The Day of Reason

Humanists are pushing for a nationally recognized Day of Reason. I’m in favor of this, by the way. A problem for some is that they want it to be on the same day as the National Day of Prayer. I’m okay with that too.

Believers don’t have to choose reason over prayer. Fighting this can make it look like it’s a real dichotomy. It isn’t. And, for the record, the notion that there is a real dichotomy between faith and science is categorically false as well. Christians can and should pray. Christians can and should use reason. Theologian R.C. Sproul illustrates this well in his definition of faith as “well-reasonsed trust.”

The only issue that I take with a secular understanding of reason is that it is unfounded. If the whole show, the entirety of the cosmic narrative, is built upon unguided and mindless processes then there really is no room for any sort of reason that is aimed at truth. And what is reason if not aimed at truth? On this view rationality is reduced to something like a quality of fitness, something to merely help us survive.

Charles Darwin recognized this threat in a letter he penned in 1881, “But then with me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”

In the final analysis, placing a Day of Reason on the same calendar date as the National Day of Prayer makes perfect sense. We cannot celebrate reason if we begin with unguided and mindless processes. It is only when we begin with Mind that we can end with rationality. As Solomon said, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” To join the two days really is the most reasonable option.