The Brights' Bulletin
May 31, 2008
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
JUNE 2008 BULLETIN
DENNETT VIDEO NOW UP
Co-webmaster Michael has put online the first in a collection of very short videos explaining the nature of The Brights' Network. The collection starts off the "Brights Talk" series, which is being produced by volunteers Liz and David. In it, Daniel Dennett comments on the appeal of the Brights movement, particularly with respect to youth.
Dr. Dennett is an Enthusiastic Bright. He has been a backer of both the Brights' endeavor and "the word" used to identify someone whose worldview is in every respect free of any supernatural elements. He also coined the contrast of "brights and supers." (A bright has a worldview that is wholly naturalistic, whereas a super's way of looking at the world incorporates at least some elements of supernaturalism.) The brights/supers contrast helps to keep the focus on worldview and diminish misunderstanding. The noun bright is not referring to intellect; it is a means of differentiating persons by characterizing their worldview.
You can see the video at: http://the-brights.net/movement/video_brights.html
WIKI PROJECT IN MOTION
BACKGROUND: A new cooperative project, described in the May bulletin, involves Brights Central working with other organizations to create an online repository of quality activities parents and youth leaders can use. The Wiki material, to be hosted by The Brights' Net, will center on certain niche areas of educational concern, such as critical thinking and secular ethics. Read the overview in the previous Bulletin (search for Wiki):
UPDATE: The project is off and running with the drafting of material to guide a contributor in adding an activity to the Wiki. A draft "template" and "instructions" have been produced. The development team used the trial format to produce four "model activities" and evaluate the results (serviceability of the template). A slightly upgraded prototype will be further tested in June and July by some Camp Quest staffers. In the future, Brights and others will be asked to participate in the endeavor.
NEW LOCATION FOR BRIGHTS CENTRAL
The Brights' Net has moved from the co-director's donated space to a much-needed office at a business location in Sacramento, California, USA. Things are still a bit of a jumble (boxes to unpack, and the phone line scheduled for June 5). As soon as the move of computing operations is fully complete, Brights will be welcome to stop by. (If you live near or are passing through Sacramento, email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a visit.) The office has just enough space and facilities to enable the requisite legal board meeting to be held at the new location on Friday, June 13.
BOOKS BY BRIGHTS
50 REASONS PEOPLE GIVE FOR BELIEVING IN A GOD by Guy P. Harrison
Harrison analyzes the most common justifications for belief heard around the world. Without attacking or belittling anyone, he delivers much to think about for both believers and nonbelievers.
THE KID'S BOOK OF AWESOME STUFF by Charlene Brotman
Brotman's children's book for ages 8 to 12 is written from a naturalistic perspective. It nurtures a sense of wonder of nature as revealed by science. Puzzles, activities, stories and appealing graphics make it kid-friendly.
PERSONAL "ENBRIGHTENMENT" STORIES
(EXAMPLES FROM REGISTRATIONS DURING MAY)
Ryan (Alabama, USA): "I have always been unsatisfied with religion [Christianity]. I searched many years for something that would give me the feeling which I experienced when I joined 'the brights!'"
Ray (U.K.): "Just to say cheers. I am a theology graduate and a bible college graduate; never been happier than I am without God... (T)hank 'god' for theology; it was my salvation from religion; and thank humanity for its ability to collect together into groups; this for me is much needed nourishment."
Terry (U.K.): "What a fantastic new world I am entering... I can now truly call myself an Ex-Christian. Brilliant!!!"
Christina (USA): "'Losing' my religion was a slow and difficult process which was part and parcel of my own personal 'enlightenment'...an intellectual awakening I started in my early twenties and have continued ever since. The experience was a lonely, cold one at times, but in the past several years I have turned the corner, so to speak, and am avidly reading all I can about the naturalistic worldview and many books by those who have been termed the "New Atheists." The worldview espoused by the "Brights" is now the only one that makes sense to me. I don't believe that we will be able to surmount the most pressing problems of our age until we put aside superstition, mysticism and religion."
Brian (Tennessee, USA): "It took many years of consideration to come to terms with the fact the naturalistic worldview was what I truly felt was the most accurate explanation for everything. After holding on to God for so long, despite the protestations that every nerve ending in my body was screaming at me, it feels wonderful..."
BRIGHTS EXPRESSING THEIR WORLDVIEWS
A naturalistic worldview covers a lot of mental territory. Your worldview is the overall perspective from which you see and interpret the world. It consists of all the assumptions and images that offer you a reasonably coherent (although not necessarily accurate!) way of thinking about the world.
In one sense, your worldview is like a rainbow! It covers the whole spectrum of your beliefs about life and death, how to treat others, the universe, source of morality, and so forth.
The tagline for the Brights' endeavor is "Illuminating and Elevating the Naturalistic Worldview." A conclusion regarding the existence of a deity or deities is merely one "color" in that "rainbow." Brights needn't get stuck on just one or two conclusions in their worldview spectrum. There's so much more to any person's worldview free from supernaturalism. You can make yours colorful!
BRIGHTS' REGISTRATON COMMENTS
(HAPPY TO BE A BRIGHT)
M.C. (Virginia, USA): "The first step was recognizing what I didn't believe in. The next step was realizing what I did believe in."
Geraldine (Ireland): "At last I have the one word I need that describes me accurately - I am a Bright."
Maurice (Minnesota, USA): "I've been a 'bright' all my life (50+ years) and think it's a great concept. I hope it catches on so we can be more comfortable coming out."
Charlie (North Carolina, USA): "For years, when asked to explain my beliefs, I have told the story of standing in a sanctuary and looking at the broken pane in the great cathedral's stained glass window. I'd point to the different colored pieces of glass and explained to my friend that each was like a different faith. Light (Truth) comes to each of them and is changed by density and pigmentation. But the space where there was NO glass allowed the pure beauty and intensity of the light to shine through. It was the brightest and, therefore, the only true light to be seen. I am happy to be another Bright."
Dennis (U.K.) "What a great idea! When someone asks your religion, tell them you're a Bright. That should start a conversation."
UPDATE ON BRIGHTS GROUPS
There are now 69 Brights Local Constituencies (BLCs) and Brights web groups. Most are geographically focused. Some BLCs have local meetings, and others are online only. Still others are simply a person willing to act as leader to form a group - if others become aware and are interested.
Illustrations range from a single Bright in the process of forming a group in Australia to a 267-member group in Illinois and a 334-member London group. A total of 4,313 Brights are meeting together in some manner, or intent on doing so.
If you are interested in joining an existing group and meeting in person or online, this link has email addresses to reach the designated contact leader for each current group designation:
If you yourself are interested starting and leading a group, contact Will, the Groups Coordinator.
Will's email is email@example.com
LISTSERV OPTION FOR BRIGHTS GROUPS
The Brights' Net is willing to establish trial listservs to enable established and energetic Brights groups to plan actions that are well aligned with the aims and principles of The Brights' Net. (A listserv allows all individuals in the group to send emails to all others in the group.)
To begin a group listserv, at least one person from the group must volunteer to take on the responsibility to manage it. The manager will work with Michael (Brights' Co-webmaster) to learn how to get the listserv started and how to manage it. Any group member interested in participating may email firstname.lastname@example.org stating "I am interested in listserv #" and put LISTSERVE in the subject line. If you wish to be the manager of the endeavor, state that in your email.
Besides established Brights groups, other listserv possibilities exist for potential managers who will commit to the responsibility and have a reason for the listserv to be established. For example:
1. Parents of children 16 and under (international in English)
2. A language listserv
3. Open: Make a proposal for a listserv different from the preceding.
If you are proposing a listserv, do so formally by emailing email@example.com and put LISTSERV PROPOSAL in your subject line.
NEW NATION IS ADDED
In its enumeration of nations, The Brights' Net has added nation #149. There is now a Bright in Kyrgyzstan. To see the map (click name in left column) at: http://maps
Ulan of Kyrgyzstan stated at registration: "I am quite concerned about the destiny of human race and that's why feel the great need to be part of the positive change towards enlightenment and consciousness heightening activities."
MERCHANDISE LINE UPDATE
News from Shopkeeper Diane:
EMBROIDERED DESIGNS: In addition to regular screen-printed items at Cafe Press, we are now able to offer you a small selection of merchandise with embroidered designs. Available with the embroidered designs (more costly than screen-print) are jackets, polo or denim shirts, a military style cap, and a stonewashed cap. You can find these linked from the Brights store at: http://www.cafepress.com/brightsshop
Or go directly to: http://www.cafepress.com/brightsshop/5572850
ACADEMIC CALENDAR ('08-'09): Again this year, we have assembled a Brights' academic calendar using pictures and quotes from our popular '08 calendar. Perfect for the student; great for parents, teachers and professors, too. Find it here: http://www.lulu.com/content/2581299
BRIGHTS AGES 16 OR UNDER
Brights Central is considering a special service for younger Brights. If you are 16 or younger and you registered as a Bright, please email BC to let us know how old you are: firstname.lastname@example.org (Put YOUNG ZONE in upper case in your subject line.)
GERMAN WEBSITE - OFF TRACK OR ON?
There is a new German language Brights' website and we are having trouble translating it and need help. http://brights-rhein-main.de/materialien.html
Brights Central has been alerted that this website misses the point of the movement (see paragraph below) and is to some degree anti-religious (contravening principle #8 of the movement). German speakers, please email your opinion of the website. If you can, please relay how to contact the owner. Please email your response to email@example.com with subject line: GERMAN SITE
The Brights movement is a civic justice endeavor. It is organizationally committed to advancing a level playing field of social acceptance and civic participation for persons whose worldview is naturalistic. Toward the goals of advancing public understanding, and the civic recognition and acceptance of persons who hold naturalistic outlooks, the organization has a non-aggression pact with religion in general.
NEWS TO NOTICE
VATICAN TO MARK DARWIN ANNIVERSARY WITH CONFERENCE
"The Pope's chief astronomer says that life on Mars cannot be ruled out. Father Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory near Rome, is a respected scientist who collaborates with universities around the world. // To strengthen its scientific credentials, the Vatican is organizing a conference next year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the author of the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin."
-->To read rest of article by David Willey (BBC News, Rome), go to:
GOODBYE TO BLASPHEMY IN BRITAIN
"The longstanding British blasphemy laws were officially abolished on May 8, 2008. And good riddance to their long, repressive reign, say humanist and free speech advocates. // The blasphemy laws were based on a centuries old notion that "faith" was at the heart of a moral society. To challenge or offend the official faith was akin to threatening the fabric that held British society together."
-->To read the rest of the article by Ruth N. Geller (HumanistNetworkNews.org), go to:
ONLY ONE BRIGHT'S OPINION
THUMBS UP ON MONTESSORI SCHOOLS
"My son and his wife had concerns about sending their child to a preschool that would not push religion. They researched the issue, and are very pleased with the Montessori school my grandson is attending. As an educator myself, I could not be more pleased with their choice. There are Montessori schools all over the world and in many US communities. Just search on the Internet for more information. Good luck, Linda"
THUMB'S DOWN ON PRESIDENTS' BIOETHICS COUNCIL (USA)
Enthusiastic Bright Steven Pinker has an essay in The New Republic, a Washington-based journal of opinion on politics and arts. His critique is titled "The Stupidity of Dignity: Conservative bioethics' latest, most dangerous ploy"
The article is available online at:
BRIGHTS MAY LIKE TORONTO EVENT
Canadian and American Brights who live close to Toronto can head to the most in-depth exhibition ever mounted on Charles Darwin. The special exhibition, (launched first at the American Museum of Natural History, New York) is now at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). It is called "Darwin: The Evolution Revolution" and runs until Aug 04, 08. Anyone interested can visit the website:
AMAZONOPHILES AIDING THE BRIGHTS
Thanks to all of you who are remembering The Brights' Net when you are ordering materials through Amazon. It costs you nothing more, but The Brights' Net get 6% of the sales price. You helped earn the Brights US$151 for the month of May!
There's another way to proceed. You can copy this URL, and put it where you can easily access it:
NO USE OF YOUR NAME/EMAIL ADDRESS
The Brights' Net NEVER provides your email or home address to anyone under any circumstances without your advance permission. Occasionally we may email an announcement of an event or information about the formation of a new Brights group or some activity in your area that is considered of likely interest to Brights. Such messages are sent from Brights Central.
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
BRIGHTS MOVEMENT DISCUSSION FORUMS
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Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net