Flying Spaghetti Monster
Being pretty disillusioned by the spurious 'debate' between atheists and christians which falls marginally short of a pissing contest, I'd like to propose a neutral middle-ground vocabulary which will hopefully appeal to both sides.
Before you brace yourself for another flimsy version of the 'god is whatever you like' argument - consider near death experiences. Once only a study for paranormal enthusiasts, it's now of great interest to neurologists and even neural net programmers.
While NDEs have had their heyday and are now tucked safely away in the 'curious phenomenon' section of your memory, the religious/atheist debate seems as passionate as ever with no signs of dying out. I use the word atheist rather than science because religion and science are like oil and water - you can mix them, but it takes a lot of effort, tastes awful and serves no purpose.
Back to the point, I had a religious experience some 10 years ago, and when it comes up in conversation I am more often than not affronted with all kinds of stereotypes and clichÃ©s which have no relevance to my understanding of the experience.
I'm sure atheists, agnostics and secular humanists don't like being dumped in the same category as pagans and satanists and I see no reason why I should accept being lumped in with creationists and zionists just to accommodate a streamlined set of arguments which assemble themselves into deadlock.
The problem I have, is with the phrase 'religious experience'.
I don't like using this phrase because I am not religious but there is no secular equivalent other than 'eureka moment', which I'm sorry to say doesn't have the same connotations.
So, could the atheists among us, the skeptics, and the down right cynical please agree on an equivalent word or phrase. That way, I can speak honestly without arousing suspicion of trying to brainwash you.
If I had an equivalent word which you found to be at the very least inoffensive, then you would soon realise that I and many people like me have the same concerns about sectarianism, blind faith and denial of science as you do.
The dialogue at present seems to cut off a great deal of support for the humanist movement. Primarily due to this modern myth that all religion is exactly like christianity. It's rather like saying all cheese is cheddar because they are all made from milk. If that were the case I could claim that atheism is a sub sect of christianity which maintains a binary understanding of morality and the concept that there is only one truth.
I don't claim this, because it would show a blatant disregard for the subtleties of the individual. So please, don't do it to me.