People don't take well to different belief systems, especially ones they see as in conflict with their own. So some flack is expected, and some of it will be thinly veiled reactions to the group itself. I know Greg well enough to know that this is not behind his comments, but it's out there in the discussion of some others.
Coining the name "Brights" has already accomplished something. It's spurred discussion. Opinions will vary on whether that discussion needed to take place, or whether the discussion is framed right. But I'm nearly always for more discussion where there was none or little previously. So it's a plus in my book so far. And that it has brought some of the negative feelings to the fore is just like shining a light out there.
Greg hit on a lot of intriguing points, and things I've thought about before, so it makes an excellent jumping-off point for further discussion.
Groups name themselves, or they get named by others. But once the name is coined, it's there. It may catch on, or it may fade away, but it only takes a few people to use it for it to stick around for a while. In this case, it's sticking. And there are various complaints about it - among them the connotation that in comparison everyone else is "a dull." Frankly, I find that a superficial complaint. Does the existence of the term "gay" imply that heterosexual folks are sad? If taken literally it does, as much as the new noun use of "Bright" implies dull. But apparently people have gotten over it. "Bright" as a noun has a clear definition:
A Bright's worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements. The ethics and actions of a Bright are based on a naturalistic worldview.
To me it seems that the connotations are merely temporary until people get used to the new usage. Religions use all sorts of terms to refer to themselves and their activities. "We're saved." "We're the chosen people." "We're born again." In these, the meaning is not implied - it is explicit. If you are not saved, you're not saved -- period.
Is the name self-congratulatory? The Brights have said they don't want it used as an adjective. We could take them at their word, or not.
What about getting hung up on naming in general? Greg makes an accurate observation that when a name sticks people see the name and not the thing. People put things into a box and stop considering them. That's exactly the reason coming up with a new name shakes things up (and it is difficult to deny this has happened). When people go back to sleepwalking, the Brights would like a positive name to be in place of the negative term. But in the meantime, people have an opportunity to look at the worldview itself. I say "opportunity" because you can only lead a horse to water.
This effect of sleepwalking has little to do with naming, however. It can be seen in any pattern. The drive to work, for example, becomes monotonous, and you fail to notice things until you take a new route and break the pattern. Does this happen because you have named it "my drive to work?" No - it's because the repetition lulls your brain to sleep. It is your personal responsibility to wake your own brain up, not by avoiding names, labels and patterns (which are all inevitable) but by using them in a conscious way. Whatever you are doing, do it consciously. Using an inadequate name out of practicality should be an opportunity for you to think about where the name's usefulness has its boundaries.
I don't feel I can help people be more conscious of the world by refusing to name or use names. But I can use care in the labels I choose, and use labels that I feel suit me. And I can hop on a bandwagon that tickles or upsets people enough that it gets them thinking about something they had previously dismissed out of hand.
The only way to make one's own motivations more clear is to spell things out. I can't speak for other people and tell you whether they are over-compensating with the positive term "Brights." I can tell you that I didn't feel particularly oppressed because my beliefs are somewhat personal and I didn't feel the need to share them much in any case. I also don't feel the need to join a group for validation purposes. I'm not much of a joiner. If I wanted validation, and the need to be part of a group, I'd start going to church again. I can tell you that part of the
What I do want is a term that at least means something. Skeptic doesn't work well because it already had too many meanings. Skeptical of what? "Bright" as a noun doesn't have an existing meaning. Therefore it elicits a question: "what is 'a bright?'" Either you're asking that question of the speaker, or you're doing a web search to find out. Sounds awake to me.
My advice to those who don't like the word "Brights" is you already know what it means. There is nothing more you need do. At least you'll know what I mean when I use the term.