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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.

Reality Check: The Nod to God

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 6, 2012

So the Democrats inserted God into the party platform. What did we expect?

Some Observations About Atheism Plus

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 27, 2012

WARNING: This post contains mild language, constructive criticism, occasional reasoning, and no invective (except by way of parody).

A Concise Review of a Clump of Matter

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 25, 2012
A Concise Review of a Clump of Matter

Just read the book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality. It is a clump of matter. The author, Alex Rosenberg, assures it is. Further, as a clump of matter it cannot be about anything, because “one clump of matter can’t be about another clump of matter,” and clumps of matter (or more precisely, fermions and bosons) are all there is (emphasis in original).

The Nuns vs. Ryan: The Futility of Basing Public Policy on Religion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 22, 2012
The Nuns vs. Ryan: The Futility of Basing Public Policy on Religion

An instructive reminder of the futility of trying to base public policy on religious doctrine is the current dispute between some politically progressive Catholics and Paul Ryan and his supporters regarding who is more faithful to Catholic teachings. 

Leaving Sanctity Behind

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2012
Leaving Sanctity Behind

Jonathan Haidt, in his recent book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, claims that “sanctity” is one of the six foundations of moral psychology. Central to his claim is his argument that we find some actions abhorrent, yet we cannot explain how they harm anyone. According to Haidt, we regard these actions as immoral because they violate our sense of the sacred. We find them disgusting, degrading.

Religious Beliefs and Politics

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 13, 2012

One of the explicit goals of CFI is to end the influence that religion has on public policy. Obviously, we are adamantly opposed to any politician who seeks to impose her/his religious views on other Americans. That said, not everyone who is religious is a theocrat, and religious beliefs, by themselves, do not disqualify someone for office. Under our Constitution they cannot.

From London to Mars: Moving Forward with Science

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 6, 2012
From London to Mars: Moving Forward with Science

Promoting science is part of CFI’s mission. Presumably, most people reading this post do not need to be persuaded of the worth of this objective. Nonetheless, two recent events underscore just how marvelous a tool science is.

Be a Hero in Less Than Five Minutes

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 26, 2012
Be a Hero in Less Than Five Minutes

You can stand up for freedom of conscience without any danger to yourself—indeed without breaking a sweat. You can help someone who is being unjustly persecuted without leaving the comfort of your chair. You can advance the cause of freethought internationally without spending a dime. You can be a hero in less than five minutes. Here’s how.

Humanism and Wealth

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
July 12, 2012
Humanism and Wealth

There’s been a lot of talk in the secular blogosphere recently about sex and gender issues. This is an important set of topics, but just for a change of pace, I thought I would bring up another subject that can rev up our engines, namely money.

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2012

Warning: the reaction of some of you to this post may be “tl;dr.” Fine, I’ve already posted some abbreviated comments on CFI’s new policy and you can limit yourself to reading those comments if you want. Others, however, may be interested in a longer discussion.

CFI’s New Policy on Hostile Conduct/Harassment at Conferences (Abridged Post)

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 29, 2012

CFI has issued a new policy on hostile conduct/harassment at its conferences. This post will provide an abridged explanation of why CFI issued this policy. A second post will provide a longer explanation and discuss how the policy will be administered.

Can We Drop “Balls”?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 11, 2012
Can We Drop “Balls”?

Many people, including many skeptics, atheists, and humanists, use the term “balls” or its myriad equivalents as a metaphor for courage, determination, resolve or similar attributes.  I suggest we should stop using such terms, for a pretty obvious reason: one doesn’t need testicles to be courageous, determined, or resolute.

 

Coming Out: Gay vs. Atheist

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
June 6, 2012
Coming Out: Gay vs. Atheist

June is LGBT Pride Month. And the LGBT movement can take pride in many accomplishments. In the space of a few decades, gays have moved from being pariahs and criminals to being generally accepted in many parts of the U.S. The transformation in the political, legal, and social landscape has been nothing short of astonishing.

What If The Catholic Church Wins?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 23, 2012
What If The Catholic Church Wins?

As you probably know, on Monday, a number of organizations affiliated with the Catholic Church, including various organizations that provide secular services, filed suit in several federal courts around the country. The lawsuits maintain that HHS has violated the First Amendment rights of these organizations by requiring them to include within their employees’ health care plans coverage for contraceptive care. Although these coordinated lawsuits smell like a publicity stunt — the lawsuits are premature since the regulation is not in effect — we should consider what the precedential effect would be of a Church victory.

We Can’t Stop Now

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 22, 2012
We Can’t Stop Now

Based on my own experience—let alone the many favorable reactions we have received from attendees and speakers—I think we need to have another Women in Secularism conference. When, where, and other logistical items that go into conference planning need to be discussed and determined over the next few months (we may even change the name), but we have to have another.

Edwina Rogers—An Inspired Choice?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
May 9, 2012
Edwina Rogers—An Inspired Choice?

I am becoming leery of taking trips overseas. It seems that controversies within the American secular movement tend to flair up soon after I flash my passport in some foreign land.

A Closer Look at The Republican Brain

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 15, 2012
A Closer Look at The Republican Brain

The Republican Brain is a well-written and informative book. I learned a lot from it. It’s also an important book. It advances a thesis that, if true, has significant implications for psychology, politics, and public policy. The book marshals a wide array of research in support of its thesis, and this research is accurately and perceptively summarized. However, I don’t believe there is sufficient evidence to support the book’s central claims.

The Republican Brain—Is It Sound Science?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
April 10, 2012
The Republican Brain—Is It Sound Science?

Chris Mooney is an experienced science journalist, a skilled writer, a great host for Point of Inquiry, and a friend. Not a close friend, but he is someone who has helped me and CFI on several occasions and I never forget a favor. But, paraphrasing Aristotle, although Chris is dear to me, so too is truth. I’m concerned that Chris’s new book may be advancing a thesis that lacks adequate scientific support.

And Why The Reason Rally Was But One Step Forward On A Long Road

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 29, 2012

The Reason Rally showed the secular movement has come a long way—but much remains to be accomplished.

A Brief Recap of The Reason Rally

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 29, 2012
A Brief Recap of The Reason Rally

The Reason Rally was a wonderful event—rain and all.  The Reason Rally was rightfully billed as a “coming out” party and a celebration.  We showed our fellow Americans that we have the numbers and the commitment to be taken seriously—and we had a great time doing so.  The speakers were eloquent, the entertainers were funny and engaging, and the crowd was uniformly upbeat. 

Shouldn’t Arizona Scrutinize How Men Are Using Viagra?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 16, 2012
Shouldn’t Arizona Scrutinize How Men Are Using Viagra?

In the controversy over contraceptive coverage for women in health care plans, things get crazier by the minute. Arizona is considering legislation that would permit religious employers to require women who want reimbursement for the cost of contraception to submit a claim, supported by evidence, that the pills are not being used for contraception, but to treat some other medical issue. Incredible, right?

 

Being Clear About Our Objectives

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
March 14, 2012
Being Clear About Our Objectives

Moving Secularism Forward, the joint conference of CFI and the Council for Secular Humanism, took place in Orlando a little over a week ago. The presentations at the conferences have generated a fair amount of commentary (for examples, see here and here). This is a good thing. One of the purposes of our conferences is to get people to think, to debate, and, in some cases, to look at issues from a different perspective.

Women in Secularism—A Conference for Everyone

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 24, 2012
Women in Secularism—A Conference for Everyone

CFI’s upcoming conference on Women in Secularism (register here) is most decidedly not a conference targeting an exclusively female audience. Yes, the speakers are all female and yes, the conference is focused on women’s concerns. But the concerns of women are not a concern for women only.

Contraception and Religious Liberty

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 20, 2012
Contraception and Religious Liberty

As everyone is aware, the Catholic Church and some other religious institutions have argued that the Obama administration’s rule requiring employers to include contraceptive care within the scope of their health insurance plans violates the freedom of conscience of “individuals and organizations.”  This argument distorts the First Amendment guarantees of religious liberty and makes use of a flawed and tendentious interpretation of the concept of conscientious objection.

Protect Zygotes and Corporations; Piss on Women

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 16, 2012

You may have noticed that in the last couple of years, there’s been an effort by some conservatives to extend rights of “personhood” to entities many of us don’t regard as persons, namely corporations and zygotes. Corporations and zygotes are not conceptually related, but, nonetheless, the extension of personhood rights to corporations may pave the way for the extension of personhood rights to zygotes. The latter action would, of course, limit the autonomy and reproductive rights of real persons, namely women.

Mohammed Was Not a Divinely Inspired Prophet and There Is No Allah

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 9, 2012

I know for many who read this blog, this assertion is hardly startling, but it is blasphemous, at least from an Islamic perspective. In fact, it’s probably the simplest, most direct blasphemous utterance one can make regarding Islam since it denies the central tenet of that faith. I thought today would be an especially appropriate day to make this assertion in light of the troubles encountered by the journalist Hamza Kashgari in Saudi Arabia.

Obama, the Prayer Breakfast, and Plato

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
February 6, 2012
Obama, the Prayer Breakfast, and Plato

Not much has been said in the atheist blogosphere about President Obama’s appearance and remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2. Probably a couple of reasons for this. The appearance in itself is not really news. Sadly, this is just what our presidents, Democrat or Republican, do. Also, I sense that not a few atheists think Obama should be cut some slack on church-state issues—both because he’s better than any alternative (can you imagine President Gingrich?) and because some suspect that on ceremonial occasions such as the National Prayer Breakfast, he’s just going through the motions. However, having reviewed his remarks, I think they merit some comment.

Hosanna-Tabor and the Weird Status of Religion

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 11, 2012

Today the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the Hosanna-Tabor case that there is a “ministerial exception” to the nation’s laws forbidding discrimination in employment. The Court ruled that both religion clauses of the First Amendment—the Free Exercise Clause and the Establishment Clause—effectively provide religious institutions with absolute discretion to select their “ministers.” 

About Free Thinking

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 6, 2012

What is the cornerstone of CFI’s mission? Is it atheism or humanism? No, not really. Commitments to atheism or humanism or any other “ism” are conclusions we arrive at, presumably after consideration of the relevant evidence and arguments. The cornerstone of our mission is freedom of expression and critical inquiry. We see freedom of expression and critical inquiry as indispensable tools for arriving at an accurate understanding of just about any issue of importance, including, but not limited to, the truth of religious or fringe science claims. This brings me to the recent controversy concerning Ben Radford’s blog post on Free Thinking, as well as the related controversy about the blog Free Thinking itself.

“Between Consenting Adults”

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 6, 2012
“Between Consenting Adults”

Many of you have probably heard about the resignation of Catholic Bishop Gabino Zavala.  You may have heard of it without even becoming aware of it, because it is the type of news that no longer attracts special attention.  Another day, another sex scandal for the Catholic Church.  Nowadays, weather reports are likely to be more memorable.

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