The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #140

(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)


BRIGHTS BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2015 


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“New 10 Commandments” Available

Not satisfied with the Abrahamic commandments for living?

The contest to produce a secular set of guidelines via a crowdsourcing endeavor has reached its conclusion. So, what do you think of the product, these “New 10 Commandments”?  Here they are:

    1. Be open minded and be willing to alter your beliefs with new evidence.
    2. Strive to understand what is most likely to be true, not to believe what you wish to be true.
    3. The scientific method is the most reliable way of understanding the natural world.
    4. Every person has the right to control over their body.
    5. God is not necessary to be a good person or to live a full and meaningful life.
    6. Be mindful of the consequences of all your actions and recognise that you must take responsibility for them.
    7. Treat others as you would want them to treat you and can reasonably expect them to want to be treated. Think about their perspective.
    8. We have the responsibility to consider others including future generations.
    9. There is no one right way to live.
    10. Leave the world a better place than you found it.

Clearly, “choosing from submissions” is not the pathway to achieving a set of guidelines that can be highly rated for structural consistency. (Just sift the ten for “commands” vs. “assertions.”) Nonetheless, at least they are indeed secular.

Is it likely that the new guidelines will get any play?  Will they drive any change in how you live?

See if you know any of the contest winners (and view their why explanation of the winning values they put forth).

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Topics in the International Forums

Although it famously stumped Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynmann, high-speed imagery and a bit of math reveals why bent (dry) spaghetti strands will break into more than two pieces, but hardly ever less than three.  But it all happens so fast that the event must be filmed at hundreds of thousands of frames per second in order for the events themselves to become visible to the human eye.  Come see a link to video and other material.

What do you think are the implications of non-human animals being granted legal personhood?  For decades there have been actions by animal rights activists arguing that our nearer relatives shouldn’t be used as laboratory test subjects, while opponents accuse those activists of nonsensibly anthropomorphizing entities that lack human-equivalent capacities.  Now an Argentinian court has recognized an orangutan as a “person” and declared that it has a right to freedom, pursuant to a petition for a writ of Habeas Corpus — an instrument heretofore reserved for establishing the justice of a human’s detention.  World-changing precedent, or flash in the pan?  Weigh in in the Topic.

Anyone may view content at the Forums; participation requires only a brief and confidential registration.

See you there!

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Uh Oh - Disappearance!

The review of The Brights’ Morality Project on the “This View of Life” website disappeared from that site when a new TVOL site was launched. 

We are in the process of tracking it down because the reviewer’s “Nine Academics, 4 Truths about Morality, and an Open Source Evolution of Morality Reference Library” had so concisely stated the value of the Brights’ Morality Portal as “an arguably singularly objective starting point for anyone wishing to understand morality as the product of evolutionary processes.”

The link provided last month now defaults to the introductory page to the new TVOL website, which is itself worth a look for anyone interested in staying “up” on evolution. Its three sections are links in a communication strategy, the philosophy behind which the sponsoring Evolution Institute explains:

“Science is necessary but not sufficient to solve the problems of human existence. In addition, the science must be connected to narratives that reach people who don’t have special training. Moreover, the narratives must be anchored to the science with a chain of intermediate material providing successive depth, so that those who become engaged at the narrative end, either as proponents or skeptics, can deepen their knowledge until they arrive at the science end.”

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More “-Less” (USA)

The surrounding cultural milieu drives the categorizing of minorities as lacking in what majorities have.

Isn’t it bad enough that persons with a naturalistic worldview are called “godless”?  Now a national survey (reported December 15)has provide us with “10 Facts about the Churchless”!

The survey from the Barna Group, taking notice of fewer Americans attending church,  set about to answer the question:  “Who are these new churchless Americans?”  The effort was to tease out any significant demographic or psychographic differences among those who attend church and those who don’t.

The final conclusion about the so-called (shift to) “unchurched” folks?  Surprise! “Unchurched adults are very much like churched adults … except they don’t attend church,” says David Kinnaman, who served as a general editor alongside George Barna in the recent book Churchless.  “In fact, the data uncover so many similarities between churched and unchurched people that we have to conclude that a number of the stereotypes about both groups are not valid.”

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Convinced?

While on issue of stereotyping in religion, we proceed with:  Do you think of yourself as an atheist? 

Then what’s your preferred self-description? Earnest?  Staunch?  Committed?

Convinced” (as the previous WIN-Gallup poll utilized) appears at least to be a better adjective for self-identity than the tiresome “militant” label so frequently ascribed to anyone who, having reached a negative conclusion on the issue of deity-existence, actually voices that conclusion. 

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Translation Challenges

1)  “Inherit the Wind,” and more. 

There’s lots of great stuff on the “Russian Facebook” but the translation is a challenge!

2) Slowing down efforts to place more Morality Portal translations on the website are the languages that read right to left. We are working at it, though!

In the meantime, there are plenty of other languages, and lots of food for thought about human morality at the Brights’ Morality Portal.

If you haven’t yet passed along the infographic to your friends, now is a great time to do it!

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Make the World Better!

This nice ambition is easier said than done. There are definite benefits to making a plan.

Turning the calendar to the New Year presents us all an annual opportunity. Now that 2015 has arrived, each of us can take a fresh look at how we might personally contribute to the Brights’ angle on an overall “make it better” endeavor.

You can decide on some promising personal actions you might wish to pursue in the year ahead.  (And no, they needn’t involve donating money to The Brights’ Net, although that’s a possible way, of course.)

Here, in brief, is a refresher for making your personal plan of “Brighten-Action.” The next two segments highlight the topmost aspects to consider.

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The Bare Bones Basics

Recall that The Brights’ Net is a constituency of individuals, so there’s no dogma or manifesto or creed involved in being a Bright. There is no manual of instructions. There are some helpful features to go on, though.

• A paramount egalitarian Vision

• Three broad civic Aims

• The Overall Task for each Bright
(Where, when, with whom, and how you “illuminate and elevate” is yours to decide.)

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What Can You Do?

The website suggests ways you can personally help engender positive social change wherever you happen to be. The simple guidance is raw material for your individual interpretation.

• Civic Considerations

• Openness/Visibility

• Constructive Engagement

• Principled Participation


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