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From Salon:




Thursday, Jan 1, 2015 12:01 PM -0500
I get it – you’re an atheist. You should still capitalize “God”
Using a lowercase "God" is like Fox News hacks saying "Democrat Party." It shows dumb disrespect to others, grammar

Richard (R.J.) Eskow


In a world wracked by war, climate change and economic inequality, this may seem a trivial point. In fact, it almost certainly is. And in a “new atheism” debate characterized by mutual bitterness and rigidity, I don’t want to pour any more kerosene on seemingly eternal fires. But might I ask for one last, tiny little favor, perhaps in the spirit of the New Year?

Please, please, stop writing “god” in lowercase form.

I get it. You don’t believe in a supreme being. That’s fine with me. What anybody believes or doesn’t believe is their call. You may believe that the world would be a better place without organized religion. Having seen organized religion in action, I’m inclined to say you may be right. You may believe that even private, reflective, personal religion is harmful, although I don’t see that myself.

Vox Wrote:I am pretty tired of hearing about "organized religion" (as opposed to -- "disorganized religion"?) as some monolithic bad thing, as if all organized religions are equal. It's such a lazy way of thinking. And so many of the complaints against it are simply incorrect, at least the stuff hurled against the Catholic Church (while other organized religions are practically illegal to comment on in anything but laudatory tones. Treating Islam, post-Temple Judaism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, and Hinduism as if they're the same sort of thing is just silly.)

But none of that’s relevant to the topic at hand. We’re not talking about God as a theological concept or God as a historical force. We’re talking about “god,” a punctuational neologism that I hope never catches on.

I’m hopeful, but not optimistic, since more and more writers seem to be using it. A couple of recent examples: Edwin Lyngar, who seems to be a good guy, employs it in an otherwise excellent piece about the aggressive Christianization of our armed forces. Lyngar writes that “a technical sergeant stationed at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada is being denied reenlistment unless he agrees to swear ‘so help me god.’”

The fact that this is happening in today’s armed forces is genuinely appalling, and we thank Lyngar for bringing it to our attention. But “God” should be capitalized here, and in the sentence that follows: “Modern attempts to force ‘god’ into inappropriate parts of the public sphere is a Cold War relic.”

Then there’s the piece by an atheist named Loren Miller titled “Is god good?” That question has been debated for centuries – but with a capital “G.”

I understand why some atheists might want to write “god” instead of “God.” If you believe that the word describes a human phenomenon rather than a genuine and existent deity, it might seem appropriate to use the lowercase form. But it’s not.  If you are referring to the singular and all-powerful deity of monotheistic tradition, you are using a proper name. That means the capital “G” is a must.

To be sure, there will continue to be many opportunities to use the word in lowercase form. The phrase “belief in gods” is punctuated correctly. So is “belief in a monotheistic god.” But the phrase “belief in god” is not correct, no matter what you do or don’t believe.

You’ve said it a thousand times, and I get it: You don’t believe in capital-G God any more than I believe in Tinkerbell. That doesn’t change anything. (See what I did there? I don’t believe in an entity named “Tinkerbell.” But since it is the proper name of a, yes, fictional character, I capitalized it.)

The “god” construct, however it’s intended, looks like an ungrammatical affectation. It makes the writer seem petty and silly, like those Republicans on Fox News who talk about the “Democrat” Party. It also seems intended to show disrespect to the beliefs of others (who shouldn’t care, but some of whom undoubtedly do).

The true nature of creation may be in dispute, but the proper usage in this case is not. Webster’s Dictionary tells us that a “god” is “a spirit or being that has great knowledge, strength, power, etc.” while “God” is “the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being … worshipped by Christians, Jews, and Muslims …”

Vox Wrote:

"Creation" implies a creator. I think the writer needs another word here unless he believes in God.

One is a noun. The other is a name. If it weren’t a name, it would be necessary to use a different sentence construction, as in: “They forced the sergeant to swear to the god,” or, “Is the god good?”

The atheist/religionist debate concerns nothing less than the fundamental nature of the cosmos. It involves issues like the fundamental ground of being, life after death, the soul, and the origin of all existence. If anybody wants to argue those things, be my guest. But now we’re talking about grammar.  When you don’t capitalize a proper name like God’s, you’re violating a fundamental principle of grammar.

You heard me right: grammar! You don’t want to violate the laws of grammar, do you? I mean, seriously: Is nothing sacred?

Vox Wrote:Something else that ticks me off is the use of "CE" and "BCE" instead of "A.D." and "B.C." I will never use "CE" and "BCE" unless I am quoting something. All it does is push the question back a step:  what is it about this era that makes it "common"? What happened in the year 1 that changed our system of counting the years? No matter how much seculars and Jews might hate it, we start our notion of History with the birth of Jesus Christ. So there Sticking tongue out at you

OK, so, a question:  Do you all capitalize the pronouns when referring to God the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost? I do, and tend to capitalize all sorts of things when referring to God --- e.g., "His Hands" or "His Love," etc. It's very annoying to me that the Douay doesn't at least capitalize the relevant pronouns, and when I copy-paste verses, I tend to go through them and do the capitalizing myself.

I am not in the habit of capitalising pronouns referring to God, but I have found it useful in scripture to differentiate when God is being referred to, particularly in St Paul's run on sentences.
It is a practice meant to disparage religion by flouting conventions of writing that seem too respectful for atheists. It also signifies membership in an ingroup with a different set of values than a mainstream outgroup. It is simply writing how a snarky, bitter atheist writes, signifying his membership in a community of likeminded people. Online, it is even worse, with some insisting on corrupting Jesus into "Jebus" or "Jaysus," and referring to the Holy Eucharist, under the appearance of wine, as "Jesus Juice." These are certain ways atheists use language to ingratiate themselves with other atheists, blasphemous with fellow blasphemers, distancing themselves from religious people.

Along a similar line, in rabbinic literature and in certain Jewish circles into our own day, Jews have developed irreverent terms for Christ to signify their disbelief in someone the surrounding people hold sacred. In the Ashkenazic world, "Yoshke" (a disparaging diminutive, akin to insisting on calling Him "Joshy") is the big one in casual speech, but in writing (to this day in Haredi newspapers) it is written "Yashu" with abbreviation signs, indicating an abbreviation for a curse on the name and memory of Christ.

Perhaps, if the New Atheists manage to stick around for awhile, atheist idiom will develop into a real social register in places outside of Internet Fora and clubs.
I get it – you’re an atheist. You should still capitalize “God”

That is true if you want to use correct grammar.
The irony behind this article is the stark fact that he writes in a journalistic fashion. This means that his sense of English grammar is atrocious throughout. Beginning sentences with "But" has never been a good convention. Perhaps atheists can be excused, if the editorial mindset is their inspiration!

Cyriacus, I agree with you. Having been an angry little atheist for the first 20 years of my life, I know how it feels to be accepted by fellow-atheists for having used a disparaging or blasphemous term. They love it. Those who get inspired by their company are lonely and need a clique. It's sad.

Atheism will only grow in force as the West becomes more decadent. The two are completely related. Do you think the rich and disgruntled of the 1350s, 1610s, and other eras - hiding themselves from the Plague in their chateaux, dancing the nights away until the poor people died - do you think they believed in God? Were they atheists? Practically-speaking: probably. Whenever there is progress in technology and wealth to a degree that leads to sloth, ease, and comfort, then atheism grows. It's an eternal cycle due to the nature of Man. Only saintly poverty, humility, and renouncing of worldly comforts will separate atheism from its lifeline.

"Come, Lord Jesus"!
Most of the time atheists are not talking about the same God as we are, so, in a sense, if they are to blaspheme God its better for them to use god—meaning the demiurge they have in their minds when they are rambling like mad men.

Its also worth noting that in Latin people write God simply god—deus. I think its better to not use God as a proper name (if one wants to use names for the divinity, check out The Divine Names by Dionysius), because its bound to lead to this modern confusion we live in.

(01-05-2015, 11:38 AM)Renatus Frater Wrote: [ -> ]Most of the time atheists are not talking about the same God as we are, so, in a sense, if they are to blaspheme God its better for them to use god—meaning the demiurge they have in their minds when they are rambling like mad men.

Its also worth noting that in Latin people write God simply god—deus. I think its better to not use God as a proper name (if one wants to use names for the divinity, check out The Divine Names by Dionysius), because its bound to lead to this modern confusion we live in.

This is very true, Renatus Frater. When people say they don't believe in "God", I often respond that I don't either. Their vision of what the word means is markedly different from my belief.

Similarly, with the Lord's Name, I tend to say "Christ" to atheists instead of "Jesus". Associations with evangelicals, fundamentalists, and sundry other pseudo-Christians have ruined His Name. The J-word is now attached to street-corner-screaming, sentimental praise-and-worship songs, "Jayzus", "Jebus", and other such nonsense. "Christ" has an air of majesty to it, still mostly unsullied.
(01-05-2015, 06:57 AM)Poche Wrote: [ -> ]I get it – you’re an atheist. You should still capitalize “God”

That is true if you want to use correct grammar.

It's not really grammar, but orthography. But let's omit that precision.

Capitalizing the 'G' is only correct when it is a proper noun -- when you refer to a singular personal being who is The Divinity.

If we're talking about Zeus, it is not correct to capitalize the "g".

If we use the term metaphorically -- "His god is his belly" -- then again since it's not a real singular personal being it is not properly capitalized.