Question: As a “bright,” what do you believe?
James Randi: The term "bright" I don’t much care for, but hey, we
did the best we could with it. I was with Richard Dawkins in
Clearwater, Florida and a few other people who brainstormed and came up
with idea of having the "brights." I think I was maybe the third or
fourth person to sign the membership roster.
And a "bright" is someone who thinks logically and rationally; bases his
or her decisions on rationality, upon logic, and upon evidence—that’s
the major thing right there. And if we don’t have evidence, we can
express our belief or lack of belief in it, but it has to be
provisional. I believe that this is probably true, though I don’t have
any evidence for or against. It’s a perfectly safe statement. And so,
brights base all of their decisions and their beliefs on logic,
rationality, and evidence. That’s the thing in which they differ from
the average person who takes anything that comes along that looks
attractive. “Oh, I like that; I think I’ll believe in it.”
Question: As the scientific picture of the universe gets weirder,
could any religious claims ever be verified?
James Randi: Not that I know. I am an atheist, tried and true. I
have been since I was, oh I guess about this tall. I’m only about this
tall now. And I made up my mind that I was going to investigate all of
these things and question them. I went to Sunday school. I was tossed
out of Sunday school immediately. But it gave me 25 cents that I could
have put in the contribution plate there, so when they pass the plate
around, and I found out that at Purdy's Drug Store, you could buy a
two-flavored ice cream sundae for 25 cents. And that was a great
discovery of my childhood, I must say, and I took full advantage of it.
My parents, bless them, never found out and I went off every Sunday
morning as if going to Sunday school, but I lied. And I’m ashamed to
admit it now, and if my dad and mom are up there someplace, or down
there someplace, I have no idea, I ask them to forgive me.
Recorded April 16, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen