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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.

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. 

My Talk at WIS2

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 17, 2013

There has been some discussion, including many tweets, about my talk today at Women in Secularism 2. I think some of the comments have been highly misleading. One of the principal points of my talk was the critical importance of advocacy for women’s rights, and how this advocacy was integral to CFI’s mission. This is something I emphasized at the beginning and end of my talk. You wouldn’t realize this from some of the comments. Anyway, here is the text of my talk (note the video recording may differ slighly, as I did not read it word-for-word; also grammar and punctuation probably are amiss in places, as it was intended for my eyes only).

 

 

 

Catholic-Atheist Dialogue—or Just a Soft Sell?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 11, 2013
Catholic-Atheist Dialogue—or Just a Soft Sell?

I read The Morning Heresy. If I didn’t do that and watch the Colbert Report, I would never find out what’s happening.  So the other day, an item caught my eye: Leah Libresco announcing a new forum for Catholic-atheist dialogue

Those Filthy Women: The Catholic Church’s Objections to the HHS Rule on Contraceptive Care

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 8, 2013
Those Filthy Women: The Catholic Church’s Objections to the HHS Rule on Contraceptive Care

As you probably know, back in August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule requiring employers to offer employees health insurance that provides preventive health care services. Based upon advice from the scientific and medical communities, these services include contraceptive care. Based upon advice from God, the Catholic Church has been engaged in an all-out war to kill the proposed rule.

Some Lessons from the LGBT Movement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 28, 2013
Some Lessons from the LGBT Movement

The battle for same-sex marriage isn’t over, but the outcome is no longer in doubt.

He Who Doesn’t Pray to God Prays to the Devil

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2013
He Who Doesn’t Pray to God Prays to the Devil

Been gone for a few weeks. Living in a cave in north Pakistan. Little known fact: Al-Zawahiri snores.

Cats Versus Birds: The Limits of Ethics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 3, 2013
Cats Versus Birds: The Limits of Ethics

Morality does not always provide us with a definitive answer about what’s right and what’s wrong, even when pain and suffering are involved.  This is especially true when we try to extend moral reasoning beyond its usual territory—as when we try to weigh benefits to cats against harm to birds.

Why the BSA Will Not Admit Atheists Any Time Soon

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 30, 2013
Why the BSA Will Not Admit Atheists Any Time Soon

The Boy Scouts of America appears to be ready to take a small, but significant step forward by changing its national policy prohibiting gay scouts. This is good news. Unfortunately, the BSA will continue to exclude atheists, and I predict the organization will continue to do this for some time.

The HEADS Meeting: Your Input Requested

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 9, 2013

I think it’s fairly common knowledge that the leaders of the various nationwide secular organizations have an annual meeting (called “HEADS”) to exchange ideas and discuss how we can best advance our shared objectives. This is your opportunity to give me some input prior to the meeting on a couple of specific topics.

The President’s Remarks and the Grief of Atheists

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 18, 2012
The President’s Remarks and the Grief of Atheists

President Obama gave a moving speech at the Newtown memorial service Sunday night. His remarks contained several explicitly religious references. I don’t care.

On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 25, 2012
On Shunning Fellow Atheists and Skeptics

Shunning and boycotting may be gaining acceptance in the atheist and skeptic communities.   In particular, it appears they are being adopted as tactics against fellow atheists and skeptics.  This is regrettable.

A Distortion of Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 19, 2012
A Distortion of Religious Liberty

Score one for the Catholic Church and everyone else who thinks religious liberty implies the right to impose their dogma on others. A federal judge has prohibited the Obama administration from requiring a publisher owned principally by a Christian foundation to provide its employees with contraceptive coverage, pursuant to the new health care law. The case is Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. v. Sebelius.

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Are Conservatives and Liberals Different People?

Skeptical Inquirer Volume 36.5, September/October 2012

Book Review

A review of The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality by Chris Mooney

Some Curious GOP Campaign Literature

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 16, 2012
Some Curious GOP Campaign Literature
It’s presidential campaign season and I’ve received some literature from the Romney campaign that I find curious for a couple of reasons.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2012

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 28, 2012
International Blasphemy Rights Day (IBRD)—September 30—is almost here, and that’s a good thing because freedom of expression can definitely use a rallying point. From many governments, there has been a stronger push to prohibit “offensive” speech about religion than we have witnessed in years.

Who Would Jesus Endorse—Pulpit Freedom Sunday

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 24, 2012
Who Would Jesus Endorse—Pulpit Freedom Sunday
On October 7, 2012, hundreds of clergy will intentionally defy the law by engaging in actions they might describe as coordinated civil disobedience. I view it as an unjustifiable defiance of the law and a constitutionally unsound attempt to get the government to subsidize political endorsements by clergy.

Divisiveness Within the Secular Movement

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 12, 2012
Greta Christina and PZ Myers have recently suggested that is it not necessarily a bad thing to be divisive.  True, it is not necessarily a bad thing.  It depends on what one is separating oneself from. 

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