Independent Institute Launches Center on Culture and Civil Society: News Releases: The Independent Institute

The Power of Independent Thinking


Stay Connected
Get the latest updates straight to your inbox.

News Release
January 12, 2010

Independent Institute Launches Center on Culture and Civil Society

OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 12, 2010—The Independent Institute has announced the launch of the Center on Culture and Civil Society, headed by Senior Fellow Robert H. Nelson.

Nelson, Professor of Environmental Policy at the University of Maryland and author of The New Holy Wars, will be overseeing the efforts of the new Center to restore the focus on morality and natural law to its rightful, traditional place in the quest for scientific and economic understanding.

“Many of the most influential modern thinkers such as Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud treated religion as a ‘false illusion’ that was explained by deeper and more fundamental forces,” said Nelson. “It is now apparent that they had matters precisely backwards—Marxism and Freudianism were themselves new forms of religion. In the early part of the twenty-first century, it is apparent that the role of religion in public life is not receding, as so many had expected in the twentieth century, but is rising rapidly. The Center on Culture and Civil Society is dedicated to probing the contents of contemporary worldviews in all their dimensions and the essential contributions religion must make to public understanding of our world and the policy issues we face today.”

In addition to being reasoning and creative, human beings are purposeful decision-makers, and yet the naturalist worldview—long dominant in the social sciences—has treated people as passive objects, entirely pushed and pulled by their genes and environment.

“This reduces all human endeavor to the interplay of mechanistic and impersonal physical forces, strips the world of objective morality and truth-seeking, and fosters tyranny as individuals are considered mere objects for control by some elite who somehow consider themselves independent of the deterministic theories they support,” said David J. Theroux, Founder and President of the Institute.

As a growing number of scholars and opinion leaders begin to question this strictly materialistic worldview, it is becoming clear that reason, ethics and science require more than material facts.

“By stressing the commonsense view of people as reasoning agents, these thinkers have revealed the importance of a non-materialistic culture for individual liberty, reason, and civic virtue,” said Theroux.

Founded in 1986, the Independent Institute’s mission is to boldly advance peaceful, prosperous and free societies, grounded in a commitment to human worth and dignity. Established centers have produced books and media programs on national security, economics, civil liberties, foreign policy, healthcare, education, and a range of other issues. The addition of the Center on Culture and Civil Society was made possible by the generosity of our donors.

# # #

  • Catalyst
  • Beyond Homeless