Since I discovered their existence decades ago, I’ve relied upon the two principal publications of the Center for Inquiry, Skeptical Inquirer and Free Inquiry, to keep me plugged into the worlds of scientific skepticism and secular humanism and to afford me the in-depth, critically examined,
and unbiased information I needed to know about important issues of the day. Around that same time I discovered a number of podcasts that also helped me to
understand these significant issues and, in many ways, provided welcome entertainment. CFI’s Point of Inquiry was among them and quickly became
one of my few “must listen” science and reason shows. I frequently recommend these publications and the podcast to people who want advice on getting
involved in, or simply understanding, the scientific method and timely skeptical or secular issues.
When I heard that CFI was going to start up a local community here in the National Capital area, it was exciting news. As soon as I was able to do so I
began to participate in local events—meeting like-minded folks who I now count as true friends. As time went on, I started attending CFI–DC events more
often, became a Friend of the Center, and volunteered for outreach events such as tabling at George Washington University and Eastern Market. One thing led
to another, and I was asked to join several committees, to chair the Advisory Board, and was honored and humbled (not to mention very surprised) to have
been named Freethinker of the Year in 2009. Since then I have worked to extend our outreach at every opportunity. For example, to other participants in The
Amazing Meeting by coordinating with the National Capital Area Skeptics and New York City Skeptics to cohost a Drinking Skeptically event in Las Vegas a
few years ago. I was involved in starting up the Independent Investigation Group DC and have participated in several CFI Leadership Conferences in Amherst.
I am pleased to have had numerous photographs that I’ve taken at events such as CFI World Congress, CSICON, CFI Summit, and the Women in Secularism series
of conferences posted and published by CFI and other allied organizations. Finally, over the past few years I have coauthored three articles on
complementary and alternative medicine that have been published in Skeptical Inquirer and cited in other respected books and journals in the field
of evidence-based medicine.
I seriously doubt that I’d have become so involved in activism that fosters a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist
values if it hadn’t been for my involvement with the Center for Inquiry and especially with our local CFI–DC community that so brightly shines the light of
critical thought in our nation’s capital. I am proud and happy to be a member and supporter of CFI and look forward with enthusiasm to many more years of
Julie and I have been around for something over six decades, and we have never seen a time when so many people are comfortable with the idea that reality
is defined by what they want it to be, not by what it is.
This has two disturbing consequences. First, to the degree that we, as a society, reject rational and scientific thinking, we reject the same things that
made us a modern, affluent, industrialized democracy. Second, the effects of irrationality fall hardest on the most vulnerable of us: the poor, the less
well educated, and people in medical or financial crisis. These people are most easily exploited by the hucksters of phony solutions to their problems.
Unproven medical treatments, global warming denial, free energy, spiritualism, New Age mysticism, contempt for uncomfortable truths—these are what you find
in a society on the wane.
We can’t think of an organization that is more strongly committed to the job of countering this trend than CFI, and we know of none more effective. While
other institutions, such as public broadcasting, provide anchors of rationality in a sea of enlightenment deniers, none address the problem as directly and
vigorously as CFI. For that reason, we strongly recommend that anyone concerned about this state of affairs (and everyone should be) support CFI and its
I discovered CFI as part of my search for evidence-based answers to life’s major questions. CFI is important to me because after decades of spiritual
search, I concluded that the universe is natural and not supernatural.
I have chosen to strongly support CFI and to serve as chair of its board of directors because CFI truly covers the waterfront in the uniform application of
the scientific and empirical methods to all paranormal claims. The natural universe is seamless. The same analytic approach that makes the appearance of
extraterrestrial UFOs highly improbable also does so with regard to the claim that a dead person was supernaturally resurrected 2,000 years ago. Humanity
must outgrow its intellectual infancy of treating various mythologies as if they were true. While I am a strong supporter of religious liberty and want the
religious to have full equal legal rights in society, I believe that religious dogma, particularly in its fundamentalist form, is a pernicious and backward
rejection of modernity. Such fundamentalism does not deserve to be suppressed. It deserves to be vigorously challenged in the public marketplace of ideas.
Also, as long as atheists are so despised by society, there can be no measurable advancement in human enlightenment. For people to despise others for
nothing more than nonbelief in a supernatural being is the epitome of regressive thinking. As an atheist, I reject the supernatural claims of religion
based on the overwhelming evidence of naturalism. Evidence of absence is absence of evidence. There has never been one verified supernatural occurrence in
all of human history. To the extent that society continues to believe that the claims of religion deserve some special lenient treatment, not provided to
other paranormal claims, we have not yet come close to intellectual maturity.
As I am a scientific skeptic, as well as an atheist, I find that CFI’s activities in this regard are also world class. Billions of people will literally
believe anything. When someone is suffering from a disease or injury that can only be legitimately treated by medical science, the resort to unproven
“alternative” methods can have devastating effects. There is no scientific basis for the claims of homeopathy. Yet, very large numbers of people will seek
homeopathic remedies to cure various ailments instead of seeking the help of evidence-based medicine.
Astrology is also another bogus belief system that is totally lacking in scientific substantiation. Yet, people will actually base real world decisions on
such a groundless system. There is no connection between the location of stars billions of light years away from us and the moment of our births—in a
manner that yields any reliable information about our personalities.
This is why I have devoted enormous amounts of time and money to CFI. I would encourage others to do the same if they are persuaded by the evidence that
our universe is natural and not supernatural.
Defeating superstition, however it manifests, with science and reason is truly our final frontier.
Spike Wadsworth is an Oregonian who evolved away from religion in his late twenties. He has been a banker, social worker, and investor, the latter for the
last thirty years. Spike holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin, an MSW from Portland State University, and a BS in business from Oregon State
Sherry Sheng was born in Taiwan and has never had a religious belief system. She received her BS in zoology from National Taiwan University and an MS in
fisheries biology from the University of Washington after moving to the United States in 1973. Her past careers included heading the Seattle Aquarium and
the Oregon Zoo. She was also deputy director of the Oregon Department of Economic Development. She became a member of CFI following her marriage to Spike
Spike and Sherry are retired and enjoy traveling. Sherry is involved heavily in volunteer work and has been a master gardener since 2005. She was awarded
Oregon Master Gardener of the Year in 2013. Both are committed to CFI because its mission matches their interests in promoting and defending the sciences
and secularism and opposing supernatural and pseudoscientific ideas. They have established trusts to support CFI in its future efforts. Spike and Sherry
are also strong supporters of the social services and the environment.
I discovered CFI when a friend brought magazines to my house. I looked at them and researched more about the organization and secular humanism and thought
to myself, "I like this. It is a good moral way of living without being required to believe in things I don't find to be true.” I learned that there were
local groups but none in Indiana. So, I started Humanist Friendship Group of Central Indiana in 1999. I support CFI because it gives a voice to the
nonreligious. I encourage others to support CFI for this same reason and to build a community of nonreligious people who can come together for social,
educational, and advocacy activities.
Reba Boyd Wooden
is Executive Director of Center for Inquiry Indiana. She started The Humanist Friendship Group of Central Indiana in 1999 which became the Center for
Inquiry – Indiana in 2005. On April 1, 2007, CFI – Indiana opened on the Indianapolis downtown canal walk. Reba has a BA from University of Indianapolis
with a major in Social Studies Education and a minor in Business Education, an MS from Butler University in History/Education, and an MS in Counseling and
Counselor Education from Indiana University. She retired after 37 years in public education in 2005. She spent her last 13 years as a high school guidance
counselor and the previous years in the classroom.