The "Tool Box" offers an opportunity for Brights to benefit by sharing of constructive ideas for how, in a milieu infused with supernaturalist beliefs, persons who have a naturalistic worldview can best interact with fellow citizens.
You can recommend a new situation by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to put TOOLBOX (in upper case letters) in the subject line of the e-mail.
There are occasions when you may be asked about your participation in the Brights movement. What is it you Brights want, anyway? A questioner may be a super, who is curious about your naturalistic worldview, or a bright who is simply wondering why you would want to join with others in such a social change initiative. When others ask, such as around a water cooler (or in an elevator, or at the pub), you have reason to respond quickly as well as thoughtfully. Of course, you have your own rationale for being in the constituency of Brights. But there are various motivations. In this segment, you can read what others have said when describing "the why" of the Brights. Reading theirs, you may find you want to modify your own response in some way.
There is a tension between awareness of pending death and a wish for continued consciousness. What happens to me when I die? The question appears to be universal—not so much culturally-imparted as a "given" of human existence. A great many people find satisfaction in answers provided by some form of religion. Others reach a nonreligious conclusion. Those who rely on supernatural explanation have difficulty comprehending any alternative. How one can live without the consolation of belief in a life after death of some sort? Yet human angst about mortality can be and has been resolved by individuals who have a naturalistic worldview. They find their perspective consistent with what they know about the natural world and amply satisfying.
Here is a widespread cultural assumption: “If you have a naturalistic worldview, you are lacking in certain requisites for ethical action.” That is, it is commonly presumed that one cannot be a moral person without supernatural guidance. However false that supposition (see the “Reality about Morality” Project), if you do hold a naturalistic outlook, you may be reluctant to disclose your outlook. No one really wants others to question their morality. But, part of being a participant in the Brights movement means being willing to be upfront with others about your worldview. So, if you happen to confront the morality question, will you reply in a way that can help to educate those who inquire? This Toolbox item is a sampling from the many Brights who stand ready to issue their personal [naturalistically based] perspectives on the matter.
Actually, there are varied circumstances in which someone might say directly to you: "God bless you!" (Perhaps you sneeze, and your companion speaks aloud his/her acknowledgement. Or, you give a donation, and the recipient shows gratitude by saying, “GBY.”) How might a person whose worldview is naturalistic follow with a polite and appropriate reply, one that presupposes a kindly intent on the part of the citizen who spoke it? Should you sneak your own worldview into a reply? (Is it possible to do so and not be impolite?) What about just ignoring the remark?
Is there any way to incorporate being honest about the naturalistic worldview while expressing social acknowledgement to this sentiment? Many have recommended that this topic be addressed in the Toolbox. On various occasions, perhaps when one is burdened or hitting a rough patch, a message of concern will be conveyed via a religious expression. A "We will put you in our prayers" or an "I'm praying for you" readily transmits not only empathy, but also belief in the supernatural. Brights struggle to merge an affable response with some similarly conspicuous expression of their own naturalistic outlook. Presuming sincere good will on the part of the speaker, one can reply with a simple and courteous, "Thank you," fully ignoring the worldview angle. But must they stop there? The sampling of responses received from Brights makes clear that conveying a supernatural-free worldview in casual conversation is not easily accomplished.
Parents are sometimes bewildered by young children’s questions, and a child's "origins query" is one a parent is sure to find taxing. "Classmates say we were created by God. How did we get here if there is no god who made us?" It is challenging to respond in language that a youngster is likely to comprehend, especially when the simple personification (the “God did it” account) is set alongside the naturalistic explanation. In attempting to distill the empirical account for young ears, parents run the risk of issuing abstract concepts beyond their children’s stage of development and thereby planting a wobbly mishmash in their heads. Comfort and understanding do not come by that route. Also, when children ask how humans came to be, they need and deserve a straightforward narrative reply, not a lengthy exposition. We can see that Brights handle the query in varied ways.