April 8, 2011

Why Do I Say "god(s)?"

ZeusYou have probably noticed that I refer to "god(s)" or "gods" when it is necessary to refer to them at all. This is deliberate on my part, and I am by no means the only atheist blogger who does this. So why do we do it? Why don't we simply use the accepted Western convention of "God" when writing? I'll explain why I do it.

I cannot speak for other atheist bloggers, but the primary reason I use the "god(s)" or "gods" is that I want to communicate to the reader that I reject Christian privilege. In the United States at least, "God" is widely understood as referring to the Christian god. But there is nothing special about this particular god and no reason to pretend that it is the only one people have worshiped over the ages. I see little reason to pretend otherwise.

Humans have believed in thousands of gods. Even today, a great many gods continue to be praised as if they were real. But none has more evidence of its existence than any other. In all likelihood, they are equally fictitious. None deserves the sort of special treatment "God" confers.

Much as feminists helped us realize the problems associated with the exclusive use of male pronouns, atheists can help us realize the manner in which using "God" maintains Christian privilege.