Now that Dave has drawn my attention to that Salon article saying please stop spelling “God” as “god” I feel like telling the author, Richard Eskow, my reason for disliking the automatic “God” as opposed to “god.”
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.
Notice he didn’t say “You don’t believe in The Supreme Being.”
The reason he didn’t do that is the same as the reason I spell “God” “god” when it’s not too confusing. (I don’t always do it, because sometimes it is confusing.)
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.
No. Here’s why: the thing being named is too various and flexible and differently-described by different people or in different contexts to have a proper name. Giving it a proper name conveys an air of reality and familiarity that “god” should not have. Every sighting of a “God” gives another little layer of acceptance of the actuality of the putative person named, even to people who on a conscious level don’t believe in it. It’s merely a custom, and it’s one we’re allowed to break.
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.)
Ah yes, but “Tinkerbell” is a fictional character, and recognized as such. So are Hamlet and Lear and Emma Woodhouse and Thea Kronborg, but “God” is not – because of lacking the recognized as such part. Talking about god as God makes it more concrete and matter-of-fact and normalized; we shouldn’t do that.
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 …”
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?”
Indeed, and that would be better. It would be better because it would make it clearer what everyone was talking about.
And by the way we know what the dictionary meaning is. We know it’s not standard to call it “god.” That’s the point.
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.
Don’t.be.silly. One, we’re allowed to violate putative fundamental principles of grammar; two, we’re all the more allowed when we do it for a reason; three, it’s not even a fundamental principle of grammar anyway; four, it’s not a proper name like other proper names because it can refer to anything and everything, and definitely not only the Webster’s definition;
five, e.e. cummings; six, bell hooks; seven, don’t be silly.