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bright (noun)

I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under god. -- George Herbert Walker Bush*

A bright is a person whose worldview is naturalistic, that is, free of supernatural or mystical elements.* The term was coined by Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert, a pair of brights from Sacramento, California, who thought it would be sensible to adopt a common name for atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, materialists, rationalists, secular humanists, and skeptics.* All these disparate groups share in common a naturalistic worldview. According to Futrell and Geisert:

The simple noun bright gathers under the same umbrella a great diversity of persons who have a naturalistic worldview. Under this broad umbrella these people, as brights, can gain social and political power in a society infused with supernaturalism.*

They also assert: "We cannot designate other people brights. Bright is a self-identifying term." The term is intended to be a pragmatic civic identity term rather than a philosophical belief term.

They invite anyone who wishes to be counted as a bright to let them know. As of February 2006, people from 138 different nations have identified themselves as brights.

The term "bright" was chosen, according to Futrell and Geisert, for its positive emotive associations, which they hope will counteract all the negative terms that society-at-large uses to describe those who have no supernatural elements in their belief system. (Some of the terms that have been used at various times in various places to convey disapproval are: atheist, heretic, infidel, non-believer, unbeliever, disbeliever, pagan, blasphemer, nonconformist, dissenter, apostate, defector, and fallen-away (Catholic, Jew, etc.).

Daniel Dennett has suggested that the opposite of a bright might be called a super, someone who holds a worldview that is characterized by supernatural or mystical elements.

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further reading


Ingersoll, Robert G. (1983). Best of Robert Ingersoll: Selections from His Writings and Speeches. Prometheus Books.

Jacoby, Susan. (2005). Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. Owl Books.

Paine, Thomas. (1794). Age of Reason.


Who are the Brights? by Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

The Brights Network

The future looks bright by Richard Dawkins (The Guardian, June 21, 2003)

The Bright Stuff  by Daniel C. Dennett (New York Times, July 12, 2003

Tracking the Brights Robert McNally's attempt to track "commentary both supporting and criticizing the brights movement"

Not Too "Bright" by Chris Mooney Oct. 15, 2003

The Big “Bright” Brouhaha An Empirical Study on an Emerging Skeptical Movement by Michael Shermer

Last updated 26-Oct-2015

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