. It also brings up something I haven't been able
> to get a handle on. Give thanks to who (or what)? I fancy myself a
> fairly rational sort, but often I feel thankful, in large ways or small.
> For example, if I'm running late and I make it across the railroad tracks
> just before the train barrier comes down, I'll sometimes say "Thank you",
> and immediately stop and think "Thank who?". "The universe" is the best
> I've been able to do.

Me too. I think I'm thanking the universe for all the wonderful things
in it more often than most believers thank their gods :-)

(Just imagine: I just saw a star through my window. Those photons must
have been travelling for *years* just to be refracted in the right way
to hit my eye and cause a sense of wonder. Isn't that worth thanking
for? Not to mention all the nice coincidences and patterns in the world.)

> But I don't imagine an anthropomorphized universe
> giving me favors, and consciously I know it was just chance that I made
> it across the tracks, so why doesn't "Oh good!" seem sufficient?

I think it is part of our memetic and possibly genetic hardwiring to
be thankful to somebody when things go well - usually, at least to a
small child, it is a parent who has fixed the situation. I think this
thanksgiving tendency is a holdover from previous stages of
development, but it is a nice holdover.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y