The Brights' Bulletin
December 31, 2009
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
BRIGHTS' BULLETIN -- JANUARY 2010
High on Life!
LIKE A CANDY BOX! - From Anders (Sweden): "Thanks for existing... so many more sites, books, documentaries has helped me to learn the art of reason by which I have more use than I could ever imagine. Life is so easy now and it's so clear and I have no hesitation about my course for learning morality, learning about science and everything. Earth is like a candy box now, I'm definitely high on life rather than depressed from fears. If I can change, the world can change! Cheers!"
FORTUNATE ENOUGH! - From Jeff (UK): "As I went through my science courses with the Open University, in the UK, starting out with chemistry, progressing through biochemistry to evolution and oceanography I came to fully understand the sheer beauty, simplicity and magnitude of nature, no supernatural forces required!! Science is simply stunningly brilliant at explaining how we got here and where we are going, the Universe is constantly changing all around us and we are fortunate enough to be along for the ride!"
A Unique Tale (Worth Telling)!
From William (UK): "I had a somewhat enjoyable Bright experience and thought I'd share. Riding in the front row of a North London Bus, I decided to write "the-brights.net" on the fogged up front window and took a crude picture of it with my mobile. It was right where the bus terminated, so I didn't expect it to last long enough for many people to notice it there. To my astonishment, three days later, a friend I haven't seen for a while noticed the Brights bumper sticker in my living room and mentioned that he had seen it written on a bus window. I showed him the picture."
Every little bit!
Three Video Jewels (2009)
Kick off the New Year with some stimulating videos from the year just concluded. (What these speakers have to say is likely to be compatible with almost anyone's naturalistic worldview.)
* RICHARD DAWKINS (10 minutes) - This brief excerpt is from his university book tour early in 2009. In it, he gets personal about his "religion" and his "agnosticism" while explaining both concepts to the audience. Intriguing!
* DANIEL DENNETT (50 minutes) - The first ten minutes of this uncut interrogative interview will very likely spur you to hang on for the remaining 40 without complaint. In the early portion, at Richard Dawkins' probing, Dr. Dennett summarizes his thoughts about the title topic, "The Genius of Charles Darwin." But it goes further as they express their mutual amazement at what we know about the marvelous tapestry of life (as it is set against the incredible odds). Delightful!
* If at this time of year your inclination is to look to the future, then another video promises to get your brain cells going (it is likely to be of particular interest to those of you who care about science policy and American education in the 21st century). This video is less uplifting than the other two. In it, Shawn Otto lays out many challenges in his "Democracy in the Age of Science" lecture at the Nobel Conference two months ago: (Go straight to the 3-minutes point if you want to skip a rather drawn out introduction of Otto)
What Did You Do Last Year?
What about Next Year? (A Time for Resolutions?)
In what ways during 2009 did you advance the CIVIC aims of the Brights movement? Whatever you did, thanks! But, oh so much more to do lies ahead of us! There is a great need for more people who have a supernatural-free way of viewing the world to be involved in civil society. So, what will you do in 2010?
* Did you/will you take some new steps toward openness and affirmative visibility as someone who has a naturalistic worldview?
* Did you/will you speak out - for yourself, not for others - within your sphere of influence [whether as a Bright or as a person who holds a naturalistic outlook; whether in casual conversations or formally, in letters to the editor, on the Web, etc.?
* Did you/will you engage fellow citizens in constructive ways that are likely to positively shape their understanding of the naturalistic stance and shape as well as the civic status of other citizens who hold supernatural-free outlooks?
* Did you/will you in some way(s) - whether alone or with other Brights - aid the progress of the movement in its priority action arenas?
* Did you/will you do your utmost toward promoting better public understanding of science?
* Did you/will you brush up on your own naturalistic understandings?
- Example: the Morality Project's recommended readings
* Did you/will you help spread the word of the movement itself?
- Give out bookmarks to those who may be interested in visiting the website!
- Buy and give the annual calendar to advance a positive, friendly, science-compatible outlook.
- Make personal use of the logo in your and your family's activities!
* Did you/will you get involved in some way with the SIGs or the BCCs?
* Did you/will you engage productively with supers (as fellow citizens)?
We could go on and on, of course, but the important point here is that this movement depends on the activities of the constituents within it. It is not top-down, but bottom up! Progress is up to you!
We need more brights of many stripes out in civil society and making decisions in places where decisions are being made! We look for the day when it is common that Brights will be running for elective office and winning the votes of supers well as brights!
Amazon Boosts Commission to Brights
Special thanks go to you holiday shoppers who went through the Brights' website link to reach Amazon.com, which has just notified Brights Central of an increase in our referral commission rate! Now, a full 7% of each item purchased will be directed to The Brights' Net. Although not yet up to paying the office rent at BC, those monthly amounts are very helpful to sustaining aspects of the overall nonprofit endeavor! At last report, it had earned $403 and the Amazon.uk link had earned 48 GBP for the UK Brights.
A New Nation to Tally (Now 186)
Word of the Brights movement has reached yet another nation, the landlocked Republic of Malawi in southeast Africa (formerly known as Nyasaland). It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest and Tanzania to the northeast, with Mozambique on the east, south and west. A warm welcome to new Bright, Patrick!
Forum Reorganization Under Consideration
The facilitators of the international Brights' Forum are thinking of ways to better connect it to the movement at large and broaden the membership. [The traffic that derives from references by Dawkins and Dennett seems to consist of people interested in New Atheism and philosophy more so than the civic aims of the movement.] This influx of atheists is a primary driver of the staff's desire to reorganize the forum's topical structure to better reflect what the Brights movement is about and to help distinguish its "constructive action" aspects. Along those lines, they would also like to see postings coming in from leaders of local clusters. If you have suggestions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and put FORUM CHANGE IDEA in your subject line.
New Constituents Comment
Sharyl (Kansas, USA): "It's great there's an organization like this! I've never thought of expressing my worldview this way, but it's a very simple way of saying what I believe without having to describe everything I reject."
Vinaya (India): "O Brave New World that hath such people in it!"
Mariah (North Carolina, USA): "Amazing concept! I am happy to know that there are others and hope that this helps alleviate the stigma associated with claiming agnostic or atheist beliefs."
Jean (Canada): "This looks so exciting and interesting. I'm an atheist but the very word conjures up in the minds of the superstitious, visions of demons who hate and kill. I will enjoy being a bright."
Matthew (California, USA): "Thank you for creating a website/community/movement like this. Sometimes I feel like an island of reason in a sea of believers."
Kiva Lending Team for Brights
If you wish to help make 2009 a brighter year for someone else, there is now a new route for doing so. Brights can lend money via Kiva.org, which has as its mission alleviating poverty by way of microlending to the less fortunate.
The Kiva "community" of Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious was established with Kiva in 2008 and has accumulated quite a formidable record of microlending! Some constituents have been persistent in suggesting for some time that BC should form a lending team on Kiva so that they could do their micro-lending "as Brights," and so volunteer Laurie has set up a team.
You can join it and begin lending now!
Gloomy News - Belief in Paranormal Rising! (USA)
A recent New York Times article by Charles M. Blow reported on the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a new report the growth of faiths, fantasy, and mythology.
QUESTION 1: Would you say that you have ever had a "religious or mystical experience" - that is, a moment of sudden religious insight or awakening?
In 1962 80% said no, while in 2009 about 50% said no.
In 1962 about 24 said yes, while in 2009 about 50% said yes.
* 16% of Protestants and 17% of Catholics said that they believe that some people can use the "evil eye" to "cast curses or spells that cause bad things to happen."
* Since 1996, the percent of Americans who said they have been in the presence of a ghost has doubled from 9 percent to 18 percent.
The Brights movement has a lot of educating to do. Do your part!!
Happy Solstice Message
I just thought I would send a couple of pics of the sign we had made for the celebration of the Solstices.
View John and Julie's sign on the website!
Supporting the Movement At Large
Ways in which individuals can provide ongoing support to the overall movement are provided in the right column on the website home page
Alternative to Scripture Classes Coming (Australia)
There are plans to introduce ethics classes in New South Wales schools in a trial program. For the first time in 100 years, parents will have a choice and students will have an alternative to "twiddling their thumbs." Until now, those who choose not to engage in the longstanding religious studies program were "...parked in a place where they would do relatively minor tasks."