The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What to Do by Ronald A. Lindsay

Pub Date December 1, 2014

For the first time in human history, a significant percentage of the world’s population no longer believes in God. This is especially true in developed nations, where in some societies nonbelievers now outnumber believers. Unless religion collapses completely, or undergoes a remarkable resurgence, countries across the globe must learn to carefully and effectively manage this societal mix of religious and irreligious. For in a world already deeply riven by sectarian conflict, this unprecedented demographic shift presents yet another challenge to humanity.

Writing in an engaging, accessible style, philosopher and lawyer Ronald A. Lindsay develops a tightly crafted argument for secularism—specifically, that in a religiously pluralistic society, a robust, thoroughgoing secularism is the only reliable means of preserving meaningful democracy and rights of conscience. Contrary to certain political pundits and religious leaders who commonly employ the term secularism as a scare word, Lindsay uses clear, concrete examples and jargon-free language to demonstrate that secularism is the only way to ensure equal respect and protection under the law—for believers and nonbelievers alike.

Although critical of some aspects of religion, Lindsay neither presents an anti-religious tirade nor seeks to convert anyone to non-belief, reminding us that secularism and atheism are not synonymous. Rather, he shows how secularism works to everyone’s benefit and makes the definitive case that the secular model should be feared by none—and embraced by all.

Ronald A. Lindsay, J.D., Ph.D. 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 prior to joining the Center for Inquiry, where he has been president and CEO since June 2008. 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. His book Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas was published by Prometheus Books in June 2008. He was asked to write the entry on “Euthanasia” for the International Encyclopedia of Ethics (Wiley Blackwell, forthcoming 2012).

Dr. Lindsay has spoken before numerous audiences and has appeared on radio and television to discuss issues in bioethics and constitutional law controversies.

Is Religion a Good Thing?

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