Yesterday, much to my surprise, was the National Day of Prayer. In true atheist fashion, I wasn’t even aware of it until late in the day at which point I figured I would do my part. In the off chance there was a God, I sent a brief prayer asking Him to help his followers understand that praying did about as much good as talking to yourself and that believing things without evidence was not a virtue but a dangerous way of thinking.
Afterward, I heard a far off chuckle. That was either Satan laughing at the knowledge that he had bagged yet another non-believer … or God, who can appreciate a good sense of irony even from a heretic. Time will tell.
In the real world, Anthony Foxx – the mayor of Charlotte, NC and the next Secretary of Transportation – celebrated yesterday in his own interesting way. He issued a proclamation that along with being National Prayer Day, it was also to be acknowledged as a Day of Reason.
May 2 is traditionally the National Day of Prayer, a government-designated religious event intended to encourage people to “turn to God in prayer and meditation.” Foxx separately issued a “National Day of Prayer” proclamation for the city of Charlotte.
Foxx said in his proclamation that May 2 should be A Day of Reason because “the application of reason, more than any other means, has proven to offer hope for human survival on Earth.”
Oh, great job, Anthony. Look, you’re right. I know you’re right. History tells us you’re right. But now we’re going to get shit like this, courtesy of one of the biggest cable “news” outlets in the country:
This proclamation was made by one mayor with regard to one city … but it takes on a special importance now that he’s associated with the Obama Administration. Obviously, someone who feels that both a day of prayer and a day of reason have equal importance and should be acknowledged simultaneously doesn’t believe that there can be a balance between faith and intellect, but is instead just doing it for “attention”.
In response to Foxx’s statement, Fox (with one “x”) News dragged out the president of “Concerned Women of America” Penny Nance for her thoughts. Apparently these women make a living being concerned that the institution that had been responsible for their gender being treated as property for the better part of 3,500 years is being replaced with one that has enabled her the personal autonomy to subsequently speak out against its very influence.
Only in America. I’m getting dizzy.
Here’s a breakdown of the steaming pile of concern she and her sisters have. You guys owe me for taking the transcript. I had to watch this thing again:
Doocy: Today is the National Day of Prayer, and yet this, uh, Mr. Foxx guy is calling it a National Day of Reason. What’s going on there?
First of all, Doocy Guy, it’s Mayor Anthony Foxx, not “this Mr. Foxx guy”. Seriously, you only make yourself look childish by setting up your little one-sided debate with your little dismissal.
Nance: Well, I’m not sure … I mean, he comes from North Carolina which has the seventh highest church attendance.
So you’re saying North Carolinians can’t embrace both faith and reason, and that it has to be one or the other? That’s kind of insulting, isn’t it? Keep in mind he made proclamations for BOTH. He’s not replacing the former with the latter.
Clearly he’s not running for re-election since he’s up for transportation secretary but … y’know … G.K Chesterton said that the doctrine of Original Sin is the only one in which we have three and a half thousand years of empirical evidence to back up.
First of all, this is complete and utter crap. There is absolutely no empirical evidence whatsoever for the “doctrine of Original Sin”. If it were, Christianity wouldn’t be a faith but a science that is well supported with physical data.
And while we’re on the topic, I’m wondering why you care at all about “empirical evidence” since the scientific method came directly out of the Age of Enlightenment, but I can’t expect too much.
Clearly we need faith as a component and it’s just silly to say otherwise.
Clearly this doesn’t constitute a valid argument. Good enough for Fox News, though … especially when there’s no opposing side to cut her down.
Y’know, the age of Enlightenment and reason gave way to moral relativism, and moral relativism is what led us all the way down the dark path to the Holocaust.
Holy shit I just got whiplash. Not only is this a phenomenal oversimplification of the complex historical, sociological, and psychological mass events that led to an entire nation (consisting mainly of Catholics and Lutherans, by the way) to target a single culture and exterminate them … but it ignores the centuries of cherry picking Christians have been doing to their own bible when the identify parts that are too barbaric or cruel for a “modern” society.
Ten points for bringing in the Nazis, by the way. No treatment of atheism by the armchair historians on Fox News is complete without the Hitler / Stalin / Mao trifecta.
And I saw … I just back from Jerusalem where I saw yadvashem which is the Holocaust museum there, where there were thousands and thousands of shoes of little children who died in that – one and a half million.
Dark periods of history is what we arrive at when we leave God out of the equation.
Have you ever read the Old Testament? Exodus? Numbers? Joshua? Judges? 1 & 2 Kings? 1 & 2 Samuel? God was most definitely in the equation during those battles … you know, the incidents of genocide where the men, women, and children were all murdered? Women having their children ripped from their wombs? What about the centuries when the Catholic Church was in power in Europe? The Muslim conquests? The Crusades? The Spanish Inquisition? The Salem Witch Trials? Modern Islam in South Asia?
History is absolutely riddled with dark times, and they come as a result of humankind’s desire for power and a disregard of those who get in the way of it. The mechanism use to achieve it may change over the years – from god worship to state worship – but it has nothing to do with God’s presence or absence, regardless of what those in power would say to rally their troops before another conquest.
In case you were wondering, Penny (you weren’t, I know) … we’re actually living in the most peaceful time in human history. I won’t tell you outright what helped enable this age of peace, but I’ll give you a hint: it starts with “A”, and ends with “-ge of Enlightenment”.
So is God part of the equation right now or not? Or are you the one who gets to decide that?
Doocy: Now, Penny, we should point out that this National Day of Reason was created by the American Humanist Association – an atheist organization. It was created to raise awareness about government threats to religious liberty and to up the profile of the non-religious community. What’s troubling to some, though, is that they would take the national day of prayer and then essentially co-opting [sic] it by saying, ‘OK, it’s also a national day of reason’. It looks like they’re just trying to get some publicity to get us talking about it.
“What’s troubling to our boss Rupert Murdoch, and our target demographic of retired white Baby Boomers who were taught during the Cold War that atheism is synonymous with Communism …” (sorry, had to fix that)
And yes, the intent is to get some publicity (just like having a day of prayer). Why you decided to take the route of having one of the most intellectually vacant people I’ve ever seen this side of Sarah Palin represent your position, I don’t know, but you’re still talking about it.
The thing is, the reason to have the discussion is to tell the American public that having a National Day of Prayer still flies in the face of the Constitution. Here’s what the American Humanist Association says about the day:
The National Day of Prayer violates the First Amendment of the US Constitution because it asks federal and local government entities to set aside tax dollar supported time and space to engage in religious ceremonies. This results in unconstitutional governmental support of religion over no religion. [...]
Since they hold their events on the government sponsored National Day of Prayer, government officials of all levels participate in these events as if they were government endorsed.
There is no reason at all why the United States government should be under any obligation to make any statement about the presence or absence of a supreme being, prayer, faith, or anything else. It’s not their business. Having this enshrined as a yearly national observance makes it necessary to point out that there are those who not only don’t believe, but think that endorsing the idea on a national level just encourages the wrong people.
Besides, considering the degree of Christian influence in this little show of faith, we might also want to remember Matthew 6:6 – “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
Nance: Well, they succeeded … here we are. But what a great opportunity to talk about the difference, you know … John Adams said that our Constitution depended on a moral and religious people. By contrast, Mao said that morality arrives at the muzzle of a gun. We must have faith in god in order to arrive at the very things they want to do. They want to contend for their beliefs and I support that. Welcome to the argument. We think our ideas are better.
John Adams actually said “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Penny might also want to keep in mind that it was the Enlightenment that provided the basis for the American Revolution, as well as the content of both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. It might also interest her to know that a significant number of the other Founding Fathers – such as Thomas Jefferson – clearly did not share his views on religion or the revelatory nature of Christianity.
As for Chairman Mao: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” Not morality, but power. There’s a big difference. Besides, communists like Mao and Stalin didn’t do anything in the name of atheism. They knew the influence religion had over their people; therefore, they made moves to get rid of it to consolidate their power.
OK, I’ve had enough. Fox News goes out of their way to try to scare people into hating atheists, but it’s like they can’t even bother to do a decent job of it. They get people who are so far out in the weeds that they’ll complain about something as fundamental to our entire way of life as the Enlightenment without realizing how this country and the modern world wouldn’t exist without it.