CFI’s Michael De Dora Jr. on “The Future of Freethought”

Sunday, October 25th 2009 at 11:15 pm
Sunday, October 25th 2009 at 12:00 pm
New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street at Central Park West

A society that values freethought might look something like this: secular, and based on reason, science, free inquiry, and humanism. Yet as wonderful as this might sound for many of us, Americans currently live in a very different society: certain religious and other unreasonable beliefs control the country’s public policy and social discourse–and these beliefs are largely off the conversation table.

There is a burgeoning freethought movement working to address this problem. Accordingly, there are questions to ask about the movement itself. Is there a best name for those within the movement: atheists, skeptics, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers? Or should there be no labels at all? Does the movement have shared basic foundations, and, if so, what are they? Do these foundations cross the boundaries of labels? And how can secularists talk openly and reasonably about morality with people who disagree with us? Any successful social movement must also have the future in mind. What can we do to support the brave youngsters who come out as nonreligious and want to be active? What are the movement’s goals? And are there reasons to be optimistic about the future?

Michael De Dora Jr. is executive director of the Center for Inquiry in New York City, where he oversees the center’s local work to foster a secular society based on science, reason, free inquiry, and humanist values. He is currently completing a Master’s degree in political science at Brooklyn College, focusing on philosophy and government. He spent his undergraduate years at SUNY Albany, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and communication in 2005. Before CFI, he worked as a news writer and editor for the City University of New York (CUNY) and FOX News.