June 25, 2003

Not So Bright

Richard Dawkins, the well-known scientist and apologist for the theory of evolution, has recently written an article entitled "The Future Looks Bright", which I found via Craig Ceely's blog. In it, he tries to raise our consciousness about atheism:

Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell, of Sacramento, California, have set out to coin a new word, a new "gay". Like gay, it should be a noun hijacked from an adjective, with its original meaning changed but not too much. Like gay, it should be catchy: a potentially prolific meme. Like gay, it should be positive, warm, cheerful, bright.
Bright? Yes, bright. Bright is the word, the new noun. I am a bright. You are a bright. She is a bright. We are the brights. Isn't it about time you came out as a bright? Is he a bright? I can't imagine falling for a woman who was not a bright.

A "bright" is someone who subscribes to "a world view that is free of supernaturalism and mysticism." I'm writing about this, because it's a word that shows signs of catching on here in the blogosphere. And because it's a word that (quite unlike "gay") was purposely chosen to be insulting to those who (like me) espouse some kind of religious faith.

Apparently, because I am a Christian and believe that Christ died on the cross that my sins might be forgiven, I am not a "bright". In fact, I must therefore be "not so bright". Or perhaps even "dim".

Like gay, it should be positive, warm, cheerful, bright.

One might add "arrogant". If "bright" didn't have the prior connotation of "intelligent", with the implication that non-brights are unintelligent, Dawkins and his ilk would never have chosen it. The word "gay" carries no such freight.

I'll be very curious to see if Steven den Beste weighs in on this. Steven is an atheist, as he discussed recently in a series of posts; he's also a gentleman.

In the meantime, for any of my readers who might self-identify themselves as "brights", you might wish to consider whom you're insulting by so doing. For most of you, it's probably a larger group than you think.

Update: Rude, that's the word I was looking for. Rude, ill-mannered, uncouth, discourteous, take your pick. Of course, if that's how you want to be perceived....

Posted by Will Duquette at June 25, 2003 02:06 PM

Deb said:

Rats, that means I am a "Dim." Actually, I think "Dark" would be better as in "Now I see thru a glass darkly."

Will Duquette said:

And we all know that Lucifer translates as something on the order of "bright and shining".

But I didn't want to go there...it would have been, well, rude. :-)

Deb said:

Yep, Lucifer is some Latin or Greek word for light or fire--cant recall which. Same root word as lucid and elucidate, if I recall correctly. Milton, however, has him call himself "darkness visible." And if you havent read Paradise Lost, you really should give it a try--it makes Lucifer seem like a superhero and Christ a dim comparison--which, of course, is the point.

Jennifer said:

Not whom you're insulting but whom are you fooling; as if an atheistic worldview is any less an assumption based on faith and fancy...grr...thank you for alerting me to this "bright idea" and defusing it with your wit and bemused outrage.


Will Duquette said:

Yes, there's that, too: atheism is as much a matter of faith as any religious world view, as Steven den Beste pointed out so thoroughly and exhaustively some weeks ago. But it's possible to accept that and still have a "naturalistic world view", as den Beste does. So I didn't go there.