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Ronald A. Lindsay

Ronald A. Lindsay's photo

Ronald A. Lindsay is president of the Center for Inquiry. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Georgetown University and his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. Both his admirers and his detractors agree that his abilities as a philosopher match his skills as a lawyer. Among other works, he is the author of Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas (Prometheus 2008) and the entry on “Euthanasia” for the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley Blackwell 2013). His next book, The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do, will be published by Pitchstone Publishing, with a release date of November 2014.

Assisted Dying: For Whom?

Free Thinking (
May 20, 2016

In the United States, there continues to be intense debate over whether assisted dying should be legalized— for anybody. By contrast, in some European countries, as well as in Canada, the debate is no longer over whether it should be legalized. Instead, the debate now focuses on who should be entitled to assistance in dying.

Threats to Religious Liberty: Real and Imagined

Free Thinking (
February 26, 2016

Religious liberty is under attack. A number of presidential candidates have made this claim, and it was one of the key issues in Thursday night’s Republican debate. One of the moderators, Hugh Hewitt of Salem Radio, even asserted that his worries about religious liberty keep him up at night.

On the Pursuit of Meditation: Buddha vs. Faust

Free Thinking (
February 21, 2016

Should we meditate? If so, to what extent? What benefits can we realistically expect from meditation? And what might we be sacrificing to engage in meditation? Is devoting a substantial amount of time to meditation ethically questionable?

Justice Scalia and Originalism: May They Rest in Peace

Free Thinking (
February 15, 2016

As a jurist, Antonin Scalia will likely be remembered most for championing the “originalist” view of constitutional law, that is, the view that in determining how constitutional provisions should be applied today, we need to adhere without deviation to the “original” meaning of the provisions. Scalia maintained this is the only legitimate way for an unelected judiciary to apply the Constitution because otherwise they would be acting as legislators. Scalia repeatedly heaped scorn on the view that judges should interpret constitutional provisions in light of contemporary conditions and standards.

A Modest Proposal for Achieving Secular Objectives

Free Thinking (
January 26, 2016

A state court in Florida has determined that the state can finance a Christian ministry that provides biblically based rehabilitation services because the program has a secular objective, namely rehabilitation, and no one is compelled to participate in the program. A federal court has ruled that Ken Ham’s Arc Encounter theme park is entitled to a tax incentive because even though the park is intended to promote a religious message, the tax dollars will serve the secular objective of promoting tourism, and no one is compelled to visit the theme park.

Addressing Two Dogmas on Prostitution

Free Thinking (
August 17, 2015

Back in May, I promised (threatened, some might say) to write a few blog posts on issues where I think too many humanists base their views on preconceptions, preconceptions that in some instances border on dogmas in the sense that they are resistant to conflicting empirical evidence. I’m a bit behind schedule, but this is my second post in that series.

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The Future of the Center for Inquiry

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 39.5, September/October 2015

Special Essay

I’m not saying you’re vengeful; you’re just deficient in empathy

Free Thinking (
May 26, 2015
I’m not saying you’re vengeful; you’re just deficient in empathy
So I wrote a blog post the other day the principal point of which was to argue for the proposition that it is not enough to be correct in your conclusion on a policy issue. How you arrive at your conclusion is also very important. I used the dispute over the death penalty as an illustration. A blogger vigorously objected to my post. In so doing, he confirmed the relevance of the point I was making.

Questioning Humanist Orthodoxy: Introduction to a Series

Free Thinking (
May 18, 2015
About ten days ago, I wrote an essay for Huffington Post on the death penalty, in particular, focusing on how some of those who oppose the death penalty support imprisonment in a supermax facility as a supposedly more humane alternative—a position I find logically dubious if not hypocritical. The recent decision of the Dzhohkar Tsarnaev jury to sentence him to death made me think about this issue again. It also made me think about how humanists all too often commit the cardinal intellectual sin of many of the religious. That is, they hold certain principles as beyond question. This is not a good thing.

We Should Not Evaluate Teachers Based on Student Test Scores

Free Thinking (
April 15, 2015
We at the Center for Inquiry don’t typically address how best to evaluate teacher performance, but we are an educational institution. Moreover, we’re an institution that is committed to basing public policy on sound science. Using student test scores to determine teacher pay or whether a teacher should retain a job is a policy not based on science, but rather politics and deceptive intuitions.

Hemant Mehta Did Not “Endorse” a Hate Forum

Free Thinking (
April 9, 2015
As I’ve announced, I’m leaving CFI in December. Wish I could say that in the seven years I’ve been with CFI as president, the level of discourse in the atheist/skeptic community has improved. But I can’t say that. If anything, it may have become worse.

Resignation Announcement

Free Thinking (
March 23, 2015
I have informed the board of directors for the Center for Inquiry that I will be resigning my position as president and CEO on December 31, 2015.

The Netanyahu Pirouette and the Obligations of the Israeli State

Free Thinking (
March 20, 2015
So Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has rejected a two-state solution. No, wait, that was the other day. He actually accepts, indeed, wants, a two-state solution. But hang on: it has to be under the right circumstances.

Pope Francis: About Your Mother

Free Thinking (
January 15, 2015

Pope Francis has given his opinion on the controversy surrounding Charlie Hebdo's continued sharp criticism and sarcasm regarding religious beliefs. The pope has stated that there should be limits to free expression. In particular, one should not "insult the faith of others." He analogized criticism of religious beliefs to someone cursing his mother, saying that such a person "can expect a punch."

Pope Francis is wrong.

Islam, Religious Dogmatism, and Terrorism

Free Thinking (
December 19, 2014
Recent terror attacks in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere have renewed discussion of whether it’s appropriate to use terms such as “Islamist” or “Islamic terrorist” to describe the perpetrators of such attacks. Some say that these terms unfairly denigrate and stigmatize the majority of Muslims who reject terrorism.

Physician-Assisted Dying and Same-Sex Marriage: The Connection

Free Thinking (
November 17, 2014
Two major changes in the American legal landscape are in progress, although one change is further along than the other. I'm referring to the legalization of same-sex marriage and physician-assisted dying (PAD), a.k.a. physician-assisted suicide. Same-sex marriage is now legal in over thirty states and, depending on action by the Supreme Court, may soon be legal nationwide. PAD is currently legal in only four states, but initiatives to legalize the practice are underway in several other states. Just last Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly passed a bill that would legalize PAD in that state.

A Statement from CFI’s Management Committee

Free Thinking (
November 12, 2014
As a rule, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) does not disclose to the public the medical conditions of its employees. We respect the privacy of our employees and public disclosure of this information could violate the law. However, the situation discussed in this statement is exceptional.

Some Observations on One Aspect of the 2014 Elections

Free Thinking (
November 6, 2014
Everyone is talking about the new Republican majority in the Senate. This is significant. It gives the Republican Party complete control of Congress. It will also make it very difficult for President Obama to have his judicial nominees approved by the Senate. But perhaps more significant in the long term are the Republican gains in the House of Representatives.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2014

Free Thinking (
September 29, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, is International Blasphemy Day Rights Day (IBRD). Moreover, it’s the fifth anniversary of the Center for Inquiry’s launch of IBRD.  It is an appropriate time to take stock of the state of freedom of religious belief and expression in the world.  Unfortunately, it’s not a terribly encouraging picture.

The Latest Harris Book/The Latest Harris Controversy

Free Thinking (
September 18, 2014
As you may have heard, Sam Harris has a new book out, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality Without Religion. Based on what I've heard about it so far, and what I've managed to read (to date, just the first chapter), it raises some interesting questions.

Reframing the Debate Over the Pledge: Make God Optional

Free Thinking (
September 2, 2014
Children are back in school and, as part of their daily routine, most of them will be expected to participate in the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. Recitation of the Pledge is a requirement under the laws of over forty states.

Three Observations on Ferguson

Free Thinking (
August 18, 2014
The first observation is one the Center for Inquiry has already made, and in its official capacity, but it bears repeating. Although we recognize that the police (and now, apparently, the National Guard), have an obligation to maintain public order, that obligation must be fulfilled in a manner consistent with respect for our fundamental freedoms, including the right to peacefully assemble and protest.

Five Fully-Conscious (I Promise) Book Recommendations

Free Thinking (
July 24, 2014
I’ve actually read most of four books in the space of about 12 days. No, I’m not on vacation and I’m not a speed-reader. It’s insomnia.

Some Observations on the Seventh Circuit’s Decision

Free Thinking (
July 17, 2014
As many of you know by now, the Center for Inquiry—actually, scratch that—all nonreligious Americans achieved a significant victory in federal appeals court on Monday. I want to discuss briefly some of the implications of that decision.

The Burzynski Case: The FDA’s Failure to Prevent Exploitation of Desperate Patients

Free Thinking (
July 6, 2014
As supporters of CFI are aware, we critically examine not only religion but also pseudoscience.  Some regard these as distinct enterprises with little overlap.  As you might expect, most of us at CFI view things differently. 

Eugenie C. Scott Given CFI/CSI Lifetime Achievement Award

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 38.2, March/April 2014

Conference Report
Eugenie C. Scott Given CFI/CSI Lifetime Achievement Award

Here are the remarks by CFI President and CEO Ronald A. Lindsay at the CFI Summit in Tacoma presenting the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award to Eugenie C. Scott.

The Uncomfortable, but Necessary Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Court?

Free Thinking (
June 30, 2014
The Uncomfortable, but Necessary Question: Should We Have Six Catholic Justices on the Court?
In its decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the Supreme Court has decided that the religious beliefs of employers, including closely held corporations, take precedence over the rights of employees to necessary medical care. The specific medical care to which the employers objected was certain forms of contraception. The five justices who decided that these employers’ objections were entitled to deference are all Catholics. (One Catholic justice, Sotomayor—a woman—dissented from the majority ruling.)

Religion Has No Answer for Sectarianism

Free Thinking (
June 23, 2014
In Iraq, we are witnessing yet again the tremendous harm caused by religious fanaticism.  One interesting aspect of the present conflict is that it largely pits Muslim against Muslim, with some fanatics in the Sunni tradition battling devoted adherents of the Shia tradition.  Both traditions, of course, rely on the Qur’an as the ultimate authoritative text.  So why the conflict? 

Secularism and Health Care

Free Thinking (
June 4, 2014
Secularism is about more than keeping religious mottoes off our coins or crèches off the courthouse steps. Secularism insists that our public polices be based on reason and evidence, not religious dogma.

Saints and Sexuality

Free Thinking (
April 26, 2014
Saints and Sexuality
As the whole world knows by now, former pontiffs John XXIII and John Paul II are about to be officially recognized by the Catholic Church as saints. According to Catholic doctrine this means, among other things, that these persons are worthy of being venerated as models of heroic sanctity. Also, they can intercede for you before God. You know, you can’t just walk into God the Father’s office to ask for something. He’s the chairman of the board! No, you get a saint to slip him a note so you can get a couple of minutes of the boss’s time.

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