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God Bless Richard Dawkins

I used to teach from Prof. Dawkins' book, The Selfish Gene. Turns out he's pretty bright about atheism as well.

I'm a bright. And I'm tired of deferring to the fundies. How 'bout you?

Comments

( 33 sutras — Your wisdom )
scarlettina
Sep. 25th, 2003 01:37 am (UTC)
It's hell believing in God
I read your post, read your links, and then had a knee-jerk reaction which was, basically, "I have a religious faith and I'm not a fundie in any sense of the word! Stop lumping me with them!"

Then I thought more about it and got a little frustrated.

The dichotomy set up by your post, my good and dear friend, is more inflamatory than I think you may have intended it to be.

Most of the people I know who have a spiritual life of some kind aren't fundies either. They don't believe in demons or magic. Most of them (and I categorize myself among this group) are well-educated people who walk a line between the definitions of "Bright" and "Religious," holding a clear, scientific understanding of the world as well as a faith in Something Greater than ourselves. They don't insist on posting the Ten Commandments in schools and public offices. They don't insist that the word "God" remain in the Pledge of Allegiance. They don't try to keep women from having abortions. Neither do they insist that others have a religious faith or promote the idea of America as a Christian (or Jewish or Muslim) nation. They practice their faith quietly, live ethically, rely on modern medicine, watch eclipses with understanding without conferring upon them mystical significance, recycle resources, and allow others to live as they see fit.

By the Bright definition, I'm not a Bright. But your question almost suggests that one is either a Bright or a Fundie. With respect and affection I honestly ask: where does someone like me--a Reform Jew with no doubt that the universe is far more complex than Genesis would have us believe-- fit into your equation?
mysticalforest
Sep. 25th, 2003 05:05 am (UTC)
Re: It's hell believing in God
I don't think it's a good grouping—I'm an atheist and I'm left out too. I have been for many years (an athiest, not left out). Yet, I'm also open to the supernatural and mystical. To me, something supernatural is merely something that hasn't been explained yet. I don't see atheism as being at odds with that.

But, being a bright is all or nothing, oddly enough.

That's not for me.

I think it's rather amusing that an exclusory group like Christianity is prompting the excluded to create their own group that excludes Christians (and atheists).

They practice their faith quietly, live ethically [...]

Some days, that's almost impossible to believe. Ironically, the only faith I have is that not all Christians are assholes, as well as statements like yours that remind me that the cross is not a symbol of hate.
scarlettina
Sep. 25th, 2003 03:16 pm (UTC)
Re: It's hell believing in God
>>They practice their faith quietly, live ethically [...]
>
> Some days, that's almost impossible to believe.
> Ironically, the only faith I have is that not
> all Christians are assholes, as well as
> statements like yours that remind me that the
> cross is not a symbol of hate.

I have a very dear friend who is an Evangelical Christian. She is one of the kindest, most generous people I've ever met. She's never tried to convert me or insisted that as a Jew I was going to hell. I suspect that quietly she may fear for my soul, and when I started working in the adventure gaming industry she expressed concerns which lead me to believe that suspicion is true. We maintain our otherwise quite strong friendship by not discussing politics (at all--or my job, for that matter), and by sharing what interests (science fiction, music, arts and crafts) and faith we do have in common. I once read her the first paragraph of Genesis in Hebrew and she sat there in awe. That was a pretty cool moment of mutual understanding.

Here's the thing: The Brights, by choosing not to include people of faith of any kind, eliminate a large group of people who, for the most part, agree in full with what they're trying to achieve. I think that, for the most part, I have a great deal in common philosophically and politically with most people who would categorize themselves as Brights, but because I go to synagogue, I am excluded from their number. (Then again, as a Jew, it wouldn't be the first time I was excluded from something.)

> I think it's rather amusing that an exclusory
> group like Christianity is prompting the
> excluded to create their own group that
> excludes Christians

I, too, am amused, but why assume it's targeted just at excluding Christians? The language doesn't specify just Christians, although it's probably safe to assume that's the primary group being responded to. It also excludes Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, those of the Ba'hai faith, etc. Ironically, I'm guessing that Buddhists also are more politically and ethically aligned with the Brights than they have given thought to.

And let me just state for the record: I have no objection to an athiest or agnostic philosophy. There have been long periods in my life when I've espoused both perspectives myself. Faith or lack thereof or the uncertainty in between has always been a continuum for me, rather than a triangle that disallows other considerations.

I'm also curious: what distinguishes a Bright from a Secular Humanist? Is there a distinction?
Re: It's hell believing in God - mysticalforest - Sep. 25th, 2003 05:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
mckitterick
Sep. 25th, 2003 06:01 am (UTC)
Re: It's hell believing in God
You know, I wonder if there's any reason a religious person couldn't be a bright? If the definition of bright is someone who has "a world view that is free of supernaturalism and mysticism," I bet lots would agree with that. I mean, if a person's god is just the naturalistic universe in which that god doesn't intervene (which is how it appears, and how many religious folk think), then it's not mystic or supernatural. I bet lots of naturalists still believe in a god, or attribute the naturalistic universe with a godhood -- it is omniscient, omnipotent, and so on...

Chris
Re: It's hell believing in God - scarlettina - Sep. 25th, 2003 03:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's hell believing in God - the_monkey_king - Sep. 25th, 2003 04:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: It's hell believing in God - scarlettina - Sep. 25th, 2003 04:51 pm (UTC) - Expand
frabjousdave
Sep. 25th, 2003 05:54 am (UTC)
I like "brights," but I fear the term's a bit twee to catch on.
the_monkey_king
Sep. 25th, 2003 04:38 pm (UTC)
The thing is, the term "atheist" defines a category in the negative, and carries a lot of baggage. It's nice to have a more neutral term.

That said, you got a better suggestion?
mckitterick
Sep. 25th, 2003 05:58 am (UTC)
Heh, I bet you didn't expect to open a can o' worms, eh? But consider: Some atheists are just as "fundie" about their Atheism as religious fundies are about their Religions.

Interesting points, though! I think "a bright" sounds a bit, um, not-quite-right. Also a bit "Slan-ey."

Best,
Chris
(a bright)
the_monkey_king
Sep. 25th, 2003 04:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, I knew it was a can of worms. And I know some annoyingly harsh atheists, just as there are annoyingly harsh religionists.

I'm just amused to see that the secularists are organizing. It doesn't strike me as a move against superstition so much as creating a community of like-minded people. But I doubt they'll ever send out missionaries…

"Bright" mostly sounds odd because it's new. Got a better term?
scarlettina
Sep. 25th, 2003 06:21 pm (UTC)
His Monkey Highness said: Bright" mostly sounds odd because it's new.

You're absolutely right. I remember the first time I heard the word "gay" and thought it was just an odd, odd choice. I'll be interested to see if the word catches on.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2003 07:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_monkey_king - Sep. 25th, 2003 07:41 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2003 08:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_monkey_king - Sep. 25th, 2003 10:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mysticalforest - Sep. 25th, 2003 11:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_monkey_king - Sep. 25th, 2003 11:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - mysticalforest - Sep. 26th, 2003 12:15 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - the_monkey_king - Sep. 26th, 2003 09:32 pm (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Sep. 25th, 2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
To Bright or Too Bright?
I may be a bright, but before I'm a bright I'm an American. The fact of the matter is that "fundies" shouldn't think they have the right to push anyone else around, no mater what their God seems to be whispering in their ear.

Conversly, "brights" (and I heartly agree, the more I use it the more nauseatingly cloying and twee the term becomes) - or worse, Atheists - have no right to badger "fundies" outside of the limits of the seperation of Church and State. And I think the "brights" and the Atheists would be more successful if they sold the issue as "religious discrimination" (as in, when you favor a religion you are discriminating against others) rather than seperation. Punch up the *reasons* for the seperation, in other words, rather than allowing the "fundies" to scream "You're denying God!!"
the_monkey_king
Sep. 25th, 2003 07:56 pm (UTC)
Re: To Bright or Too Bright?
Here's where I get myself in trouble. My reaction to finding the term "bright" to describe a community that I belong to has nothing to do with the fundies — they aren't members of the group, and I don't care what they think about Church & State, discrimination, etc.

The joy of finding fellow brights has nothing to do with badgering anyone else. Actually, this sense of "Why doesn't someone gather these right-thinking people together somehow?" dates back to a road trip I took with xenmis, Jeremy, and Robbie. At one point during the drive, it became clear that everyone in the car was an atheist. That almost never happens to me, because brights don't gather together on a weekly basis. It was nice not to have to defer to other people's beliefs, superstitions, or deeply-held faith.

So. I'm not "selling the issue" to anyone. I'm delighted to find a new way to describe myself and my beliefs that doesn't immediately lump in with the "Other" that many religious people all too often feel threatened by.

Different communities of faith react differently, of course, but all faith-based communities feel that nonbelievers are a lower order. The language used to describe brights usually comes down to infidels, goyim, heretics, blasphemers, atheist — "Not Us".

I'm pleased to count myself among a community of people who see all believers in a similar way.
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - scarlettina - Sep. 25th, 2003 09:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - the_monkey_king - Sep. 25th, 2003 10:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - scarlettina - Sep. 26th, 2003 07:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - the_monkey_king - Sep. 26th, 2003 09:33 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - (Anonymous) - Sep. 25th, 2003 11:43 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: To Bright or Too Bright? - the_monkey_king - Sep. 26th, 2003 12:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
Sep. 25th, 2003 06:21 pm (UTC)
hee hee
Just dropping in to say that when I saw the color bar on the comments button, I giggled. Strike a nerve much, bro?

-- b
the_monkey_king
Sep. 25th, 2003 07:42 pm (UTC)
Re: hee hee
Oh, it was getting waaaaaay too quiet in here.
mckitterick
Sep. 26th, 2003 04:09 am (UTC)
Re: hee hee
It's amazing how, once in a while, a poster will post something that gets (say) 48 replies while most others get maybe a reply or two. Shows that there's lots of lurkers who want to read whatcher doin' but don't feel a need to comment. Things like religion and politics (or both, as here) tend to get people to respond.

Chris
mckitterick
Sep. 27th, 2003 04:46 am (UTC)
you brought all this up...
...so now you got me thinking about life, the universe, and everything atheistic. This is an interesting article:
http://www.theatlantic.com/issues/2003/09/davies.htm

"E.T. and God: Could earthly religions survive the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe?"

Had to share. Good thought-matter.

Chris
( 33 sutras — Your wisdom )

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