The Brights' Bulletin
December 31, 2005
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
HAPPY NEW YEAR, BRIGHTS!
As we turn the page to 2006, those of us at Brights Central want to thank all you constituents who have supported this unique endeavor through your active involvement and/or monetary support. Thank you for acting to spread far and wide the concepts and aims of this Internet constituency. (There are now Brights in 137 nations). Every one of you who has exposed the concept of a "naturalistic worldview" and/or the noun use of "bright" to another person has potentially created another Bright.
Special thanks go out from Co-Directors to the hardworking cadre of volunteers who are administering and facilitating the Brights Forum, those involved in leading BLCs or Brights Meetups or collaborative projects, and those named at the end of this Bulletin.
Pretty much everything that gets done for The Brights' Net is accomplished by volunteers. Thus, if you happen to know who is doing something that you appreciate, now is a good time to say so and offer encouraging words to spur them into the New Year!
WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?
The broad civic identity of "being a bright"/"having a naturalistic worldview" offers a new pathway for many persons to characterize themselves and their outlook without any reference whatsoever to religion. The characterization is positive, assertive, and inclusive of widely variant philosophies. (It's not restrictive to specific concepts like deities. It certainly catches a crucial distinction, though, as far as conceptualizing the world and one's place in it.)
By registering as "Brights" (upper case), individuals grow the Internet constituency and help set the stage for additional persons free of supernaturalism ("brights" - lower case) to step out from the margins of society. (Registered Brights who are actively using the noun and/or its definition as a self-identifier, and/or mentioning the website URL as occasions arise, are very helpful at spreading the broad civic identity and usage of the noun!)
The website is the locus of information for interested persons and the hub of communication and/or action for many constituents. All Brights who desire to further the civic aims that are listed on the home page of the website need to keep their email address current and have their subscription setting active (as "subscribers"). It is through the Bulletins and BrightenOps sent out from Brights Central, the polls, etc., that these individuals can stay in touch with what's happening in the constituency and/or participate in ongoing activities.
BRIGHTS LOCAL CONSTITUENCY UK
A Southampton UK Brights group is now meeting and welcoming additional members. For more information, contact Tina at firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT IS THE PLACE OF ATHEISM IN ART TODAY?
Do you have an answer to that question? If so, read this segment.
Mr. Christian Globensky (a prominent French Bright and a professor at l'sam) is presenting in spring 2006 an exhibition of his research titled, "Rest and Resentment (Paradise)." The exhibition will be at the Gallery Esplanade of the Fine Art School of Metz (l'sam) where he teaches. This exhibition will produce a catalogue/dossier of reflections by March 2006.
At his suggestion, we invite any Bright who is a philosopher, aesthetician, and/or artist to write a short essay (fewer than 500 words in English or
French) that will engage the citizen in the major topic: What is the place of atheism in art today? The publication will probably bear the title of the exhibition and have the declaration "Of Art Humanitaire!"
Please contact Christian directly to learn the specifics and with any further questions concerning a potential contribution. mailto:email@example.com
NEWS FROM BRIGHTS' FORUM ADMINISTRATION TEAM
As a Happy New Year's gift to Forum users, our forum software has been updated to the latest version 2.1.3. Along with bug fixes, this version includes numerous new features. It introduces MKportal (new portal software) with several options of interest to users. We hope you like the changes and that they will make your Forum experience more pleasant. To read the overview of changes, go to
Besides getting things readjusted, Forum staff are doing some "housecleaning" too. There are members who, after having subscribed, never returned to do any posting. (Goners.) Also, if a member goes six months without any posting, reactivation requires a new registration to the Forum.
GOOGLE ADWORDS TRIAL IMPLEMENTED
Google Adwords are the small advertisements that appear to the right of the screen after a search. The ads appear whenever there is a match to a term you are searching for in Google.
The Co-Directors have used Google Adwords very successfully for three years in a teacher education project (www.teachingaboutreligion.org). On the basis of our experience, we have implemented a three-month experiment to determine the method's effectiveness in recruiting potential Brights to visit the web site. We can pose and evaluate alternate wording.
The current ad reads:
The Brights' Network
"bright" (as in the Enlightenment)
Spread the noun - for good reason
See the ad by going to Google (www.google.com) and searching for "agnostic" (Do not click on the ad, though: it will cost the Brights!) There is a charge (5 to 30 cents depending on the adword) only when a client actually clicks the ad and goes to the website. We have set the maximum for the trial at $50 per month.
The ad's text need not stay fixed for the three months. If you have suggested replacement wording for either or both of the middle lines above, send the rewritten lines of text with the word ADWORDS in the subject line
to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Notice!!! - a rigid maximum is 35 characters per line, with no word wrap.)
For a child's query ("How did we get here if there is no god who made us?"), parents who are brights have distinctly different responses. Bulletin 31 asked for short contributions from constituents, targeted to a very young child. The response was terrific, actually too terrific!
Since the compilation totals well over 14,000 words, we must winnow down considerably to post a suitable sampling for installation on the site. In the meantime, here is a succinct response as an example, followed by a portion of the rationale the contributor provided us:
"Your classmates told you one story about how we got here. There are many such stories told to children all over the world. Some of these stories have gods in them, gods who made the world and us. Other stories about the world don't have gods. As you grow up, you will get to choose which stories about the world you like best." Jim's Rationale: To me, giving the child permission (requiring them, even) to defer judgment and make choices is essential. Like many other people who believe in reason and evidence, I would dearly love to have my children (grandchildren, now) choose my way. But, if I am to be true to a Bright approach, I must ensure that the child's ideas are freely arrived at, to be cast aside if better ideas present themselvesI must trust reason, evidence, and the child.
Postscript from Co-Directors: One particular no-gods narrative deserving of parents' mention is the one told by way of evidence from science about evolution. We like to call that one, "everybody's story" (Sorry, we just visited the "Darwin" exhibit now in New York's Museum of Natural History. What a story!) Of course, whether an individual accepts that version or not, the person "owns" it, nevertheless (through its fruits).
BRIGHT HOT SPOTS
There has been a spurt of new Brights registering from Italy due to a recent book by Piergiorgio Odifreddi, who apparently has made mention of the movement.
A feature section in Science & Theology News (Volume 6, #4) was rich with references to the Brights. It quotes Enthusiastic Brights Daniel Dennett, Stephen Pinker, and Richard Dawkins as leading authorities on the question, "Is Atheism Dying?" (Thank you, Dr. Dennett, for not only using the term "bright" when you answered "no" to the question, but also for showing the noun to be inclusive of agnostics.)
In the Web version, a review of the book, "The Twilight of Atheism: The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World." ends with a fine description on the Brights movement by staff writer Jennifer Woods. http://www.stnews.org/package-4-805.htm
A commentary by Matt Donnelly titled "Some of the world's leading scientists and philosophers share their views about the future of nonbelief" includes interesting statements by Brights Steven Pinker and Daniel Dennett, and David Deutsch.
Two small sidebars in the printed December issue also mentioned the term:
-- A Timeline segment stretching from 1696 to the present labeled one of its fourteen elements, "Bright Lights," and mentioned the 2003 coining of the noun form of bright.
-- A "Dictionary of Disbelief" defined a range of terms (from agnosticism through deism through polytheism through skepticism) and noted, "Some atheists wish to be known as brights." That's true, BUT
BRIGHTS INCLUDE MORE!
The "Dictionary of Disbelief" sidebar mentioned above missed a grand opportunity to accurately convey the inclusive nature of the noun, bright. Yes, some atheists do wish to be known as brights. But, some agnostics also wish to be known as brights. And some skeptics do, too. And so do some rationalists. And some humanists Well, you get the idea. Too bad the dictionary fell short at conveying the inclusiveness.
Anyone who has a naturalistic worldview free of supernatural and mystical elements may wish to be known as a bright. It is an "umbrella term" that lots and lots of people can use in a civic sense to convey a general outlook, no matter the particulars of their ultimate beliefs.
ACTION OPPORTUNITY? If you are a bright who considers the term agnostic or skeptic to fit your outlook (that is, to fit you better than the term atheist), you may wish to say so to Science & Theology News. The address is: email@example.com
NEW YEAR'S WHIRLWIND TRIP TO THE BRIGHTS' NET
With 2006 just beginning, why not revisit the website for a refresher? Get started at: http://the-brights.net
Recommended for now is a quick trip to kick off the New Year and perhaps prompt some "action resolutions." In a mere ten minutes, you can probably zero in on the three central aims (home page) and visit all the main structural ingredients. For example, the top paragraph under each of the main buttons (vision, people, action, community) offers the nitty-gritty.
Now search out the principles (all 9 of them, check #s 1 and 8 in particular). These underpin the movement.
Got time to spare? Whiz through the various public supporters (the "Enthusiastic Brights") or examine the Communications Guidelines. Check your subscription settings before you depart!
After such a trip, you'll not only reconnect, but you'll be better able to appreciate site changes that take place in 2006!
BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
A two-volume work of fiction, "Scenario: Nascent Christianity Emerges," written by Dr. Michael Conley, is at:
QUOTE OF NOTE
>From Martin: "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it,
doesn't go away"
Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)
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