I'd heard of brights before, but didn't know that it was possible to become a Bright (with a capital "B") until Tao, a frequent Church of the Churchless visitor, mentioned the brights web site in a recent comment.
This evening I learned enough about bright-ness to conclude that I could sign up as an official Bright.
You can be a lower case "bright" just by considering yourself to be such. But registering on the brights web site turns you into a honest to God nature "Bright."
Slipped up just now. Hope my reference to a supernatural entity doesn't void my registration. Because the essence of being a bright is a naturalistic worldview.
That fits me, since my sensibilities are becoming more and more Taoist. The way I see it, everything real is natural. Otherwise, it'd be unreal – fantasy, imagination, belief.
More accurately, those products of the human mind are real, but only in an extremely limited sense. They aren't lasting aspects of the natural world like trees, water, stars, frogs, and jellyfish are.
Or as gravity, electromagnetism, quarks, electrons, and black holes are.
I had to ponder what I mean by "natural" before I took the plunge and became a Bright (which took less than a minute and should only entail getting a newsletter emailed to me every month or so).
I'm entirely open to the possibility that realms of reality exist beyond the physical. Heck, so are physicists and cosmologists, since higher dimensions are a hot scientific topic these days, especially in string theory.
So would the existence of a higher dimension beyond the three of space and one of time that we're familiar with be natural, or supernatural?
Me, I'd call it a part of nature. A hitherto unconfirmed part that now has joined our understanding of what reality is all about.
Magnetism once was thought to point to a soul or god, a supernatural entity. Now we know better. Electrical and magnetic phenomena are governed by natural laws.
We haven't come to the end of our knowledge of those laws, for sure. So brights need to be open to an ever-expanding view of what is "natural."
Quantum entanglement, where particles separated by millions of miles (or even light years) change instantly in concert with each other, once was felt to be too strange to be real. But it is.
I agree with what J.B.S. Haldane said:
I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.
"More accurately, those products of the human mind are real, but only in an extremely limited sense. They aren't lasting aspects of the natural world like trees, water, stars, frogs, and jellyfish are."
Any one product of the human mind will last longer than any given jellyfish: see hypnotism. Multiple products of the human mind are as real as all jellyfish will be, given time: see carbon poisoning.
"Real in a limited sense" is hedging - either all thought, sense and emotion is illusory, or the causal connection between the interior human world and the exterior natural world grounds mental processes in reality. Not simply "it is real because I think it, cogito ergo sum", but "this spinach gives my brain the calcium required to think my hand into picking that carrot."
Do you want to continue the fallacy that thousands of years of organized religion has imposed on human behavior? The spiritual world is not separate from the material world, (and please, all of you metaphysical geniuses, read that line with some sense of metaphor.)
Posted by: Edward | January 03, 2008 at 06:39 AM
Edward, you make good sense. When I wrote this post last night, I had a glimmer of the thoughts you're expressing. But as bright as I am, I didn't follow the glimmer along your path.
I agree with you. And I don't. There's something right about what you said, and also something wrong.
When I can figure out the difference between the two -- agreement and disagreement, right and wrong -- I guess I'll be somewhere. Where, I don't know, but somewhere different than where I am now.
It just seems that I, like everyone, can think up so much crap that vanishes like a wisp. Then there's nature, which seems to have a lot more substance than all that crap.
Yes, poison oak is crappy. Mosquitoes too. But their crap reality somehow sees to be of a different order than my mind's carp reality.
And yet, there's also no difference, like you say. My crappy thoughts and feelings sprout from bodily energy that comes from food that comes from the sun that comes from the laws of nature.
So, sure, it's all natural. Supernatural beliefs also.
Posted by: Brian | January 03, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Hey Brian, nice to hear that you came onboard as a Bright!... for whatever its worth. Bright-on Bro!
And I bet you feel as I do that it's about time those of us who have a much more naturalistic world-view and no longer buy into all of the supernatural and mystical hype get to have a voice and are heard, and hopefully stop getting marginalized by others who are so insecure that they find it necessary to cling to supernatural and mystical beliefs.
Posted by: tAo | January 04, 2008 at 08:37 PM
What's the difference between an atheist and a bright?
Posted by: Deepak Kamat | January 05, 2008 at 02:28 AM
I might have this right, or somebody can set me straight:
An atheist denies the existence of a God or Diety.
I don't think Brights completely deny the possibility of the existence of God, but rather seek to acknowledge what is apparent or can be known via normal perception of the natural world instead of that which cannot.
Perhaps God isn't perceived because it is a functioning rather than a thing that functions. God is universing, that is, it is being the universe, but as what God is, it is not anything objectifiable that can be known.
Posted by: Tucson | January 05, 2008 at 10:31 AM
> So would the existence of a higher
> dimension beyond the three of space and
> one of time that we're familiar with be
> natural, or supernatural?
I use the word "nature" to mean the substance of everything. Like water is the "nature" of a lake. So there's no question of anything being "higher-" or "super-" to nature.
It seems that some people use "nature" to means "what I understand" and "supernatural" to mean everything else. This seems less clear than just talking about "known" and "unknown."
The key questions of life (What am I? Why do I live in this world?) are unknown, so we can make peace with that, and decide for ourselves what direction adopt.
Posted by: Stuart | January 05, 2008 at 12:03 PM
can that web site be printed on soft paper?
I'll keep next to the toilet with my other books of profound insight.
"Not how the world is, is the mystical, but that it is" - Wittgenstein
Posted by: Cyfer | January 06, 2008 at 09:50 AM