Objecting to the National Day of Reason
Today, I received an email from the fine folks over at the American Humanist Association. I signed up for the email s a long time ago because I always find it interesting to read what people who have a different faith believe. Today, the email was an encouragement for me to write my congressmen to advocate that he/she support the National Day of Reason. According to the email:
The National Day of Reason, which will be held on May 1st 2014, is fast approaching! The National Day of Reason celebrates the application of reason and the positive impact it has had on humanity, whether in developing new technologies or guiding reason-based public policy.
The National Day of Reason is an opportunity to reaffirm the constitutional separation of religion and government, which is especially relevant considering that the National Day of Prayer, which is held on the same day, asks government officials to encourage their constituents to join them in prayer.
>Every year we call upon members of Congress to show their commitment to reason and the separation of church and state by entering a statement into the congressional record honoring the National Day of Reason. We need your help to make sure that as many members of Congress as possible make statements recognizing this year’s National Day of Reason and opposing the National Day of Prayer.
The email then sends the atheists to a form letter that encourages the Congressman to “enter a statement into the congressional statement honoring the National Day of Reason.”
Ordinarily, this type of email has no effect on me. I am so accustomed to seeing the atheist population argue that they are the “rational” ones that I when I read the use of words like “reason” and “rational” as descriptive of the atheist position I recognize the use as simply an overworked, inaccurate use of the English language. It is very similar to when atheists call themselves freethinkers. It is my experience that atheists have much less freedom of thought than any theist – but that’s another post for another day.
Moreover, in all sincerity, I don’t have a problem with celebrating reason. Certainly, reason and rationality is essential to a proper understanding of our world and our place in it. To that end, I am all in favor of a national day that celebrates the use of reason. (It certainly would be helpful if some of the people in Washington D.C. exercised some rationality occasionally, but that’s also another post for another day.)
But for whatever reason, this year I found the email to be irritating. Why? Because I am tired of the atheists trying to claim that they are the reasonable ones. I am tired of them claiming that somehow Atheism equates with pure rationality while religion (which is obviously juxtaposed in the email) is seen as the domain of faith which is (by the humanist definition) irrational or unreasonable. This is simply wrong and - excepting the run-of-the-mill atheists who are lucky to have two brain cells to rub together –atheists know that it is a misrepresentation of the actual state of the debate.
I won’t speak for all theistic religions here, but I will speak for Christianity. Christianity is a very rational religion. It makes sense of creation. It makes sense of humanity and our condition. It makes sense of morality. It makes sense of our innate sense of the numinous. When atheists claim that Christianity is irrational what they really mean is that they don’t believe that anything exists outside of nature (i.e., the supernatural) and therefore any appeal to a creator or God, a god or gods - which necessarily appeals to something outside of nature - is by definition irrational or unreasonable. Nonsense. As this blog has demonstrated through the work of the many really smart people who write for it, many reasons exist that can lead a person to readily conclude that God does exist. And if reasons can be stated for a belief and those reasons can be demonstrated to be sound, then by definition it is reasonable.
Now, it may be that atheists have the better part of the argument. Perhaps it is true that God does not exist. (I certainly think that they have not made that case as noted above.) But that has yet to be demonstrated incontrovertibly, and simply because atheists are not convinced by the theistic arguments does not make those arguments unreasonable or irrational. So, when atheists put forth that same tired language claiming that the National Day of Reason somehow celebrates only their position, they are either lying or incredibly deceived by some of their religion’s chief priests, e.g. Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.
But what really irks me is that they want to have the U.S. Congress approve this delusion by putting in a resolution supporting the Day of Reason which will fall on the same date as the National Day of Prayer solely for the purpose of highlighting their twisted view that reason is opposed to theism. This is, in my view, unacceptable.
So, I have written a letter to my Congressmen opposing the National Day of Reason. Unlike the way the so-called freethinkers operate, my letter is not a form letter and I don’t encourage anyone to copy my wording. Rather, I encourage Christians who have grown tired of the efforts of the atheists to co-opt the word “reason” to do what most atheists refuse to do: think for yourselves and write your own letter in opposition to the Day of Reason. My letter should serve only as an example of what you may want to say.
I recently learned that the American Humanist Association has asked its members to write letters encouraging you to enter a statement into the congressional statement honoring the National Day of Reason. I am writing to ask you to not do what they are requesting.
I ask this not because I don’t believe that the Humanists who support this National Day of Reason should not have a day that honors the achievements of Humanists. I am sure that Humanists have at times contributed to society in various ways. So, this is not an objection to a day honoring atheists (if such a thing is deemed needed). Rather, I oppose your support of the measure because of the name: the National Day of Reason.
As I am sure you are aware, there is a ongoing debate about the existence of God. Theists (of which I am one) believe that God exists and that there are reasons to believe He exists. Atheists, aka Humanists, believe that reason leads to the conclusion that God doesn't exist. Both sides present their reasons, and both sides believe that their view is the one that is rational or reasonable to believe. If you enter a statement supporting the National Day of Reason, you are siding with the view that says that the atheists are the ones who have the corner on reason. This could lead people unfamiliar with the depth and sophistication in the debate to arrive at the false impression that the debate is between the “rational atheists” and the “irrational theists.” Nothing could be further from the truth.
Thus, I encourage you to put in your remarks on the record, but to make those remarks an opposition to the misleading impression that the National Day of Reason leaves.
Thank you for your time.
Note, the subtext for the CADRE Comments blog reads: A Rational Look at Christianity; Basing Reason in Truth. Atheists don’t hold the rational view. Christians are strongly making the case that not only is Christianity rational, but that atheism is, in point, the real irrational position. Don’t let the atheist claim the ground of rationality.