This is not a particularly deep thread, but it seems to me that the prevalence of 'Atheism' with a capital 'A' is growing. 'Atheism' is a common noun, not a proper noun, so in English it should not normally be capitalized (unless it is at the beginning of a sentence). However, for a time I used to hear people referring to 'Big A Atheism' implying additional values ascribed to the term beyond mere lack of belief.

For those who capitalize, is this just just an odd typing habit, or are you implying something by writing 'Atheism' instead of 'atheism'? If the latter, what is your intended meaning?

For the record, I doesn't matter to me that people use one over the other; it's just a point of curiosity as to why. Personally, I prefer it as a common noun indicating nothing more than one very simple statement of disbelief in deities.

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yes it's directly analogous to Xmas.  (Though I sometimes see xtian, which isn't.)  I've seen Xians complain about "Xmas" like it's some way of taking Christ out of Christmas (if only!), I just have to laugh.

It's the same X as in the greek jesus fish ΙΧΘΥΣ.

ΙΧΘΥΣ is an acronym for "Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", which translates into English as "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior". The X is as you say, is the abbreviation for Christ.

Is that what's on the Jesus fish?  I had no idea - thanks Steve.

Well some of them just say JESUS but many have this "Ichthus" word on it, which is the word for fish.  Clever, eh? 

Of course my latin alphabet eyes want to read it as IXOYE "icksohyeah"

You'll sometimes see a p with an x interposed on it. They are the chi and rho, which are the Greek letters representing the k and r sounds at the start of the word Christ.

I learned that a long time ago when I was a Christian kid. 

That, in fact is supposed to be the "Cross" that Constantine saw.

The main argument I've heard for this is that "atheist" is not a proper noun and therefore it is grammatically incorrect to use a capital A for atheist unless it is at the start of  a sentence, same goes for vegetarians, feminists, even theist and deist are not capitalised in the middle of a sentence. 

It all depends on where my fingers are on the keyboard.

Why is the word "I" capitalized and not words like "me" or "my" or "mine"?

0-8242-0745-9) says: "~I~ pron. 1137 i; later I (about 1250, in The Story of Genesis and Exodus); developed from the unstressed form of Old English (about 725) ic singular pronoun of the first person (nominative case).  Modern and Middle English I developed from earlier i in the stressed position.  I came to be written with a capital letter thereby making it a distinct word and avoiding misreading handwritten manuscripts.  In the northern and midland dialects of England the capitalized form I appeared about 1250. In the south of England, where Old English ic  early shifted in pronunciation to ich (by palatalization), the form I did not become established until the 1700's (although it appears sporadically before that time)."

http://www.alt-usage-english.org/excerpts/fxwhyisi.html

Sometimes the English Language is not so precise, and certain traditions just come along from repetitive usage. So by the logic I guess you can write "atheist" in capital and say its easier on the eyes to read "Atheist" than "atheist".

Most times when they teach the capitalization rules in English, they give you a laundry list of rules, but I had one teacher who said, look, it's really just two rules and one exception, proper nouns, and first letters of sentences.  That was rare by the way, for someone to essentialize rather than just throw a laundry list at you.

The exception was "I" since it didn't fit under either category.

An exception in English? I'm bowled over. I don't know how to process that! ;)

Sometimes an exception just a tradition, which may be stupid enough. Sometimes it's just plain stupid, pure and simple. Example: "Mr." gets a period after it because it's an abbreviation for "Mister," but "Ms. is just a title invented for women wanting something that didn't reveal  their marital status. There is absolutely no grammatical reason requiring Ms. to have a period other than the stipulation that this has become a tradition.

John 10:35 "If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken". Makes perfect sense once you read into it whatever you want it to mean. Thank god for the bible.

This would not be a problem for e. e. cummings. :)

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