Thank God vs Thank Goodness

October 31, 2010 at 12:08 pm (Life)

There was a time when I used to follow Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennets‘ talks and writings. Naresh would keep sending me these links and I would read or watch them. I was not an atheist at that time and while I did not subscribe to their views entirely it would never cease to amaze me how intelligent these people were. While their area of expertise only slightly touches moral philosophy, I am now of the opinion that moral philosophers are highly intelligent people.

A few days back my mother fell very ill. It was 11:30 PM. We have moved to this new house very recently and we do not know any people here. I also do not have a 2 wheeler here. She needed a particular medicine but I knew most medicine shops would have closed down by then. I decided to go ask my neighbors for help. As I reached the gate of my house one of my co-tenants arrived on his bike. I asked him for help. He promptly took me to the nearest market. We found all shops closed. He then took me to a Columbia Asia Hospital nearby. They had a medicine counter which was open 24X7. I found the medicine there. We came back and  my mother took the medicine.

This reminded me of a Daniel Dennet talk that momentarily addressed the ‘Thank God vs Thank Goodness’ question. He says that we often thank God for saving us from tough situations in life but he personally prefers ‘Thank Goodness’ as  phrase, since it thanks the goodness of humans as a civilisation. It is because of good hearted people, and there are still enough of them in the world, that we survive calamities. Its also not just about the goodness of heart but also the goodness of the human brain that we have reached an era in science and technology where lives can be saved. We have automobiles and roads and hospitals that have uninterrupted electricity.

The next time you want to thank your stars thank God, but if its not simply your luck remember to thank goodness as well.

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