The Brights' Bulletin
January 30, 2005
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
REALITY ABOUT MORALITY ACTION ARENA: PRAGMATICALLY DEFINING TERMS
There is a false social belief that undermines brights everywhere, and Brights are starting to collaborate in an effort to chip away at it. We plan to render a naturalistic explanation of human morality (with scientific substantiation), and we welcome all with expertise and interest to participate in this undertaking. If you recently registered as a Bright or want a refresher, you can catch up at
Attention! This action endeavor is not a philosophy exercise; it is an educational development task with intended products. Many Brights have a penchant for engaging in discussion without requisite deadlines or definitive outcomes, but for this project we must have such things. A methodical process can move us forward, and we invite participation. First, we must establish working definitions for four key terms: ethics, moral, morals, and morality.
Action: Examine four pragmatic definitions proposed for use in the project. React to the definitions by voting to accept/reject each one. If the definitions are accepted, the project will move forward. Then again, if a vote to reject (i.e., modify) any definition is substantial, we can present the item to the Brights’ Forum for discussion and alteration.
To participate, go read the definitions (and then participate in the poll) at:
BRIGHTS DE FRANCE
There is a brand new "Brights France" website. It features several noted scientists among the initiators. According to Michel, the coordinator, their purpose in using the Bright identity for networking in that nation was "...to maintain the international unity around the noun Bright (and not to try a French translation of the meme)."
French-speaking individuals receiving this Bulletin will likely want to have a look. The home page begins: "Bienvenue sur le site des Brights de France. Le Brights’ Net est le réseau international Internet des Brights."
"GOD BLESS YOU" RESPONSES
What does a Bright say as social acknowledgement to "God Bless You!" (GBY)? The previous Bulletin solicited ideas on the matter. It was the first effort to put "tools" into The Brights’ Net’s verbal toolbox, and it drew a bountiful response. It’s worth a trip to the new toolbox area to see the diversity and compare others' response ideas with your own.
Many replies were downright lengthy! We had to narrow it all down to manageable size for publication on the Website. You can find the response options listed, along with a sampling of associated commentary, on the website at
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSITUTENCIES
Correction for contacting the BLC in Milano Italy: Nicola / firstname.lastname@example.org
Other BLCs are located at:
NOTICE TO ALL BLC LEADERS
When contacting BLC participants via email, make sure you place all the persons’ email addresses in "blind copy." You should not have lists of Brights being sent to other Brights. If you do not know how to do a blind copy, contact us before sending out the next email.
THE SECULAR COALITION FOR AMERICA (USA)
As we move forward in 2005, it is a good time to remind all Brights of the recently organized Secular Coalition for America (SCA). The SCA’s status as a 501(c)(4) organization enables it to engage in political lobbying. This tax status prevents SCA from supporting or opposing candidates for political office, but it does open doors for SCA to meet with and directly influence legislators and legislation. SCA was, in fact, set up specifically to amplify the diverse and growing voice of American citizens whose worldview is free of supernatural elements. The lobbying organization is attuned to the concerns of most U.S. brights, whether they self-identify as agnostics, atheists, freethinkers, humanists, or skeptics, as well as to issues that concern large number of Americans who simply consider themselves non-religious.
The SCA is conducting a funding drive and is about half way to its current goal, which is to finance a full-time SCA lobbyist to work in the nation’s capital to directly counter legislative actions that disadvantage the nonreligious. The organization seeks resource support from all who wish to turn the tide against assaults on the wall of separation by proponents of "a Christian America." To learn more about or support the Secular Coalition for America:
THE BRIGHTS’ NETWORK AT STRATEGY SUMMIT
Co-Director Paul Geisert went to Washington DC to participate in an "Inauguration Summit" on January 16, joining with representatives from 21 other groups. The conference was called and hosted by the American Humanist Association, and it included a noteworthy array of organizations well-disposed to the naturalistic worldview. (Co-Director Mynga Futrell also attended, but as director of OABITAR, an organization focused on how teachers handle religion in public school curricula.)
Participating organizations were: American Atheists, American Ethical Union, American Humanist Association, Anti-Discrimination Support Network, Association of Humanistic Rabbis, Atheist Alliance International, The Brights’ Network, Camp Quest, Congress of Secular Jewish Organizations, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Gay and Lesbian Atheists and Humanists, Humanist Institute, Humanist Society, HUUmanists, International Humanist and Ethical Union, Internet Infidels, Institute for Humanist Studies, Objectivity Accuracy and Balance in Teaching About Religion, Secular Coalition for America, Secular Student Alliance, Society for Humanistic Judaism, and the Unitarian Universalist Infidels.
The bulk of the time was reserved for strategy discussion. Time was also made for hearing from experts on current political affairs, such as Americans United for Separation of Church and State executive director Barry Lynn and Congressman Waxman of California. We applaud the AHA for providing this opportunity for conversation and ad hoc coalition-building across organizational boundaries.
See details of this meeting at:
and a Washington Times article at:
FAMILY CORNER (BOOK REVIEW)
Please read this segment if you are looking for fictional narrative that would speak to young teens on a personal level.
A vast array of literary material exists to woo youngsters into the cultural mainstream, but items that deal directly and skeptically with religion are not easy to find. Is there any thought-provoking writing conducive to opening young minds (rather than closing them down)? Yes.
BC doesn’t intend to make a habit of book reviewing. Nevertheless, we can vouch for the novel, Godless. The title makes both Co-Directors cringe. However, the book is so well suited to young teens and so pertinent that we simply have to pass the word along to Brights. We have each read the novel and give it a definite four thumbs up for youngsters. It’s a quick and amusing read for adults, too.
From the Sacramento Bee book column: "Pete Hautman is the author of 'Godless' (Simon and Schuster, $15.95 ($10.87 on Amazon), ages 12 and up). This is a provocative but slyly funny novel that last month won the author the 2004 National Book Award for young adult fiction."
NEW BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
"The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America" is edited by Kimberly Blaker. Several authors included in the anthology are Enthusiastic Brights (Edwin Kagin, Bobbie Kirkhart, and Herb Silverman).
Two other Enthusiastic Brights with new books now in print are:
Michael Shermer, Science Friction: Where the Known Meets the Unknown
Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
NEW MAIN WEBSITE TAKING SHAPE
On January 17 the Co-Directors had an opportunity to get together in person with the web architect to preview firsthand The Brights’ Net’s "new site face." With the design completed, the site is now in "build out" as current pages are translated into the new format. We can’t wait to see it go live... well, like everyone else, we have to, though.
LETTERS TO THE EDITORS CONTEST
We have been inundated with Brights’ Net work and could not get to this project, but we promise to process the folder of letter submissions to make awards for 2004.
WANT AD: COORDINATOR OF BRIGHTS’ LOCAL CONSTITUENCIES
The Brights’ Net is much in need of an individual to follow and coordinate the activities of the BLCs. The main skill needed is systematic dedication to the task. It does not require any computer skills beyond email and using a table in Word or Excel type software. It is an important and sensitive leadership role.
A Bright in France is trying to locate an overseas internship as an apprentice engineer and would appreciate a lead. For more information:
COMMUNICATIONS SUGGESTION FROM A BRIGHT
You might want to remind Brights that as they surf the net they also have an opportunity to spread the word about Brights; sometimes, as this email shows, it even works. When Brights visit websites that allow feedback, contact the host and offer the opportunity to visit the Brights site. I use:
Hello, do you know about the Brights? The website is: the-brights.net. Do they have a place in your discussion? Thank you for reading this. W.H.
The answer I received was:
Hello-thanks for letting me know about the Brights website. A colleague and I have discussed the Brights movement at length. I find it very interesting, and in many ways identify with the Brights' approach to life. I'll be interested to look at the website and see how the movement has grown. Thanks! Michael
A NEW YEAR’S SURPRISE AND A GREAT WAY TO DONATE
The Brights’ Net solicits financial support only at the two equinoxes. It does get occasional spontaneous donations, and the New Year began with a nice surprise. It was a letter from MicroSoft alerting us to the fact that an employee (a Bright) had donated $60 and that the company would be matching the donation! Does your company have a matching plan? You can double a donation if it does - something for you to perhaps look into before the March 20 fund drive?
If you implement a new spam filter (especially EarthLink spamBlocker), please be sure to check to see that you continue receiving the Bulletin. We have had a lot of problems authenticating requests to EarthLink and some others.
RE-SUBSCRIBING NOW AN OPTION
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Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
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