The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word "holy" as exalted or worthy of complete devotion

as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. Divine. Devoted to the deity or the work of the deity.

Having a divine quality. Venerated as or as if sacred.

Since there is no such thing as a deity, what is really "holy"? The word can be used as an intensive such   

as "holy terror "or as a mild oath such as" holy smoke "as Thomas Wolf famously demonstrated.

I can't think of anyone or anything "holy". Can you?

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Comment by Gerald Payne on August 19, 2015 at 3:31am

There's also two corresponding words alongside 'holy'; sacred and intolerance.

Comment by Gerald Payne on August 19, 2015 at 2:28am

Yes Deidre, I've always thought it naïve to assume that a deity would necessarily be kind and generous. I think he just evolved, along with the scriptwriters imagination, a bit like doctor who. 

Comment by Loren Miller on August 18, 2015 at 10:26pm

A bit of whimsical black humor from the pen of Gahan Wilson:

Is nothing sacred?  No.  Nothing ever has been ... and nothing ever will be.

Comment by Deidre on August 18, 2015 at 10:03pm

I wonder why we attach the term 'holy' to a deity. Maybe if a deity were to exist, it wouldn't be holy at all. Maybe it just ...exists. In its indifference. lol I think the idea of exalting is very much a human term, ie: how humans bow down to other humans in kingdoms, etc. Bowing down and exalting a super natural being would make sense in that regard. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on August 18, 2015 at 9:41pm

If gods, spirits, supernatura authored scriptures do not exist, except in the minds of individuals and groups, then I can think of nothing "holy". To be holy implies supernatural energy. I simply do not conceive of anything holy or supernatural.

There are people, places and things that I treasure, not because they have intrinsic value but because they hold memories or meanings to me and to no one else. 

When I look at any person a generation or more younger than I, I feel a profound sense of hope because they will face challenges I can't even imagine, and with critical thinking, letting go of ancient traditions, and creating new processes for solving problems, they will formulate different ways of approaching difficulties. They will be able to cast off superstitions and imagine a preferred future. 

Comment by Michael Penn on August 18, 2015 at 8:41pm

Sex is holy. If a penis is involved it usually goes into a hole.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 18, 2015 at 8:00am

The town I work in has a Holy Cross Catholic Church. If early times had of been different we might see The Hangman's Noose Catholic Church.

Would this make a hangman's noose "holy?"

Comment by jay H on August 15, 2015 at 8:36am

Sacred is a component of human psychology. Jonathan Haidt has written extensively about this; that universally in human groups, people tend to assign special status to certain beliefs (which may or may not get woven into religion). One distinction of the 'sacred' is that the person may feel deeply, but can't necessarily put into rational convincing argument, it's a gut level reaction.

He works through a number of examples, some of which are a bit awkward to consider, even for an atheist. But one example (for many people) might be consensual incest. It just feels wrong. Arguments from a rational perspective are weak at best. There are risks to a potential child (though not nearly as high as is culturally believed), but there is birth control, or maybe the partners are of the same sex, in which case there is no risk to any child... but still it feels wrong. (I might point out as a side point that some people's aversion to homosexuality is not necessarily religious, but is a psychological variant of their aversion to incest).

For some, certain ethical principles are sacred (vegans and vegetarians have their own form of sacred). Not necessarily the same for everyone.

Comment by Michael Penn on August 13, 2015 at 9:48pm

I agree with Loren's answer 100%.

In my time fundamentalist Christians strived to be holy. In church they would say they are succeeding almost to the point of not sinning at all. Surprise! You would think they no longer need Maschiak. It's all just strange apologetics in which now that the Internet has come along the believers tell you not to read any Internet thing unless it is from them or their own people. They are bering challenged and their beliefs proven wrong. It must be a great shock.

Nothing is holy. They are not holy.

Comment by Idaho Spud on August 13, 2015 at 2:13pm

Yes, Holy shit and the like are good expressions.



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