Maybe this is a silly topic for discussion, but does anyone else find this awkward?

It is the closing of a conversation (phone or live) and right before the other person hangs up or walks away they say, "god* bless you."

I usually say, "Thank you," or "You take care"; but it almost always catches me off guard.

Since it is at the closing of a discussion, it seems odd to reopen the conversation to tell (or remind them) that I am an atheist and do not believe in god. When a stranger says, "god bless you", it hardly seems worth it to even have that discussion at all. If it is not a stranger, of course I never remember to bring it up to that person until the next conversation tag, "god bless you", pops up again.

The assumption of other people think that I am christian* does irk me, 

* In writing this post I have decided god and christan do not deserve capitalization. Spell check! I defy you!

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My response is. "I doubt it but thanks for the sentiment."

When someone sneezes i usually say "Gesundheit." or "Sliante".
I suspect the Blessers mean no harm, and are merely passing on their good wishes to you in the customary manner according to their ages old primitive customs. The blessings they bestow upon you are a type of incantation of protection, or a verbal magical charm which they believe invokes the supernatural protection of whatever unseen overlord superbeings they believe to exist or the blessing may just be a meaningless phatic expression which they just utter out of habit because other people do the same.

Whether you are being blessed by someone who believes in an alligator god of the river, an elephant headed god, the olympian gods, desert gods, sky gods, space alien gods, the Druidic gods of the wood and nature or if they confer blessings on you from this or that goddess, or a fellow Atheist wishes you good luck and a safe flight home from his party, they are still doing you no harm, but are instead showing you what they believe to be a kindness. They are, in their old fashioned customary way casting a spell of protection around you so no need to be offended at all as no harm is meant. They blesser/well-wisher is not telling you to go fuck yourself after-all so chill out.

When I was a young boy visiting my Grandmother she used to always put a piece of bread in my little coat pocket if I was going outside at night as protection from the Fairy folk or some such nonsense, but I look back on it now as her charming way of protecting me from the imaginary evils of the world, and I take no offence at it. She did me no harm by it and it gave her some peace of mind I suppose, so no harm done.

The blessing incantations are in any case harmless to you in every way so do not fear it, but try instead to take a philosophic level-headed detached view of it, in the same way you might do if invited by Sherpa guides to put up prayer flags as you ascend the high places in Nepal, or make a food offering to the rats at the Karni Mata Temple in Rajastan, or if someone tells you they have lit a candle for you in their church or temple to invoke the protection or beneficial attention of the gods on your behalf. No need to go ballistic as you argue the futility of anyone tying prayer flags or propitiating the human spirits trapped in rats at a temple.

Just remember that these are all relatively harmless manifestations of primitive culture which do you no injury whatsoever. It's not as if when someone blesses you, or the witchdoctor of the village places a Juju charm around your neck to ward off the evil spirits which he believes may be out to get you on your trek, that all the atheist drains out of your system you know, so don't take that shit so seriously and have a laugh.

Sometimes Atheists can be too tetchy to the point of absurdity and beyond. I have even heard that some Atheists will even disown their families merely because their family members believe in silly things like magical super beings. We here on ThinkAtheist and in other atheist forums and venues will invariably have to deal with many of these poor overly sensitive Atheists around Christmastime when they will inevitably feel so aggrieved by the primitive festivities of the natives that they will be compelled to engage in verbal nuclear exchanges with family and friends over how the entire christian world so very much offends us Atheists by having the audacity to do their quaint rituals and celebrations on the same planet that we live on without care for our non-beliefs. Some Atheists will even avail of the opportunity to be overly sensitive ass-holes by refusing to enter a church to attend the wedding of a friend or relative, or to pay respects to someone who has died, for fear I suppose that merely entering a building where some people pray to non-existent gods will somehow taint their Atheism. Too funny!
@ J......- good screen name, the one before was too hard to spell.
My Agnostic husband...*pause for that same old moment of dumbfounded reflection this brings on me* ...still says "bless you" (without the "god" at least now) when I sneeze....
I have asked him repeatedly to kick the old silly habits of our past...but this one continues and you ought to see his face, and mine every single'd think after a hundred times he'd of learned at this point to obey my wish to simply be congratulated (I told him, "If you must respond to a person's sneeze, which is beyond my understanding, I mean you do feel the need to have a phrase prepared when I fart??? if you must, then congratulate me on booting some unwanted crap out of body in a totally natural way that is not threatening to my health despite really stupid superstitions) It was fun for a while, he'd just say "Congrats.." and we'd giggle...but that idiotic religious sentiment is long ingrained, and always comes back...uggg!
Don't be too hard on him. I still often say bless you to people when they sneeze. Mostly it is out of habit, but I also realize that it is not an endorsement for religion and carries very little religious meaning these days. It is more about social tact than making a spiritual claim. Language is at times poetic or metaphoric and I am accepting of that. I do not grow angry when people use the word "disaster" to describe an unfortunate event because of its Latin roots that literally mean "bad star", an allusion to an astrological omen. The connotation and meaning have changed. And so it has with "bless you" and sneezes. It is a harmless gesture and if he is agnostic and irreligious, you should be happy with that and let this one atheist sin slide.
what about have a blessed day...most people that say that dont even go to church or pray etc.
Now considering "Pygmies!". I'll try to remember to blurt it out as an expletive, and as a response to a "God Bless You" or a sneeze.

Depending on subsequent reactions, I could also ask if anyone's seen my pills.
L.O.F.L!.....I have your pills.

I read somewhere that you were supposed to say "God Bless You" after somebody sneezed because they just expelled a demon.
That must be true, because when somebody says that to me after I sneeze, I involuntarily blurt something like "Eat Me" or "Up Yours".
Where I live, people always say, "you have a blessed day." I'm still not sure what to make of that.
It means the next day will be worse than that day.
Usually, the only time I get told 'Bless you' is when I sneeze. Which is fairly odd, given that I live in Atlanta, where churches outnumber most other kinds of buildings.

When it does happen, I'll usually just ignore it. It's a cultural thing and 9 times out of 10, the person saying it puts no more meaning behind it than 'Have a nice day' or 'Take care now'. On the rare occasion that the person is actually being offensive about it (which only seems to happen when they are particularly eager to being up their god earlier in the conversation too), I might respond with "Ra bless you too' or 'Odin guide you'.


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