I posted the following on the Dawkins forum, but it also applies to Sam's writings and postings on this forum:
As I watched Richard I was pleased to see how much better he is getting at this (I was reminded of that scene in the movie “Ghandi” in which one of his supporters remarked at how much better Ghandi was getting at addressing the people). I was especially gratified that he did not just say “God” (which does end up capitalized in the CNN transcript) but rather, referred to the “Judeo-Christian god” so as to put it on a more even playing field with Thor and Zeus and the FSM. I would have gone as far as saying “the Christian deity” in order to make it clear that all these different deities are mythical. The tendency to mythology is just part of human nature.
I recommend that we non-believers clean up our language. As soon as you say “God”, “Christ”, “Saint”, “The Prophet” or “holy” you have bought into the mythology. Most people in this country don't know that Jesus of Nazareth (if he existed at all) did not have “Christ” as a last name. “Christ” comes from the old Greek word meaning “the anointed one” and was tacked on to Jesus long after his death. If you call Jesus of Nazareth “Christ” you accept the whole divine son sacrifice myth cooked up by Saul of Tarsus (yes, they call him “Saint” Paul).
Even something as simple as “holy” carries big psychological weight. It means “held in high esteem by some or other religious group,” as in “The Holy Lands” or “Holy Scripture” etc. If you use this word, you are buying into holiness itself, which puts you over the edge and into the supernatural. In dealing with the psychology of the people, choice of words matters.
Excellent advise : ). I forget sometimes that by indulging in Christian lingo, it keeps the Christian from being able to view these characters apart from their familiar language trappings. I end up stepping into their fairytale, rather than drawing them out to neutral ground, neutral language. Do they even realize that no one would ever have called him ‘Jesus’, in his time? It would have been a Hebrew version of that, but there seems to be no absolute agreement over what that name was—Yeshua Ben Yosef, Joshua, Yehoshua, Yeshu . . .
Wouldn’t you want to be calling him by his accurate name if he’s your master :shock:?
“The Christian deity” is certainly simpler. . . but it doesn’t cover all the bases when dealing with a trinity. Jesus is portrayed as having a softer side than his father does, and then there’s that creepy HolyGhost, responsible for who-knows-what. At least we can simplify to “the OT deity” and “the Christian deity”. . . but what sort of neutral name does one apply to the Mary-impregnating, scripture-canonizing Ghost :?. Maybe simpler to just use the plural: “the Christian deities”.
Thanks Mia, I often forget that Christians are polytheists with a big pantheon of demigods (saints and angels) and (especially if Catholic) a central goddess. I will have to think about the impact of using language that points that out to them. It absolutely makes them closer to Greek mythology if viewed from a rational distance, but one inside is not likely to see it that way. Thanks again for the observation.
They are closer to the Greeks than you might think. The book “Jesus Christ: Sun of God” by David Fiedlier (might be spelling last name wrong) gives an extensive analysis of how the early Church fathers took over and modified much of the Hellenistic religion. One cute thing: the fish symbol, seen on the backs of cars, apparently comes from the Hellenistic representation of the universal logos of the Stoics as two intersecting circles. The Christians just left out the upper and lower parts of the circles.