Watch Your (our) Language

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nevermore's picture
Watch Your (our) Language

Greetings. This is actually something of a test: I've only just joined, and there was some mistake regarding the image attached by the system to my last entry (which was also my first entry). I was given the graphic emblem of one of the other participants--a heraldic lion's head (addorsed, I think, is the obsolete term), and not the Tenniel illustration I wanted.

Anyway . . .

I am genuinely surprised to see many of you around this website making the same semantic/rhetorical error: you are writing about not believing in god. I would insist that this is wrong . . . atheists don't believe in ANY GODS.

Gods. Plural. If we have some common ground here, it must involve treating Jehovah, Zeus, Allah, Legba, Quetzlcoatl, Ahura Mazda, etc. as all equally mythological. [I'll not apologize for exempting Buddah; he was a real person . . . and he never claimed to be a god.]

Given the saturation of our culture by Judaic/Christian myth and imagery, it's easy for all of us to fall into the colloquial trap of describing atheism as the rejection of the prevailing mythos: with "God" at the apex of the pyramid. And given the exclusion of most other religions from our culture (a sort-of historical accident), it's extremely likely that the person you find yourself debating will be some sort of Christian. So, if you want to be prepared for a debate, you have to be aware of the absurdities and contradictions in the Bible.

But you also should remain aware of the overall problem: all religions are to some degree false, and all deities, demigods, demons, djinn and vampires are human inventions. And Faith isn't good enough.

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AtheistsMeow's picture
I always add the ''s''.

I always add the ''s''.

CyberLN's picture


mykcob4's picture
Although I do agree that

Although I do agree that saying that "I don't believe in god" is technically incorrect, it is correct in the context that I say it. It implies that I don't believe in YOUR god when speaking to certain theist. So I will continue the practice at the risk of grammatical retribution.

Deforres's picture
Myk, wasn't it you that said

It seems entirely appropriate that one should modify their wordings to best suit what they deal with on a day-to-day basis. I'm afraid my reference to the theistic creator shall remain in the singular, not the plural.

ThePragmatic's picture
I was of the same opinion.

I was of the same opinion. But it kind of makes the point even better: "Sorry, I don't believe in any gods".

AtheistsMeow's picture
I also never say ''sorry''.

I also never say ''sorry''.

mislam's picture
I always use the singular, it

I always use the singular, it directly refutes their god. That gets all theists' backs up - I find myself getting increasingly anti-theist as I get older.

@Pragmatic. I wouldn't apologise first...

ThePragmatic's picture
Oh, right! Sorry for

Oh, right! Sorry for apologizing! :)

AlphaLogica157's picture
But if one lacks belief in a

But if one lacks belief in a god would it not naturally follow that it applies to all gods? Seems odd that one would find monotheism crazy but is ok with polytheism.

nevermore's picture
I appreciate your replies.

I appreciate your replies. And the issue doesn't need much discussion. But since language and thought are constantly shaping each other, habitual use of the name God might cause us simply to visualize the Big Man in the sky rather than the more essential problem of faith in general.

I left the Church because I realized that faith wasn't good enough: it doesn't guarantee that you have the right idea, it simply makes you extremely reluctant to change your mind. Hence terrorism, racism, chauvinism, blind party loyalty . . . and, of course, religion.

algebe's picture
Singular or plural isn't the

Singular or plural isn't the issue. What's important is to avoid personalizing this god fantasy as if were something alive that a person could relate to. That's why I always use the pronoun it,never he or she, to refer to any and all gods.

CyberLN's picture
I also do not capitalize the

I also do not capitalize the word god.

AtheistsMeow's picture
I never capitalize, & always

I never capitalize, & always use the term ''it''.

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