Monday, July 14, 2003
Repackaging Agnosticism, Repackaging Atheism
The Brights is an attempt to allow people who don't have a supernatural view of the world to identify themselves and each other, and to speak up when politicians and other denigrate "the godless" (for example).
Tufts philosopher Daniel Dennett had this to say in day before yesterday's New York Times (registration required).
Links from Hit and Run (here by Ronald Bailey with lots of comments, primarily a predictable devolution of the discussion into "proofs" or lack thereof of the existence of a deity, the evils of godless Marxism, whether morals depend on the belief in an afterlife, and various other personal whipping boys for the various other commenters, few who seem to grok the necessity of speaking out for the civil rights of all, regardless of their beliefs) at Reason Online.
My own take: The repackaging is unnecessary, even silly, but speaking up for the rights of all to believe as they will (or not), and to protect those who believe differently from those who intend to impose their beliefs (or lack thereof) on others seems well motivated. You don't have tolerate racist, sexist, ageist, homophobic, know-nothingist (in its historic sense) rudeness on the part of any speaker, and you don't have to put up with antagonistic talk against any of the flavors of non-Christians, non-believers, or even anti-believers.
Addendum: There's a little bit of "Support Group for Steppenwolves" to this. Maybe one of the things that many of those who don't believe in the traditional religious ways have in common is an independent streak making it intrinsically difficult to organize, either politically or socially.
("Support Group for Steppenwolves" was an intersession activity offered by some prof when I was in college. I'm not sure if it was an intentional joke, or it was cluelessly but sincerely offered, but there is something so completely off with the concept, I'm pretty sure it didn't have enough takers to even see if it could work.)