The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #129

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BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2014 


It’s a Wonderful [View of] Life

Question:  Combine “an artist’s wonder at the virtuosity of nature” with “a scientist’s understanding of how it comes to be. And what do you get?

Answer:  Wonderstanding

To Matt Ridley, author of Nature via Nurture, the term connotes an attitude toward and view of life that Richard Dawkins, a Bright, so often depicts in his writings.

To marvel and to understand. The possibility that human lives can embrace both is certainly something we can celebrate.

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An Occasion to Mark?

The birth anniversary of Charles Darwin is fast approaching. It seems that February 12 is on track to becoming an internationally celebrated occasion.

The date is not yet on many published calendars, but there are efforts afoot to have “Darwin Day” eventually viewed as an international holiday. Anyway, that’s the vision and ambition of the International Darwin Day Foundation. Its website is urging more people to take notice of Darwin’s contribution to human understanding and to develop local events at which citizens of all stripes come together “as one human family in appreciation of verifiable knowledge that has been acquired solely through human curiosity and ingenuity.”

If you are interested in attending such a “celebration of science and humanity,” you can check to see if anything is going on near you.

Aside: Brights Central folks and friends will be attending their local “educational gala.”

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Reminders of Discrimination

The cultural privileging of faith varies widely across nations. In some places, having a naturalistic worldview can be dangerous. In other locales, it may be no matter of concern at all. But, even if it isn’t of concern locally, the discrimination others face is not easy to ignore. Barriers to citizen participation for those who do not acknowledge a deity entail consequences that affect everyone.

A recent article surveys some of the costs of an atheist outlook.  Can the person:  …live? / …run for office? / …be trusted by peers? / …be respected by leaders or neighbors? / …have a job? / …get custody of children? / …volunteer in the community? / …announce beliefs? / …participate in life without violating beliefs? / …create an organization?

Which hindrances apply where you live?  Is there some way you can help reduce the burden for others?

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Recovery from Faith

If one’s religion incorporates supernatural explanations for the world around, then dealing with an emerging skeptical awareness can be challenging.  Is there a necessity to leave the religion?  Can one stay connected to maintain cultural benefits while simply ignoring portions that fail tests of reason? What will happen along the way, either way?

Whether leaving or staying in a faith, pathways forward may prove emotionally wrenching. Any action can also be problematic in practical terms. The situation is complex and unique for each person. Only the individual can choose what to do in the family and social circumstances.

On the scene now are organizations that want to help those who decide to “depart the faith” after having given their religion a best shot and found it no longer believable. Several offer resources to ease the journey away from a faith.  One such group, “Recovering from Religion,” is in the process of establishing a hotline to be staffed by trained volunteers from around the world. RR is currently seeking and vetting volunteers to commit to the new project.

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Website Changes

Across the next few months BC hopes to make some useful improvements to the website. We’ve already made a start on the revamp with a more user-friendly donation page(We started with this page in response to requests.)

There are various avenues for supporting the Brights initiative.  Previously, we had lots of text explaining all the options (international, online, postal, services). Now there’s a visual array of buttons and less text.

Oh, yes:  It’s ready for final testing.  You can try it out today!  ;-)

As always, feedback welcome. (Time constraints may prevent a reply, but we do read what you write!)

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Bound for the Website

This cartoon just came in over the transom today!   

It is an example of the type of creative expression that is to be welcomed to the Brights' website's "Expressions & Illuminations" page for everyone to see.

According to the contributor, Jeff, it was inspired by a poem on that page, "This I Believe" written by Kathryn McCallister (at age 17) who concludes her poem with "I am a Bright, and I don't see anything wrong with that."

If you are an artist or poet who has material that is clearly Brights-specific and generally upbeat and supportive, feel free to send it to the-brights@the-brights.net with ART in upper case letters in your subject line. We include such material in the bulletin and sometimes publish it to the site. Others may enjoy seeing what you have created.

Note: Jeff has created a few other “thrashin’ jack” sketches.

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From the International Forums

What is morality, where does it come from, and what does it look like “where the rubber meets the road”?  These considerations orbit around each other in a Topic entitled “Consideration on Morality”.  This Topic branched off from another, and so the reader joins the conversation in progress, but there certainly is room for fresh insights!  Do you think that our moral sense derives from tradition, or from in-built predilections, or some admixture of both?

A few members noted with sadness the death of Peter Seeger, a noted American folk singer, at the age of 94.  Seeger was thought instrumental to the revival of American folk music during the mid-twentieth century, and his political activism inspired generations.  What cultural happenings have you found noteworthy of late?

A brief registration process will enable you to post content to the Forums.

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Reality about Morality

This project equips Brights with “the reality” and its supporting evidence regarding the question:
Did human morality come about
a) by naturalistic means, or
b) due to some divine entity or power?

Update on the Infographic: The draft is in progress and we have acquired more reviewers from the field to have a look at the material. The three researchers who will be reviewing the infographic are: Oliver Curry,Jessica Pierce, and Peter DeScioli. They will also look at the soon-to-be updated research listing accompanying the visual.

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Volunteer Translations

Thanks to those of you who offered to help us with translation of the infographic on human morality. Luckily, for some of the requested languages, it was a professional translator who volunteered. (Other volunteers will be asked to review and comment on the translation.)

When completed, it will be in English, but as we can, we will put the material into the other languages. The only remaining “weak spot” in the list (Dutch, German, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish) is Portuguese. We’d like to acquire a few more volunteers in the pool. If you can help to translate into Brazilian or European Portuguese (we’d like to have both), let us know. Email to the-brights@the-brights.net with TRANSLATEVOL in your subject line.

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Volunteer Bright Earns Notice

Joel Justiss has long been adapting the monthly Brights Bulletin for Brights Central to send to prisoners who subscribe. (Incarcerated individuals can rarely receive email, the standard mode of communication from BC.) Joel ably adds pertinent content (not to exceed one oz. postage weight total), and Kelly (at BC) does the production. The resulting newsletter to prisoners is aptly named “A Little Brightness”.

Joel goes beyond the minimum to make ALB relevant to subscribers. He voluntarily receives mail from the prisoners and very selectively replies via the newsletter. He also locates material that is likely to interest them. And that’s how he ended up contributing in another project for prisoners, the Freethought Books Project, which was begun by Leslie Zukor and after transitions is now under the umbrella of a large organization.

This month Joel’s work with the Brights and FBP drew national attention, beginning with an article from The Religion News Service that was picked up by the Huffington Post and USA Today. Congratulations, Joel.

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Insights from Brights

BloggingBrights.net offers commentary on living life as Brights.

In her latest post, “The Rational Woman” ventures into tricky terrain. Perhaps you will want to follow her there? It’s obvious from the title that she has high ambitions (and is mulling an atypical approach to the issue).

This Will Solve the Middle East Crisis

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Window Decal (Free in February Only)

"No Supernatural Ingredients" Static Cling

Here's a decal that sends a worthy message!  Put one in a window where others will see (and ponder?).

And its FREE!

If located in the USA, send a self-addressed, stamped (49ў) envelope to Brights Cling Offer, The Brights’ Net, P O Box 163418, Sacramento CA 95816. We are able to mail the “No Supernatural Ingredients” static clings domestically only via SASE envelopes, so please do not expect any response if you email your request. With your 1 oz. postage on the envelope, we can send you the window cling, and a biz card, brochure and bookmark as well!

If outside the USA, you may email to the-brights@the-brights.net with “CLING” in your subject line. Be sure to provide a very complete postal address. The global 1 oz. postage is US $1.10, so the offer depends on support from American Brights. If it sustains, and supplies last, we will be including you in this month’s free offer, too.

Note to American Brights: If you’d like to help someone else acquire the free patch, would you simply enclose at least a dollar in your SASE envelope?  We are relying on American Brights to defray the necessary international postage per envelope ($1.10). Thanks in advance for a tidbit of generosity to help us provide a cloth patch by postal mail to each Bright outside the USA who would like to acquire one.

This is a February only special for registered Brights.

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The Brights' Bulletin



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