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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.

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. 

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.

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