Don’t Upset the Grammar Gods; Use a Capital “G”

Richard (R.J.) Eskow pleads his case to atheists to use a capital G when writing the word “God” because it’s the grammatically correct thing to do:

You’ve said it a thousand times, and I get it: You don’t believe in capital-G God any more than I believe in Tinkerbell. That doesn’t change anything. (See what I did there? I don’t believe in an entity named “Tinkerbell.” But since it is the proper name of a, yes, fictional character, I capitalized it.)

The “god” construct, however it’s intended, looks like an ungrammatical affectation. It makes the writer seem petty and silly, like those Republicans on Fox News who talk about the “Democrat” Party. It also seems intended to show disrespect to the beliefs of others (who shouldn’t care, but some of whom undoubtedly do).

You don’t want to violate the laws of grammar, do you? I mean, seriously: Is nothing sacred?

I’m with him. Proper nouns are capitalized, whether or not they’re fictional. So are pronouns referring to God (like He or Him). If you’re referring to the concept of a god, you don’t need to. Arguing otherwise makes as much sense as capitalizing the A in atheist. It’s not a religion, so there’s no need for it.

All that said, I really don’t get worked up about people who choose to do otherwise. If you read the comments on that Salon article, though, you’d think Eskow started World War III…

(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to David for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.