God Can’t Tell Us What To Do: New Book Argues for the Necessity of Secularism

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2014
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

As the world is engulfed in religious conflicts, from violent uprisings to culture wars, lawyer and philosopher Ronald A. Lindsay says in a new book that only by fully embracing secularism can societies enjoy meaningful democracy and hope for peaceful resolution of disputes. Released this week by Pitchstone Publishing, The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do argues that secularism is required for all stakeholders, religious and nonreligious alike, to ensure equal protection and respect.

In The Necessity of Secularism, Lindsay brings to bear both his expertise in ethics and law, as well as his years of experience as an activist and president of one of the world’s leading freethought organizations, the Center for Inquiry. Persuasively written, and rigorously backed up by facts with a deep and nuanced understanding of the subject, The Necessity of Secularism is also concise and accessible even to those approaching this topic for the first time.

While critical of religious dogma and its often-deleterious effects on society and individuals, The Necessity of Secularism is no anti-theist polemic seeking to convert readers to atheism. Instead, Lindsay reminds us that secularism and atheism are not the same, and makes the definitive case that the secular model should be feared by none and embraced by all. 

The Necessity of Secularism is available now in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats.

To request a review copy, contact Pitchstone Publishing at info@pitchstonepublishing.com.


About the Author

Ronald A. Lindsay is president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry and of its affiliates, the Council for Secular Humanism and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He has a PhD in philosophy from Georgetown University, with a concentration in bioethics, and a JD from the University of Virginia. He is the author of the essay “Euthanasia” in the International Encyclopedia of Ethics and of the book Future Bioethics: Overcoming Taboos, Myths, and Dogmas. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.


Advance praise for The Necessity of Secularism: Why God Can’t Tell Us What To Do 

The Necessity of Secularism discusses one of the most vital issues facing America and the world, and it does so with the logic and respectful tolerance for differences that itself expresses the very spirit of secularism. No matter what one’s views on the existence of God, this is a unifying book. I can only hope that it will be read by all those for whom it is intended, which is, in a word, everyone.”

Rebecca Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex


“This is a first-rate book. If you want to understand why a secular state is so important, why it’s not the same thing as an atheist state, and why religious people should embrace, not fear, secularism, you should start with The Necessity of Secularism. Lindsay’s book is entertaining, passionate, and presents a beautifully clear and well-argued case.”

 —Stephen Law, author of Humanism: A Very Short Introduction and Believing Bullshit


“If this book doesn’t convince readers of the necessity for a secular public square, as opposed to a sacred public square, then nothing can. It should additionally alleviate any fears believers might have that atheists will cause them harm as they gain more political power. Secularism offers the best protection believers have in a society they no longer control, because it best protects the rights of freedom of conscience and religion in a pluralistic society. A very important and exceptionally argued book!”

John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist and editor of Christianity Is Not Great


“In cogent and frank prose, Lindsay puts forth solid arguments for secularism, soundly advocating for the separation of church and state as well as addressing relevant issues pertaining to morality, public policy, etc. This is not the ranting of an ‘angry’ atheist (as the religious often like to charge), but rather, it is the steady, rational, and eminently reasonable articulation of a thoughtful secularist whose head is clear and whose vision is keen. No, we can’t look to God to tell us what to do, but we can certainly look to Ronald Lindsay.”

Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology at Pitzer College and author of Faith No More and Society Without God


The Necessity of Secularism is a state-of-the-art defense of secular reasoning — in government, public debate, and moral deliberation. There’s erudition here, but always worn lightly, and with it goes a cool, precise, forensic style of argument that’s truly a pleasure to read. Again and again, Ronald Lindsay hits the exactly right notes.”

—Russell Blackford, author of Freedom of Religion and the Secular State and Humanity Enhanced 


“This book makes a powerful and persuasive case for secularism as the common ground where believers and non-believers can participate in public life on equal terms. It is needed now more than ever.”

Ophelia Benson, Butterflies & Wheels


“Can’t we all get along? Ron Lindsay says yes, in his well-written and easy-to-read book about how atheists and theists can coexist and flourish in a pluralistic society. Unlike most books by atheists, including mine, this one has less to do with promoting atheism and more with respecting and listening to one another, thus making the world a better place for all.”

Herb Silverman, founder and president of the Secular Coalition for America and author of Candidate without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt


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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.