A few weeks ago I wrote an article about the expression ‘Oh My God!’ which asked the question – which of the thousands of gods does this actually refer to? In the article I also made the point that as atheists often use the expression, the reality is that it has become meaningless.
But is it actually the case? As a committed non-believer myself (not ‘atheist’ by the way – why should I have to define myself by my lack of belief in other peoples’ made-up concepts? I am just as much an a-mermaidist or a-unicornist) – as a committed non-believer, I feel deeply uncomfortable using that expression. If I find myself starting to say the words ‘Oh my…’ I stop. Maybe I am overthinking this (it wouldn’t be the first time), but using a phrase that claims ownership of a god does not sit well with me. So I usually change it to ‘Oh my goodness!’ This has the benefit of conforming to my non-belief, but does also create the assumption that I have the ‘goodness’ referenced. And being British, my natural self-depreciation means this does not work too well for me either.
So I want to make a proposal – we should continue to use this phrase, but those of us who favour reason over faith should make one small change. Let’s turn the ‘G’ into a ‘C’ – and solve all these problems in one simple stroke. [more]