Secularism, Religion, Ethics, and Society - Experts and Scholars

Experts and Spokespersons Available to Comment on and Respond to Issues Revolving around Secular Humanism, Religion, Ethics, and Society

The culture wars surrounding the intersection of religion, ethics, and society continue to generate a firestorm of controversy. “The New Atheism” is a term created by pundits and journalists to describe the recent flood of best-selling books by the likes of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, Victor Stenger, and others.  These books have placed the topic of unbelief—once considered off-limits—front and center in the popular media. Experts at the Center for Inquiry (CFI), home of the Council for Secular Humanism, view these books as largely responsible for a renewed and enriched cultural debate.

The scientific, philosophical, and ethical outlook now called secular humanism has exerted a profound influence on civilization from the ancient world to the present.  Secular humanism is especially relevant to the needs of our increasingly secular world, because it rejects supernatural explanations of reality and seeks to optimize the fullness of human life in a naturalistic universe. The term nonreligious can be used broadly to refer to those who do not belong to or identify with a denomination or do not claim to believe in God—they may be agnostics, atheists, or skeptics. They look to modern science, literature, philosophy, ethics, and the arts for inspiration rather than the traditional religious “sacred texts.”

The Council for Secular Humanism, housed at the Center for Inquiry think tank, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization that represents the views of secular humanists, agnostics, atheists, and other nonbelievers.
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Core issues we provide commentary on:

Issue Experts
Science and Religion
Dr. Susan Haack, Dr. John Shook, Susan Jacoby
Religion, Secularism, and American Politics
Edward Tabash, Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, Dr. John Shook, Tom Flynn, Susan Jacoby
Religion and Secular Values
Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, Dr. John Shook, Tom Flynn, Susan Jacoby
Humanism and Culture Dr. John Shook, Tom Flynn, Susan Jacoby
Humanism & Scientific Controversies Dr. John Shook, Dr. Susan Haack
Humanism and Religion Tom Flynn, Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, Dr. John Shook
History and Philosophy of Humanism and Freethought Dr. John Shook, Susan Jacoby, Tom Flynn
Bioethics Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, Dr. John Shook
First Amendment Issues Dr. Ronald A. Lindsay, Dr. John Shook, Edward Tabash

Our Regiment of Experts and Commentators

Ronald A. Lindsay, J.D., Ph.D. is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the Center for Inquiry and a Senior Research Fellow. He is by training and experience both a lawyer and a philosopher. An honors graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, he practiced for twenty-six years with the national law firm of Seyfarth Shaw LLP.. He holds an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating that can be awarded to an attorney. With respect to philosophy, Dr. Lindsay received his Ph.D. from Georgetown University, specializing in bioethics. He has had articles published in peer-reviewed journals such as The Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, the Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, and The American Journal of Bioethics. In addition, several of his articles have appeared in Free Inquiry, including a widely reproduced article on cloning. Dr. Lindsay has spoken before numerous audiences and has appeared on radio and television to discuss both bioethics and constitutional law issues. His book, Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas (Prometheus Books, 2008), was critically acclaimed by Nature and other scholarly journals.

Susan JacobyTom Flynn, the editor of Free Inquiry, is also the executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism and the founder of its First Amendment Task Force, the author or editor of four books, and a contributing columnist for Free Inquiry. He is a regular contributor to the Newsweek/Washington Post Web-zine "On Faith." The major reference work he edited, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, was published by Amherst-based Prometheus Books in November 2007. Flynn has produced several programs, including the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry’s public-education film, Beyond Belief; the long-running national cable program, The Humanist Perspective; and a 13-part public affairs radio series distributed via the National Public Radio satellite system; as well as video productions for the Center for Inquiry, Council for Secular Humanism, and most recently, the high-definition narrative and introductory video for the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum. A journalist, novelist, entertainer and folklorist, Flynn has written extensively on church-state issues, as well as two novels and the nonfiction The Trouble With Christmas (Prometheus 1993), a secularist critique of the holiday, and has made hundreds of radio and TV appearances in his role as the curmudgeonly "anti-Claus."

Susan JacobySusan Jacoby is a regular panelist for On Faith, a Web site sponsored by The Washington Post and Newsweek. She also has her own political blog, The Secularist’s Corner on the Web site of The Washington Post. She has appeared frequently in Free Inquiry magazine. The Age of American Unreason is Susan Jacoby’s eighth book. Ms. Jacoby is an independent scholar whose work now focuses on American intellectual history. Jacoby’s Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism (2004), was hailed in The New York Times as an "ardent and insightful work" that "seeks to rescue a proud tradition from the indifference of posterity." Susan Jacoby has been the recipient of many grants and awards, from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations, as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities. In 2001-2002, she was named a fellow at the Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

Dr. Susan Haack, is a senior research fellow of the Center for Inquiry and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. Ms. Haack is also Cooper Senior Scholar in Arts and Sciences, Professor of Philosophy, and Professor of Law at the University of Miami. She received her Doctorate from Oxford University. Her most recent book is Defending Science-Within Reason: Between Scientism and Cynicism (Prometheus Books).

John Shook, PhD, is CFI's Director of Education and a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry, as well as research professor in philosophy at the University at Buffalo. He received his PhD in philosophy at the University at Buffalo and was a professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University for six years. Among his current responsibilities are the Center for Inquiry's Naturalism Research Project and the expansion of the Center's Jo Ann Boydston Library of American Philosophical Naturalism. His expertise resides in pragmatism and American naturalism and their application to contemporary issues surrounding secular humanism, ethics, religion, politics, and society. Shook has authored and edited more than a dozen books, is a co-editor of three philosophy journals, and travels for lectures and debates across the United States and around the world. He co-edited the forthcoming book The Future of Naturalism with Paul Kurtz.

Eddie Tabash, a civil-rights attorney, the chair of the First Amendment Task Force of the Council for Secular Humanism, and the chair of the national legal committee for Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Tabash has published numerous articles on civil rights and religion in the Beverly Hills Bar Journal, Daily Breeze, the Los Angeles Times, and The Los Angeles Daily Journal.

To arrange interviews or bookings for media appearances with any of these experts please contact:

Paul Fidalgo, (207) 358-9785