The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.

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Of Gender, Language, and Clarity

Advocatus Diaboli  with Tom Flynn
September 02, 2014

FREE INQUIRY columnist Greta Christina wrote a great essay for her other column (over at THE HUMANIST) about issues associated with treating transgender people with respect. (No idea whether it's online, but the column "Trans People and Basic Human Respect" is on pages 38-39 of the new September-October issue.) ... At one point Christina writes that some transgender people "choose to be identified with the gendered pronouns 'he' and 'she,' while others prefer new gender-neutral pronouns like 'zie' and 'hir' or use 'they' as a singular pronoun." I'm down with all of that except the last bit. Using "they" as a singular pronoun ... strikes me as going one step too far, because it unnecessarily degrades the clarity of our language in regards to number.

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Skepticism is a Humble Project, Not a Bold Stance

by David R. Koepsell
September 02, 2014

Skepticism is at the heart of both humanism and science. In science, it forces us to question all our conclusions, test them, remain open to their falsification, and see our current models as always contingent. In humanism, we seek not enternal truths, but rather constantly inquire, open ourselves to new points of view, follow learning where it takes us, and remain also skeptical of any one "truth." Skepticism requires work, and we are quick to become rigid and adopt beliefs that seem unchallengable, but we must make a project of our skepticism, not a religion.

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Pseudonymous Novelist, Pseudonymous Novelist, Pseudonymous Novelist

The Morning Heresy  with Paul the Morning Heretic
September 02, 2014

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.     

Aaaand we're back. My sincere thanks to Ed Beck, Lauren Becker, and Stef McGraw for holding down the heretical fort while I was away. They were great.

The skepto-atheosphere lost one of its giants. Physicist Vic Stenger, author of numerous books including God: The Failed Hypothesisdied last week at age 79. Here's part of what our boss Ron Lindsay had to say:

One thing I liked about Vic was his lack of pretense and posturing. He didn’t trim his arguments — or his beard — to please others. He was interested in determining the truth. Period. What others thought of his occasionally rumpled look or his refusal to soft-pedal his arguments was a matter of indifference to him. We’ll miss both his intellect and his intellectual integrity. 

More bad news: Raif Badawi's sentence of 10 years and 1000 lashes has been upheld by a Saudi appeals court

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Reframing the Debate Over the Pledge: Make God Optional

No Faith Value  with Ronald A. Lindsay
September 02, 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.

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