I first read about the Brights Meme® on Dean’s World a few weeks back and thought it a rather dumb name for an old idea. It is apparently catching fire. Kevin mentioned it last night, inspiring Steven to post on it this afternoon, and Kieran to comment earlier this evening.

I now feel compelled to set forth my take, so here goes:

Like Dean, I at least loosely fit the description. Like Steven, I think this is just a new (and I add, dumb) word for “secular humanist.” Like Kieran, I think Brights should keep quiet about all this when talking to other people.

FILED UNDER: Religion,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dean Esmay says:

    I find people’s defensiveness about this rather amusing and bemusing.

    I don’t consider myself a secular humanist. I think that’s loaded with political baggage that I don’t share. On moral views, I take the basic position that religious values are a good thing, have evolved the way they have because they are functional. I also take the view that I may well be wrong.

    Secular humanists quite frankly annoy me. And I am not an atheist, for that requires a statement of absolute faith and conviction that I do not carry.

    Why be quiet about who I am and what I believe? Why is having a skeptical, naturalistic worldview so nasty?

    I don’t consider non-brights to be dim or stupid at all. Some are quite brilliant, some smarter than me for sure. 🙂

  2. James Joyner says:


    I’ve responded to some of this on your site, since your post there was longer.

    Basically, I object to the use of the term Bright, which is both sort of silly sounding and possessed of other connotations, not the concept. In appropriate circles, I certainly express my views on the subject of the supernatural. We should just pick a better word is all.

    I’m not sure what baggage secular humanist has as an intellectual label, although it is one decried by yahoo preachers and whatnot.

    I agree on “atheist.” It’s essentially a religion on its own. I’m more an anti-theist.