The Brights' Bulletin
May 29, 2005
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
There are still a few loose ends hanging from the recent website and database migrations. We have, however, re-implemented the polling function. (The first poll in a long while is in this bulletin and concerns the Brights' icon.)
SAYING IT SIMPLY
How can you get across your freedom from supernatural belief without resorting to a negative (typical linguistic comparison to prevailing outlooks)?
In Bulletin 24 we recommended saying, "I am a person who has a naturalistic worldview." Frank suggests better phrasing:
"I have a naturalistic world view."
We agree! Less of a mouthful to say, and enhanced meme potential. Thanks, Frank.
NEW IN BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
INTELLIGENT DESIGN IN THE SMITHSONIAN (USA)
The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is co-sponsoring the showing of a film on Intelligent Design creationism (New York Times article, May 28, 2005).
The press report notes that the Discovery Institute (center of the Intelligent Design Creationism movement) has donated $16,000 and received the use of the Smithsonian facilities along with co-sponsorship of the film, "The Privileged Planet: The Search for Purpose in the Universe." You can read the article free, but you will have to register with the NYT. Here is the URL:
Intelligent Design creationism is a social force that is seriously challenging science education in the public schools and public sector. You can find succinct background information on the Intelligent Design movement into education at:
(This website for teachers is a production of the Co-Directors.)
The Smithsonian has space use policies that preclude certain forms of presentations (e.g., religion, raffles) regardless of donations. Yet it welcomes ID for a $16,000 contribution? Consider the public confusion that results when the Discovery Institute touts its presentation of Intelligent Design in one of the major science institutions of the world.
POSSIBLE ACTION: Since The Brights' Net is a diverse constituency, Brights' Central does not speak on behalf of Brights on this or other matters. In the future, we will conduct polls and be able to say something like "NN,000 Brights ask the Smithsonian to cancel the film on Intelligent Design Creationism." For now, if you share the concern, you must speak up for yourself, and for the other Americans who do not know enough about the issue.
You may send your remarks to the Smithsonian. Use your own words and, if you wish, state that you are a Bright and what it means to be a Bright. Email to email@example.com (and address it to Randall Kremer).
"PRAYING FOR YOU" REPLIES
Hundreds of Brights sent in their personal rejoinder to the "I'll pray for you" Toolbox challenge. (Thanks, folks!)
In responding to someone praying for you, how can you convey being supernatural-free while simultaneously being gracious? Well, there are a few possibilities posted on the site for consideration. Apparently, though, it is rather tricky to be both forthcoming and affable.
Check the second item in the Brights' Toolbox:
NEXT TOOLBOX CHALLENGE (IDEA SUBMITTED BY ADAM)
Situation: You are in conversation (say over dinner in polite company) and someone asks about your religious beliefs. (Note: Such a query is, in some cultures, is considered quite rude, but in the U.S., it is commonplace.)
Your statement of reply is: "I have a naturalistic worldview; I am a Bright."
Question: How do you follow with a brief narrative to nullify the connotations of the noun "Bright" that derive from its adjectival form "intelligent" (and are likely to come to mind of your interrogator)?
We look forward to receiving your suggestions for follow-up statements. Please email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put NULLIFY in upper case letters in the subject line.
ICON "POSITION PREFERENCE" POLL
On the website you will see the Brights' icon in two positions (rays of light pointed left, and rays pointed downward). You can view both on the same web page at:
A very brief Brights' preference poll is active until June 15, and we would like to hear from you. To report your preferred display position (4 options), go to:
ENERGIZING A WORLD-WIDE "ENBRIGHTENMENT"
Under the above distinctly ambitious title, Brights Central plans to release a 400-word press release. In advance, we will send a "Brighten Opportunity" inviting you to read the press release and provide critical feedback regarding the draft text. The edited text will be released via Religion Press News, a worldwide news service.
Brights who are word wizards will want to be sure to look over this draft press release and suggest changes. Look for the very short BrightenOp in the next week or so!
SONGS FOR BUDDING BRIGHTS
Are you on the lookout for some melodies consistent with and/or nurturing of a naturalistic outlook? There is plenty of raw material on the Web from which to select. For example:
http://www.songsforteaching.com/sciencesongs.htm (Jef Poskanzer)
http://www.acme.com/jef/science_songs (National Institute of Environmental Health Science — especially "Why Does the Sun Shine."
All too much available is not worth the listen, but there is much worthy material as well. Brights who are rearing children may be pleased to know that The Brights' Net plans eventually to accumulate/develop/post links to resources for families, including a limited but high quality set of songs. See Action Arena #2 – Budding Brights at
In our own view, pressing naturalism dogmatically on children is no more appropriate than is molding them into fantastical beliefs. The preference is to engender circumstances within which a robust naturalistic perspective can arise. Certain select items among the "songs of science" listings above may uphold or cultivate just such conditions. If you know of any specific musical suggestion from the above listings, or from elsewhere (and can provide a complete link and not just a title), email your nomination to email@example.com and put in the subject line in caps: KIDS SONGS
HOMER'S HUFF-TWISTER (TRY IT!)
Homer, who is a Bright and something else as well, sent in this item, which engendered a chuckle and a few practice rounds:
"I've always told people I'm a 'Whollist'. If they question what a 'Whollist' is, I state:
'A Whollist wholly holds no holy holdings.'"
A NATIONAL DAY OF WHAT? (USA)
One segment in Bulletin 24 mentioned both the "National Day of Prayer" and the "National Day of Reason." The former is an official religious observance (first established as an annual event by the federal government in 1952, with Congress later setting the date for the first Thursday in May).
The latter draws growing interest among First Amendment allies as a non-exclusionary alternative tribute.
Another option for the first Thursday in May has come to our attention: "Let Freedom Ring: a Celebration of Freedom of Conscience."
This nascent concept has great appeal as a fully inclusive tribute which draws attention to the crucial attribute of religious freedom. The inaugural freedom-of-conscience celebration took place just this May 5 in Oklahoma. It was sponsored by the state chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Now the "mother organization" hopes to export the model to other communities when next May rolls around.
REGISTRATION COMMENTS – BRIGHT DELIGHT
> From Ben (UK): "Heard the term yesterday. Used it today. Felt good!"
> From Chila (USA) I may have found my "home"! :-)
COMMUNICATING AS A BRIGHT
One section of the-brights.net site offers a summary rationale for working toward a visible constituency and pulls together quite a few strategies for personally familiarizing others with the Bright idea. This "The Movement" portion of the website urges all who are brights (by definition) to "come out" as Brights, or at least to use the "I have a naturalistic worldview" phrase.
Subtopics accessible there are:
"Making a Movement"
"Being a Bright – A "How To"
"Expressing Your Naturalistic Worldview"
Reach all these topics from "The Movement" overview page at
EXAMPLE HUB ACTIVITY
Brights' Central is able to facilitate certain kinds of international contacts to support the movement. In an example, Johanna, a graduate student from Sweden studying in California is completing her thesis on "American atheism." This month she asked for contacts with some Brights. After announcing to 75 Brights within a 5-mile radius of her an "opportunity to "contact Johanna if interested in a personal interview", we received the following message:
"I have got mail from a lot of Brights and I have already met some of them. Thank you so much!
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Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert
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