A program of the Center for Inquiry
For Immediate Release: November 10, 2014
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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Intolerant, extremist faiths are tightening their grip on the developing world, winning the hearts and minds of an increasingly large portion of the planet’s population. While secularism is on the ascent in the West, Leah Mickens shows in the latest issue of Free Inquiry that on the global scale, humanism may be losing its struggle against fundamentalist religion.
In a sobering cover feature, Mickens writes that the lack of access to education, medicine, and political freedom primes the Third World, as well as those countries dominated by extremist Islam, to become more religious and hostile to Western notions of human rights. “The chance that they will be able to improve their lot is slim, while the probability of dying early is high,” writes Mickens.
Often, the various faiths—be they Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity, fundamentalist Islam, or varieties of animism—compete to be the most absolutist in terms of guarding against the encroachment of “Western values,” each goading the others to become more extreme and less tolerant of dissent. It all adds up to a troubling state of affairs that throws some cold water on the idea that religion is on its way to extinction and that a secular renaissance is at hand.
Also in this issue of Free Inquiry, Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, argues against the common claim that morality must be based on the will of a God in order to be “objective.” Religious texts and the claims of prophets are inherently subjective, says Lindsay, manipulated to justify any given worldview or agenda. “Which theologian has special insight into the mind of God?” he asks. “Whichever theologian you happen to agree with.” Lindsay’s new book expanding on these arguments, The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do, will be released on December 1.
Plus: Free Inquiry editor Tom Flynn marks thirty years as the “Anti-Claus”; Edward Tabash skeptically reviews Sam Harris’s Waking Up; Mario Bunge launches a defense of the dirty word scientism; and much more.
The December 2014/January 2015 issue of Free Inquiry is available on newsstands now.