The Brights' Bulletin
June 29, 2005
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
A BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL PLACE
ONE BRIGHT'S VIEW: "I believe that an orderly universe, one indifferent to human preoccupations, in which everything has an explanation even if we still have a long way to go before we find it, is a more beautiful, more wonderful place than a universe tricked out with capricious, ad hoc magic."
(Enthusiastic Bright Richard Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow, Penguin Books, London, 1998, p. xi)
NOT-SO-WONDERFUL: SPAM AND WORSE
Beware of emails like the example (within the xxx-marked section) below. It is possible for scofflaws to mimic the Brights' email address to send viruses and worse. The following is meant to entice recipients to open attachments. The Brights' Net did not send it (and has no way to stop it)!
Dear The-brights Member,
Your e-mail account was used to send a huge amount of unsolicited spam messages during the recent week. If you could please take 5-10 minutes out of your online experience and confirm the attached document so you will not run into any future problems with the online service.
If you choose to ignore our request, you leave us no choice but to cancel your membership.
The The-brights Support Team
If you have received anything like this, let us know at: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEETUPS FACE NEW FEES
MeetUp.com is the Internet website that helps individuals meet with others. It enables many different types of groups to form, including "Brights Meetups". The services were provided free to member participants for two years, and over 2300 Brights registered into the system. Recently the commercial organization instituted a per-meeting charge. While some Brights Meetup groups have decided to pay the price, some have not. If your Meetup group is interested in transforming into a Brights' Local Constituency, check out:
MEDIA COMMUNICATIONS PLAN TASK TEAM VOLUNTEERS
We need four or five volunteers who are knowledgeable and able to develop a media communications plan. We invite you to join a task team to work in cooperation with the Co-Directors over a few months on goals, target audiences, key messages, and tactics. If interested in the idea, please review http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/teams.html
If you have talents to offer and would like to be a team member or leader, please email a brief description of your interest and capabilities to email@example.com. Please put MEDIACOM in the subject line.
The impetus of the Morality Action Arena was serious impaired during our move to a new server and the move of the database to DemocracyInAction.
Rather than attempt to involve all Brights through the Bulletin, we have decided to move the Morality Project to those who are interested in actively participating. (The Bulletin will provide updates to inform the constituency.)
The goals of the project are stated at:
If after reviewing the goals you are interested in participating in the Morality Action Arena, send a blank email and in the Subject line put in all caps MORALITY. We will set up a group communication process.
POLL ON THE ICON
The Poll to determine the favored direction of the rays of the Brights icon image demonstrated that no single direction clearly won. The sideways positions, which tend to emphasize the "view from outer space" aspect, drew the largest number of votes. The more standard "sunrise" position did squeak a bare plurality over rays pointed right.
Therefore the decision is that, at least for now, the icon may be used in any position. We will arrange for placement of images on the website that you can copy and distribute.
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSTITUENCY CONTACT
USA, California: San Diego North County Brights (Encinitas) / Dwain / firstname.lastname@example.org
Brights Central sent out a BrightenOP (Brighten Opportunity) on June 10th which had the proposed text for a best "first press release" to religion news editors. Over 70 "editor-Brights" stepped forward to comment on the draft, speak to the underlying rationale, and/or give advice regarding PR processes in general. Contributions were simply outstanding! (Thank you, everyone!)
A complete overhaul by Co-Directors (not "by committee") followed the input. The re-write was completed, and a re-look by a handful of volunteers is underway. Additionally, it was suggested to produce an online Media Kit (information for reporters), and a draft is underway. The Media Kit will be posted on the web shortly, followed by the Press Release.
NEW IN BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
"Concepts: A ProtoTheist Quest for Science-Minded Skeptics" by Paul Carleton. The author attempts to answer the question, "Why is belief in God so common?"
Review this and all the other books by Brights at:
A "BRIGHT CHRISTIANS" BLOG
We've long known of "social Christians" who, while not believing in the supernatural, for spousal harmony or other social/cultural reasons identify by the religion and go to church . Brights underneath, one might say. Now, though, we have run into an interesting blog focused on "being a Bright" by a Christian who is a Bright.
His blog (http://brightchristians.blogspot.com/) is a handy reminder that "religion" is far from a monolithic concept. There are many who follow precepts attributed to Jesus but do not believe he was supernatural or "the son of god". Of course, for linguistic reasons, we'd favor "Christian Brights" over the chosen moniker. Nevertheless, the "Bright Christians" site has meritorious intent, as the author states:
"I'm starting this blog, simply said, because I haven't found anything like it as a resource on the web yet. This is a place I want to encourage the discussion of how those who find themselves naturalists and willing participants in a religious (in my case Christian) tradition can navigate between dogma and devotion, amid tradition without relinquishing reason; how we can be both religious and naturalist at the same time--to guide our religiosity with the best knowledge and thinking that we can."
SIGN-UP OPTION IN HTML
One of the options when registering as a Bright is to have the Bulletins and BrightenOps sent in HTML. With our new database provider, we currently have the capacity but not the time to implement this option. One of these days, though, those of you who selected it will receive the content, but formatted differently. You can switch your text preference (or change any other value such as email address) by editing your profile at:
THE BRIGHTS' NET BOARD MEETS
The five-member Board of Directors of the Brights' Net met in June in Sacramento for its semi-annual meeting. This is a legal requirement. The Brights' Net is a non-profit California corporation and educational organization, with a 501(C)(3) U.S. federal tax exemption for donations. You can find formal information about The Brights' Net from GuideStar, which is the recognized source of trustworthy information concerning non-profit US corporations and associations:
http://www.guidestar.org (registration required for detailed info.)
JUST A THEORY
Clint (Maryland, USA): "When someone makes the comment to me that 'evolution is only a theory,' I reply that yes, it is a well established theory, and God is only a hypothesis."
ATTENTION COLUMBUS, OHIO & LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY BRIGHTS
The Co-Directors will be attending the Secular Student Alliance convention and be in Columbus on August 12 to 15. We will be in the Lexington area on the following weekend. We would be pleased to meet with local area Brights at either location. Is there a volunteer who would arrange a place for a Brights' gathering in Columbus on the evening of Sunday August 14th and someone to do the same in Lexington on the 21st?
The previous Bulletin announced that the Smithsonian Institution would be co-sponsoring the showing of a movie produced by an "evolved" form of creationism known as "Intelligent Design." In response to the information, a number of Brights, along with the Co-Directors, emailed concerns to the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian (Mr. Randall Kremer, Public Affairs and Ms. Debra S. Ritt, Inspector General) wrote back:
"The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History recently approved a request by the Discovery Institute to hold a private, invitation-only screening and reception at the Museum on June 23 for the film 'The Privileged Planet.' Upon further review we have determined that the content of the film is not consistent with the mission of the Smithsonian Institution's scientific research. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the National Museum of Natural History supports or endorses the views of the Discovery Institute or the film 'The Privileged Planet.' Given that the Discovery Institute has already issued invitations, we will honor the commitment made to provide space for the event, but will not participate or accept a donation for it."
Co-Directors' Opinion: Even though the SI imprimatur was finally withdrawn, the Discovery Institute will still be able to publicize that its film "premiered at the Smithsonian Institution." Teachers across the nation will learn that fact about the film, and that alone, and be given impetus to show the film in their schools. They will be oblivious to the Smithsonian's "non-co-sponsorship" or the reasons for same. Thus, in pragmatic terms that truly matter (e.g., science education in the schools), the end result is hardly better than the original co-sponsorship. Overall, DI has probably gained a step in furthering its "theistic science" agenda, giving a distinctly pseudo-scientific endeavor the appearance of being legitimate science.
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