An essay by – Heather Spoonheim

The habitual capitalization of the word ‘god’ is evidence of one of the most insidious mind-games ever perpetrated by the cult of Yahweh. To understand why, one must first understand that language, as a social construct, is recursive. That is to say that in as much as language is a construct of society, society itself is a construct of language. As an example, consider how the evolution of civilization has been shaped by the concept of democracy while, over the same period, the evolution of the concept of democracy has been shaped by civilization. The modern concept of democracy has greatly diverged from that of Plato, yet his dissertations on the concept have had as much influence the evolution of society as the evolution of society has had on the concept itself.

The same can be said of the habitual capitalization of the word ‘god’. In practice, secular society habitually capitalizes the word ‘god’ when the word is used in reference to the concept of a singular, supreme being. Even my damn word processor is suggesting that I capitalize ‘supreme being’ in the last sentence. The young developing minds of the greatest writers of the next generation are being indoctrinated to this construct before they are even able to grasp its fallacy.

The only rational argument on behalf of the existence of gods is that man has consistently been, and will likely always be, able to refashion a definition for the god-concept that that escapes falsification. This argument applies equally to any pantheon of gods that mankind might want to imagine and therefore firmly establishes the fallacy of any and all single god conceptualizations. Not only is every concept of a single god invalid but also, by definition, self-refuting. Propagating the social construct of capitalizing the word god is, by extension, a propagation of this fallacy, a corruption of reason, and a tool of cult indoctrination directed against young impressionable minds.

Furthermore, the officially recognized rules of grammar do not actually specify capitalization of the word god for all uses that imply a singular, supreme being. Officially, the word is only to be capitalized when used in reference to Yahweh, and that is absolutely repugnant to the concept of secular society. Not only is the word god supposed to be capitalized only when it refers to Yahweh, but also the pronouns ‘he’, ‘his’ and ‘him’ when used in reference to Yahweh. This is much different than the capitalization of the proper name ‘Yahweh’ itself because that rule is equally and generically applied to all mythological and fictional beings. The other rules, however, constitute nothing other than a mandated cultural bias towards the cult of Yahweh, and serve to corrupt the very nature of our thoughts.

Interestingly, many cults of Yahweh have a prohibition against vocalizing his name. This doctrine was likely born out of an instinct for survival after the siege of Jerusalem, but it has become a social construct that is no less annoying than when it was employed as a literary tool in the Harry Potter series. In both cases, however, it proved to be very efficient in evoking a sense of mystery in adolescent minds. To those indoctrinated to the cult of Yahweh, this adds a layer of mystery that amplifies the superstitions that the cult holds regarding any investigation into the origins of Yahweh.

Our society has been tricked into pandering to the delusions of the Yahweh cult by allowing them to write their very own deity into our language. This construct obfuscates the difference between the mythological Yahweh and our social construct of the god-concept itself. The Yahweh cult should be, for the sake of intellectual honestly, required to name their mythological deity before any rational conversation of the mythology takes place. By engaging them in conversations about ‘god’ without requiring that explicit declaration, we only facilitate the isolation of their mighty Yahweh from his roots in the polytheistic Semitic pantheon.

It may still be argued that there is some abstract virtue in recognizing, through capitalization, the reverence with which monotheists regard the single god concept, but I suggest that such recognition is not virtuous at all and serves only to reinforce their delusions. Although direct confrontation of an individual’s delusions may only exacerbate the underlying emotional turmoil that spawned them, it might be considered equally cruel to actually engage their delusions by assuming the context of their reality. Eliminating the habitual capitalization of the word god is a powerful, yet subtle way of reducing the reinforcement of the god delusion.

I have been an affirmed Atheist for 18 years and it has taken me all of that time to recognize the depravity of this particular mind-game as perpetrated by the cult of Yahweh. I hope that this little rant will serve to help other Atheists recognize the value of finally adopting a truly secular set of capitalization practices. To show your support, I hope that you will not only adopt these rules in your own writing, but also consider taking up the practice of capitalizing the word Atheist when it is employed in any manner other than as an adjective.

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Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 31, 2011 at 10:35am
Exactly!  If the word is capitalized, the official rules of English grammar dictate that the word refers directly the the patriarch of the Semitic pantheon - Yahweh.  That such a rule even exists is a violation of secularism because a specific religion has been written into the language.  Furthermore, even if the word were not capitalized, it still references the concept of a single deity, which in and of itself dictates monotheism - still a violation of secularism.  Even if it went so far as to state, " nation under a god and/or many gods" it would still be dictating theism in general and still be a violation of secularism.  I have no idea how anyone can fail to see this is contrary to the separation of church and state.  Thank you for posting.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on March 31, 2011 at 10:28am
The only time I capitalize the word is when it's the first word of a sentence.
This issue relates to the Pledge of Allegiance with the “ nation under God..” addition. Theist like to weasel out and claim that it doesn't violated the first amendment because it doesn't refer to a specific god which, as you point out, is BS.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 30, 2011 at 8:55pm
I now view it as on par with teacher lead prayer in the public school system.
Comment by Cory Hartley on March 30, 2011 at 8:49pm
It's amazing to me the amount of ridicule and offence I get from my theist friends and family when I don't put the big G in god. They are all so programed that way. I wish they could step back and see that they are simply programed to spell it that way. But I know they won't.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 30, 2011 at 2:01pm
I think it is has been considered an enlightened and polite protocol. I certainly felt that I was being charitable in showing a modicum of respect for their deity until I realized that the official rule specified that that expression of respect was reserved exclusively for their deity.
Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 30, 2011 at 1:03pm
Well I am ashamed to admit that for years I followed the general rule of thumb of capitalizing the word when it referred to a singular god, as though there were ever any validity in that concept.  It was only recently while in debate with a Christian that I noticed how slippery they could get when it came to pinning them down on their deity.  They flop back and forth between Jesus, his daddio, and the shameful half uncle who lives under the stairs saying 'boo' like a spirit.  Anyway, I had honestly never realized that the official rules of capitalization only applied to Yahweh until a few days ago when doing some proof reading.  That was when I realized just how insidious the fallacy was.
Comment by Jedi Wanderer on March 30, 2011 at 12:52pm
Wow, it took you this long to realize this? I've not been capitalizing the word "god" for many years now, actually can't remember when the last time I might have done so was. Much like Harry Potter feels little need to respect the name of Lord Voldemort, we should feel no obligation to write He, Him, Lord, or any of the other vulgar forms of prostration to other's beliefs. And I wouldn't expect it or ask it of others, so I wouldn't start capitalizing atheism either. We don't capitalize theism, do we? They can have their Catholicism, or Islam, or Judaism (I'd hate to so consistently leave out Hinduism, but then where do I draw the line?). We have the truth, and we have the right to never capitalize "god". You make some very good points though. Perhaps we should make the conscious decision to write Yahweh when that's the particular god in question. Sure sounds like a good idea to me!



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