May 7, 2015

My Day of Reason

FĂȘte de la Raison 1793Today is the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. And by prayer, everyone knows we mean Christian prayer. No, we aren't quite a Christian theocracy, but we're closer than some of us would like. And while some of us would prefer a National Day of Reason, we don't have an official one just yet. That means it is up to us to decide how (or if) we mark the occasion. I figured I'd tell you how I spend my day.

I was up at 4:00 am (never take your ability to sleep for granted; insomnia really sucks), fueled with coffee, and working on this morning's blog post. My coffee maker, computer, Internet connection are all products of reason rather than superstition. After a quick breakfast from a refrigerator powered by electricity rather than prayer, I worked on preparing to teach a summer class by reviewing the scientific literature on which my material was based. Rather than relying on ancient scriptures, I decided to go with recent peer-reviewed journal articles from my field and exercise some critical thinking to decide what to include and how best to explain some difficult concepts.

After a couple hours of that, an email appeared from one of my graduate students. She wanted my help editing a proposal she was hoping to submit to a professional conference. Of course, it is due tomorrow. Thanks to my computer, Internet connection, and word processing software (and not divine intervention), I was able to shape her proposal into something I thought would be received favorably by those who will conduct the reviews to decide which proposals are accepted. I know some proposals will have to be rejected, but I really hope hers makes the cut. I suppose I could have prayed for some sort of deity to bend the laws of nature to suit my preferences, rewarding me while screwing over someone else, but I opted to rely on reason instead.

An hour on the treadmill (because Jesus never seemed willing to help me get in shape no matter how hard I used to pray), a quick lunch without any "burnt offerings," and back to work for a bit. Then it was time for a shower, which strangely did not make me dry. Afterward, I got in my car (because I've never developed the power to travel by prayer) and drove to the pharmacy for pain medication. It took awhile to get an accurate diagnosis, but it was well worth the hassle. The medication is cheap, has been quite effective in allowing me to get through the day, and seems to have only mild side effects. With my capacity to reason, I made the choice to rely on medical science rather than faith healing.

Back home after a couple other errands, more coffee, and here I am with some of the afternoon still ahead of me. I've got more work to do, but I think I can say with great confidence that I will continue to exercise reason throughout the rest of the day. I'll continue to reap the many benefits of science and reason rather than groveling before mythical beings in a futile effort to meet my needs. This has not been what I'd call a celebration of any sort, but it was my day of reason and I'm happy to have had it.