The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #18
October 30, 2004

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


NEW -- BLCS, AND BOOKS BY BRIGHTS

BLCS: Still more areas are acquiring BLCs that permit individuals in a general area to get in touch with one another and focus on local or regional (and in a couple of cases, national) issues.  In addition to more than twenty BLCs in the United States, there are now local constituencies in these nations:  Argentina;  Australia (2); Brasil; Canada (3); France; Scotland; India; Israel; Italy; Nigeria; South Africa (2); Spain; Sweden; UK (3).  A complete geographical listing of all BLC locations (and how to start an additional BLC) is at the link:

http://www.the-brights.net/blc_list.htm

Correction of e-mail for BLC leader Kez -- Australia ( Melbourne):   kezhall@bigpond.com.au

BOOKS BY BRIGHTS: Four titles recently added are: “Affirmations: Joyful and Creative Exuberance;” “ Thick Moralities, Thin Politics: Social Integration across Communities of Belief;” “Coping in Politics with Indeterminate Norms: A Theory of Enlightened Localism; ” and “Dare to Think for Yourself: A Journey from Faith to Reason.”  These and more Books by Brights are described at
http://www.the-brights.net/brights_books.htm

If you have a published book not yet listed, follow this link:

http://www.the-brights.net/add_a_book.htm

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READY, GET SET -- EMERGENT ACTION ARENA

As stated in Bulletin 17, the pressing priority for Brights’ action is this: confronting - straight on - the widespread public belief that a person who holds a naturalistic worldview lacks morals.

A two-year project starts tomorrow under the topic “REALITY ABOUT HUMAN MORALITY.” Whether or not you yourself decide to play an active role, it will be helpful (as subsequent steps are taken and we move into varied activities) if all Brights are in sync as far as basic understandings. [The Brights’ Bulletin will introduce key aspects as we go along.]

Therefore, please consider carefully the following “initial description” of the arena for action into which we ALL are stepping! (The wording here was provided earlier as one of several possible action options.)

----------------- ACTION ARENA PREVIEW ------------------

Persons who have a naturalistic worldview are perpetually “up against” the false but widely held cultural presumption that they, because of their worldview, lack certain requisites to be moral persons. This presupposition by others is an encumbrance that crops up again and again. In the Brights’ poll, it appears to be the single most significant hindrance to public disclosure that one has a naturalistic worldview. Brights must address this “morality problem” head on--with zest, and with profundity.

The endeavor in this arena can be seen as a “re-education” challenge, as we must work to produce a cultural shift toward accurate naturalistic (scientific) understanding of human morality. It is to be a long haul, but we can begin it. Whom must we educate?--a huge fraction of the citizenry, it appears.

Prerequisite to all activity is that we acquire expertise to assemble an indisputable basis for our assertions in the morality domain (the foundations of morality are understood by scholars). And, before we seek to educate the media, the politicians and other agents of influence, it is important to firm up understanding within the constituency so brights can more effectively counter “common knowledge” that morals are presented to humanity by a deity through scripture. Then, we set forth goals for educational action, articulate clear and soundly based messages (in terms that can be readily understood by lay persons, and especially transmitted via media), build a useful resource “tool box” for brights on the Web for their explanations, and so on. We must get together both our “subject” and our “lesson plans.”

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Getting together the “subject” first is fundamental. We will need to assemble an international panel of experts to develop a brief consensus paper that presents strong and scientifically substantiated statements regarding the naturalistic origins and evolution of human morality. We will need also to have individuals who value the overall endeavor participating in varied capacities. In Bulletin 19 we will specify some of the likely ingredients and hope to entice you to participate.

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WHY REALITY ABOUT HUMAN MORALITY?

Hundreds of Brights wrote e-mails speaking in favor of this particular Action Arena. They judged it above other alternatives for Brights’ activism now.  Most who wrote were quite thoughtful.  Some explanations were rather lengthy. Many touched on personal experiences. [Below is one example (an excerpt).]  

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From Audrey: “I favor making a big push in this area.  From a personal experience of a discussion with some friends who are fundamentalist in the extreme (American missionaries living and working in Mexico), they truly cannot understand how I can have morals and from where they derive if not from on high, even though they know me and like me and, I'm sure, think me a good person. Surely, there is adequate evidence in the fields of philosophy and psychology to explain how a sense of morality is acquired.  We need to refute the connotation of ‘godless’ meaning ‘evil’.  We need to separate ethics from religious belief.  We need to explain how a person can decide right from wrong in a particular situation, without relying on some divinely-given code.  We need to emphasize that we are not anarchic or amoral, and certainly not immoral. I think that these friends not only cannot understand the source of my morality, but also cannot fathom that I truly do not care about salvation or going to heaven or some other religious outcome of my behavior.  These are meaningless to me.  So, what IS my reward for behaving morally or ethically?  What IS my conscience? Is my feeling of satisfaction at having acted according to my ethics and moral code enough to motivate me to do the right thing?  Is my personal discomfort, my disappointment in myself, enough to prevent me from acting immorally?  As a psychologist, I know that my sense of myself, my self-concept (which each person has to formulate and modify throughout life) is the standard for my behavior.  I could go on and on about this. ... I guess what I'm saying is, we need a scientific explanation of how an individual's ethical and moral sense develops--the process and the determinants.

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Numerous others wrote about the necessity of having an authoritative scientific explanation for human morality, pointing out that it must be drawn together and made accessible in a manner readily grasped by “regular people.” Having such available in a form for extensive dissemination is crucial for advancement of civic and social acceptance of persons who hold a naturalistic worldview.

We have posted a short sampling of some others’ comments about this Action Arena at:
http://www.the-brights.net/action_arena_comments.htm

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ELECTIONS AND VOTING ( USA)

We have it from many directions that eyes across the globe are turned to the USA’s presidential election.  As the hub of a constituency of distinctly independent thinkers and as a non-profit educational organization, The Brights’ Net is unable to take a position on the candidates (believe us--we as Co-Directors surely do have such!), but it can say that it is definitely the time for American Brights to “have their say” via the ballot.  It is also the time to personally engage and offer last-minute assistance to those organizations that would spur others who share your own position to voice it by voting. Surely USA Brights are extraordinarily active at this crucial time.

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INBOUND / OUTBOUND WEB LINKS

There are now almost 2,000 links feeding into the-brights.net site from assorted individuals and organizations. There are very few links outward. Of course we receive numerous requests, but we found it necessary early on to develop a policy regarding links to other sites for a combination of pragmatic reasons. First, there is no available time to appropriately service many links. More importantly, it is important not to dilute the civic and social aims based on the stated principles of this endeavor.

The outgoing links at The Brights’ Net pertain to movement-related materials (e.g., to copyrighted articles specifically explaining or advancing it, to PayPal). There are some outward links through constituent Brights that that hold up the general thrust of the endeavor (e.g., “Books by Brights” and links via the “Enthusiastic Brights”).

As far as having links to other web sites: There is such a multitude of sites already that link to diverse sources of information regarding the supernatural-free worldview. There is no need, nor do we have time, to add to and keep current that array of information.

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NEWS FROM BRIGHTS’ ITALIAN

The Brights’ Italian page has moved to a new URL:  http://digilander.libero.it/brightitalia

There is also created a discussion group, Bright Italia, at the URL http://it.groups.yahoo.com/group/brightsitalia which is always growing. We have prepared an Italian Brights Manifesto and are going to submit it to the most influential people in our community (scientists, professors, intellectuals, and such). And I am proud to say that some newspaper has started to show some sort of interest for our group. Hope things will get always better like that ;)

Regards

Sergio (and the other Italian Brights)

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NEW WEB BACK IN MOTION

Due to a death in his immediate family, our team leader Mike lamentably had to suspend his involvement for a while. This led to overall deferment of teamwork for what, due to conflicts, became a long span of time. Theo has stepped forward now, and as Web architect, is picking up the reins.  The new site map we had developed with Mike’s help is reframing the site (The Vision; The People; The Movement; The Action). Impending augmentations will bring the site up to Web standards and incorporate a new logo that graphically blends main elements to “speak Enbrightenment” for the planet.

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‘OVERHEARD’ IN THE FORUM

“Perhaps the terms agnostic and atheist are passé. I know I'm getting tired of hearing them batted about. They have validity and meaning in terms of belief in god but that is all. In a world view free of the supernatural, they do not have the descriptive utility that the word ‘Bright’ has. There are no common words describing the degree of lack of belief peculiar to ghosts, astrology, souls, etc. So why do ‘god beliefs’ rate their own words? …  If we identify as Brights, why obsess with ‘agnostic’ and ‘atheist’?”

How bracing!  Certainly countless keystrokes in many Internet forums are struck by participants seeking to delineate one such thing or another. However, given the reality of a bounded lifetime, there is in philosophical discourse (however pleasurable) a collective downside for activism.

Redirecting some of the passion for word meanings toward designing and pursuing actions is certainly an option available to Brights!  There is, in fact, an underused segment of the Brights’ Forum known as its “Action Forums.”  Plenty of space there sits ready and waiting for any who would wish to engage both intellect and ardor on behalf of constructive Brights’ actions for social and civic change.

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THANKS Y’ALL

This Bulletin ends with gratitude! Thanks go to every Bright who answered our “Equinox request” for support. You have each shown by your response that you share the egalitarian vision we all are endeavoring to make an eventual reality. We personally are encouraged to find so many “with us” on these early efforts to unify the diverse individuals in the world who have a naturalistic worldview to common cause. Year-wise, the calendar puts us a bit over “one down” with “19 left to go” toward the Brights’ 20-year aim -- unanimity among us in advancing toward and achieving the Brights’ Net’s three purposes:
(see home page of the-brights.net) http://www.the-brights.net   

Hundreds of supporters have urged us onwards by sending support via cash, PayPal, checks, postal money orders, and carrier pigeon (just checking to see if you are still paying attention). These donations have put The Brights’ Net 50% of the way toward the immediate goal of $17,500 cited in our Equinox fund-raising request.  A few persons (you know who you are!) made very generous donations. Others sent donations along with very generous good wishes (you know who you are, too!). Thanks to everyone who responded for your vote of confidence in The Brights’ Net.  We did get one gripe. Richard complained:  “You’re too polite re asking for money.” He favors and advises a more forceful “Pay the way or hit the highway” approach (his words). For now, we will stick to the Equinox request model.

Based on donations received so far, one item remains monetarily out of bounds. We hoped for the capability to hire a Bright part-time to be a Coordinator of the over 4,000 Brights who participate in MeetUps, BLCs and the Forum. There is still time to make a donation if you wish to support having a paid Coordinator to coordinate BLCs/MeetUps and serve as liaison to the Brights’ Forum. Directions for making a donation at any point are at

http://www.the-brights.net/support_info.htm#financial_support

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TAILINGS

If you have a problem receiving this Bulletin, please e-mail the Webmaster Kevin (webmaster@the-brights.net) and place the word PROBLEM in the subject line.

The archive of all prior Bulletins is at

http://www.the-brights.net/broadcastarchive.htm

To suspend e-mailing of Bulletins and read them online instead, you can now change status yourself at:

http://the-brights.net/unsubscribe.htm

If you need to change your registered e-mail address to a new one, you can now do this by going to:

http://the-brights.net/emailchange.htm

Do you have comments for the Co-Directors? Send to the-brights@the-brights.net and put DIRECTORS in the subject line.

Why does the Bulletin use simple text? Many Brights around the world do not have the capability to receive e-mail in any other form

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Brights Central

Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

Google Brights !!


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