Gordonliv at Ain’t Christian has this to say about religionists Using Initial Capital Letters all the Damn Time. His example: The Glory of God shall be upon Thee according to His Word, in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit for All Eternity.
Doesn’t that kind of nonsensical Font-Abuse just make you want to Throw Up?
However, Gordonliv goes on to say, in deference to the English language, all proper names should be spelled with initials caps. That’s how we literates do things. For atheists to ignore that, he writes, is “silly.”
I agree with him for the most part. It’s ridiculous not to write "Jesus," "Mohammed," “Christian,” “Jew,” etc., just because you don’t respect the people to whom these words refer. (After all, most of us still use caps for “George Bush.”) I think, perhaps, you could even make a valid argument for uppercase “Atheist,” if you actually feel — although I don’t — that we’re some kind of proper-noun ethnic group.
But Gordonliv is wrong about two words he cites, and I'lll continue not to give them the recognition that an initial capital implies. Here's why:
(1) god. It’s not a proper name. When a person uses that word, you can't really know to whom it refers. Is it the god of the Jews, the Muslims, or the Christians? Is it the god of fundamentalist, moderate, or liberal practitioners of their particular religion. Yes, all these magicians in the sky are supposed to be the very same god, but clearly they're not. (Here’s a reasonable Christian take, written in the context of creationists vs. non-creationists, on this very “which god is it?” issue.) For me, using a lowercase spelling reflects the word's ambiguity.
(2) bible. The bible is not a single book; it's a collection of books written over the course of a millennium. And, again, the word has a different meaning for Jews than it does for Protestants, and a different meaning for Protestants than it does for Catholics. Of course, I think the name of each individual book should be capitalized. But as a book-lover, I have difficulty emphasizing a word which simply means "book," as if it’s the only one that’s important — particularly when it really refers to an ill-defined anthology. I suppose I’d have no problem writing: God’s Greatest Hits, Volumes I and II . (Notice that I did capitalize “God” when it was a word in a title.) For Jews, of course, it would have to be The Best of God: Volume I. And for Roman Catholics, whose bible includes a whole section of apocryphal writings, the collection would have to be called
The God Ominibus: featuring The Adventures of God, The Return of God, and The Son of God, now all in one convenient volume.Language is a powerful tool, perhaps the most powerful tool that we humans have. If we’re adept with this tool, we make informed choices when we use it. When I refuse to capitalize “god” and “bible,” I’m not being “silly.” I’m using the tool I have — English — in the way it was meant to be used: to convey meaning.