Difference between revisions of "How I talk about gods"

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Revision as of 16:02, 29 October 2020

When I'm discussing religion I purposely try to genericize gods. I will only use a god's name or title when I have to refer to a specific one. I do this for a couple different reasons.

I don't want to favor any gods

Several religions worship a god without a name, including all the Abrahamic faiths, and referring to any one as "God" with a capital G implies that one of those gods is favored or more "proper" than the others. I frequently see this in the writings of believers who refer to their own god as "God," but everyone else's as "god." Since I don't want to play favorites between religions, I refer to all of them as "god."

I try to be grammatically correct

Consider this passage from the King James translation of the Book of Genesis, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (1:1)" The capitalization seen here is not correct. "God" is a title, not a name, and titles should only be capitalized when they're referring to a specific person. It is correct to capitalize the title in this sentence, "I saw a painting of President George Washington," because it refers to a specific president, but you would not capitalize it in this sentence, "I saw the president." Of course, English has a lot of archaic traditional rules, one of which says that you should always capitalize the word "god" when referring to the Christian god, as well as any pronouns associated with it, but this is special treatment given solely to Christianity by English-speaking Christians. As I do not like to play favorites, I will not abide by such a one-sided inconsistent rule.

Your god

When talking to religious people, I make an effort to refer to their god as "your god." I think it's important for believers, especially when they're in the majority, to be reminded that not everyone believes in their god. By saying, "your god," you eliminate any confusion and make it clear to them that you're not talking about anyone else's god, but theirs. This is important because everyone believes in a different god.

Most uninformed believers will respond to this by saying something to the effect of, "he's not my god, he's everyone's god, including yours!" At this point, I try to impress on them that I'm not saying "your god" to be disrespectful, rather for clarity. All monotheistic religions believe that their god is the only god, and that it's the god of everyone else, but we can't refer to all of them as "God" because they're all different.