Enlightenist Schools

Muriel Gray doesn’t like the word Bright either, so she has coined her own word.

Here’s what I believe as an Enlightenist. Atheism is not a driving concern, since belief in God is of little consequence. After all, if there is an interventionist God then there would be continuing demonstrable evidence of such, which there most certainly is not, and if there is a creator God who is non-interventionist then he neither requires nor merits worship, and if there is no God at all then so be it. Therefore you could happily suspect that there might be a non-interventionist God of sorts that could eventually be discovered scientifically and still be an Enlightenist. Since no action needs to be taken until such an unlikely discovery, it doesn’t matter. Now let’s move on.

murielPractical stuff. Now, having coined a term, she writes a manifesto to go with it.

Enlightenists believe in the awe-inspiring, wonder, beauty and complexity of the universe, and aspire to unpick its mysteries by reason, constant questioning, observation, experiment, and analysis of evidence. The bedrock of our morality is empathy, from which logically springs love, forgiveness, tolerance and a profound desire to make a just, egalitarian society and reduce suffering. The more knowledge a person has, the more they question and understand the real world, and the more they are required to analyse what is true then the greater the increase in empathy. Enlightenists care and wish to do good not because a vengeful God tells them to, but because intelligence suggests it is the only and the right thing to do.

Now she thinks that she is entitled to charter schools too (in the UK, public schools can hook up with a religion and exclude people not of that religion).

So there we have it then, that’s the belief manifesto. Now, where the hell are my bloody state-funded schools? We’re always told about the high performance of superstition schools verses non-denominational ones, but we know that’s because any parent willing to pretend to be religious to get their child in is a parent interested in their child’s education, and involved parents equal successful children. Can you imagine the unseemly scramble for places if we were to be granted a state-funded Enlightenist school? Children would be welcome from any religious or ideological background, with the parents only having to fulfil the brief of allowing their children to be taught in the Enlightenist manner.

All entirely sensible if you ask me.

I wish Muriel were running The Brights instead of Mynga. Then I could call myself an enlightenmentalist or something.

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Ragged Clown

Based in San Jose, California

11 thoughts on “Enlightenist Schools”

  1. >The bedrock of our morality is empathy, from which logically springs love, forgiveness, tolerance and a profound desire to make a just, egalitarian society and reduce suffering. The more knowledge a person has, the more they question and understand the real world, and the more they are required to analyse what is true then the greater the increase in empathy.

    I’ve encoutered a number of hmmm, philosophies lately that have a coherent core, then a spiritual bit tacked on the end. The spiritual bit seems to dilute the message beyond their core competency kind of thing.

    This sounds like a combination of philosophy and religion (religion in the sense that so is atheism, with god=null). I think the religious part is the core competency bit – “universe=mysterious+wonderful+(god=unimportant)” and the quote above, which is great, tacked on awkwardly.

    Like if she further added how being vegetarian was key to being an enlightenist.

    It’s not for me to say how many different concepts one can concatenate under one name, but I think it distracts. Religions certainly tack on all kinds of cruft, but they have an excuse in that they’re ostensibly following the complete teachings of some divine source.

    >Enlightenists care and wish to do good not because a vengeful God tells them to, but because intelligence suggests it is the only and the right thing to do.

    It’s unforutnate to have to define yourself in terms of how you’re not XYZ, when you say plenty of other good stuff about what you are.

    I guess what I’m saying that if it excluded the bit about god, you’d have lots of people of various organized religions wanting to sign up. I think inclusiveness is cool, but there may be those like Muriel that may fear the riff-raff that would let in.

    On the other hand, if you removed the god part from many religions, you’d have some fine philosphies that’d attract many atheists/brights/enlightenists. I’ve been reading a lot lately about Buddhism – lots of great stuff that has nothing to do with any god or mysticism. Too bad that many folks would steer clear of these teachings because they think it’s just another flavor of invisible pink unicorns. Not saying it’s one of the “philosophies with religion tacked on the end”.

    To Julio’s point, aren’t they more agnostic than atheist? Or is it The Closet Of The Damned?

  2. If the dominant theory of combustion required an as-yet-undetectable substance called phlogiston and you had a better theory in which phlogiston was completely unnecessary you’d present your theory in two parts.

    1) You’d explain your theory in terms of oxygen and energy.
    2) You’d explain that phlogiston is undectable because it does not exist

    The phlogistonists might say that this is just another phlogiston theory in which phlogiston=null but after a few years they’d all be dead and future generations would wonder why people ever believed in phlogiston. those people would just call it the theory of combustion.

  3. I would want my philosophy to explain that sense of awe that washes over you when you look up at the stars. Religion has nothing to do with it.

  4. >I would want my philosophy to explain that sense of awe that washes over you when you look up at the stars. Religion has nothing to do with it.

    Agreed. And that’s where you differ with the enlighteniststst, it seems. They talk about god a lot in their literature.

  5. >The phlogistonists

    I understand what you’re saying. Perhaps I’m extrapolating the relevance of god to the enlight platform from too few data points. And perhaps I’m mistaken with my sense that an enlighty would talk about their platform if someone asked about their relig beliefs other than questions about the orgin of wonderful phenomenonses.

  6. > aren’t they more agnostic than atheist?

    There are no agnostics, or to quote Colbert, an agnostic is an atheist without balls.

    The reason is really simple. If you’re agnostic, you *don’t believe* there’s a god. It’s not that you believe there’s no god, but that you don’t believe there’s one. That’s atheism, lack of belief in the existence of god.

  7. I am with Colbert. Agnostics are people who haven’t thought about it for long enough to decide that, in fact, there is no god. Or they have no balls.

  8. > Agnostics don’t believe you can prove the existence or non-existence of God.

    With this definition (which I agree with) wouldn’t you say that most religious people qualify as agnostic?

    There aren’t many options really, either you believe in something or you don’t believe in that something. There’s nothing in the middle. Being able to prove either way is on a different axis.

    Saying “I believe but I’m not sure” is fine, that qualifies as believing (I think that’s even the definition of faith).

    Saying “I don’t believe but I’m not sure” is also fine, that’s weak-atheism, but atheism nonetheless.

    I think what most non-atheists folks have a problem with, is with strong-atheism:

    “I don’t believe in god, because it doesn’t make any sense, and I am sure it doesn’t exist”.

    That can come across as arrogant I guess, just like believing that Santa and Poseidon don’t exist.

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