Word Talk

A Noun? A Meme? An Umbrella Term?


A noun is any of a class of words denoting a person, a place, a thing, etc.

In current dictionaries and in usage, "bright" is an adjective (e.g., shining, clear, radiant, luminous, brilliant). As such, it is used to modify a noun. 

This new and different "bright" is a term for a person or persons; thus, a noun in and of itself. The defining attribute of the person (a Bright) is not the former adjectival meanings.  Rather it is this:  possessing a worldview that is naturalistic.

In the vernacular, there really is no suitable noun with which to refer individually or collectively to people having that specific attribute (a naturalistic worldview).

The noun, "naturalist," is not at all helpful since it has other meanings (e.g., a person who studies nature, especially by direct observation of animals and plants). Many such naturalists hold worldviews infused with supernatural and mystical elements, which adds confusing factors. 

Other available terms refer to various subsets of persons holding a naturalistic worldview or to narrower interpretations, such as to a specific aspect of the naturalistic worldview regarding deities. 

We hope that the newly coined "bright" will serve the purpose of indicating a person or persons whose worldview is naturalistic, no more, no less. 


A meme (rhymes with steam) is a self-replicating element of culture passed on by imitation.

Perhaps the noun form of bright is a meme that will easily spread from person to person, as some individuals start to use it. Perhaps it isn't a meme, and it will fizzle out. If it is a meme, however, there is a possibility that it will eventually enter the lexicon because of ongoing use, where it will serve a worthwhile function in society. 

There would seem to be a need for some word to uniquely "wrap up in a bundle" the many and varied sorts of people whose worldviews are in fact naturalistic.  [For explanation, go to: The Movement.]

Is "Bright" a meme? Time will tell.

What is a meme?
A self-replicating element of culture passed on by imitation

How do you pronounce the word, "meme"?
As "meem" (rhymes with "steam")

Who invented memes?
Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins is credited with first publication of the concept of meme in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.

Of memes, Dawkins said in The Selfish Gene:

Memes tend to make copies of themselves and are therefore "replicators," like genes. They are stored in human brains and passed on by imitation.

As examples, he suggested "tunes, ideas, catch phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots, or of building arches."

A side note: Dawkins considers religion among the most powerful of these mind viruses.

Umbrella Term

An umbrella term is a comprehensive and protective linguistic strategy or device.

"Brights" include the many and various types of persons whose perspective, values, ethics, and conduct derive from a naturalistic worldview, free of any supernatural sorts of entities or forces. While they differ in the particulars of their outlook, they have this commonality.

One would find the "umbrella" (of the Brights) extending over a large proportion of persons who claim as their philosophical or worldview identity one or more of these: skepticism, atheism, agnosticism, secular humanism, objectivism, rationalism, igtheism, naturalism, secularism, Humanism, scientism.

Many Brights already fit comfortably under the subculture rubric of the "freethought community" or the "community of reason." But there are many more nonreligious folks, vastly more, who do not join these communities. A great many potential Brights are unaware of these communities.  Many would not join them, even if aware of their existence. 

Currently in many countries, society designates all people who are free of supernaturalism as  "unbelievers."  This lumping together under such a term plays an important role in how persons with a naturalistic worldview are treated.  For example, many firmly hold the false notion that "unbelievers" are immoral and have no well defined beliefs.

The simple noun term, "bright" has the potential to gather under the same umbrella all persons who hold a naturalistic worldview, whether or not they see themselves part of any of the various organizations in the communities of reason. Under the broad umbrella, as Brights, these people can wield social and political power in a society infused with supernaturalism.

See also "Our Civic Umbrella" Adapted from “What's Right about Bright?” (an article by Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert appearing in the Summer 2003 issue of Secular Nation).

Want More? Read the Backtalk on "Bright" Page.

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