How bright is it for the godless to call themselves "Brights"?

To prevent a continuation of the hijack of this thread

From Libertarian’s post to the other thread (taken from here):

Ack, wrong button. To continue the OP:

We live in a country where 50% of people would not vote for an atheist for president. The homosexual community has made great inroads in public opinion the past 30 years. It can be argued that part of this is because of a group identification and subsequent group pride that is nucleated around the word “gay.”

The atheist community could do a lot worse than the homosexual community. 30 years ago, the American Psychiatric Association classified homosexuality as a mental disorder. Five years ago, they came out against therapies which aimed to “correct” homosexuality. The percentage of Americans opposed to gay marriage has been on a steady downward trend. Discrimination against sexual orientation is less tolerated now, and major inroads have been made in places like the armed forces.

But on the other hand, religious beliefs are personal and have less to do with interpersonal relations than sexual orientation. Many naturalists have thrown away organized religion and adhere to their own personal philosophies. As I said in the other thread, this is exactly what I did. So group identification may not be the best route.

Also, is the word “Bright” the best thing to use in this case? It would be ludicrous to suggest straight people are more glum that gay ones, but many people assume that Brights implicitly are calling the religious less intelligent.

Yes, its kind of like saying us believers are “dim”.
Not that theres anythign wrong with that; bright lights can hurt your eyes.

If atheists are Brights that make agnostics Soft White 40Ws?

We just did this.

Nobody thinks it’s a good idea.

Ah dammit. I did the search in GD alone. Stupid, sorry.

Don’t blame yourself. I did a half dozen searches in GD alone trying to find that thread, becoming more frustrated with each failure, and I’d posted in it myself. :slight_smile:

Frankly, I’m an aetheist and proud of it. I like my belief in a scientific universe, I like the word I use to describe my belief, and I see no reason to either. “Bright” just sounds goofy, imho.

“Gay” still sounds goofy to me. It reminds me of the theme to the Flintstones.

Gee, I wonder WHY “atheist” has negative connotations? Maybe because most believers throughout history have spread hatred of them? You think? In that last thread with the link from the ever so kind JThunder, and in the linked thread hear, both writers in their discussion of atheism and “brights” make it quite clear that they’ll find slander and hatred to throw utterly regardless of what terms are used. Anything non-believers do is based on arrogance and evil, and the lack of belief in god position does not exist, or is simply a “trick” to avoid the burden of proof.

But if I am not mistaken, that is part of the point. I’m sure gay sounded goofy when it was first used to indicate something other than happy. The point being, that we need a word without all of the other baggage. Notice the moral conotations of the word godless.

Ah, is that how it works?

The theists can call themselves Saved, or God’s Chosen or The Faithful, can say theirs is the One True Way and can tell the rest of us things like Only Through The Power Of God Will You Be Saved!

… But no, using the term bright is automatically offensive and insulting.

If that’s the case, you NEED a little insulting.

“Saved”? from what?

“Chosen”? by who?

“God’s Chosen”? which god?

“Faithful”? theists have told us time and again that belief in science is itself a faith, and therefore a religion. I am as firmly- if not moreso- convinced in the accuracy of the logical/scientific worldview as you are in the theistic/supernatural. why is my ‘faith’ any less valid than yours? why is your use of ‘faithful’ accurate, while my use of ‘bright’ is an insult?

I think the salient point is how crucial the Gay Pride movement has been in changing societal views on homosexuality. I see the Bright movement as something created to give atheists and naturalists a voice and a community spirit. Pride in the community is an inherent part of this, and the Bright people hope that an identifier can lead to a nucleation of this community.

The word is secondary. As I have mentioned, it wouldn’t be my first choice, but it is a rather logical choice. “Bright” has no negative connotations. It is linguistically redundant to a certain extent, much like the word “gay.”

I don’t think that TV manufacturers will be replacing the brightness controls on their TVs with “clearness” or “lucidity” in order not to offend the god-fearing. But atheists and naturalists form a quiet minority whose views are frowned upon, even from the highest levels of government.

Mostly, this is a study of memetics and memes, which explains Dawkins’s interest in it. First, unlike the word “gay”, there is a clear first usage of the term “bright” to describe the godless. Second, one can measure penetrance of the idea across society, and one can try to assess common usage of the term. One can evaluate the efficiency of the meme. Third, one can assess how much a linguistic and memetic construct helps the psychology of the group. How much of the Pride movement can be attributed to the widespread adoption of the word “gay” as opposed to words with negative connotations like “queer” or “faggot?” Can the same be replicated with atheists (which I personally think is linguistically neutral) and “brights?”

Linguistics and memetics are not my field of expertise. The scientist in me sometimes doubts that memetics is a true scientific discipline. It is far more related to psychology and sociology, and a nice controlled experiment like the ones the Bright people have landed on us doesn’t necessarily tell us anything. Unfortunately, sociologic and psychologic experiments are confounded by observer and individual variables so much to make many of them unreplicatable. But it is still interesting, and may still be of use in reforming the opinions of atheism.

As I mentioned in the linked thread, I am atheist and I would not call myself a bright. I just think it is gimmicky – the decision to spurn the religion in which I was raised was not trivial, and it is not trivial for many atheists, agnostics, and naturalists out there. It is also personal, and has next to nothing to do with people other than myself, so I don’t feel a need to join a group. But OTOH, we can never escape from views imparted on us by others. If those views are predominantly negative, and the Bright movement helps to reform them, then I would proudly call myself a bright.

Well, I forgot my point, actually, which was that the reason “atheist” has baggage is because people put it there (both theists and atheists). What’s to stop them from putting more baggage on any other word?

I don’t mind it being implied that I am not-gay, as I am a grumpy curmudgeon by nature. I mind being implicitly called stupid considerably more. :slight_smile:

As to the OP, I’ll post what I said in the Pit thread that spawned this one:

Color me :dubious:

Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s raining. I think the fact that he expects the rest of the world to swallow that rationalization proves Dawkins really does think theists are non-bright.

And let’s face it, that’s how most folks will see that label. It’s a horrible, horrible PR move, and fails miserably at its stated intent – to soften the public image of atheism.

It seems to me like an Esperanto version of the gay pride movement. That is, language evolve naturally, and it’s fine to take an existing word and appropriate its denotation while changing its connotation – but it’s damn near impossible to create a new denotation for a word, purely on political grounds.

Esperanto doesn’t fly. Nobody uses the gender-neutral pronouns various folks have invented. And “bright” isn’t going to catch on.

It’d be much better to work with an existing word, such as skeptic: it already means what we want it to mean, and we can tweak its connotations, if they’re not already where we want them to be.



You realize, of course, that taking any opportunity to unnecessarily slander believers by putting the worst possible spin out their position and construing it as slandering atheists, actually undermines your point, which is “gratuitious unfounded slander of the other side = bad”? You get that, right?

Anyway, my problem with Bright has always been what I see as the disengenuity of saying “I’m not saying I’m bright, I’m saying I’m a Bright!” To me, it’s like calling yourselves the Smarts, or the Rights, and then professing not to see why others think that’s a wee bit pretentious.

But it strongly implies that non-atheists are not bright, or stupid. As an atheist, I find it a very bone-headed move. Let’s just stick with “atheist.”

Also, ‘Athiest’ doesn’t really connote “a-theist” to the general population. Sort of like how “woman” doesn’t connote “wo-man” to us. In that vein, I think Bright will be about as effective as Womyn.

Even if Bright miraculously became the term of choice, all it would do would be to switch the baggage of “athiest” over to another term. Like how kids still say “That’s so gay” as an insult. Substituting “gay” for “faggot” didn’t keep people from using it as an insult.

Having said all that, I think most of the controversy would have been avoided if he had left that little “So what would believers be?” bit out. If you’re railing against the language being insulting to believers, it’s rather hypocritical to turn right around and create a term that is consciously insulting to believers. “Gay” would have met with a lot more resistance if it had been actively contrasted with “the gloomys”.

I believe that it has been substantially longer since homosexuality has been considered a mental disorder. Do you have a cite?