The mission of the Center for Inquiry is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values.
To oppose and supplant the mythological narratives of the past, and the dogmas of the present, the world needs an institution devoted to promoting science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. The Center for Inquiry is that institution.
At the Center for Inquiry, we believe that evidence-based reasoning, in which humans work together to address common concerns, is critical for modern world civilization. Moreover, unlike many other institutions, we maintain that scientific methods and reasoning should be utilized in examining the claims of both pseudoscience and religion. We reject mysticism and blind faith. No topic should be placed off limits to scrutiny—certainly not fringe science and religion, which have an enormous influence on beliefs and conduct.
We also maintain that values are properly the subject of study and discussion as much as empirical claims. The Center for Inquiry studies and promotes human values based on a naturalistic outlook. Ideological doctrine and religious dogma have no more right to dictate our moral norms than they do to influence scientific research.
The Center for Inquiry supports research, but our mission activities go far beyond sound scholarship. The Center for Inquiry and its programs, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism, also carry out their work through education, publishing, advocacy, and social services. The Center for Inquiry has established regional centers and communities, which provide a means of delivering educational programs and services on a local level and provide a venue for like-minded individuals to meet and share experiences. In addition, the Center for Inquiry has affiliates and sponsors programs in many different countries. A secular society ultimately should embrace all of humanity, not just selected countries.
In 2016, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) merged with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDFRS). CFI and RDFRS have similar objectives and it made eminent good sense to combine their resources. CFI’s stated mission is to foster a secular society based on reason, science, and humanist values, and RDFRS shares that goal. CFI shares the stated mission of RDFRS: to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief. By combining their talents, brainpower, and resources, they now become the largest freethought organization in the United States. As a result of this merger, they will have greater success in advancing their shared mission. The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science will continue as a division of the Center for Inquiry.
In aiming to foster a secular society, we do not seek to abridge the rights of believers. We vigorously object to government support of religion and the use of religious dogma to justify public policy; we do not oppose the free exercise of religion. The secular society we are building is a community of reason and compassion in which the dignity and fundamental rights of all individuals are respected.
Fostering a secular society requires attention to many specific goals, but three goals in particular represent the focus of our activities:
- an end to the influence that religion and pseudoscience have on public policy
- an end to the privileged position that religion and pseudoscience continue to enjoy in many societies
- an end to the stigma attached to being a nonbeliever, whether the nonbeliever describes her/himself as an atheist, agnostic, humanist, freethinker or skeptic.