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"Brights" redirects here. For other uses, see Bright (disambiguation).
Symbol of the Brights

The Brights movement is a sociocultural movement formed of persons who hold a naturalistic view of the world.

History[edit]

The term "Bright" was coined by Paul Geisert. A one-time Chicago biology teacher, professor, entrepreneur, writer, he co-developed learning materials and a website regarding teaching about religion in public schools in the 1990s. In deciding to attend the "Godless Americans March on Washington" in 2002, Geisert disliked the label "godless" and resolved to identify a better term to unite the "community of reason". He sought a new, positive word that might become well-accepted, in the same way that the term "gay" has come to mean "homosexual". In late 2002, Geisert coined the noun "bright", but did not announce it immediately.

Working with Mynga Futrell, the co-founders of the Brights movement wanted to connect and galvanize the many individuals who were non-religious, but who were not associated with the many philosophical organizations already in existence. To achieve this they created not only the definition of "a bright," but also the idea of a civic constituency that would coalesce through the Internet.

Having tested this idea during the early months of 2003, they launched the Brights' Net website on June 4, 2003. The movement gained early publicity through articles by Richard Dawkins in The Guardian[1] and Wired,[2] and by Daniel Dennett in The New York Times.[3] Within a year, registered Brights numbered in five figures and spanned 85 nations.

The movement has continued to grow and experienced accelerated registrations following media debate around "new atheism"[4] prompted by a series of book releases in late 2006 including The God Delusion, Breaking the Spell, God Is Not Great, The End of Faith, and Letter to a Christian Nation. The movement has grown to be a constituency of over 58,000 Brights in 204 nations and territories.[5]

Brights[edit]

Many, but not all, brights also identify as atheist, antitheist, humanist (specifically secular humanist), freethinker, Objectivist, irreligionist, naturalist, materialist or physicalist, agnostic, ignostic, skeptic, apatheist, or even naturalistic pantheist, pandeist or classical Deist.[6] Even so, the "movement is not associated with any defined beliefs". The website Brights' Net says its goal is to include the umbrella term bright in the vocabulary of this existing "community of reason".[7]

However, "the broader intent is inclusive of the many-varied persons whose worldview is naturalistic" but are in the "general population", as opposed to associating solely with the "community of reason". So persons who can declare their naturalistic worldview using the term bright extend beyond the familiar secularist categories, as long as they do not hold theistic worldviews.[8] Registrations even include some members of the clergy, such as Presbyterian ministers and a Church History Professor and ordained priest.

Dawkins compares the coining of bright to the "triumph of consciousness-raising" from the term gay:

Gay is succinct, uplifting, positive: an "up" word, where homosexual is a down word, and queer, faggot and pooftah are insults. Those of us who subscribe to no religion; those of us whose view of the universe is natural rather than supernatural; those of us who rejoice in the real and scorn the false comfort of the unreal, we need a word of our own, a word like "gay". ... Like gay, it should be a noun hijacked from an adjective, with its original meaning changed but not too much. Like gay, it should be catchy: a potentially prolific meme. Like gay, it should be positive, warm, cheerful, bright.[1]

Despite the explicit difference between the noun and adjective, there have been comments on the comparison. In his Wired article Dawkins stated, "Whether there is a statistical tendency for brights [noun] to be bright [adjective] is a matter for research." Daniel Dennett, in his book Breaking the Spell, suggests that if non-naturalists are concerned with this connotation of the word bright, then they should invent an equally positive sounding word for themselves, like supers (i.e., one whose world view contains supernaturalism). Geisert and Futrell maintain that the neologism has always had a kinship with the Enlightenment, an era which celebrated the possibilities of science and a certain amount of free inquiry; they have endorsed the use of super as the antonym to bright, although this term makes the assumption that anyone not a "bright" necessarily subscribes to notions of supernaturalism.

Notable people who have self-identified as brights at one time or another include: biologists Richard Dawkins and Richard J. Roberts; cognitive scientist Steven Pinker; philosophers Daniel Dennett and Massimo Pigliucci; stage magicians and debunkers James Randi and Penn & Teller; Amy Alkon; Sheldon Lee Glashow; Babu Gogineni; Edwin Kagin; Mel Lipman; Piergiorgio Odifreddi; and Air America Radio talk show host Lionel.

Symbolism[edit]

The Brights' avatar represents a celestial body viewed from space. As there is no up or down or right or left in outer space, the arrangement of planet and darkness and starlight is changeable.[9] Although the symbol is open to the viewer’s interpretation, it is generally meant to invoke transition and a sense of gradual illumination. The intentional ambiguity of the avatar is meant to symbolically reflect an important question: Is the future of humankind becoming luminous or more dim? The Brights aspire "to take the promising route, whereby the imagery brings to mind a gradually increasing illumination for this earth of ours, an escalation of enlightenment.”.[9]

Criticism[edit]

The movement has been criticised by some (both religious and non-religious) who have objected to the adoption of the title "bright" because they believe it suggests that the individuals with a naturalistic worldview are more intelligent ("brighter") than non-naturalists, such as philosophical skeptics or idealists, believers in the paranormal, philosophical theists or the religious.[10] For example, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry published an article by Chris Mooney titled "Not Too 'Bright'" in which he stated that, although he agreed with the movement, Richard Dawkins' and Daniel Dennett's "campaign to rename religious unbelievers 'brights' could use some rethinking" because of the possibility that the term would be misinterpreted.[11] The journalist and noted atheist Christopher Hitchens likewise found it a "cringe-making proposal that atheists should conceitedly nominate themselves to be called 'brights.'"[12] Dennett posed the idea that super may serve well as a positive title for those who believe in the supernatural. He also suggested this during his presentation at the Atheist Alliance International '07 convention.[13][14]

In response to this Daniel Dennett has stated in his book Breaking the Spell:

There was also a negative response, largely objecting to the term that had been chosen [not by me]: bright, which seemed to imply that others were dim or stupid. But the term, modeled on the highly successful hijacking of the ordinary word "gay" by homosexuals, does not have to have that implication. Those who are not gays are not necessarily glum; they're straight. Those who are not brights are not necessarily dim.[15]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "The future looks bright". The Guardian. 2003-06-21. 
  2. ^ "Religion Be Damned". Wired. October 2003. 
  3. ^ Dennett, Daniel C. (2003-07-12). "The Bright Stuff". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-09-06. 
  4. ^ "The Church of the Non-Believers". Wired. November 2006. 
  5. ^ ""Supporting the Brights"". Be a "Checkbook Activist"!. The Brights' Net. 
  6. ^ "Bright (n.)--What is the definition?". Frequently Asked Questions. The Brights' Net. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  7. ^ "What is the purpose of the Brights' Net?". Frequently Asked Questions. The Brights' Net. Retrieved 2006-11-04. 
  8. ^ "Theistic Brights? – Not So!". The Brights' Bulletin Issue #70. The Brights' Net. 
  9. ^ a b "Brights Symbology". The Brights. Retrieved 16 August 2012. 
  10. ^ D'Souza, Dinesh (12 October 2003). "Not So 'Bright'". The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Co.). Retrieved 2007-11-30. 
  11. ^ Chris Mooney. "Brights: Not Too "Bright" (Doubt and About)". Csicop.org. Retrieved 2011-04-05. 
  12. ^ "Exclusive excerpts from Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great. – By Christopher Hitchens – Slate Magazine". Slate.com. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  13. ^ Dan Dennett at AAIC '07 Oct. 2007
  14. ^ 26 oktober 2007. "Dan Dennet: Award & Speech at AAI 07 pt1 of 2". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  15. ^ Dennett, Daniel. Breaking The Spell (2006). London: Penguin. p.21.

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brights_movement — Please support Wikipedia.
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41 news items

MercoPress

MercoPress
Mon, 13 Oct 2014 23:00:15 -0700

The church, in all its incarnations, will persist if for no other reason than the great atheist revolution has simply failed to materialise. The Brights movement has all but disappeared up its own backside, New Atheism has fallen flat on its face and ...
 
Patheos (blog)
Fri, 11 Jan 2013 03:02:46 -0800

I referenced the Brights movement in my reply. The problem I find with the title is that it's condescending to anyone who isn't. One part of any movement is to try and convince people to join you, or at least have sympathy for your goals. By elevating ...
 
Daily Mail
Thu, 27 Dec 2012 03:07:27 -0800

Athiest campaigner Richard Dawkins was yesterday branded a 'fundamentalist' by one of his most eminent scientific colleagues. The militancy of Professor Dawkins's attacks on religious belief mean he is 'almost a fundamentalist himself', scientist Peter ...
 
The Arts Desk
Fri, 16 Sep 2011 12:11:23 -0700

Apart from the fact that it's a razor-sharp piece of writing, what most delights and impresses me about Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion is how it gets under people's skin. It has generated several books in fevered opposition to it and, needless to ...
 
New Scientist (subscription) (blog)
Mon, 08 Sep 2008 00:00:00 -0700

"Both the Brights movement and the Beyond Belief conference do seem to suggest as much," he says. "As an artist, I'm not one to judge the merits of making science a replacement for religion. I'm merely trying to provide a space in which it might happen."
 
UMM News, Sports & Events
Tue, 30 Jan 2007 13:45:00 -0800

Dawkins is an outspoken atheist, humanist and skeptic, and is a prominent member of the Brights movement, which describes various types of people who have a naturalistic worldview, without casting that worldview as a negative response to religion.
 
Harvard Crimson
Fri, 27 Apr 2007 00:52:30 -0700

A few years ago, Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, of Sacramento, California started the Brights Movement, an effort to encourage the use of the word “bright” to refer to anyone with a worldview free of the mystical and the supernatural. “A bright” is ...
 
UW Badger Herald
Tue, 03 Mar 2009 00:24:42 -0800

A noted atheist and advocate for the Brights movement, a term coined in 2003 to put atheist philosophers and their followers in a positive light, Dennett said in an interview he does not believe the question about the creation of the universe was well ...
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