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 clichés 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.

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12 Comments

  • I really like what you have written, but I feel this is kind of discussion is suited to a less formal setting. It is not clear what people would be voting on. The above is the beginning of a long and potentially interesting discussion. If you have a blog you should post it there... if you don't you should start one. You write very well.

  • There's a point here that probably has a place on this site, which does after all ask for peoples views in the area of philosophy, inconguous as that might seem on a site about democracy. Given the site invites people to articulate their philosohical views if they want to, and have them voted on by anyone in the world who wishes to, along with other kinds of issues, I take the point to mean 'live and let live', and will give it an agree.

  • This really is not a site concerning theist verses atheist, the POW is addressing the world there are 1000 plus faiths and non faiths. To ensure everybody listens he has to keep out of promoting a set religious belief or non belief.

  • Agree with Austin and 002 (I wish I got 007 btw - so close). This is good stuff. Good for the category, too. But I wish it had more bite as an executed "idea". Babelfish - note the category.

  • Actually, babelfish also has a point. Though the category is 'Philosophy', and not 'Religion', maybe this category invites unproductive debate on religion. Need to think about that.

  • Yeah I had the same thought but it was dragging on a bit and I didn't want to get into my personal beliefs on the first post. That's the beauty of social media, you can come back later.

    The point to vote on is whether you think there should be secular terms to describe what is traditionally considered religious phenomenon. Should have spent more time making that clear, my bad.
    Primarily, the religious experience but also words like god. I think a more neutral vocabulary would help prevent well intentioned debate from descending into mindless repetition of arguments which belong firmly in the 20th century.

    @Austin Cheers dude, I don't have a blog but I've been told by many people to write a book. Which I think I'll reserve for when I've reached some grander conclusions.

    @Babelfish What?

    @All Yeah, religion comes under the philosophy section. Click on submit your idea, select philosophy and it's in the description.

    Although the intent of this post isn't to address religious questions at all, but to draw attention to an invisible barrier between one mind and another, called language. We are trapped by the words in our vocabulary and it's no good to make up new ones if no one else knows what they mean. Overcoming this barrier has to be a collective effort.

    Making your point clear and distinguishing it from associated concepts is essential to democracy. When people stop using words or forget them altogether, politicians and mass media follow suit. Watch 'Idiocracy' by Mike Judge. Oh and read this http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm takes effort but it's worth it.

    Religion is an ideal topic to make this point clear. The word god has so many meanings that people have gotten into the habit of making up new ones for it all the time. So each time you use the word, you have no idea how another person understands it. Economics is another ironclad example but that's a bit too technical to get into and religion is something which seems to draw passion from everyone, oddly enough.

    When I use the word 'god', I don't intend for it to mean 'conscious anthropomorphic supernatural creator'. When I use the word 'religion', I don't intend for it to mean 'indiscriminate illusion of superiority'. And when I say 'yes but', I don't intend it to mean 'please jump to your pre recorded counter argument before listening to what I have to say'.

    I don't believe that the aggression it accumulates stems from stubbornness at all. I believe our language is unfit to describe recent developments in human cognition. Make up a few words words and the conversation might start to flow rather than getting clogged up with misconceptions.

    Again, I'm going off on a tangent! New word for religious experience? New word for god? With the same profound significance, life changing enlightenment and universal compassion, but without tethers to organised religion or any such repugnant connotation that might be thrown my way?

  • Too politically correct for me. People should be able to express themselves in whatever terms they wish, I think. Perhaps convert your thoughts into a simpler more definite proposition, then repost it and see if people agree with it.

  • Ok I've reposted under the 'The Straw Man Epidemic'.
    Interestingly enough, in my attempt here to minimize the straw man problem, Babelfish and 002 fell into the straw man trap. On the false premise that creating new words would force others to use them against their will or that new words would actually limit peoples expression. I don't quite get that lol.

  • I object because I don't see how this has anything to do with Pastafarism or the purpose of this site.

  • It's a real pleasure to find somneoe who can think like that

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