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NZBrights July 19, 2007

Posted by Ian in Miscellaneous.

After much thought I have decided to commit myself to becoming a Bright. One of the things that attracts me to this notion is that it is not a “club” or an organisation with rules and doctrine, it is merely a way of identifying one’s beliefs and of networking with like minded people. I suspect many religious people may see the Brights as an atheist religion but I challenge anyone to look at the principles and purpose of the Brights movement and to justify that claim.

I think if naturalists/atheists are going to actually make any headway in promoting a non-supernatural world view it is necessary that they are at least talking to each other!

For more information on the Brights including principles and so forth check out the main website here.


1. chooseDoubt - July 25, 2007

Nice idea but an absurd name. I’d like to join for the networking opportunities but the term “bright” is just so conceited and twattish that I’d be ashamed if anybody found out.

Why do we have to have another name anyway? The whole thing is ridiculous and I know I’m not the only one that finds it so. Why not just call it an atheists community and leave it at that. We could all join that with out feeling the cringe of embarrassment .

2. Ian - July 25, 2007

Welcome to my blog šŸ™‚

My first impression of the name was much the same, but thinking about it more it grew on me. I like the idea of not just being “bright” as in intelligent, but bright as in Sagan’s candle in the dark. That second meaning actually inspires me quite a bit so I see no reason to be embarrassed by such a title.

I think the lack of use of atheism is a wise tactical move. There are two important points. The first is that atheism has all sorts of negative press, and the second is that a lack of theism, while accurate, is not the whole picture. I think brights are against any kind of pseudoscience not just religion.


3. chooseDoubt - July 26, 2007

Hi Ian,

Thanks for the welcome.

There may well be a stigma attached to the word atheist or it’s derivatives but surely avoidance of that stigma is not the way to overcome it. The name is an issue if only because many atheists see it as stooping down to the levels of religion and obscuring the message behind trite labels to appeal to trite, and thus generally unthinking people.



4. Ian - July 26, 2007

Agreed, and although I may have implied it in my first reply, I don’t plan on calling myself a Bright instead of an atheist, I see myself as both an atheist and a Bright.

Another side of the idea is simply publicity for the “cause”. Whichever way you look at it, Brights won’t hurt the Atheist cause, and there is even a good chance they will help it substantially. In other words, once you get over the name, there aren’t really any downsides and plenty of upsides.

5. Ken - July 28, 2007

I can understand the problem, but I joined too for the networking. It is a lot like the gay label (and I imagine many homosexuals had similar objections).

I agree we need to keep people used to the name atheist but often we have to recognise that their reaction is sometimes a huge hurdle.

I must admit I don’t go around calling myself a “bright” – it’s usually “atheist”, or (where I need to soften it a bit) “non-theist”.

What do people think about “non-thiest”? – Does it sound like a cop-out to you?

6. Ian - July 28, 2007

One thing just occurred to me. The more names something has, the more consciousness raising potential it has. I say we call ourselves Bright atheistic non-theistic humanistic naturalistic secularists šŸ™‚

I see no problem with non-theist, it means the same as atheist to me at least. I really think the more important issue is people standing up (under whatever guise suits them) against organised religion and challenging both their privileged place in society and their truth claims. That is what it’s all about šŸ™‚


7. jube - July 29, 2007

More consciousness raising potential or just more names to get lost in the crowd? seems to me that it would make more sense to champion one name and get it recognised as being related to the “cause” as such than to create confusion with many names for one idea. And you can call yourself anything you like, is it not when other people start using the same names for you that it becomes something more than just a word?

It will be interesting to watch the progress of the name at any rate. šŸ™‚

8. Anonymous - August 13, 2007

I fully support the cause, but I hate the name ‘Brights’. Nearly all the discussion regarding ‘Brights’ revolves around explaining the name rather than explaining atheism.

As much as some people hate the word ‘atheist’, they hate ‘bright’ even more. Brights acknowledge that they’re still atheists, therefore all the hated ‘atheist attributes’ are still there, all brights have done is give religious types one more reason to hate them. They are now an atheist with an arrogant new name.

Ian even you said: I like the idea of not just being “bright” as in intelligent, but bright as in Sagan’s candle in the dark. Most religious people will have never heard of Sagan’s book thus this meaning is lost on them, and they will naturally focus on your first option – intelligence. Since they aren’t a ‘Bright’, they will see themselves labelled as not-bright, not intelligent. Explaining to them that they haven’t read the right books and thus don’t get the other meaning won’t help.

In the last few years the term atheist has got enormous publicity thanks to the likes of Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris etc and more and more people are coming out of the closet and proudly identifying themselves as atheist. We need to take advantage of this change and not bury the term again. We certainly shouldn’t replace it with one that means absolutely nothing to most people, and even when informed that ‘Bright’ people don’t believe in god, they will immediately take it as an insult.

The term atheist is clear and concise, let’s not replace it with one that, rightly or wrongly, only serves to confuse and antagonise people.

9. Anonymous - September 26, 2007

Yeah, have to agree – the whole “bright” thing is a load of bollocks. It does smack of arrogance…to me it sort of signals an ‘oooh look at me I’m a bright, I’m better than you idiots’ type mentality regardless of whether you actually mean it or not. Personally, even though I am an atheist & skeptic I don’t really want to label myself as anything particular.

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