The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #29
September 30, 2005

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


CORRECTING OUR MATH

What is the difference between 115 and 137? It’s the number of new nations added to the Brights registry since April, that’s what. We knew it was larger than 115, we just hadn’t figured by how much.

At last count (prior to the move to a commercial server last March), we reported 115 nations represented in the constituency of Brights. We have continued to use that number. Now, thanks to the fresh count made just this month, we can list 137 nations (if we include protectorates such as the Virgin Islands, that is; right now we can’t recall whether we listed them previously or not.) For a listing of all the nations go to:

http://www.the-brights.net/action/brightsonly/bright_nations.htm

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A BRIGHTS’ POSITION ON TEACHING OF INTELLIGENT DESIGN CREATIONISM

This is a hot topic likely to have much bearing on the quality and integrity of science education in the United States. As with other issues, each Bright must voice his/her own position. (The Brights’ Net is a constituency of individuals, and neither the Co-Directors nor the board of directors can speak for the full constituency of Brights.) This need not mean silence from Brights Central.

BC has previously issued Brighten Op(portunitie)s urging Brights to consider speaking out as individuals on select matters of likely concern to Brights. Many of you have responded to these Brighten Ops. Now we wonder if Brights might speak more cohesively. The Brights’ Net can, after all, poll constituents and inform others. For example, we can state something to the effect that “N,000 Brights have position X on issue Y.” We wish to try this mechanism with the issue of intelligent design.

Because a crucial lawsuit is taking place in Pennsylvania regarding teaching of Intelligent Design in public schools, and because President Bush has positioned himself in favor of such teaching, perhaps a definitive and impressive (even if not entirely unanimous) stand may be taken.

The stance can be determined and articulated rather quickly in six steps.

1) Draft wording of a position statement regarding the teaching of Intelligent Design Creationism in the United States public schools is developed.

Example (first cut at wording):

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

NNNNN Brights regard intelligent design as a thinly veiled attempt to integrate into science teaching a distinctly religious creationist concept. By insinuating a supernatural designer as necessary to account for life, Intelligent Design Creationism clearly violates the naturalistic foundations of science.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

2) BC will accept suggested rewording of the above, or entirely substitute wording, for a period of five days! If you wish to email your proposals for improvement, you must include in upper case IDC in the subject line and send to the-brights@the-brights.net)

3) On the basis of suggested changes received from Brights, a “final” Position Statement will be prepared for purposes of polling the entire constituency.

4) The poll will go up and will remain active for ten days.

5) A BrightenOp email will be sent to you (all Brights), alerting you and urging you to take part in the poll and voice your acceptance or rejection of the proposition.

6) If all goes as planned, Brights should have a press release within the month stating the position of NN,NNN Brights. If there is insufficient response, there will be no press announcement. Thus, it will be imperative that Brights across the world respond by either endorsing or rejecting the statement.

ACTION: Be on the lookout for the BrightenOp and, when received, take the poll. In the meantime, send any suggestion for recommended rewording (offer reasons!) by October 6.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you would like a quick overview of the Co-Directors’ position on Intelligent Design Creationism and other references, look at the bottom of the home page for Contemporary Issues.

http://www.teachingaboutreligion.org

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EQUINOX DONATIONS

Given the timing of the funding request letter (it went out on September 22nd), the recent hurricanes may have swept away a good deal of the donations that might otherwise have gone from U.S. contributors toward The Brights' Net. If you have not yet donated, please consider carefully what we are trying to accomplish. Your gift of $15, $25, $50 or $100 could mean so much and do so much right now. Please, even if you have made a gift at the March Equinox, consider another small donation at this time.

The Brights' Net is reaching an interesting point where it is often being contacted by Brights for help or advice on varied problems. For example, just this week we had a request from a government office worker whose supervisor is conducting religious seminars. He asked for help in finding someone in the D.C. area to give a program from the Brights' point of view. We also had a public school teacher facing a circumstance in which Qigong is being taught as a quasi-religion.

To donate via PayPal (we are satisfied this is a very secure and efficient way to send a donation): http://www.the-brights.net/action/support/#financial

To send a check or money order: The Brights' Net, P.O. 163418 Fort Sutter Station, Sacramento, CA 95816.

Remember, your gift, whether it's large or small, will be greatly needed and wisely used. Thank you so much for your consideration. All donations are federal tax deductible in the U.S.

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SECULAR DONATION OPTIONS FOR HURRICANE RELIEF

There are many options for donating to a charity of your choice. A number of non-religious aid organizations that do not incorporate a religious message into their operations or proselytize to those in need are active in relief or restoration endeavors. You can read recommendations from some secularist American organizations at:

http://www.the-brights.net/action/brightsonly/secularist_charities.htm

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ANTONYM POLL RESULTS ARE IN

Brights Central received serious pleas that, for pragmatic reasons, we should have and use a term that is opposite to the noun “bright.” Thus, Brights Central initiated a mini-project to obtain an appropriate noun with which to identify persons whose worldview does incorporate supernatural and/or mystical elements. We would then use it to refer to "non- Brights" in communications and published articles.

Almost 1,000 Brights voted in the poll for an appropriate antonym. Receiving 45% of the total votes was —- supernaturalists, which garnered over four times the 2nd place etherians.

It looks like the phrase to use is: brights and supernaturalists.

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RICHARD DAWKINS (ENTHUSIASTIC BRIGHT) ON SCIENCE AND EVOLUTION

Thanks to John who stated: “Regarding religion, creationism and Intelligent Design, members might be interested in hearing the recent comments of British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on Public Radio's Radio Times.”

In the radio piece on evolution (aired 9/23), Dr. Dawkins responds to questions of an interviewer about his latest book, The Ancestor’s Tale, and he relates why he chose to convey the story of evolution by way of an epic pilgrimage backwards from present day, rather than from origins of life forward. When answering questions from radio listeners, he touched on (among other topics) free will, the scientific way of thinking, ignorance (particularly of protestant extremists), intelligent design, evaluation of evidence, and the teaching of evolution to children. Called to account for his awful characterization of creationists, he backtracks a bit while clarifying his view that ignorance is curable (with knowledge).

http://www.whyy.org/91FM/radiotimes.html

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BRIGHT TOMORROW

A new project, “Bright Tomorrow,” is under consideration, and the volunteer director for its development is a new Enthusiastic Bright, Debra Deanne Olson. A native Californian and mother of two teenage daughters, Debra is proud granddaughter of the only openly atheist governor in American history, California’s Culbert Levy Olson (1938-1942). Long favoring grassroots activism, she serves on the boards of several youth and educational nonprofits, including Global Tribe Network and New Visions Foundation. Her global vision is to develop funding and draw media attention to the naturalistic worldview.

http://www.the-brights.net/people/enthusiastic/

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WEB ARCHITECT THEO MOVES ON TO . . .

Theo Skye, creator of our current website, is now deep into the formation of a large project of his own and will be limited in his further work with it. We can’t thank Theo enough for the many hours he devoted to developing our marvelous site and wish him well in his new business venture.

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LONDON BRIGHTS CONSIDER ACTION PROJECT

At the most recent Meetup ( London) there was discussion and widespread support for an Inclusive Schools Initiative. At the heart of this initiative is a web-based questionnaire that would give every school a score on a 5 point scale. This score would indicate the extent to which that school avoided practices that distinguished between children of different religious affiliation or none. In arguing for the proposal, the proponent Brights put forward the following advantages of this approach:

- It gives those schools that "don't do religion" an opportunity to differentiate and promote themselves

- Just reviewing the questionnaire prompts schools to think about their policies around religious practice

- The resultant scores and database become a resource for parents seeking education free of religious influences

- It creates newsworthy stories for the media

- The promotion of practices that embrace children of any religion or none is one that faith groups would find hard to be seen as not supporting

- It provides an opportunity to dispel the myth that faith-based schools are better than those that are not

The idea is that the whole scheme could be operated from a website that, if properly constructed, could be created to run itself. E-mails, parents and promotional activities encourage schools to log in and fill in the questionnaire, and parents police the scores that the schools give themselves. Parents are able to support the site by leaving comments, and institutions are can indicate support by having their logos displayed along with a comment.

This is an interesting idea. We hope it will lead somewhere.

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VOLUNTEER FOR A MERCHANDISING TASK TEAM

The Brights’ Net (TBN) is getting many requests for merchandise — T-shirts, stickers, and so forth. We are considering reputable vendors that will make use of designs that we prepare rather than establishing a relationship with any single vendor.

1) We need someone to advise us on merchandisers. Has anyone had successful experience with particular merchandisers? If so, please do pass along your recommendations.

2) Does anyone have current commercial contacts?

3) We need a volunteer team leader who has experience in commercial art work of this type and three team members to work with the leader.

Please put MERCHANDISE in the subject line with a brief resume of your skills in the body and email it to the-brights@the-brights.net

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BRIGHTS FRANCE INSTITUTES A BLOG FOR FRENCH SPEAKERS

Announcement: “Just some news, we have a new blog! Michel”

http://nouvelles-brights.blogspot.com/

Le website est en français.

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ATHEISTS IN FOXHOLES ( USA)

November 11th is the date of a rally in Washington, D.C. sponsored by American Atheists. Co-Director (and disabled veteran, a peace-time casualty) Paul Geisert will be speaking at the event and letting those in attendance know about the Brights. A parade will take place the morning of the 12th. If you want to know more about the event, see:

http://www.atheistfoxholes.org/about.php

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TAILINGS

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

The Brights' Forum (open 24/7) — http://the-brights.net/forums

The archive of all prior Bulletins is at

http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/archive.html

If you need to change your email address to a new one, suspend emailing from Brights Central, etc., you can now edit your status yourself at:

http://www.the-brights.net/movement/bulletin/settings.html

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

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Brights Central

Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

Webmaster: Kevin Schultz

Web Architect (emergency service) Theo Skye

BLC Coordinator: Tammy Richard


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