Why be Bright?
by Chris Volkay (e-mail: CVolkay@liberator.net) [January 25th, 2004]
There’s a new movement known as the Brights, that’s engendering a worldwide buzz. Eminent scientist Richard Dawkins has written about them. So has popular advice columnist Amy Alkon. Their numbers are growing exponentially. Who are they? The Brights are an International Internet constituency seeking to gain political and social power by advocating a naturalistic world view, free of supernatural and mystical elements.
With religious fundamentalism on the rise throughout the world, this movement promotes the ideals of science, reason and rationality in dealing with the problems that confront us. But why should we care? What does it really matter? Why adopt the philosophy of the Brights?
“And my point is simply this: in the age old battle of the naturalistic vs. the supernatural, we must be ever vigilant and tireless in our effort to promote science and rationality as alternatives to religious, paranormal and mystical ways of thinking.”
Okay. Quick pop quiz. What do the following 10 events all have in common?
In one way or another, they are all the result, either fully or partially, of religion and/or mystical ways of thinking. They are all directly linked to religious thought and action. Don’t believe me?
- The murder of John Lennon.
- Texan Andrea Yates drowning her 5 children.
- The de facto war between Israel and the Palestinians.
- The kidnapping of Utah teen Elizabeth Smart.
- The 300 year occupation of India by the British.
- A friend of mine allowing cancer to grow on her body.
- The current spate of problems plaguing Africa.
- Main reason we don’t have cures for a myriad of diseases.
- Northern Ireland.
Hopefully 9/11 doesn’t take to much explication. Religious minds plotting the destruction of religious infidels. Religious devotees flying planes into buildings. Was religion 100% responsible? No. Was it partially responsible? Oh my, yes.
The murder of John Lennon was committed by Mark David Chapman, who used to sing, “Imagine, John Lennon dead” with friends, and stated that he hated Lennon because of John’s 1966 remark that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Yes, Chapman may have been psychotic, but his motivations were religiously inspired. There are many psychotic people, but that doesn’t make you a murderer. Only the ones harboring such acidic ideas like religious hatred, as one example, turn deadly.
Texan Andrea Yates, by her own admission, killed her 5 children to spare them going to hell had they lived. Yes, she too was most likely deranged, but had she not had these religious terror stories running around her head, she may have acted more benignly with her children.
The de facto war between Israel and the Palestinians is, among other things, one that is underpinned in religious belief and dispute.
Utah teen Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by a “prophet” who called himself “Emmanuel.” Elizabeth was going to be one of “Emmanuel’s” religiously mandated wives.
The British annexed India and held it for some 300 years, terminating with India’s freedom in 1947. Now, how is it possible that a country like Britain was able to control this leviathan? At the heart of it, was India’s domination by the Hindu religion which told them that this life was essentially meaningless, and that whatever you were getting here in this life was deserved. The self-determination and strength of an entire people usurped by supernatural religious beliefs.
A friend of mine allowed cancer to metastasize in her body. She actually saw the cancerous tumor growing for over a year, knew it, but did nothing but pray and not “betray” god by going to a doctor. She is a “Christian Scientist.”
The current spate of problems plaguing Africa. A capable, and vibrant people who have simply been hijacked by tribalistic religious thought.
Main reason we don’t have cures for a myriad of diseases? What is the one thing that has stood in the way of science from the beginning of time? Religion. We went through a long period of time known as the “Dark Ages,” that were religiously inspired. Where would we now be in the field of medicine if we hadn’t come under this witch’s spell of Oz-like religious slumber?
Northern Ireland. Protestants, Catholics, murder, mayhem.
The reason I bring these seemingly disparate events together is to simply chronicle the wide-spread nature of the harm done by all of these “World” religions and to put a face on them by using events that are known to us all.
And my point is simply this: in the age old battle of the naturalistic vs. the supernatural, we must be ever vigilant and tireless in our effort to promote science and rationality as alternatives to religious, paranormal and mystical ways of thinking. For the stakes are enormous. This isn’t some vague academic battle that is going on somewhere “over there,” this is a battle that effects ALL of us on a DAILY basis, in a myriad of ways, some obvious and blunt, some less obvious and serpentine. It is the underpinning of many of societies ongoing, endemic problems and must be addressed in this manner. It’s time for all like minded individuals to come together, come out of the closet and make an informed and Bright choice.
Resources and Avenues for Further Study
The Brights: Official Site Secular Humanism: Now Here's a Bright Idea! Google Directory: Science: Science in Society: Skeptical Inquiry and Science: Science in Society: Skeptical Inquiry: Critical Thinking
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