Heard of the Brights

Talk about ‘laugh out loud’. Don’t know how I missed hearing about it till now. Let’s give a big hand for the New Gnostics.

I have started what I think is going to be a good read, ‘What’s So Great About Christianity’ by Dinesh D’Souza. Early in the book he speaks about the rise of the militant, evangelistic atheism we have seen here and in the USA in the last few years. The confidence and arrogance of this group has been illustrated in the way they speak of the Christian faith.

Now it turns out that1 some atheists would like to be known by a new collective term which, they believe (should I use that word – believe?) better describes them. The name is ‘Brights‘! Now I have looked it up on the internet I see the name has been around for a few years with the Guardian mentioning it as far back as 2003. As I said, I don’t know how I have missed it.

“Ha! Dims!” is what I guffawed when I read it. Dim because they seem to overlook their arrogance in their name. Dim because they fail to see their link to the ancient Gnostics. The Gnostics too had an arrogant belief in their own status, that they were the enlightened ‘bright sparks’ because of their special knowledge (or gnosis). They even made a religion out of it.

Once I had finished laughing though I thought that a better name to describe them is ‘God dodgers’. Not a new name, I have been using that one for over thirty years. But I do think it sums up the mindset of those on the run from God.

See my earlier post on Richard Dawkins.

  1. WSGAC, D’Souza page 24 []

10 thoughts on “Heard of the Brights

  1. Graham

    As the “inventor” of the neologism Bright, I invite you to visit The Brights’ Net. You would find it is quite different than you imagine.

    First, it is not an atheist organization! The Brights’ Net is a transparent organization, populated by Brights of many stripes. The constituency includes Ethical Culturalists, Humanists, Secular Humanists, Freethinkers, Rationalists, Naturalists, Agnostics, Atheists, Skeptics, etc., and Buddhists, Druids, Pantheists, Deists, Objectivists, Transhumanists, Unitarians, Wiccans, Yogis, and a gamut of folks (Jews, Catholics, Quakers, Episcopalians, Unitarians, Muslim, Hindu, Jains) who maintain their religion’s cultural aspects but not its supernaturalism. There are ex- Mormons, Christians, Pentecostals, and Muslims. Clergy in practice include several UU ministers, Presbyterian ministers, former Protestant minister, a Protestant pastor, and a Church History Professor/ordained priest. There are ex- Benedictine monk/priest, Lutheran minister, Catholic priest, Christian missionary, a deacon at a Greek Orthodox church, and a Baptist minister.

    Now, regarding the term Bright. The noun Bright is defined as: a Bright is an individual with a naturalistic world view, free of supernatural and mystical elements. The religious counterpart of a Bright is a Super, one who believes in supernatural elements.

    The Brights movement is a civic justice endeavor, dedicated to the concept of a level playing field for all worldviews. The organization has a non-aggression pact with religion and will cooperate with religious organizations on topics of common interest.

    On the Brights’ website you will find no denigration of religion. Actually, you will find little mention of religion.

    I hope this brief introduction will tease you into a site visit. Please feel free to contact me for more information.

    Paul Geisert, Ph.D, Associate Director for Constituency Services

  2. Thank you so much for your comment Paul. I don’t know why I feel so honoured considering I think that the whole ‘brights’ thing is daft.

    I was surprised that you found my post so quickly, unless, just as a believer prays regularly, you google ‘brights’ or your name just as often 😉

    I still find the arrogance and vanity of the name ‘brights’ to be jaw-dropping. Okay, perhaps arrogance and vanity was not intended to be read from the name but you surely must have have seen the claim to superiority implied. I do see why there was a desire for a new name (or “neologism” – “Pretentious? Moi!?”) to cover the different shades of God-dodger around today. But I think you could have done better than that, something more inclusive, less tribal.

    I did note you include many religious people in your ‘brights’ but this does not not surprise me as I view your thing as almost pseudo-religious or ‘church’. The Christian church from its beginning has anticipated people like that who like the form of religion but deny the power of it. Perhaps this anticipation was instinctive to them or perhaps based on the prediction of the Apostle Paul in his letter to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:5).

    You and I will have little to agree about though, as I remain unconvinced about atheists (or whatever other name they wish to use).

    What I mean is, I do not believe in atheists. I have never personally met a convincing one. Those I have met and had conversation with have left me believing they did not disbelieve in God, rather they did not like him, or raged against him, or were running and hiding from him for some reason, or some other similar reason. I think that if they truly believed there is no God they would get over it and get on with their life instead of displaying such passion about him or forever raging against him. This is what I said to Paula Kirlby when she commented on a post of mine.

    I had already looked at you website, that is how I was able to include a link to it in my post. I saw that much of your comment to me is a copy and paste from your website.

  3. Graham,

    After reading your courteous reply to Paul, I decided to throw in my two cents worth.

    You said you have never personally met a convincing atheist. I don’t know that you would find me convincing, either, but I’d like to give it a try.

    I was an evangelical Christian for over 40 years, so all my close friends are Christians. My wife is a Christian counselor. I have managed to convince my wife and a few of my friends that I’m at least sincere in my beliefs (yes we all have beliefs), but they still seem to feel that I’m running away from God for some reason.

    My web site summarizes my story. If you’d be willing to talk about it, I’d be happy to try to answer any questions or fill in any details that seem to be lacking.

    Incidentally, Paul is the one who introduced me to Google Alerts, which is the tool he and I both use to monitor blog and Web references to the Brights.

    It’s time to go to work, but if you’d be willing to talk, please e-mail me from my web site. I’d be pleased to hear from you.

  4. Paul,

    Nothing denigratory towards religion eh? But what about your little pun? “The noun Bright is defined as: a Bright is an individual with a naturalistic world view, free of supernatural and mystical elements.” I’m sure you are only too well aware of the more well known definition of Bright. Christians are not Bright (by your definition) because they believe in the supernatural? Drivel.

    It is denigratory, your comment to the contrary is simply a lie.

  5. Mm, so you would be happy to tell about yourself Justin. I think if those nearest to you, those who know you best, have concluded you are running from God I don’t think I would be able to come to a better understanding from a distance.

    I have lost count of the number of former atheists that I have baptised or have welcomed back into the fold. There is always hope until your last breath.

    I would be interested to know your thoughts however, on my comments about the arrogance and vanity of the name ‘bright’ that I described as “jaw dropping”. Do you understand how i would find it laughable?

    What about my thoughts that the ‘brights’ club is a bit like a new gnosticism?

  6. To Mr Geisert:

    You may not have intended it, but I’ve never seen your term “Brights” used by atheists without a large dose of sneering condescension attached. Dawkins and Dennett come to mind in particular. Surely it would be obvious that the atheist=bright connection automatically suggests theist=dull/dim/unintelligent.

    I’m not Christian, or of any organised religion. I have moved from agnosticism that verged on atheism, to something more or less akin to Spiritualism (sans the reincarnation bit). I’m not a creationist, or a believer in any deity resembling that of the Bible. But I do believe in the afterlife, and the Divinity that’s the source of our universe, the physical and ever-evolving world. But according to the “Bright” designation, that makes me unintelligent.

    I would also like to ask how on earth anyone could think this is going to make people listen to you, if they aren’t already convinced? Insulting and belittling other people’s beliefs isn’t going to improve their opinion of yours.

    “Brights” has been aptly described as sounding like a bunch of bullying schoolkids, the “in” group who want to decide who’s cool and who isn’t.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *