The Brights' Bulletin

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Issue #40

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

BRIGHTS' BULLETIN #40 -- 2006 August 31


The registration form has a new feature. Brights Central (BC) has added an extra step in order to eliminate at least one form of electronic spamming. Now, when a person wants to register as a Bright, she or he needs to be able to add two one-digit numbers. Computer generated spam can't do that task. That challenge shouldn't cut down on enrollments. Brights excel at putting 2 + 2 together! We're betting that even 9+9 is a task that any potential Bright can accomplish. ;-


Most Brights know that Enthusiastic Brights Michael Shermer and Richard Dawkins are prolific writers. Each has recently finished another book. Shermer's book ("Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design") was just released this month. The much awaited Dawkins tome ("The God Delusion") is coming soon.

You can get either or both "through The Brights' Net." Here's what we mean: You follow the prescribed procedure to access ordering information at, and whilst Amazon is shipping you your book, it is also sending the Brights' Net a percentage (at no additional cost to you). The link for starting your order is at

This month, Enthusiastic Bright Bob Churchill has added the following service features to his lively site:

A "Brights News Feed" (RSS) – This Web feed supplies information for Brights. Besides regular stories relevant to the broad aims of this constituency, it also includes other developments of likely interest to persons who have naturalistic worldviews.

A "Brights Around the World" Frappr Map: Stick a pin in the map to show your support for the Brights movement - with however much anonymity you want.

Bob, who trained in philosophy at the University of Warwick (UK) and Queens University (Canada), designed his site as a service for Brights. It augments Internet access to "Brights movement-related material" and also lets interested Brights participate in several ways. Individuals who provide material are not speaking for other Brights or for the Brights movement. The information on Bob's site is not controlled by The Brights' Net, which takes no responsibility for its content. You may email to report any flagrant errors or misrepresentations of the movement.

Bob's site is at


Jacques (Cape Town) is starting a Brights' Local Constituency for South Africa. His contact is

To learn more about the nature of a BLC, go to:

The information on this page is for group leaders, but it provides anyone with information on what is expected of a BLC.

FACEBOOK NOTICE – BRIGHTS WELCOME offers one means to unify Brights from universities, high schools, and regions, and make the movement more visible to young people everywhere. Membership in Facebook is available in more than 2,500 colleges and 22,000 high schools all over the world. (Membership is also available in other organizations and regions, but the networking is primarily oriented to academia).

There are two different groups devoted to the Brights on Facebook, and it doesn't matter which you join. (At this point, one is mainly used by the Missouri BLC for communication, the other by users from Leeds UK to Tulsa OK USA).

MESSAGE FROM ELTON (HAMPSHIRE COLLEGE) AND NEIL (UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE): We have set up a chapter of the Brights on Facebook. It is wide open to Facebook members. To find us, you must first register with a profile at If you don't already have a Facebook account, join." To join Facebook, go to


Now that the Co-Directors are beginning to dig out from the pileup that accumulated during their six weeks on the road in Europe, you can expect to see a spurt of messages coming your way.

Several things (on hold) are now coming back onto the "front burner." We are looking to have this wave of activity completed during September, so please do pay more attention to your "in box" - just this month!! You will have several opportunities (BrightenOps) to consider. Choose one that fits you, and help spread the idea of this movement!


The MP is reawakening from its many months' hiatus!

As we pick up the challenge once again, we hope supportive Brights will step forward and volunteer whenever the project needs closely match their expertise and/or high interest. Everybody else can help by financially supporting the overall enterprise of The Brights' Net.

BC will soon put out a call for Task Team A-1 participation. Watch your inbox for the BrightenOP announcement. The call is scheduled for release on September 10. Given that we do acquire a suitable cadre of committed volunteers, this task is scheduled to begin on October 1 and be completed in 2007.


One of the ten panels in BeliefNet's "Who's Who Among the Godless" went to The Brights. (The Co-Directors occupy Panel #9.) The gallery's introduction began as follows: "Atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, Brights... no matter what you call them, non-believers are a growing segment of the U.S. population."

Daniel Dennett occupies Panel #6, which mentions his contribution to popularizing "bright" as a term for describing nonbelievers. We were pleased that "Brights" is seen as a separate category with its own meaning.

Language doesn't change overnight. There's surely much work for Brights ahead, but look at how far we've come already!

For a look at the "Godless" Gallery, go to:


"Nonbelievers"- This is media favorite to lump together a bunch of people. It's popular, too, with the many individuals who take pride in their stance, which is nonconforming to any religion. And, "Godless"?! That one is seen as a point of pride by some. It may be true that some people don't mind being defined as "those outside," but there are definite consequences of such self-identity. It's fairly common for nonbelievers to be seen as persons who "don't believe in anything." Talk about how that undermines the attempt to gain acknowledgment of one's being as moral as anybody else!

And, "Godless?!" What an interesting bit of irony! It was the use of that word as a descriptor that goaded Paul to coin the noun form of "bright" in the first place. (It had been used as an umbrella term for a "Godless Americans March on Washington," a march hoping to draw together various sorts of folks and press to more acknowledged and accepted.) But, most dictionaries have as one of the word's meanings - "wicked"!)

Both terms (godless and nonbeliever) define people, trap them actually, into being defined by reference to religion and, for most practical purposes, just by ONE aspect in their broad-spectrum worldviews.

There are probably some pretty good reasons for Brights to be thinking long and hard about their own uses of these religion-based albatrosses. Do they mark us as somehow substandard? Here at Brights Central, we tend to think so. We define ourselves by a full-spectrum worldview, not by something that we're not. Maybe someday more people will seek this freedom!


Principles 8 and 9 of The Brights' Net state: "The Brights movement is a positive force. We intend to work to grow a constituency of Brights able to exercise social and political influence in a constructive fashion... What is sought is social acceptance and civic equality... The Brights movement seeks acknowledgement and influence in society... We will work toward all brights being accepted as citizens on a level playing field with persons who hold other worldviews."

SIG 2 is an experimental venture in putting some ideas of the previous paragraph into action. This initiative will make possible communication between a group of Brights and an organization of religious persons known as the United Religions Initiative. The URI works to reduce religiously-motivated violence. This undertaking may be of interest to you. If it is, keep your eyes peeled for the BrightenOp that invites participation. (There are no registration fees or requests for donations associated with joining a SIG).

Note that Brights' SIGs are simply a mechanism whereby a defined sub-set of the constituency can support an action independently of the constituency as a whole. Any given SIG represents only its members, and not ever the Brights' Net itself.


We hate to see you lost from the mail list simply because you forgot to edit your record. Anytime you change email address, go to "Subscription Settings" on the right column of the home page.
(If that doesn't work for you, email Brights Central.)


Across its three years of existence, The Brights' Net has received very little notice from Christians. We've received a few prayers, but most incoming emails have actually contained sensible questions. The several handfuls of snipers usually received a friendly reply with a relevant Biblical quote (Matthew 7:1's proscription to "judge not that you be not judged"). That has seemed to work fairly well.

So far, the movement has been "under the radar," and Brights Central has been able to focus on spreading the word about the movement, not replying to apologists for any religions. The Brights may not be in that circumstance much longer, though. It seems that recently published material in "Science and Theology News" may have stirred some awareness. (The STN magazine concentrates on science and religion. Consequently, its readers have their antennae up for anything touching on the so-called "borderlands.")

In Bulletin 37, BC reported having written a corrective to a flawed STN editorial opinion by the magazine's Christian editor. The article was published this past month. Soon afterwards, Google pointed us to a couple of Christian articles on "The Brights." If early examples are any indicator of what may be in store, we must be on guard against those who will take full freedom to "interpret the Brights" for themselves and not play fair in the process.

Now is a good time for Brights to review The Brights' Net's principles ( It is Principles #5 to #9 that deal with "The Movement" and, as Principle #7 puts forth, we claim a right to define ourselves, and not to be defined by others.

Original STN editorial of April 2006: "A Dim View of Brights"
(As this piece was not posted by STN; it is accessible only in hard copy)
Response article in August 2006 ("Shedding Light on Brights") is located at


Despite a crowded Bulletin, we still want to mention that BC sent to over 1000 Brights in the San Diego and Los Angeles areas information about the luncheon honoring Philip Paulson. Philip is a "separation of church and state activist." He is known to many for his 17-yearlong legal battle to remove public funding of a prominent San Diego religious symbol. Just this month, in another stage in the fight, the land where the "Easter cross" stands was transferred from the city to the federal government, so the case goes onward and upward toward the Supreme Court.


Here is a brief report on Brights' purchasing of books and merchandise since we recently instituted these opportunities. Amazon to date has earned The Brights' Net $235 from items that Brights have purchased. Don't forget that you can support the Brights movement by simply remembering to go to the Brights website when you are purchasing books or any other Amazon products.

Remember, the books cost you no more than normal, and the Brights receive almost 5% of the sales price.

CafePress (between the dates of 4-3 and 8-7) earned the Brights $287, and undoubtedly earned some attention for the wearers. For Brights merchandise
If you ever have trouble finding things on the website, don't forget you can use the search box on the home page. Simply type in "merchandise" or "amazon" and you can click to the proper page.


This URL will lead you to a set of icons that can be used in your email signature line. If you don't know how to install it, let us know and we will try to help.


Forum staff have posted each of the nine Brights' principles in "The Brights Movement" forum to give Brights who wish an opportunity to discuss the meaning of each and to suggest improvements in wording? You can check out the threads (one thread per principle) and get in on the dialog at:


Second Genesis: A Science Thriller by Jeffrey Anderson

In the heart of the Amazon jungle, someone is playing God, with unnerving success. At a stem cell research laboratory in western Brazil, scientists take evolution into their own hands... This thriller probes the ethics and future of high-tech, high-stakes germ line manipulation, and what it means to be the caretakers of intelligent life on the planet.


New Textbooks: From now through October 7th, you can save up to 20% off campus bookstore prices on new textbooks. In addition, you can also save an extra $15 when spending over $150 on new textbooks.

Used Textbooks: Through Amazon's extensive network of third party sellers, you can get used textbooks at up to 90% off list prices. (click on the Amazon graphic link)


Definition and goals of the organization:

Brights' Forum (open 24/7/365) – Check it out!

Archive of all prior Bulletins:

Link to (you pay normal amount and The Brights' Net gets a donation):

Brights' Shop (merchandise):

Sustaining The Brights' Net:


Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert:

Webmaster and Forum Consultant: Kevin Schultz:

CafePress Shopkeeper: Diane Reed:

Adjunct Volunteers –
Web Architect: Theo Skye
BLC Coordinator: Tammy Richard

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