Secular Humanism Gathers: Reason Rally 2012

By test|March 16, 2012|Compromise/Dissent/Heresy, Modern Philosophy, News Commentary, Theism/Atheism, to be moved|

The largest gathering of the secular humanist movement in world history will be taking place 24 March 2012 called the “Reason Rally” to be hosted at the National Mall in DC. Yes, you heard that right…”Reason Rally,” because anyone who doesn't agree with them, can be tossed the unreasonable label. 

Interestingly, since the French Revolution when the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was converted into a Temple of Reason on November 10, 1793, the term “reason” has often times been capitalized as a salute to the man-made religion of humanity. This capitalization is intended to show respect for the power of human reason as described in the positive philosophy of August Comte. What is human reason? Merriam Webster calls it: the power of comprehending, inferring, or thinking especially in orderly rational ways : intelligence. What would Dawkins like you to believe it is? It is the harnessing of human intelligence through the scientific system of  verification. Of course this leaves out of the domain of reason anything which cannot be scientifically verified as we have stated many times before: including that very claim itself. Everything outside of this definition of reason is merely a sentiment, a feeling or intuition. For more on this topic, check the section “Resources” in about a week. I will compare “reason” with “Reason”. 

In my own opinion having a “Reason Rally” is a bit like having a “Rally for Goodness” or a “Rally for the Digestive System”. Its a very bold and clever approach to promoting a philosophy. Market your philosophy as the one that is for “Reason” and how can anyone argue? I would think that no one in the world sees being called “irrational” a good thing…but certainly not everyone agrees with the secular humanist/post enlightenment view that reason is more than just following the rules of logic, it also requires that we reduce objects of our perception to that which can be demonstrated. This is the purpose of the “Reason Rally” (and Richard Dawkins' life work) is to:

“The purpose of this particular rally will be to advance secularism (in the broadest sense of the word) in society. Whether people call themselves atheists, agnostics, secular Humanists, or any of the other terms used to describe their god-free lifestyle, secularism is coming out of the closet. According to the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey (PDF), the percentage of people with no religious affiliation grew in all fifty states. The intent is to unify, energize, and embolden secular people nationwide, while dispelling the negative opinions held by so much of American society… and having a damn good time doing it!”

Illustration of the Godess of Reason being
enthroned in Notre Dame de Paris

So I wonder, is there going to be reasoning going on at this event or just emboldening? No, really I understand if you want to unite yourselves…that's part of human nature and the desire to be in community. It has been expressed in everything from the community aspect of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as the great hippie gathering at Woodstock. People want to be with likeminded people. However, as in the above listed scenario's there is always the danger of people becoming involved who are swept up in the frenzy? Interviewer: “Why are you here sir?” “I'm here because its freaking awesome and all my friends are and I'm a reasonable person!” 

Edward Feser on the other hand, finds a bit of irony in this whole idea of making a “Reason Rally”. 

The reason is that reason is impossible with a crowd.  Serious matters require calm reflection, sufficient background knowledge, careful distinctions, the give and take of objections and replies, and always the willingness to submit oneself to superior arguments and objective truth.  But the thinking of a crowd is, in the best circumstances, dumbed down, slipshod, and banal; and at its worst there is no madness or evil to which a crowd might not descend.  A crowd shouts, chants, emotes, and is always, always demanding this or that — it is appetitive rather than cognitive.   In a crowd, the rational in rational animal is always in danger of giving way, leaving just the animal, indeed a herd of animals.  The individual, or a small group of friends, can dispute with Socrates about the good, the true, and the beautiful.  The crowd votes to execute him.  The individual, or a small group of disciples, can have their hearts moved by Christ.  The crowd shouts for His crucifixion.

How fitting, then, that the Counter-Religion that is the New Atheism has now decided to make of itself a mob.  Something called the “Reason Rally” is scheduled for March 24 at the National Mall in Washington, D. C. and the Counter-Prophet Richard Dawkins is headlining as chief rouser of the “rationalist” rabble.  The name alone exposes it for the farce that it is — a “Reason Rally” being (for the reasons just given) somewhat akin to a “Chastity Orgy” or a “Temperance Kegger.”   As always, the New Atheist satirizes himself before you can do it for him.

So since the mission of the Rally is to unite and embolden, don't expect much reasoning to be going on, because truth is not the main purpose of the event–it is the secondary motivation. I am sympathetic and less critical of this than Feser perhaps because I can understand they're desire to be in a common place together and affirm each other. On the other hand, somehow I doubt that the attendants will remember to reason through their chanting… If reason is really the God of the enlightenment, these people will check with him before they do anything… Dancing and singing is hardly a reasonable activity. It seems to be more in the spirit of Dionysus than that of Apollo as Nietzsche pointed out

Who doesn't want to be reasonable? Heck, I might go to the reason rally promoting right reason, a term brought back in response to enlightenment's attempt to monopolize the term “reason” for their reductive philosophical approach to the world, which quarantines all non-scientific thought.  On paper, the Catholic Church happens to be reason's biggest supporter, but I doubt the bishops are invited.