Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question and jump directly to the answer below.
- Bright (n.)--What is the definition?
- Who is a Bright?
- Are Brights atheists?
- What does it cost to be a Bright?
- How can I become a Bright?
- What about confidentiality of my name?
- What is this Internet constituency?
- What this Internet constituency is not
- What is the purpose of the Brights' Net?
- How does the Brights' Forum relate to the Brights' Net?
- What is the potential of Brights?
- What are the goals of the Brights' movement?
- Who directs The-Brights.Net?
Bright (n.)--What is the definition?
The noun form of the term bright refers to a person whose worldview is naturalistic--free of supernatural and mystical elements. A Bright's ethics and actions are based on a naturalistic worldview.
worldview: the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world; a set of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or group.
On the whole, the notion refers to an individual's belief system related to concepts such as the meaning and purpose of life, existence after death, the presence of deities, nature and origins, morality and human nature, rituals, and other major life stance considerations. You can find an extensive discussion and example definitions on the The Co-Directors' website.
naturalistic: conceiving of reality as natural (not supernatural)
Also see the Wiki - Worldview .
Who is a Bright?
Viewed in the generic sense, anyone who fits the definition would be a bright. For any given person, though, the character and content of their worldview is a matter for the individual. Whether or not their worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements is generally theirs to make known by statements they make to others. A person can do so by saying, "I am a bright" or "I have a naturalistic worldview."
Registering at this website is the way someone lets The Brights' Net know that she or he considers her/his worldview to be free of supernatural and mystical elements. The registrant is then counted as one among a growing constituency of individuals who regard themselves to be (among the many other things they are, of course) brights.
Brights who sign into the constituency signal their interest in and accordance to the aims of the Brights movement. Thus, to refer to these persons who have registered, we use the upper case "B." It shows they are part of the constituency. The information on this website speaks primarily about those persons.
The Brights' umbrella is large, very large. For example, Brights can be agnostics, rationalists, skeptics, atheists, objectivists, igtheists, and so on. There are any of a number of self-identity labels they might apply to themselves. No label at all need apply...just plain "nonreligious" or "uninterested in religion" without any real consideration beyond that might be how a person is seeing himself/herself.
The network’s umbrella covers a startling spectrum of beliefs. Besides those who self-identify as atheists, humanists, secular humanists, freethinkers, rationalists, naturalists, skeptics, etc., the network includes Ethical Culturalists, Pantheists, Scientific Methodists, Buddhists, Yogis, Unitarians, and a gamut of folks (Jews, Catholics, Quakers, Episcopalians) who maintain their religion’s cultural aspects but not its supernaturalism. Sometimes signup comments reveal fairly snug religious connections! Among the Brights there are ex-Mormons and ex-Pentecostals (and other sorts of “ex-es”). Clergy in and out of practice include several UU ministers, Presbyterian ministers, a Protestant (unspecified) pastor, a Church History Professor/ordained priest, and an ex-Benedictine monk/priest. There are many Brights who are not interested in religion.
The civic and social thrust appeals to many people. Among the diversity of registrants there are merchants and physicians and academics and authors and artists and persons of note (e.g., member of the European Parliament, stealth political candidate, two Nobel laureates). The movement also attracts some prominent members of freethought organizations (Enthusiastic Brights), many young and energetic people, and people who "have been around for a while." One surprising aspect is that the Brights movement taps large numbers of individuals disconnected from customary membership groups and philosophical discussion hubs.
What counts is that the person's worldview is naturalistic. If it is, then that person falls within the purview of the Brights.
Is a Bright an atheist?
There are both semantic and practical differences. Despite cultural, media, and atheistic fascination with deity-belief, bright (noun) is about a naturalistic worldview, period. It offers a way of denoting a full-spectrum worldview, rather than a narrow view focused on religion. (Even if one's focus remains on god-belief only, there are plenty of agnostics who are Brights.)
A naturalistic worldview connotes something far broader, and identifying their "type of worldview" frees people from defining themselves (negatively) in reference to religion. One can now define oneself free of religious terms or comparisons.
Saying "I am a Bright" is characterizing one's worldview, much as one might characterize oneself as living in the southern hemisphere, as opposed to the northern. The specifics of the "beliefs content" of the worldview is not of interest, only where one falls with respect to the demarcation. One could be "all over the map" with regard to specifics, as long as one is in the designated realm. The suggested demarcation here is between "supers" and "brights" -- those who have supernatural elements in their worldviews (the supers), and those who do not (the brights). The demarcation is not between has religion and non-religion or anti-religion.
Of course, a great many Brights are atheists by definition (e.g., they are without belief in any gods). Many self-identify as atheists, too. But, by the same token (i.e., by definition), atheists who have worldviews that do incorporate supernatural ideas are not Brights. It helps to keep those atheists in mind. This helps to see how being a bright is something else. There are the atheists who wear magnets to ward off disease, atheists who arrange their furniture using feng shui, or make decisions by horoscopes, or plant their gardens "by the signs." These are atheists who would not be Brights. They do not have the requisite naturalistic worldview.
What does it cost to be a Bright?
Nothing. This is a constituency of individuals, and not a membership organization.
The Brights' Net is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and depends on donations to sustain its activities. All donations are tax deductible under the USA federal laws.
How can I become a Bright?
Just say you are and you are. (Check the definition!)
We hope you will want to be counted and be on the list for possible subsequent contact by us. If you do, then fill out the form to be part of the Internet constituency of Brights. Signing up means providing us your name and e-mail, along with your nation and postal code.
The Internet constituency (those who ask to be counted as Brights and provide contact information) is composed of diverse people, all of whom are adding the word to their linguistic repertoire. They will make use of the term if/when they regard it as relevant. We hope they will take advantage of occasions to employ it when conversing on related topics within the company of people they feel likely to have similar beliefs about nature, deity, mortality, etc.) so that others can become acquainted with the generic term and its meaning and consider whether or not they, too, might wish to be counted among the constellation of Brights.
What about confidentiality of my name?
Your name and e-mail address will not be provided to anyone or to any other organization without written permission from you under any circumstances.
Occasionally, the organization is asked to provide the names of individual Brights, for example, Swedish radio asked for the names of Swedish Brights for an interview on national radio. The Brights' Net contacted individual Swedish Brights and notified them of the interview opportunity. Those interested in being interviewed could then contact the radio station via the station's email.
On the other hand, if someone sends in a nifty graphic or quotation, we may post that accompanied by their first name and state of residence. For an example, see the picture sent in by Ray.
What is this Internet constituency?
Those who hear of the movement and register into the constituency as Brights show themselves by their registration to be advocates of social change for the better. These Brights signify their hope that growing a large representative constituency of persons whose overall perspective of the world (“life understanding”) involves no supernatural will be a benefit to all persons who hold such a worldview, and to humanity in general.
The existence of an Internet constituency of “the Brights” serves many persons who hold a naturalistic worldview to more suitably acknowledge their perspectives and situations and to communicate their comprehensive worldview to fellow citizens in a constructive and generally pleasant way. A naturalistic worldview is as rich and broad and as personally fulfilling as any other. Persons who holds such a worldview are as morally responsible as other persons.
These Brights anticipate that more and more persons who currently label themselves by more limiting labels will see value to their “naturalistic worldview” as a positive unifying factor. They envision that coming together to form a constituency around this factor alone will thereby encourage others with similar outlook. Over time, they foresee a constituency of size sufficient to bolster the presence and social acceptance of their supernatural-free worldview within society.
Being a bright and “registering as a Bright” sets one apart from those whose worldview contains deities, ghosts, life after death, angels, fairies, etc. and affirms a desire to strive for change and work for a "level playing field" of social and civic acceptance of all persons, whether they hold a worldview with or without supernatural elements. The Brights’ Net operation serves as a hub for such constituents to communicate with one another and, if they wish, to work in their varied ways, individually and collectively, to address the social and civic situation of persons who have a naturalistic worldview.
What this Internet constituency is not
The registered Brights form an Internet constituency of Brights. The persons in the constituency avow nothing more than that they (1) fit the definition of a bright and (2) concur with the stated aims and principles of this endeavor (see the home page).
Under the umbrella of their naturalistic worldview, every constituent Bright has her/his own viewpoints and convictions. The constituents' perspectives and opinions will run the gamut on oh so many issues.
Persons in the constituency of course will have some likely commonalities. In other words, there may be many broad themes on which a vast preponderance of Brights would concur (Example: the importance of youth acquiring a sound science education). Even so, this general accord does not make one a devotee of anything like a “Bright religion” or a “Bright philosophy.”
A supernatural-free worldview is not an ideology. There is no creed or dogma to which one can point to reveal (or list out) the philosophical “beliefs of Brights.” Nor is “Brightdom” ruled by a hierarchy of shamans or clergy or organized in a hierarchical fashion with those who would reveal “Truth” to the disciples and communicate the essence of it to laity or others. Brights are not followers or disciples; nor are they students of a describable way of thinking or set of values.
Speaking about “The Brights” is clearly no simple matter. It requires a keen sense of exactly what the Brights’ endeavor is about. It is hoped that there is, in discussions about the Brights, due acknowledgement of the diversity within the constituency and the prevailing civil intent of the overall enterprise.
What is the purpose of the Brights' Net?
One purpose of this website is to get the word out about the network of Brights--not only the generic term, bright (n.) and its definition, but also the goals, purposes, and principles underlying this endeavor to unite a large number of people in activities to seek greater social and civic acceptance for persons free of supernatural beliefs.
To that end, we here on The-Brights.Net maintain a database of Brights whom we can contact at key junctures along the way ahead. We provide information to supporters (including facilitating presentations by individuals to their local groups). We send out occasional notices to varied organizations (we will seek their support of the movement by their acceptance and use of this umbrella word, bright, in an appropriate fashion). We solicit ideas for ancillary items helpful to that purpose (e.g., sound-bites). We will soon be providing an Internet discussion forum for Brights to converse about the Brights movement and how best to achieve its goals.
General usage by sundry Brights can help to get the term into the vocabulary of those who are associated with the organizations and discussion hubs that serve as an existing "community of reason." A longer-term endeavor involves educating folks about the likely civic advantages of a generic coverall term that extends well beyond labels used for/by these people, a term that could facilitate a coming together for civic action of persons that existing mechanisms cannot unify. That is, the broader intent is inclusive of the many-varied persons whose worldview is naturalistic who are in the general population. These unaffiliated exist in numbers far larger than those who are part of the politically and socially marginalized "community of reason."
How does the Brights' Forum relate to the Brights' Net?
The Forum is provided as a communication vehicle and "meeting place" for individuals. Diverse topics are discussed there. Discussion that does not pertain to Brights' goals and actions is considered "water cooler" because one hope underlying the Forum is that a significant portion of discussion will involve collaborative activity directed toward generating and weighing recommendations for the Brights' Net's endeavor (Action Forums).
Brights who feel isolated within their communities are especially invited to find "a home" at the Forum and enjoy the cyber-discussion. At the same time, it must be remembered that Forum discussants can be Brights but may not necessarily be Brights. Additionally, except for remarks outside the bounds of civil discourse encouraged by the generic Forum rules, there is little control over the opinions expressed by anyone within any of the available forums and discussion threads.
All statements of Forum discussants are their own In short, Forum members do not speak for constituent Brights as a whole. Neither do they speak for the Brights' Net.
What is the potential of Brights?
The proportion of the nonreligious who have a naturalistic worldview is unknown, but the numbers are potentially huge. For example, it is estimated (American Religious Identification Study, 2001) that there are 29,000,000 persons in the U.S. who claim no religion. Not all have signed up to be Brights just yet.
What are the goals of the Brights' movement?
The overriding three purposes are stated on the home page in a simple and straightforward way.
Goals range from current to far-reaching. In the near term, we seek to bring together under a name (the Brights) large numbers of supernaturalism-free individuals to form an identifiable and visible constituency. With sufficient numbers and coordination, we can press for civic understanding and acceptance for people who have a naturalistic worldview. The ultimate goal is to gain "a place at the civic table" for brights, and a capacity to transmit to religionists, politicians, media, and society in general educational information on key topics that affect the interests not only of the Brights (e.g., discrimination, the separation of church and state), but the welfare of everyone as well.
Who directs The-Brights.Net?
- Paul Geisert, a Bright in Sacramento CA who first coined the noun, Bright. He is now Co-Director with Mynga.
- Mynga Futrell, a Bright in Sacramento CA who developed the definition and joined with Paul to design/implement strategy for a brights movement
- Kevin Schultz, a Bright in Citrus Heights CA who came on board the movement as Webmaster of this site