A New Name
The “brights” are at it again. What is a “bright”? It is not, as is by now well known to contemporary thinkers, the opposite of a “dim”, a “dark”, or a “slavish, easily led idiot.”
No. A “bright” is a “is a person who has a naturalistic worldview [one which] is free of supernatural and mystical elements.” Further, the “ethics and actions of a bright are based on a naturalistic worldview.”
In plain words: an “atheist,” a label brights reject, for the same reason some feminists despise the term “history”—their enemies form part of the words.
When this merry band of illuminators, these light-bringers to the world first formed, many objected to their appellation, finding it insulting, demeaning, and just too damn cocksure. I cannot agree with these complaints.
Words are not static, their definitions shift with time, mood, culture. Any fully educated person should be able to track the subtle shifts in meanings of simple words. So when brights tell us that they are not to be thought of as “smart-asses who rub their self-awarded superiority in our faces”, it is our duty, not theirs, to understand exactly what they do mean.
But if anything, the relabeling efforts of the brights to distinguish their uniqueness does not go far enough. For one, there is no shade of science in “bright”, a connotation I am anxious to restore. I believe I have found a way.
Now, everybody knows what an “ass” is: an obstinate, stubborn but strong, high-endurance animal. Well, how about let’s define a “hole” as an impenetrable abyss, a place of secrets just waiting to be illuminated by a “bright.”
If we were to concatenate these two words together, we’d have a new creature which is generously defined as “a stubborn seeker, a stalwart investigator, an uncoverer of knowledge.” I think this appellation can be affixed to philosopher and bright Daniel Dennett, a man who has called religious instruction in the young “child abuse.”
The term surely also applies to Dennett’s frère d’armes Richard Dawkins, at least for his insistence that memes are real and not merely metaphorical devices. Dawkins also “shudders” when thinking of how we still allow parents to raise their own children how the best think fit.
Remember! Whenever you hear this concatenation, you are charged with keeping its new meaning firmly in mind. You must not let any prior definition or connotation distract you from its definition. This is now a positive word, to be used as a compliment, and in no other way.
My new word is also meant to boost the self-esteem of brights, to help heal the schizophrenia from which they suffer, a malady no doubt caused by the constant, exhausting explanations in which these fine folks must engage with the less bright.
This two-mindedness has grown to possibly dangerous proportions. For example, in a recent email to me, the lead brights, Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert, said,
Belief/nonbelief is NOT the focus of the Brights community. Ours is a constituency of individuals. There is no intent to have an identifiable common core of beliefs that “all Brights” have to share. There is no manifesto to which the Brights of many stripes must give heed. There is only a (type of) individual worldview broadly shared. Simply put – No supernatural or mystical elements are present in anyone’s (any Bright’s) worldview.
If that wasn’t self-contradictory enough—brights all share but simultaneously deny the common-core belief that supernatural elements are improper guides to life—they go on to lament:
Texas Ratifies Conservative Curriculum (USA)
The Texas state school board gave final approval to controversial social studies standards that minimize the separation of church and state. The changes could have reverberations far beyond the Lone Star State’s schools and its 4.7 million students.
The state’s large textbook market has traditionally led the way for others; at minimum, Texas students will get very different history lessons than does the rest of the country, as early as next year. Many teachers, academics and politicians on both sides of the aisle have condemned the standards.
See what I mean? What else but mental disease would explain a group which anxiously tells us that they have no “identifiable common core of beliefs”, while also warning us about which bits of history a Texas school board chose to emphasize? And why would they label such choices “conservative”?
I have to tell you, my bright friends, that the average reader will come away from your writings convinced that atheism and “progressivism” go hand in hand, that it is impossible to avoid religion and also vote Republican.
This is a marketing—or “branding”—problem, one which is solved easily by adopting my new moniker.