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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Of course their claim is that when you talk about pagan gods, you use "gods" but "God" is a synonym for Yahweh.  It's a reverse of the way some brand name becomes synonymous with the general class of product, such as "kleenex: (to mean paper tissue for the schnozz, regardless of brand) or "xerox" as a verb to mean photocopy.  People even drop the capitalization when doing this so the reversal is even more precise.

Instead of taking a specific word and applying it to a general class of thing, they've taken the general name and capitalized it and applied it to theirs.  If they did the former (treating doG like Kleenex) we might see sentences such as "Yahweh is the one true yahweh, all other yahwehs like the Greek yahwehs are false.  I worship Yahweh." (Note I capitalized the specific but not the general.)  And if we did the latter (treating facial tissues like we mistreat doG) , we'd see people talking about a box of "I want genuine name-brand Facial Tissue, not just any old facial tissue like Puffs."

My means of fighting back against this are a little more direct than yours, Heather; rather than trying to get revenge in a tit-for-tat way, I simply refuse to capitalize "god" in my every day writing (though I perforce had to do so for this discussion), unless I spell it doG or I use a construction like "thank noGod I got my taxes done."

I won't capitalize it either - but more importantly, I refuse to refer to their god using the word 'god' as a name.  Christians often claim that 'god' is the name of their god, but it is not.  If it were, then the name would be the same in every language - not translated into every language as that language's word for 'god'.  I typically use 'Yahweh/Jesus/Spirit' as the name of their gods.

Oh? I don't have an issue with it any more than I have an issue with someone naming their dog 'Dog', but then I don't personally feel that capitals confer respect. If they did, I'd think that Germanophones would be considered some of the most respectful people on the face of the planet next to PEOPLE WHO TEXT SHOUT ON THE INTERNET!!!!!!!1111111111

I don't have a problem with you naming your dog 'Dog' either - and I would call your dog 'Dog' gladly and capitalize his name when writing it.  My problem is when you expect me to call your dog 'Chien' when I'm speaking French, 'Perro' when speaking Spanish, 'Kutya' when speaking Hungarian, etc, etc, etc.

If you expect me to use the word for dog in every single language as the name of your dog when speaking that language, then you have NOT named your dog 'Dog' - you've tried to usurp a universal meaning and I won't pander to such bullshit.  It's not about conferring/abrogating respect - it's just a matter of enforcing clear language to represent clear thoughts.  Christians have never named their god 'God', their gods are named Jesus, Yahweh, and Holy Spirit.

That is extremely succinctly put - lots of applause, Heather.

Merci, danke, et grazie, :D

Ah now that's an aspect of the complaint most people haven't considered I'll bet.

The Russians use Бог, which transliterates to "bog" which looks funny, but is pronounced with a long o, bohg.

Still doesn't work, as most names can be translated. I go to Germany from Canada, but then Deutschland to Frankereich, France to Suisse, and finally Schweiz to Kanada.

The name of George has variants in scores of other languages:
(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George)

  • Albanian: Gjergj, Jorgo
  • Amharic: ጊዮርጊስ (Giorgis)
  • Arabic: جرج (Jurj), جرجس (Jurjus), جورج (George), خضر (Khodor)
  • Aragonese: Chorche
  • Armenian: Գեվ (Gev), Գեվոր (Gevor), Գեվորգ (Gevorg), Գեւորգ (Kevork)
  • Asturian: Xurde
  • Basque: Gorka
  • Belarusian: Юры (Jury or Yury), Юрка (Jurka or Yurka)
  • Breton: Jord, Jorj
  • Bulgarian: Георги (Gеоrgi)
  • Catalan: Jordi
  • Czech: Jiří, Jirka
  • Croatian: Juraj, Jurica, Jure, Đuro
  • Danish: Georg, Jørgen, Jørn
  • Dutch: Joris, Sjors
  • Frisian: Jurjen
  • Esperanto: Georgo
  • Estonian: Georg, Jüri
  • Faroese: Jørundur
  • Finnish: Yrjö, Yrjänä, Jori, Jyri, Jyrki
  • French: Georges
  • Galician: Xurxo
  • Georgian: გიორგი (Giorgi), გიო (Gio)
  • German: Georg, Gorch, Jörgen/Jörg, Jürgen/Jürg
  • Greek: Γεώργιος (Georgios), Γιώργος (Giorgos), Γεωργία (Georgia)
  • Hungarian: György
  • Irish: Seóirse
  • Italian: Giorgio
  • Latin: Georgius
  • Latvian: Jurģis, Juris
  • Lithuanian: Jurgis
  • Macedonian: Ѓорѓи (Gjorgji), Ѓорѓе (Gjorgje), Ѓорѓија (Gjorgjija), Ѓоко (Gjoko)
  • Malayalam: ഗീവര്‍ഗീസ് (Geevarghese), Varghese, Varkey
  • Maltese: Ġorġ, Ġorġa
  • Monegasque: Giorgi
  • Norman: Jore
  • Norwegian: Georg, Jørn, Ørjan, Jørgen
  • Polish: Jerzy
  • Portuguese: Jorge
  • Romanian: George with soft g's and Gheorghe (with hard g's)
  • Russian: Георгий (Georgy), Юрий (Yury/Yuri), Егор (Yegor/Egor)
  • Scottish Gaelic: Seòrsa, Deòrsa
  • Serbian:
  • Cyrillic: Ђорђе, Ђорђо, Ђорђа, Ђурађ, Ђоко, Ђока
  • Latin: Đorđe, Đorđo, Đorđa, Đurađ, Đoko, Đoka
  • Slovak: Juraj
  • Slovene: Jurij, Jure
  • Spanish: Jorge
  • Swedish: Göran, Jörgen, Örjan, Jörn, Georg
  • Tigrinya: Gergish
  • Ukrainian: Юрій (Yury/Yuri), Георгій (Heorhiy)
  • Venetian: Giorgio
  • Volapük: Jüri
  • Welsh: Sior

Again, however, if you name your dog 'Dog' then it's name is 'Dog' regardless of language.  My Chilean friend, Jorge, didn't start writing his name as 'George' when he arrived in Canada.

So show me the list of equivalent names for Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and we will have a list of names to capitalize - at least in languages that capitalize proper nouns.  Otherwise, show me where Christians made and outright declaration that all three of their gods are one (The Comma Johanneum, as a forgery, doesn't count) and named that god...uhm, what?

This isn't actually true though. We preserve our own names because of how we identify with them and in some cases because it is easier with documentation, but this does not mean they are not translatable. I had a friend named Saša when I was in school, but his name in the year book -- his legal name, I believe --, was Alexander, the English equivalent.

Just because people do not always observe the practice does not mean that the practice is not legitimate.

Furthermore, if we acknowledge regional variation in names (and one would be flat out wrong not to), God, as we have established, is not the name of the deity, but rather an assigned placeholder name. Each region is going to assign the nickname to the deity which fits with their language. Thus far God hasn't protested.

It should also be noted that even the proper names of many other gods have numerous regional translations and more directly relevant to us, Anglicized forms.

I don't know where your friend Saša (pronounced Sasha, I'd expect) is from originally, so this may not be relevant (but I hope it's interesting).

In Russia at least it's "Aleksandr" (Александр) as well, Sasha (Саша) is a diminutive, like you might call "William" "Billy"

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