Happy National Day of Reason!

In their attempt to become, in effect, a socially-acceptable religion–getting military chaplains, vaunting how moral they are, and evangelizing the unenlightened–atheists are trying to start a holiday.  May 5 is the National Day of Reason!

I love holidays and I love reason, so I am willing to celebrate. . .uh, what is it we are celebrating?  I will try to set aside time to think.  But don’t we need something more to inspire our observance, to give it some meaning?  It turns out that May 5 was chosen simply to counter something else that is on that day, the National Day of Prayer.  The atheists are protesting that by trying to take over the day for themselves.

This demonstrates the weakness of atheism.  It is purely reactive.  Its doctrines are purely negative (there is no God; there is no life after death; there is no meaning in life).  And even when its teachings are put in a positive way–we believe in reason! we believe that material things are all that exist!–there is nothing, really, to celebrate, or even to be happy about.

Actual holidays, on the other hand, commemorate some meaningful event and we celebrate the meaning.  They usually involve some kind of story.  They are deeply, richly, human, evoking family and good memories and inspiration.  And Christian holidays–widely recognized even by devotees of other religions are the best of all–are full of wonder and joy.  The root of “festival” is “feast.”  “Holiday” means “holy day.”   You can’t have a holiday without some sense of holiness.

It’s hard to celebrate an abstraction, such as “reason.”  But, hey, let’s give it a try.  How could we do to make the Day of Reason work as a holiday?  What would be the equivalent of a Christmas tree or Easter basket for the Day of Reason?  What foods should be associated with this day of rationality?  If it ever rates a day off, what should individuals and families do?

National Day of Reason :: About Us.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    Christmas tree/Easter basket equivalent = Thinking cap

    Food = Brussels sprouts (surely they couldn’t have been created by a loving god.)

    To do on day off = sudoku.

  • Pete

    Christmas tree/Easter basket equivalent = Thinking cap

    Food = Brussels sprouts (surely they couldn’t have been created by a loving god.)

    To do on day off = sudoku.

  • Ryan

    Here can be one of the carols:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWlqpowKkBY

  • Ryan

    Here can be one of the carols:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CWlqpowKkBY

  • Amy

    Pete, your comment about Brussels sprouts made me giggle.

  • Amy

    Pete, your comment about Brussels sprouts made me giggle.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    We could participate in both celebrations at once by praying in thanksgiving for the gift of reason and that we would use it well and rightly in all our earthly doings.

    But the equivalent of an Easter basket celebrating the militant atheists’ idea of reason? I suppose we could celebrate by giving each other well-packed and unadorned boxes of efficiently manufactured foodstuffs that have been artificially enriched with vitamins.

  • http://www.matthewcochran.net/blog Matt Cochran

    We could participate in both celebrations at once by praying in thanksgiving for the gift of reason and that we would use it well and rightly in all our earthly doings.

    But the equivalent of an Easter basket celebrating the militant atheists’ idea of reason? I suppose we could celebrate by giving each other well-packed and unadorned boxes of efficiently manufactured foodstuffs that have been artificially enriched with vitamins.

  • Tom Hering

    Families could set up the holiday podiums in the living room on Reason’s Eve. Then spend the Day debating, after exchanging the logical gift of a pair of socks. The TV would be on, too, because a cable channel would be showing a 24-hour Inherit the Wind marathon.

    “Oh come, all ye faithless, joyless and harumphant … “

  • Tom Hering

    Families could set up the holiday podiums in the living room on Reason’s Eve. Then spend the Day debating, after exchanging the logical gift of a pair of socks. The TV would be on, too, because a cable channel would be showing a 24-hour Inherit the Wind marathon.

    “Oh come, all ye faithless, joyless and harumphant … “

  • Jonathan

    I think I’ll stick to tacos and margaritas and Mariachis on this day. Viva Mexico!

  • Jonathan

    I think I’ll stick to tacos and margaritas and Mariachis on this day. Viva Mexico!

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The worshippers of Reason are trying to usurp Cinco de Mayo?
    That’s unreasonable!

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    The worshippers of Reason are trying to usurp Cinco de Mayo?
    That’s unreasonable!

  • Pingback: Rally for Reason at State Capitol | Tangled Up in Blue Guy

  • Pingback: Rally for Reason at State Capitol | Tangled Up in Blue Guy

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    So does this mean people will start crusading for “absurditiy rights” since Reason gets a holiday?

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    So does this mean people will start crusading for “absurditiy rights” since Reason gets a holiday?

  • Pingback: Dangerous Talk » Today is a National Day of Something

  • Pingback: Dangerous Talk » Today is a National Day of Something

  • Kirk

    @Mike

    Christians celebrate National Day of Prayer. Atheists celebrate National Day of Reason. Both celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Accordingly, tequila is what brings us all together.

  • Kirk

    @Mike

    Christians celebrate National Day of Prayer. Atheists celebrate National Day of Reason. Both celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Accordingly, tequila is what brings us all together.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    There is already a National Skeptics day. I suppose it isn’t quite the same thing, but quite related.
    Yet, this whole idea that they are the reasonable ones is quite funny.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    There is already a National Skeptics day. I suppose it isn’t quite the same thing, but quite related.
    Yet, this whole idea that they are the reasonable ones is quite funny.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I say we celebrate with a reasonable prayer. Hey we can take care of two holidays in one! I will go pray that all the fools will grow wise and fear the LORD.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    I say we celebrate with a reasonable prayer. Hey we can take care of two holidays in one! I will go pray that all the fools will grow wise and fear the LORD.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    For an emblem equivalent to the Christmas Tree, for National Day of Reason I nominate the Thinking Chair from Blue’s Clues. And the ornament (only need one) should be a Handy Dandy Notebook.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    For an emblem equivalent to the Christmas Tree, for National Day of Reason I nominate the Thinking Chair from Blue’s Clues. And the ornament (only need one) should be a Handy Dandy Notebook.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    I propose shifting the National Day of Reason to November 10, the anniversary of the crowning of the Goddess of Reason in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in 1793, arguably the climax of the French Revolution. That would give the holiday a historical grounding and a narrative to give it meaning. The symbol for the Day of Reason, to be erected in every home like a Christmas tree, will be a Guillotine. That honors the Reign of Terror unleashed by revolutionary atheism, not only in France but also later in the Communist revolutions and in the Fascist revolutions, all of which were militantly atheist to their core. But the Guillotine also has another meeting: the separation of the head from the body. Similarly, reason alone in the sense the atheists want to celebrate is a worship of the Head (similar to what the heretical Templars were alleged to have done–that could be another Reason Day legend), an attempt to separate the mind from ordinary life, from nature, and from the real world in general.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    I propose shifting the National Day of Reason to November 10, the anniversary of the crowning of the Goddess of Reason in the Cathedral of Notre Dame in 1793, arguably the climax of the French Revolution. That would give the holiday a historical grounding and a narrative to give it meaning. The symbol for the Day of Reason, to be erected in every home like a Christmas tree, will be a Guillotine. That honors the Reign of Terror unleashed by revolutionary atheism, not only in France but also later in the Communist revolutions and in the Fascist revolutions, all of which were militantly atheist to their core. But the Guillotine also has another meeting: the separation of the head from the body. Similarly, reason alone in the sense the atheists want to celebrate is a worship of the Head (similar to what the heretical Templars were alleged to have done–that could be another Reason Day legend), an attempt to separate the mind from ordinary life, from nature, and from the real world in general.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    One problem will be that the great saints of Reason, so to speak, will not necessarily represent the atheists’ side. Probably the greatest master of reason, for better or worse, would be St. Thomas Aquinas. He builds cathedrals and flying buttresses out of his syllogisms! (Empiricism, by the way, is not the same as Reason, which these atheists do not seem to realize.)

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    One problem will be that the great saints of Reason, so to speak, will not necessarily represent the atheists’ side. Probably the greatest master of reason, for better or worse, would be St. Thomas Aquinas. He builds cathedrals and flying buttresses out of his syllogisms! (Empiricism, by the way, is not the same as Reason, which these atheists do not seem to realize.)

  • http://lastdanceofthejackalope.blogspot.com JD Loofbourrow

    I think the greatest celebration of reason would be to let reason and her sister, wisdom, lead us back to their Lord the “Logos” where we might all enjoy the richness of His fellowship and perhaps some sweet potato pie.

    In my opinion true reason (and I don’t mean Rational-ISM) is the sworn enemy of atheism. I would say that it is about as reasonable for an atheist to celebrate reason as it would have been for Osama to celebrate America’s Independence Day. But that’s me.

  • http://lastdanceofthejackalope.blogspot.com JD Loofbourrow

    I think the greatest celebration of reason would be to let reason and her sister, wisdom, lead us back to their Lord the “Logos” where we might all enjoy the richness of His fellowship and perhaps some sweet potato pie.

    In my opinion true reason (and I don’t mean Rational-ISM) is the sworn enemy of atheism. I would say that it is about as reasonable for an atheist to celebrate reason as it would have been for Osama to celebrate America’s Independence Day. But that’s me.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said, “This demonstrates the weakness of atheism. It is purely reactive.”

    One might note that this very tendency is seen in the name itself: atheism, not theism. Which is likely why some atheists have tried to distance themselves from that label. (All the more so with “agnostic” — “You can’t just admit that you don’t know! We’re supposed to be all about knowledge!”)

    What’s humorous about this is that this not-Christianity path is well trod by (would-be) Satanists (e.g. black masses, backwards Lord’s Prayer, and other ridiculous things that I wonder if anyone actually does).

    I do look forward to seeing atheists wearing “Reason is the Reason for the Season” buttons, though.

    As for special foods for this Day of Reason — why, raisins, of course! Besides the homophonic qualities, they also somewhat resemble tiny brains. Also, whatever medical science and/or urban legendry says are the top “brain foods” of the moment — fish, etc. Along slightly different lines, I’d suggest they eat a sandwich made from Wonder Bread, Velveeta Singles, and Miracle Whip — all products of modernism which was itself the pinnacle of reason, or so we were once told. Mmm… tastes so much better than actual food.

    That said, one can’t help but notice that Veith said, “You can’t have a holiday without some sense of holiness” on Cinco de Mayo. Pretty sure that’s a legitimate holiday. Without much holiness, per se.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Veith said, “This demonstrates the weakness of atheism. It is purely reactive.”

    One might note that this very tendency is seen in the name itself: atheism, not theism. Which is likely why some atheists have tried to distance themselves from that label. (All the more so with “agnostic” — “You can’t just admit that you don’t know! We’re supposed to be all about knowledge!”)

    What’s humorous about this is that this not-Christianity path is well trod by (would-be) Satanists (e.g. black masses, backwards Lord’s Prayer, and other ridiculous things that I wonder if anyone actually does).

    I do look forward to seeing atheists wearing “Reason is the Reason for the Season” buttons, though.

    As for special foods for this Day of Reason — why, raisins, of course! Besides the homophonic qualities, they also somewhat resemble tiny brains. Also, whatever medical science and/or urban legendry says are the top “brain foods” of the moment — fish, etc. Along slightly different lines, I’d suggest they eat a sandwich made from Wonder Bread, Velveeta Singles, and Miracle Whip — all products of modernism which was itself the pinnacle of reason, or so we were once told. Mmm… tastes so much better than actual food.

    That said, one can’t help but notice that Veith said, “You can’t have a holiday without some sense of holiness” on Cinco de Mayo. Pretty sure that’s a legitimate holiday. Without much holiness, per se.

  • Grace

    I believe it would be honorable, if we as Believers were to ignore those who play the ‘counterfeit’ agenda of the heathen, and therefore support that which is good.

    Our country needs prayer, George Washington among many others understood this, as only God ALMIGHTY is our help.

    “There had been at least two individual (i.e. single-day) national days of prayer in U.S. history before the day was made an official annual day of observance in 1952. Prior to the nation’s founding, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick [sic] humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed on July 20, 1775″

    “The Honorable the Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or intreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.”
    George Washington, First President of the United States”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Day_of_Prayer

  • Grace

    I believe it would be honorable, if we as Believers were to ignore those who play the ‘counterfeit’ agenda of the heathen, and therefore support that which is good.

    Our country needs prayer, George Washington among many others understood this, as only God ALMIGHTY is our help.

    “There had been at least two individual (i.e. single-day) national days of prayer in U.S. history before the day was made an official annual day of observance in 1952. Prior to the nation’s founding, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick [sic] humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed on July 20, 1775″

    “The Honorable the Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or intreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitiude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.”
    George Washington, First President of the United States”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Day_of_Prayer

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I like the idea of a National Day of Reason.

    Kudos to the atheists for promoting it.

    I agree with Veith, however, among the giants of reason stand a disproportionate number of religionists and religious fanatics; Kant, Ramanujan, Kepler, Newton, anyone?

    And, alas, many of the irreligious believe plenty of baseless popular nonsense. A while back I read an article on the higher gullibility of atheists than traditional religionists.

    Look Who’s Irrational Now
    MOLLIE ZIEGLER HEMINGWAY
    “The New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.”

    So, again, atheism doesn’t increase one’s reasoning ability.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    I like the idea of a National Day of Reason.

    Kudos to the atheists for promoting it.

    I agree with Veith, however, among the giants of reason stand a disproportionate number of religionists and religious fanatics; Kant, Ramanujan, Kepler, Newton, anyone?

    And, alas, many of the irreligious believe plenty of baseless popular nonsense. A while back I read an article on the higher gullibility of atheists than traditional religionists.

    Look Who’s Irrational Now
    MOLLIE ZIEGLER HEMINGWAY
    “The New Atheist campaign, by discouraging religion, won’t create a new group of intelligent, skeptical, enlightened beings. Far from it: It might actually encourage new levels of mass superstition. And that’s not a conclusion to take on faith — it’s what the empirical data tell us.”

    So, again, atheism doesn’t increase one’s reasoning ability.

  • Dennis Peskey

    “I propose shifting the National Day of Reason to November 10″ This date is already booked being both the Marine Corps birthday and my wedding anniversary. Besides, the atheists have sole possession of one calendar date, that being April 1 – to grant another is simply being toooo intrusive. (note: the reality of April 1 will be made all too clear to these poor souls on judgment day.)
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • Dennis Peskey

    “I propose shifting the National Day of Reason to November 10″ This date is already booked being both the Marine Corps birthday and my wedding anniversary. Besides, the atheists have sole possession of one calendar date, that being April 1 – to grant another is simply being toooo intrusive. (note: the reality of April 1 will be made all too clear to these poor souls on judgment day.)
    Pax,
    Dennis

  • helen

    Besides Cinco de Mayo, this is a friend’s birthday!
    He is a most reasonable man, a confessional Lutheran Pastor and a Ph.D.

    ______________
    [Preview works!]

  • helen

    Besides Cinco de Mayo, this is a friend’s birthday!
    He is a most reasonable man, a confessional Lutheran Pastor and a Ph.D.

    ______________
    [Preview works!]

  • Booklover

    Having raised four sons, I can only imagine what might have happened had we erected a guillotine in our home.

    If I were an athiest and wanted to erect something “safer,” it would have to be a little statue of SELF. Yes, my own little idol to bow down and worship, but I would reason with myself that I wasn’t actually worshipping my SELF, I was only doing what was “reasonable.”

    Another good symbol for the atheist might be a pair of binoculars, because unbelievers are always looking at ways to change society rather than themselves. They don’t see themselves as being the problem, so they would need something with which to look beyond themselves.

  • Booklover

    Having raised four sons, I can only imagine what might have happened had we erected a guillotine in our home.

    If I were an athiest and wanted to erect something “safer,” it would have to be a little statue of SELF. Yes, my own little idol to bow down and worship, but I would reason with myself that I wasn’t actually worshipping my SELF, I was only doing what was “reasonable.”

    Another good symbol for the atheist might be a pair of binoculars, because unbelievers are always looking at ways to change society rather than themselves. They don’t see themselves as being the problem, so they would need something with which to look beyond themselves.

  • Grace

    Dennis,

    Heathens, and those who seek to counter the mighty work of God, make it their business to inject their unbelief upon any day that honors God. For example; calling Christmas….. ‘the holidays’ – Easter/Resurrection….. ‘Spring break’ –

    Anything that is centered upon the LORD, is countered with anything that might diminish the real meaning of the day or season.

    Ignoring those who purposely inject atheism as a substitute is far more effective.

    Thank God we do have a National Day of Prayer – there is so much to pray for, and thank our LORD, He has blessed us richly.

  • Grace

    Dennis,

    Heathens, and those who seek to counter the mighty work of God, make it their business to inject their unbelief upon any day that honors God. For example; calling Christmas….. ‘the holidays’ – Easter/Resurrection….. ‘Spring break’ –

    Anything that is centered upon the LORD, is countered with anything that might diminish the real meaning of the day or season.

    Ignoring those who purposely inject atheism as a substitute is far more effective.

    Thank God we do have a National Day of Prayer – there is so much to pray for, and thank our LORD, He has blessed us richly.

  • Phillip

    Dr. Veith, we obviously need to celebrate the post-Enlightenment atheist philosophers. We can celebrate St. Nietzsche by teaching reason to horses. We can celebrate St. Weber by going about our normal business and earning a living like nothing special is happening. We can celebrate those who deny causality by throwing heavy objects at people and insisting something else did it. We have lots of atheist saints of reason to imitate. Oh, wait.

  • Phillip

    Dr. Veith, we obviously need to celebrate the post-Enlightenment atheist philosophers. We can celebrate St. Nietzsche by teaching reason to horses. We can celebrate St. Weber by going about our normal business and earning a living like nothing special is happening. We can celebrate those who deny causality by throwing heavy objects at people and insisting something else did it. We have lots of atheist saints of reason to imitate. Oh, wait.


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