Re: [atheists-27] Atheist or Bright?

From: Robert W A.
Sent on: Thursday, August 8, 2013 6:47 AM
I see the "failure" of the humanist label to be somewhat of a success for our movement.

The gay movement succeeded because they have convinced a majority of Americans they are pretty much like normal people except for their sexual orientation.  But that one defining characteristic has allowed them to co-opt a name for themselves which has positive connotations and has not stigmatized them.

For us, the atheist/agnostic terms ONLY define one difference between ourselves and normal Americans - our lack of belief in religion.  Otherwise, we kind of blend in with everybody else.  Hence the failure of the Humanist label - why would people want to use a label to define someone whose basic beliefs are the same as everybody else?  There is no need for such a label.

"Normal" American values, common to virtually every subgroup in this country, are derived from the humanistic approach of the Founders in defining this country and its laws.  Since most of the humanistic values are already functional here, there is no need for a label.  The only ones in contention are the ones which reject religion, which is central to our current struggle.

I see this as a positive thing, as it allows us to disappear into the population, causing the far right wing opponents of ours to under-estimate our numbers.  This IS a disadvantage in that it makes it harder for us to organize and gain specific political support for our non-religious agenda, but there is even a positive aspect to that.  Someday, the political support for the right wing will collapse.  Whether that is sudden or a gradual thing, I can't pretend to know.  But given that demographics are on our side, I see that as an inevitable occurrence.  The only question is time.

But as for the labeling aspect of it, I see no need for a separate label for people whose beliefs (other than religious) that mirror most of the country.

Sent from my iPad

On Aug 7, 2013, at 11:51 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

I agree with both Robert and Mathew.  I think most people think that the effort to popularize the term Bright has been a failure.  However, I have never been impressed with the claim that the use of the term is a deliberate implication that religious folks are "dim."  This occurs even though the Bright organizers and supporters deny this intent and suggest that religious people can be called "supers" for their belief in the supernatural.  This did not work. The "dim" meme had enough traction to blow up the effort.  However, as Robert points out the negativity of "atheist" that some people see is quite similar when viewed from the religious right.  The homosexual right revolution happened when gays embraced the toxic assumptions for the term "gay" and proceeded to have warm friendly relationships with others.  We just need to be "out" in the same way to create similar acceptance
 
Metaphysical naturalist, or philosophical naturalist are excellent terms.  However, if we created a meetup to find others who associate with those terms it is quite unlikely that we would have the over 700 members we now have.  I noticed that no one suggested "humanist" as a preferred term.  I did a bit of research using Google and Facebook resources which indicated that the prospects were not good for humanist as a term of association or identity.  However, the American Humanist Association has been doing well and the WASH Meetup has also been doing well. 
 
Don
 
 
 

From: Mathew Goldstein <[address removed]>
To: [address removed]
Sent: Wednesday, August 7,[masked]:29 PM
Subject: Re: [atheists-27] Atheist or Bright?

Metaphysical naturalist, or philosophical naturalist, is a "wider arena" term for someone "whose worldview is free of supernatural/mystical".

On Aug 7, 2013, at 7:25 PM, Robert W Ahrens <[address removed]> wrote:

Even though they try to cover the possibility that one could be an atheist AND something else, they are kind of limiting that alternative.

I would argue that describing myself as an atheist is only one part of who I am, and only describes my feelings about religion.  I have other ways of thinking that describe ethics, morals and political beliefs.  Their stance on the term "atheist" seems to be trying to paint me with a single color brush in spite of their attempted disclaimer.

My counter argument is that yes, I AM an atheist, and in spite of the limited field in which it describes me, that is, for what should be obvious social reasons, an important description in today's political climate!  They seem to be trying to distance themselves from this label so as to avoid the negative connotations of it to religious people.  That seems a pointless effort, given the current "you're either with us or agin us" attitude of the right wing in this country.  To fight the traditional negativity of this label, we should embrace it and co-opt it for our own purposes, removing the negativity associated with it in the larger society.


On Aug 7, 2013, at 6:13 PM, Don Wharton <[address removed]> wrote:

I love the atheist community because atheist is the term of choice that attracts the largest and most vibrant part of the secular community that wants to connect with other secularists.  I have never been fond of the the fact that the term intrinsically is a negation of something rather than an affirmation.  The following is from the recent Brights Bulletin.  Obviously they have an ax to grind on this issue.
- Don
 
Atheist or Bright? (Perhaps Both?)
Landscape for Atheists
(Individual without god-belief) -- The topography of atheism is carved by religion. And, culturally, religion has language of its own. Within that religion realm, everyone will use its terminology and apply many of its concepts. Even when you are setting yourself apart from religion, or trying to, you still are standing on religion's terrain. Use the term, atheist, and you have adopted the terminology and frame (and probably your society's cultural preoccupation).
Landscape for Brights
(Individual' whose worldview free of supernatural/mystical) -- Start off from this different point, and you can adopt a much wider arena for consideration. The broader terrain encompasses many factors, and need not focus or dwell on religion at all.
Individuals are surrounded by abundant cultural contentions. A naturalistic stance quite often results from contemplation and analysis of empirical concerns regarding the myriad of avaialble supernatural/mystical possibilities. But however such an outlook has come about in any individual, the result is a person whose way of looking at the world isn't inclusive of any of them.
It is quite possible an individual matches both labels: an atheist and a bright (or an agnostic and a bright). For some people, though, one label will fit, but not the other. There are definitely atheists who would not be brights. And besides brights who do not fit the atheist label (it's not their conclusion about deities), some reject being characterized by other persons unable to see beyond the predominant terrain carved by religion.
If this discussion hasn’t helped then give the similar but more extensive discussion on the website a try.




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