One cannot understand English without having a basic knowledge of Christianity; so pervasive is that religion on our culture. Christianity's hold on European civilization has been totalitarian.
I am in favour of a secularization of North America that is so profound that when people swear they do not use religious references.
How many Atheists, when they have an orgasm exclaim "god!" What spoils the mood more: when you say it or when your partner says it?
And why do we use "fuck" as a swear-word. The Atheist comic George Carlin often wondered, why does a word describing the act of procreation merit being turned into a pejorative?
Towards an Atheist Newspeak.
A reason why Christianity dominates the English language and culture is because the theists imposed habits of thinking, altered the meanings of words to suit their world-view and made it as difficult as possible for anyone to think outside the box they built for us. The successful struggle against these efforts is called "The Enlightenment."
Secularists have ended the domination of Christianity - people now enjoy freedom of thought, at least in most countries. The time is overdue for us Atheists to take English over - to make it more likely that people will think secular thoughts and less likely to entertain obscurantist ideas.
Here are two ways we can do this :
1) stop using words that have religious or mystical meanings. The objective is that the words will die out from lack of use;
2) Co-opt the words. change their meaning permanently so that whenever someone uses a given word it can only have a secular interpretation.
In his novel 1984, George Orwell described how a totalitarian government used language to condition people's thinking.
That language can be shaped, controlled and purposively modified is not only an idea that totalitarians can implement- it is a fact that should be appreciated by anyone desiring liberty. We Atheists are partisans in a culture war and the English language is a battlefield we must control.
I therefore submit the following list as an example of words and expressions we should use in place of the current obscurantist terms:
This seems like such a good idea someone must have already proposed it. If you can find out who please let me know. As you can tell by these first four examples, I could use some assistance.
My god - my word
bless you - you are so good looking (Seinfeld)
Jesus! - Darwin!
holy shit - blue screen!
If it didn't sound like a poor attempt to emulate cartoon villains of the '80s, I would consider "blast" or "curses" good substitutes for exclamations like "damnit". Unfortunately, all the attempts I make to stifle usage of words I shout out generally result in a tourettes-like outburst--usually ending in "pants" for some reason. (Example: "Mutherfukerpants!" While definitely more secular, it is not a replacement I would recommend.) That is a failing in myself for not engineering my expletives to be more viral. The use of "Frak" from Battlestar Galactica comes to mind.
Would it be too ambitious to hope for a complete replacement of American taboo-words? Possibly not, but it would require some imagination and some good marketing.
" Holy Hell! " is an old standby, sticks within the linguistic confines but is none the less adorably blasphemous..."Jesus H Tap dancing christ" gives the same touch. Assimov turned me on to "Great Galaxy man" in foundation, and lately I've been experimenting with throwing obscure cultural references into the jesus christ madlib...levar freaking burton, mugsy bogues, rodney mullen,
I've been struggling with this as well, both regarding the English and the Swedish language. The latter is especially tricky since our most common swearwords are deeply entwined with Christianity, followed by the more harsher words for the sexual organs. But we don't bless people when they sneeze at least. We say "Prosit". When it comes to English I just tend to avoid swearing since I otherwise sound like I'm auditioning for a Tarantino movie.
I say cheese n' rice, instead of jesus christ. Also this has nothing to do with religious meanings, but I spoonerize a lot of phrases, one of my favorite is I have to shake a tit, or I have to shake a tower.
I have trouble with wanting so badly to secularize language...I guess if your question is how do you change your own speech, that is fine, no one could argue that. However if the goal is to secularize society at-large, isn't that presuming to know better than others for something as trivial as a swear word?
I guess taking back language is one of the steps towards taking back culture.
Don't swear much, but I've got some ideas.
I'd replace Jesus with Stalin, since they're both mass murderers.
Holy shit doesn't seem that bad, does it still smell? could use evil shit, or immoral shit, or faeces.
One could replace god with imaginary friend, which isn't far from the truth if you think about it. and it's funny.
for god's sake - for fuck sake
Storybook Jebus didn't kill anybody, Vlad. It's OT God that is the mass murderer.
I don't know if I could ever give up "goddammit", especially in toe stubbing incidents.
I do say 'salud' for sneezes if I do say anything at all. It's just old tradition from the black plague era to say anything anyways.
Also, instead of "what the hell" I say "what the deuce" thanks to Stewie.