I recently heard a speech that mentioned God, and then completely took Him out of Nature. In the talk, God was not defined as a deity or creative entity but as a personal journey or some nebulous connection to the universe. And that by extending your love and gratitude to those truly beautiful things, you bring blessings of happiness onto yourself - all by yourself, I guess.
This seemed strange to me.
It seemed a little like a young girl thanking a birthday party:
“Thank you, cake, for having bright candles so I can blow them out!”
“Thank you, presents, for being here so pretty!”
“Oh, and thank you, balloons, for keeping up high, too!”
Now, I can respect that some people do not believe in a higher divine being. I do not wish to convince an Atheist that such a being exists. Neither do I wish to argue with those of differing faiths on what God looks like or the proper way to worship. But I do feel the need to speak out about the redefinition of the word ‘God’.
Normally, I don't take umbrage at a word being redefined in a new and interesting way. The word awful, for example, used to mean awe-inspiring but over time people began using the word sarcastically.
Of course, the word technically still means awe-inspiring today. But when you say, “Wow, that cake was awful!” you probably mean it was just disgusting.
That’s why I’m concerned about the word ‘God’. I know that ‘awful’ took about 800 years to become a negative word, but language evolves much faster today.
Because the internet.
And, well, the whole Digital Age!
When a Word Loses Meaning
We already use the word ‘god’ at times we don’t really mean a deity. For instance, we might call someone a ‘love god’ and another person a ‘goddess in the kitchen’. I have nothing against these uses of the word. In these cases it’s obvious that we are not really worshiping people, just admiring their skills (though sometimes derisively).
But when we shout, “Oh my God” in surprise or relief – not actually meaning anyone at all – suddenly the word that does mean deity has lost its original definition.
This opens the door for the word itself to be culturally redefined until ‘God’ no longer can be used to worship Him.
Just as the word ‘awful’ can no longer be used to describe Him.
Now, this probably wouldn't matter to an Atheist because it's just a word, right? Religious people will certainly find some other word to replace it... like 'awesome' became the new 'awful' in the 1800's.
But allowing religious people to protect their own "special" words is one way an Atheist can respect others' right to believe in whatever they want.
Language is beautiful. Language is powerful. The power of its evolution is ours.
How do you protect words from being redefined? Do you think certain definitions need to be protected? Let me know in the comments!
I write about, with, for, and around kids all day. (Well, maybe I do the dishes too. Sometimes.)