What Brights Want
The posted remarks indicate clearly that individuals’ personal and social desires with regard to the Brights movement are not identical. Even so, a hope for more social acceptance (a desire to be treated fairly) is a common theme. There is also elevation of pluralism over bigotry. For many, there is strong desire that sound real-world evidence becomes the fundamental basis for societal decision making.
People who have a naturalistic worldview briefly express their desires regarding the Brights movement:*
Dawn (Arizona, USA) — As a Bright, I just want to live my life openly and peacefully. I don't want confrontations or evil disgusted glares every time I mention my beliefs.
Sioen, Oregon, USA — I want a world that's run by reason, facts, inquiry and evidence. I want decision-makers to be able to change their minds when presented with new information that upsets their old incorrect beliefs. I want us all to pay attention to what's real, right here, right now, in this world, so we can work together to make it a better home for everyone.
Simon, West Sussex, England — As a Bright I would like the world that I live in to be free from supernatural belief systems that give people the feeling that they are "chosen", and others are not. I remind my children everyday how special they are, but somewhere in the world they are targets… We should all be allowed to choose a suitable path for our lives free from intolerance and ignorance. Give the children a science book, and watch them go!
Chris (California, USA) — What I want is, wherever possible, for all of us to respect the facts on the ground as we best understand them, based on hard evidence, proven scientific facts, and the expert consensus opinions of our best and most competent thinkers, and not to base such things as local, state, and Federal laws, funding, or civil liberties on tradition, personal opinion, gut reactions, and/or tribal or personal mythologies or preferences. Whenever there is doubt about our actions, both social and personal, we should err on the side of individual freedoms and protecting or improving our natural and cultural environments.
Mike, Missouri, USA — I want to communicate and spread this: "[T]he fact that we cannot fully explain a mystery with natural means does not mean it requires a supernatural explanation" (credits Michael Shermer in The Believing Brain, p.158)
Ludo, The Netherlands — I want a society in which superstition and the belief in supernatural beings has no dominant role. A free and open society, built on humanistic and naturalistic foundations, and organized along secular lines instead of religious ones. A society where everyone is welcome, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, skin color, ethnic origin, intelligence, age, health, religion, or lack of religion. A society in which there is ample room for cultural diversity, and for individual development and creativity. (A good basis for such a society is, I think, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But then I believe that this document should be revised and supplemented in order to guarantee equal rights for homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, and for everybody the right to grow up and live free from religion.)
Kevin, California, USA — What I want [is] for my kids not to be excluded as a member of "one nation" by the daily patriotic ritual, the Pledge of Allegiance.
Flora, Seattle, USA – I’d like to have Western World and then worldwide recognition of Brights. I want inclusion in discussions, articles, reports, speeches, so much so that Brights cannot easily be demonized.
Malcolm, UK -— Brights seek education, elucidation and explanation (the "Three E's"). We do not impose these three. We just point out that anyone can do this. If I can, you can, she can, and they can. We all can.
Angela, California, USA — Brights seek to live in a peaceful world where everyone is free to pursue their own interests and beliefs without being judged based on someone else's beliefs.
Baker, South Africa — I think the world will be a better place if decisions made by humans are based on the best knowledge available, not on imagination and mumbo jumbo.
George Schiro, Florida, USA — I am guessing that many would assume that Brights seek clarity clarity of purpose, clarity of vision. But what I think we are seeking is parity. We want the natural worldview to be given at least the same consideration as anything supernatural. We want the rationalist to be treated on par with and with at least the same respect as the so-called faith-based adherent. We want this at all levels of human society. We believe that something is seriously wrong when verifiable facts open to the scrutiny of anyone anywhere are considered of less value than the unproven and the unverifiable. This is anathema to us. And it is clearly unfair based on all that we hold to be true and good in a civilization rooted in the ideals of Plato and Socrates. Brights seek parity - simple fairness in the marketplace of ideas.
Some offer perspectives that give further regard to religious privilege, or to religion:
Harv, Oregon, USA — I want truth supported by fact, evidence and reason. Arbitrary abstractions of the human mind, bolstered by myth, legend, cultural consensus and perhaps a smattering of historical fact, cannot possibly qualify as truth. To accept a fantasy as reality can only limit our potential. You can argue that religion has perhaps served humankind well as a cohesive force, but it’s time to move on.
Alexander, Scotland — The Brights have a super idea of the whole spectrum worldview. This is where you have enough knowledge of each of the world religions, their history and creeds to be able to recognise that they fit well into the model that culture evolves. The ancient texts of religion are the sort of thing you would expect to find from humans if they had evolved. Scientific evidence has shown that much of the content of religious scripture is little more than guesswork; mistaken, irrelevant, misleading. The supernatural realm is a failed hypothesis. Theories oust previous ones as more evidence has been gathered. The ancient people had to start somewhere and the thought structures they built were part of learning but are now mostly just cultural artifacts. We should value and preserve them as interesting history and can cherry pick the few good ideas from among their writings. In fact some of the Bible writers and groups mentioned in it expressed skepticism about some superstitions of the day.
Jack (the Netherlands) — I want to be left alone on what I think about religious or related matters. It should not enter any other realm as the personal and everyone has to stay out of my personal realm.
Tim, Michigan, USA — I'd like to be electable. I'd like to not have to worry about whether I'm going to be treated fairly if someone knows I'm not religious. (I am or can be spiritual without being religious, by the way.) I'd like to not worry about being discriminated against because I'm not a follower of religion 'X'. I'd like not to have to worry about somebody trying to legislate their religion down my throat. I'd like to see real separation of church and state so that everyone can have religious freedom (including freedom to not be religious). If anyone does not have religious freedom, nobody has religious freedom.
Lawrence, British Columbia, Canada — If religion continues to push political views, it should all be taxed and taxed heavily.
Arnold, Kansas, USA —…I know that most of those people who think there is a heaven, or an afterlife are "good" people in the moral and social sense, and they mean well. They have just been misled by tradition, lies, and deception by the "crowd". Deep inside I know they have doubts. Let's work on that.
Lee, England — I want people to stop judging others simply because they have a differing belief system, whether that's a different religion, or none at all. Brights should not feel like they have to defend themselves or keep their lack of belief to themselves, like a dirty little secret.
*All comments above come from replies to an item in the Brights Bulletin (August, 2012). The initiating query was along the lines of “What Do Brights Want, Anyway?” Key to Brights Central's process of selection from all submitted entries was that comments generally align well with the stated principles of the Brights movement. Sampling intentionally illustrates maximum diversity and minimizes duplications. Some replies have been abridged before posting or minimally edited for parallelism.
**Excerpted comments regarding religion are largely consistent with The Brights’ Net’s “nonaggression pact” regarding religion (Principle 8). It elevates concepts of civic fairness along with civility toward fellow citizens. The Brights' Net does not wish to facilitate intolerance, stereotyping, and prejudice deriving from either side of the religion/nonreligion divide. The Brights movement’s focus is on attaining societal acknowledgement and equitable civic representation of persons who have a naturalistic worldview.