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Ronald A. Lindsay

Ronald A. Lindsay's photo

Ronald A. Lindsay is president and CEO 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.

Islam, Religious Dogmatism, and Terrorism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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 (centerforinquiry.net)
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.

The Embarrassment of Noah

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 31, 2014
One of the persistent criticisms of the so-called New Atheists—Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, et al.—is that many of their arguments, although directed against religious belief in general, are really relevant only for fundamentalists. Sure, if you interpret the Bible literally, God comes across as a homicidal, genocidal, misogynistic monster, but this crude understanding of scripture is held only by ignorant believers, who, at most, constitute a substantial minority of the faithful.  Therefore, the New Atheists present a distorted view of religion and show little understanding of the mindset of “moderate” religionists.  The moderate religionists do not believe the Bible provides us with a literally true history of ancient times, nor do they regard the Bible, in particular the Old Testament, as providing an accurate conception of God and God’s relationship to humanity. 

God, Incorporated: Observations on the Hobby Lobby Argument

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 25, 2014
Today, I attended the Supreme Court argument in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The case is a complex one, with several distinct issues that need to be resolved. In this post, I will briefly address one of those issues, namely whether a for-profit corporation can claim a religious identity and an entitlement to an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

Evidence-Based Reasoning: Comments on a Blog Post

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 27, 2014
Evidence-Based Reasoning. This is a phrase you hear skeptics use a lot. We at CFI use it. We firmly believe in the importance of evidence-based reasoning and critical thinking. This is one reason I’m disappointed in Ben Radford’s recent post. Ben has done some good work for this organization over the years, but I’m afraid this latest post may have been written in some haste.

Should Catholic Judges Recuse Themselves from the Contraceptive Mandate Cases?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 26, 2013
I believe Catholics can be good citizens. I also think Catholic judges and justices can fulfill their obligation to respect and enforce the Constitution and laws of the United States. However, I’m not sure the Catholic Church considers a judge’s oath of office to take precedence over the judge’s obligation to avoid being complicit in evil. This is troubling—because the Church has a very broad understanding of what it means to be complicit in evil.

Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 19, 2013
Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty
Hawaii recently became the fifteenth state to legalize same-sex marriage. As more and more states recognize same-sex marriage, there’s been some noise about how legalization of same-sex marriage may infringe on freedom of conscience and violate the rights of some religious believers. As far as I can tell, this is a needless worry.  In fact, the lack of any legitimate basis for concern makes one suspect this hand-wringing over the supposed threat to religious liberty is merely a veiled attempt to derail the movement to legalize same-sex marriage.

Negligent Homicide, Not Murder

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 13, 2013
I have received a number of comments on my blog post the other day re the oral argument in Town of Greece v. Galloway. Some have agreed with my assessment. (And some who wrote about the argument independently made a similar assessment.) Others have said my judgment was far too harsh or unfair. Critics have focused on my assertion that the plaintiffs’ counsel threw atheists under the bus. These critics have insisted that the attorney didn’t have much choice when he indicated the concerns of atheists did not have to be considered in shaping a remedy because he could not have argued that prayer should be eliminated entirely—not if he wanted to win the case.

“We’ve Already Excluded the Atheists, Right?”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 7, 2013
“We’ve Already Excluded the Atheists, Right?”
This was the question Chief Justice Roberts posed yesterday to the attorney representing the plaintiffs in Town of Greece v. Galloway — plaintiffs meaning the people challenging the town’s prayer practice. Roberts was asking whether the concerns of atheists had to be considered in determining whether the prayer practice is constitutional. And, incredibly, the plaintiffs’ attorney responded, “We’ve excluded the atheists.” In other words, to all atheists: Your concerns don’t matter. You’re not part of the community. You’re a special case and your constitutional rights are limited. Or, if you prefer blunter language, eat shit.

Council of Elders

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 6, 2013
Council of Elders
The United States purports to be a democracy. In reality, it is ruled by a Council of Elders. No, I’m not a conspiracy theorist.

The Pledge Issue: Consider It Again For The First Time

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2013
The Pledge Issue: Consider It Again For The First Time
I probably don't have to tell most readers of this blog that many nonreligious individuals strongly object to state laws that mandate recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools. I probably also don't have to tell most readers that all legal challenges to these laws have heretofore failed. However, there may now be at least a slim chance that this losing streak will come to an end.

What I Wrote To Scientific American

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 12, 2013
On August 8, I wrote to the relevant editors at Scientific American after Dr. Karen Stollznow posted her blog piece about sexual harassment. I did so because Dr. Stollznow’s piece contained several inaccuracies, which were repeated in blogs and then showed up in letters to me. These inaccuracies are damaging to the reputation of the Center for Inquiry, an organization to which I have a fiduciary obligation. I asked Scientific American to issue an apology and make three specific corrections. I did not ask for the post to be removed. In my view, it would have been preferable if it had remained posted, but with the corrections. Scientific American decided otherwise. My email to Scientific American appears below.

Some Remarks on My Talk at WIS2

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 22, 2013
It has been a few weeks since I have said anything in public about the controversy over my remarks at the Women in Secularism 2 conference.  As CFI announced via Twitter, this pause was to enable the board to have time to consider the matter.  The board has issued its statement.  It is now an appropriate time for me to make some remarks. 

Statement Re My May 18 Blog Post

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 23, 2013
The decision to issue the following statement is my own decision, and is not the result of any instruction or pressure, direct or indirect, from anyone, including, but not limited to, members of the CFI board of directors.

Watson’s World and Two Models of Communication

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2013
Rebecca Watson inhabits an alternate universe.  At least that is the most charitable explanation I can provide for her recent smear.  Watson has posted comments on my opening talk at Women in Secularism 2.  It may be the most intellectually dishonest piece of writing since the last communique issued by North Korea. 

A Few Examples of “Shut Up and Listen”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 18, 2013
So I gave a talk yesterday afternoon in which I emphasized how horrible it was that women had been suppressed for thousands of years, and, on many matters, had been instructed to remain silent.  As I stated at the end of my talk, this enforced silence robbed women of their humanity, and I indicated that CFI was committed to working toward a society in which the autonomy of women would be respected and, among other things, they would be free to express themselves however they wanted. 

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