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“Speaking God”

March 20, 2010

Language is a strange thing. You know your native language very well. Maybe not perfectly but you’re pretty damn fluent. You may know a little of another language & perhaps have some idea about others. Then the rest you’re completely clueless about.

I am currently learning the language of “Atheism”. From birth I was taught “Catholicism” & for years I was able to speak it well although to be honest my heart wasn’t really in it. I could repeat the words I’d memorised when commanded but I was too young to understand the meanings.

“Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…etc, etc”

Part of The Lord’s Prayer. Didn’t even need to look it up. It just flowed out of me. I obviously had good teachers. Well, good in the indoctrination sense anyway.

Another popular line that springs to mind is “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. I needed to look the exact wording of that one up (bad Catholic) & it turns out that it never actually appeared in the Bible in that phrasing. Well, who knew? I thought that was a direct quote from Jesus. Or God. Or maybe the Holy Spirit. It’s ok. They’re interchangeable.

What was my point? Oh yes. The original text (whatever it was) has been twisted into a version that has become the one that people know. Or think they know. Word of mouth & political & religious “tweaking” over the centuries have bastardised whatever was initially written. Religion, like language, is working from a (very) revised edition.

Words are very powerful & those that claim a detailed & intimate knowledge of a language can have great influence over those who don’t know it as well. There are those that are so obsessed by “God’s language” that they miss basic morality & humanism by a mile. A Christian cult leader in America who described herself as “a chosen daughter of the most high God and a queen of Jesus Christ” (she even renamed herself Queen Antoinette… humility knows no bounds) starved a 16 month old boy to death because he refused to say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer. He properly just learnt his own name, how the hell was he meant to understand the Latin for “we all agree”. A life lost because of the arrogance of the use of language & people’s inability to even entertain the idea that theirs may not be the correct dialect of the language of belief.

Language changes. Words are lost. Words are made up. Whole new dialects have evolved over time. And no one can agree which language is the correct one to speak. Do we all have to speak the same language? Would it make the world a more optimistic, less fearful place if we all at least understood each other’s language even if we still don’t want to speak it?

You would think that we could at least agree on a moral language. The line “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a not a bad starting point. But for some reason following the word of God can often mean hiding morality down the back of the sofa. Would you have me kill you? Would you have me abuse, repress or torture you? How would you feel if I persecuted you for believing something I don’t agree with? But don’t worry though. God told me to do it. It’s his word against mine.

I don’t speak Hindu or Islam very well & Scientology & Mormon are not my forte either. But the principle of every language is the same. We stick to what we know best. Our mother tongue is comforting and safe and all the other languages are scary and probably evil. Ours is the right one to speak. How do we know? Because we speak it so it must be right!

Learning another language has been difficult. There are hangovers from the previous one, nouns & semantics that I may never lose. I still have a slight accent. But I’m discovering that I speak Atheism far better than I ever spoke Catholicism. I think I may have found a language that finally makes sense to me.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 20, 2010 11:58 AM

    I’m curious, how did you come to start learning Atheism?

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