Brights Movement


james randi

The Brights Movement is a social movement that aims to promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview (disbelief of the supernatural), including equal civil rights and acceptance for people who hold a naturalistic worldview. It was co-founded by Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell in 2003.

The movement aims to create an Internet constituency that will pursue the following aims: Promote public understanding and acknowledgment of the naturalistic worldview, which is free of supernatural and mystical elements. Gain public recognition that persons who hold such a worldview can bring principled actions to bear on matters of civic importance. Educate society toward accepting the full and equitable civic participation of all such people.

The Brights Movement distinguishes itself from traditional membership organizations by focusing on the development of a broad public constituency capable of including members of many narrower categories. For example: atheists, agnostics, humanists, skeptics, and members of religious traditions who observe the cultural practices without believing literally in a deity might all pursue shared civic goals respecting egalitarian laws and a political discourse informed by the natural sciences.

Also, unlike a typical membership organization, the Brights Movement does not appoint individuals empowered to speak for the whole; individual brights speak for themselves or speak collectively by proposing statements to which all registered Brights may join in assent (or not) as they see fit. Instead, the focus is on making visible to society the largest possible constituency of people who hold a naturalistic worldview.

The noun bright was coined by Geisert as a positive-sounding umbrella term, and Futrell defined it as ‘an individual whose worldview is naturalistic (free from supernatural and mystical elements).’ Daniel Dennett has since suggested that people that believe in the supernatural should be referred to as ‘supers.’

Within the definition of bright, many, but not all, brights also identify variously under other terms or identities, including atheist, humanist, secular humanist, freethinker, objectivist, rationalist, naturalist, materialist, agnostic, skeptic, apatheist and so on. Even so, the ‘movement is not associated with any defined beliefs.’

Notable brights include biologists Richard Dawkins and Richard J. Roberts, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, philosopher Daniel Dennett, and stage magicians and debunkers James Randi and Penn & Teller.

The movement has been criticised by some (both religious and non-religious) who have objected to the adoption of the title ‘bright’ because they believe it suggests that the individuals with a naturalistic worldview are more intelligent (‘brighter’) than the religious. In response to this Daniel Dennett has stated:

‘There was also a negative response, largely objecting to the term that had been chosen [not by me]: bright, which seemed to imply that others were dim or stupid. But the term, modeled on the highly successful hijacking of the ordinary word ‘gay’ by homosexuals, does not have to have that implication. Those who are not gays are not necessarily glum; they’re straight. Those who are not brights are not necessarily dim.’