The Brights' Bulletin
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
NOVEMBER 2008 BULLETIN
THE BRIGHTS NET IS A CONSTITUENCY
By Lawrence, newly registered Bright (California, USA)
“I have always considered my naturalistic worldview to be private, and have had no desire to become part of any ‘group’ as a result. What appeals to me here is the assertion that The Brights is not a group, but a constituency of individuals. It may be important to be counted, but I am certainly not interested in being included in any group of people whose purpose is to express unity of thought. I am new here, but so far I like what I see.”
CAL POLY BRIGHTS - DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
By: Breehan Yohe-Mellor (California Polytechnic University)
“Two new clubs on campus will offer students an alternative way to think about religion and spirituality with the Secular Society and the Cal Poly Brights coincidentally popping up at the same time. ‘There needs to be a campus-wide discussion because there are so many religious groups,’ said Nick Sagan, the Brights’ treasurer and computer engineering senior.”
BUS ADVERT CAMPAIGN (UK)
"There's probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life."
Bendy-buses with that slogan will soon be running on the streets of London. The bus posters campaign was boosted by the British Humanist Association, which had planned to raise £5,500 for the project (that amount to be matched by Richard Dawkins), but BHA has already raised more than £140,000 of its own accord, meaning now that lots of buses can bear the signs for several weeks.
WORDWISE, GOD CONTINUES WINNING STREAK
The substantial unexpected support given to the bendy bus poster project reveals wide interest in moving regular people to really think seriously (and perhaps more comfortably?) about their lives and beliefs. Still yet, there is perhaps a downside, however refreshing the campaign and enthusiastic the donors.
By depending on an assertion to draw attention and prompt public interest, the campaign is simultaneously gifting “God” with another advert. The Methodist Church has thanked Professor Dawkins for encouraging a "continued interest in God". And why not? Think memetics. The “G-word” will be getting around town on all those buses.
DIFFERENT ANGLES ON “BRIGHTDOM” (FREE TO BE – YOU AND ME)
LIVING WITHOUT THE ANSWERS (Matthew, California): “Finally a place for those of us who can withhold a mystery and be content to simply say ‘I don't understand it...yet’ and not fill the gap with an even bigger mystery.”
SATISFIED BY GETTING THEM (Adam, Arizona): “I'm so glad to finally have answers to hard questions.”
HUNGERING & QUESTIONING: (Ben, Texas): “I recently came to grips with the fact that I was, in fact, a "Bright"...[M]y hunger for literature on the subject of religion as a ‘natural phenomenon’ has become insatiable. And I am just overwhelmingly happy that there are others out there who share my views and who will stand up in support of them. Thank you.”
NEW ENTHUSIASTIC BRIGHT
Meet Sue Blackmore. After extraordinary experiences as a student, Sue devoted her life to research in parapsychology, only to discover no evidence for the paranormal. She then worked with sceptical organisations in the UK and USA and became a vociferous critic of paranormal claims in the media. Formerly a Reader in Psychology at the University of the West of England, Bristol, she is now a freelance writer and lecturer. Her books include several on the paranormal, as well as “The Meme Machine” and a textbook “Consciousness: An Introduction”.
THE BRIGHTS' SPOT -- A WELCOMING PLACE
(RECENT REGISTRATION COMMENTS)
Shannon (Nebraska, USA): “Internet plus free-thinking equals time to change the world...”
Derek (UK) “Delighted to have found so many like-minded, yet totally individual people in one place!”
Daniel (US Armed Forces, Europe): “I am a soldier currently serving in Iraq, and it is comforting to know that not everyone out there is a religious fanatic.”
Elise (Australia): “Thank you for helping and leading in the campaign for free, intelligent, logical and beautiful thinking.”
SOME REVEALING STATISTICS (USA)
The Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society & Culture has released a 2008 report that adds some striking information to a previous 2001 study of all Americans. The new study, led by director and research professor Barry Kosmin (as was the 2001 American Religious Identification Study, or ARIS) is concentrating on the 15% of U.S. adults who are the “No Religion” population (32 million adults).
Reported: Most people, when asked in an anonymous telephone survey “What is your religious preference, if any?” identify simply by a broad response (No Religion/None). Those in the “no religion population” who will self-identify by the A-word (as atheists) are no more than 0.6% of the overall American population. (Agnostics are reported at 0.9% and Humanist/secular/ethical culture at 0.15%.)
To access the report and other work by Kosmin, including “Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists: India,” go to:
GOT ANYTHING POSITIVE TO SAY?
The ISSSC research group (prior item) is academically respected but clearly reliant on referencing religion when considering people’s worldviews. As an academic body studying secularism, that framework is understandable. Still, it is worth noting that the “religion lens” means a scarcity of terms on hand for describing in any half-way elevating way the actual people and their worldviews.
Here’s how the 2008 study categorizes the overall targeted “No Religion Population” of Americans. They are the “Areligious, Irreligious and Anti-religious Americans”.
Let’s see now. We have “non” and “a-“ and “ir” and “anti-“. All that combined together surely doesn’t sum to a desirable characterization of those folks.
MORALITY PROJECT REPORT
The project team has identified scientists actively researching the natural bases of morality. Contact information has now been acquired and this month a letter of invitation and accompanying information packet is being sent to the researchers.
The Project and its Areas A-E are described at: http://www.the-brights.net/action/activities/organized/arenas/1/project.html
EMPOWERING WITH POSITIVE
Erin (USA): “I just want a place in society for myself and my children as well. I like your mission of bright and super cooperation and mutual respect. I really want to educate myself enough to be a Bright instead of the bright that I think that I am.”
Al (Surrey, UK) “I like the flexibility of attitude and the focus on positive life espoused here.”
Lisa (Wisconsin, USA): “This ‘movement’ feels like a breath of fresh air. I'm a positive person with a naturalistic worldview and like the idea of being able to connect with other like-minded people and achieve positive action in the world (while escaping the negativistic framework the overtly religious seem to thrust the non-religious into).”
James (Nevada, USA): “My wife pointed out yesterday that political action is hard to accomplish under the banner of a negative (i.e. "a-anything"). Purely an unfair grammatical problem, but the Brights' banner is an elegant solution.”
LISTEN UP! - BRIGHTS THEMSELVES SPEAK IN 2009 CALENDAR
Prior Brights’ annual calendars featured quotes from well-known people (poets, philosophers, etc.). This year’s is different! Those who collaborated to produce the 2009 version selected inspiring pictures and issued personal viewpoints to match.
Can you envision the pictures for these months? >JUNE: “Above us only sky; Lennon had the right idea.” >SEPTEMBER: “Science is the best toolbox for understanding.”
>DECEMBER: “If you want a better tomorrow, spread a little happiness today.”
(You may be surprised, but we bet you’ll be delighted!)
The calendar is produced as a service to the constituency. Brights’ calendars are for supers, too! To purchase (US$ 14.78 plus shipping) go to:
THE BRIGHTS AND THE BELIEVERS
Joany (California, USA): “This evening, we attended a lecture at the University of California San Diego by Dr. Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus of Stanford University, in a discussion of Science and Religion, separation of Government and Religion, and related ideas, who mentioned, ‘the Brights and the believers.’"
FOLLOWUP ON EQUINOX
Brights Central extends thanks to all of you who donated to the Equinox Fund Drive. We did receive sufficient funds to carry through to the March Equinox and to initiate some SIG actions! We were especially pleased that a number of you used the subscription option available on PayPal. Giving via the monthly donation plan means that BC can plan much better for use of the funds.
FOLLOWUP TO SPECIAL INITIATIVE GROUPS (SIGS)
If you have already subscribed to one of the new Brights Action groups, you can expect to receive an emailing from Brights Central later this month. If you wish to be active in SIG 2, be sure to subscribe soon so as not to miss the initial emailing.
SIG 2: taking up a forceful stance in support of authentic science and science education.
SIG 3: standing for a robust demarcation between religion and government.
SIG 4: furthering ties with supers who share a cultural and/or religious heritage or community identity.
Learn about ALL the SIGs and register your own action priorities at:
REGISTRATIONS CONTINUE STRONG
Let’s bump those registrations to a thousand per month. Don't forget to tell someone else about the Brights' movement. It is the way we grow!!! A signature line is another way to painlessly acquaint others with the website. To make one for yourself, see:
INCARCERATED BRIGHTS PROGRAM
Report from Joel: “My August newsletter (attached) went to 18 prisoners (17 regulars and one new one). I wrote to the one of my regulars who was recently released, and 6 others, so I'm close to being caught up on my letters. Some of the letters I've received are challenging to answer, so it sometimes takes a while to get a good reply written and mailed.”
REFERENCE GUIDE TO CONTACTING PERSONNEL AND LOCATING INFORMATION
All contact and general information at: http://www.the-brights.net/reference_guide.html
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Bright Regards from Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert at Brights Central