In my experience, "acknowledgements" (I assume you are talking about the final
slide of your talk) are generally reserved for people who helped with the
research in a concrete way... funding agencies, faculty advisors, lab
technicians. I have never seen anyone acknowledge God in that format.
However, many people writing a thesis put a "dedication" section before
introduction, not unlike the dedication line of someone writing a book. In
those sections I've seen people thank spouses, parents, children etc., who
provided emotional support during the research. I've also seen people honor
deceased family or friends in that manner... "Dedicated to the memory of...."
and yes, I've seen religious people acknowledge and thank God in that context.
I assume you will be submitting a formal paper of some sort to your advisor,
so that might be the more appropriate way to acknowledge God. You might check
other theses submitted to your department for guidelines as to how dedications
I have also seen graduate students thank family and friends at the "public
defense" of their thesis, (where family and friends were invited to attend,
sort of like a mini-graduation ceremony.) A more personal acknowledgement of
God might be more appropriate in that context, but I don't know if that's the
kind of setting you're presenting in. But I don't see how any reasonable
person, atheist or not, could object to a student thanking God in the same
context as others might thank earthly parents for their support and
Then again, there's no guarentee that a faculty advisor is a reasonable
Best of luck with your decision and presentation.
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