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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.

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.

Plantinga’s Closing Argument

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
January 3, 2012
Plantinga’s Closing Argument

Alvin Plantinga’s latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism, has received a fair amount of attention. Plantinga has even been written up in the New York Times. Having read most of his book, I will acknowledge that it confirms he is a clever polemicist. He can present a thoroughly fallacious argument with confidence, dressing it up so it appears superficially impressive.  God may not have a more skilled advocate. 

 

Atheist Boosters?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
December 12, 2011
Atheist Boosters?

CFI recently held a conference on the work of Daniel Dennett and the scientific investigation of religion. It may be the best conference I’ve ever attended. The presentations of the speakers were of uniformly high-quality—and I say that even for the speakers with whom I had some substantive disagreement. Interestingly, one such speaker was Gregory Paul, the independent researcher who has done some excellent work on the sociology of religious belief. Unfortunately, Paul seems to be in the camp of those who tend to inflate the number of atheists in the United States.

Flogging God

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
November 2, 2011
Flogging God

The U.S. House of Representatives yesterday passed overwhelmingly a resolution “reaffirming” the phrase “In God We Trust” as our national motto.  The vote was 396 to 9. The need for reaffirming of this motto was not clearly stated in the resolution, but the real motivation for this resolution is both too obvious and too unseemly to warrant acknowledgment: most politicians in this God-intoxicated country want to milk God for all the votes they can get. And, from a political standpoint, who can blame them? It’s proven to be a very successful tactic.

Cults, Religion, and the Presidency

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 12, 2011
Cults, Religion, and the Presidency

Reverend Robert Jeffress notoriously claimed the other day that Mormonism is a cult. From the context of his remarks I don’t think he was using the term “cult” as a term of approbation. So is Mormonism a cult, and is Romney’s Mormon faith relevant to his qualifications to be president?

A Brief Comment on the Wyndgate Matter

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
October 12, 2011

As most of you are aware, CFI-Michigan, one of our branches, contracted with a club in suburban Detroit—The Wyndgate—to hold an event at which Richard Dawkins had graciously agreed to speak. (In fact, the event takes place this evening.) However, once the club owner became aware that Professor Dawkins is an atheist, the club cancelled the event, refusing to honor its contract.

Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 30, 2011

Happy International Blasphemy Rights Day! There are thousands of ways to commemorate this day—almost as many as there are prophets who have claimed the title of messenger from the gods.

End the Silence: Join Us at the Reason Rally

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 29, 2011
End the Silence: Join Us at the Reason Rally

The Reason Rally will take place on March 24, 2012 on the Mall in Washington, D.C. Here are some reasons you should join me and the thousands of other atheists, agnostics, and humanists who will be there.

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2011

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 22, 2011
International Blasphemy Rights Day 2011

So Mumtaz Qadri, the assassin of Salman Taseer, has confessed to the murder. We were hardly in suspense. Prior to his formal plea in court, Qadri had boasted of his killing Taseer. In the minds of many Pakistanis, he had reason to be proud—Taseer, the governor of Punjab province, had proposed changes to Pakistan’s harsh blasphemy laws. Allowing insults to Islam? Unimaginable. When Qadri was first brought before a court in January, he was showered with rose petals.

 

Without God There Is No Joy?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 13, 2011
Without God There Is No Joy?

As many of you are aware, CFI is currently running an ad campaign in several cities (Grand Rapids, Niagara Falls, Durham, and Washington, D.C.). This is the second phase of the “Living without Religion” campaign we launched earlier this year. The reaction to this campaign, both pro and con, demonstrates why this campaign is needed.

Religious Arrogance and the 9/11 Cross

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
September 7, 2011
Religious Arrogance and the 9/11 Cross

The planned placement of a cross-shaped piece of metal (hereinafter “the cross”) in the museum portion of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum has gained quite a bit of attention lately, including legal attention in the form of a lawsuit brought by our friends at American Atheists. Some of the attention has been generated by vigorous disagreement among nonbelievers about whether placement of the cross in the museum would be an Establishment Clause violation and should be opposed. The answers are “probably not, not with this Supreme Court” and “yes.”

Time for Action: the FDA and Homeopathic Drugs

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 30, 2011
Time for Action: the FDA and Homeopathic Drugs

The website of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, the division of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responsible for evaluating the efficacy of drugs, proudly proclaims that it “promotes and protects the health of Americans by assuring that all prescription and over-the-counter drugs are safe and effective.” (bolding in original) Sadly, this is not a true statement. The FDA allows homeopathic drugs to be marketed without requiring the manufacturers to establish that their drugs are effective for their intended use. This free pass to homeopathic junk needs to stop, and that is why CFI and CSI have filed a formal petition asking the FDA to hold homeopathic over-the-counter drugs to the same standards as conventional (i.e., real) medicine.

Boiron, Please Sue Us

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 17, 2011
Boiron, Please Sue Us

As you know, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) have publicly rebuked Wal-Mart for marketing homeopathic junk, in particular a product called Oscillococcinum, a purported remedy for flu. We are now inviting the product’s manufacturer, Boiron, to sue us. Here’s why.

Science Is Self-Correcting ... Sort Of

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 16, 2011

One of the claimed advantages of scientific inquiry as a mode of acquiring knowledge is that it is a self-correcting enterprise.  For example, if someone claims to have discovered a process for cold fusion, that incorrect claim can be shown to be false or unwarranted by further research and scientific testing.  This rosy picture of the scientific enterprise suggests that scientific errors will be recognized and corrected, with false claims falling by the wayside during science’s inexorable march forward. 

Is It Permissible To Question A Candidate About Her Religious Beliefs?

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 12, 2011
Is It Permissible To Question A Candidate About Her Religious Beliefs?

Some have criticized the reporter who asked Michele Bachmann during the GOP debate last night whether she would be “submissive” to her husband were she elected president. I think this criticism is unfounded. Given Bachmann’s own statements, this was a legitimate question.

Women in Secularism

Free Thinking (centerforinquiry.net)
August 4, 2011

Are men over-represented at humanist, atheist, and skeptic conferences and in the leadership of humanist, atheist, and skeptic organizations? Does the work of female writers and scholars tend to be overlooked? Does our movement need to become more diverse? Should we give careful consideration to the relationship between feminism and secularism?

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