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rooeytoo's avatar

Does being an atheist limit the number of epitets you have in your arsenal?

Asked by rooeytoo (26924points) April 28th, 2012

You certainly would not want to invoke the name of someone whose existence you deny, it would have no power. So that eliminates goddammit and jesus h. christ. You wouldn’t say for christ’s sake or go to hell, they would be meaningless. I guess atheism is the origin of xmas being used instead of christmas. So what do you say when you need a serious expletive? Fuck is so commonplace these days, it too has no power.

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50 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

No, of course not. The words used in those situations are nothing more than noises that sound like words, but mean nothing. You might as well swear You Plutoid as any other word.

lillycoyote's avatar

I am not an atheist but I have never thought that my peculiar notions about God or the fact that, while I may believe in a “historical Jesus” while not being a Christian, has ever limited my available epithets. In the same way that atheists can celebrate an entirely secular “Christmas” they should feel free to say “O my God!” and “Jesus Christ” should they choose to, It think. They should just be aware that it might be offensive to some people, as people who actually believe, are aware that those epithets might be offensive to some people. It’s kind of the whole “taking God’s name in vain” thing. For a long time I was prone to saying “Jesus f*&king Christ” , for example, or “Oh my f*&king God!” I have trained myself not to do that so much, over the years, because it is just bound to really hurt of offend somebody’s grandmother, if I couldn’t learn to keep a lid on it. And I don’t ever want to hurt or offend someone’s grandmother. I just don’t roll that way. :-)

Aethelflaed's avatar

I wouldn’t use god-dammit or jesus fucking christ? I guess I’ve been doing atheism wrong all this time. Balls.

PS: Wikipedia has a pretty good history of Xmas. Spoiler alert: it dates all the way back to Roman Christianity.

whitenoise's avatar

A lot of people would argue that being truly religious would limit your epitets much further.

After all, thou shallt not use His name in vain.

But… What is an epitet? I now take its meaning from context of your post. I thought it meant nick name.

ragingloli's avatar

Why would my antitheism limit my array of swearwords, you P’tak?

tom_g's avatar

@rooeytoo: “You wouldn’t say for christ’s sake or go to hell, they would be meaningless.”

…as opposed to “fuck”? Almost everyone I know is an atheist, and we all use the swears of our culture. In fact, sometimes we emphasize them. Part of it is joking. For example, I use “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!” quite often.

I guess the logical followup to this question would be…why would Christians use “jesus fucking christ”? I suspect they use it for the same reason that I do: it’s a cultural term.

JLeslie's avatar

I only limit myself out of respect for the possible Christians in the room, why would I be limited?

Xmas started because the Greek letter X is chi and has been use for 100’s of years, at minimum since the 1800’s in literature from what I remember. Right wing Christians have decided it is used to desecularize Christmas, or as they say take the Christ out of Christmas, and that is total bullshit.

blueiiznh's avatar

I don’t get the concept of limiting oneself based on anything.
Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you.

rebbel's avatar

Feeling sometimes theist, sometimes atheist, just to be sure, I use Jesus Fucking Christ.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Fucksus H Fuck
Fuck, fuck and fuck
go to fuck

filmfann's avatar

I suppose they could swear differently, like shouting “Charles Fucking Darwin!”

Blackberry's avatar

Not at all.

JLeslie's avatar

To further explain my answer, it is the religious who concern themselves or are offended by taking God’s name in vain. All those expressions, like God Dammit, for Christ’s sake, jesus Christ! Lord have mercy, God in heaven, all of which I have used, are just expressions for me used when angered or annoyed. Even asking, “why is God punishing me?” when feeling frustrated with a situation is said by me without really believing I am being punished, it is just a way of expressing my frustration and feeling life is unfair.

@filmfann Hysterical.

lukiarobecheck's avatar

“Oh my Science!!!”

whitenoise's avatar

So what does the word epitet mean? Is it cursing? I’m still fucking lost.

JLeslie's avatar

@whitenoise I think the actual spelling is epithet (but might vary by country of course) and I think of it as using an abusive phrase at someone, but vocabulary is not my best. I just went with what she described in the body of the entire question.

rooeytoo's avatar

Didn’t you all see the tongue bulging in the cheek. I thought it was a funny question. I guess atheists and theists are a little bit lacking in humour. Must have to be a mere agnostic to have a laugh.

@filmfann – thank you for your response, it was more in line with what I was anticipating.

And yes, I misspelled epithet, wonder why the spell checker didn’t point it out to me. Is there a word epitet? I will have to check. But lurve to you all for taking the time to respond even if you didn’t get a chuckle from it!

Aethelflaed's avatar

No, because on the internet, I can’t see your tongue in your cheek. Maybe next time, throw in some lols, some ;ps, that kind of thing. Or, just make it over the top enough – this is actually something religious people often accuse atheists of.

Sunny2's avatar

We should all start using some of the oldies but goodies. I like Fiddledeedee. (Better than fiddlesticks) Balderdash! Egad! There are better ones than these. I’ll ask a question.

Seek's avatar

I love a good “goddammit”. A well placed “Jesus H. Motherfucking Christ” takes quite a bit of sting out of a stubbed toe.

Best part? Won’t go to hell for blasphemy.

I also say “thank the gods” quite a bit. Sure, it’s meaningless. So what? I also say “knock on wood”, and don’t actually believe the wood fairies are going to give me good luck.

Or, as Ricky Gervais says, we all say “Thursday” and we don’t believe in Thor.

ragingloli's avatar

Or, as Ricky Gervais says, we all say “Thursday” and we don’t believe in Thor.
I know Thor exists.

Jeruba's avatar

> I guess atheism is the origin of xmas being used instead of christmas.

It isn’t, actually. Rather, it’s the Greek letter chi, which looks like the Roman X. More here (same article linked by @Aethelflaed).

My father, a very religious man and a scholar of theology, wouldn’t countenance the use of “X” in “Xmas” because he thought it was disrespectful. Even on boxes of seasonal ornaments and decorations in the cellar, the word “Christmas” had to be written out in full. But in his marginal notations in his books, he used the abbreviation “Xt” just as it says in the article linked above.

YARNLADY's avatar

You are a Plutoid!

rooeytoo's avatar

I had no idea people would be so touchy about this. I personally couldn’t care less whether someone believes in god or not and I see no point in the endless discussions and arguments about it. Or what sort of epitets (-; you use. I do think fuck is so overused, it used to have power, now it is so ho hum!

If I offended anyone, all I can say is jeez, lighten up!

I knew about xmas, that was tongue in cheek too.

@YARNLADY – I think being called a plutoid is a compliment, so thank you. Google says it is a celestial body and I have pretty much always kept my body in a celestial condition!

Berserker's avatar

No. I have a passion for swearing and ’‘blasphemy’’, which centers around the gratification/relief one may get from it, whether out of anger, surprise or joy. It doesn’t matter what they mean unless you care about the shock value, and it doesn’t matter how popular they are; they wouldn’t last if they didn’t do their job. Ironically though, if such things didn’t mean what they mean, no matter how important, or no longer important it now is, it probably wouldn’t pass the test of time as it does. I am shamed to say, that I have much to learn about the intricacies of bleeding Christ nailed to the fucking cross. Sorry.
I wonder if goddammit or fuck would live on if, indeed, they had no power. (unless they could be used as inoffensive slang, or applied to something practical) People are still offended by it obviously, this is isn’t something you can deny. The word fuck is also very powerful despite what you say of it, so much so that it should probably be a deity’s name.
I guess I’m wrong too though, when it comes to shock value not mattering, because whether or not you care about the shock value, the shock value, for lack of better word is what feeds the effect these words have, even if you’re on your own and nobody hears you say them.
The power isn’t lost based on my faith or lack thereof, but by what society makes them out to be.
It’s not because I don’t believe in Hell that telling someone to go to Hell when I’m pissed at them doesn’t make me feel something. It isn’t literal, but it gets the message across. Your anger or pain is known, the point is made. In the heat of emotional turmoil, sometimes it can be hard to be mature or constructive. So sue me.

Strangely now I’m reminded…as an atheist, if I fight a vampire and brandish a cross in his face, is the crucifix going to fail because I have no faith to power the tool, or will it work because it’s automatically imbued with God power?

ProTip; Also, atheists don’t deny God, they just don’t believe in God. There’s a difference, dag nabbit.

fundevogel's avatar

@Symbeline “The word fuck is also very powerful despite what you say of it, so much so that it should probably be a deity’s name. ”

in Finland the top cuss is taken from a deity. It’s pretty badass.

Berserker's avatar

Fuck yeah. Reminds me of how ’‘faen’’ is the Norwegian equivalent of our Western ’‘fuck’’, and means ’‘the Devil’’ in their language. Not as badass as having Thor as the most ultimate cuss word ever, but it’s up there! :D

rooeytoo's avatar

Now @Symbeline – that is an interesting distinction “atheists don’t deny God, they just don’t believe in God. There’s a difference, dag nabbit.”

The Oxford dictionary says “a person who does not believe in the existence of God or god.” Seems as if your definition is at odds with that?

Berserker's avatar

How? It says exactly what I said; an atheist doesn’t believe that a god exists. It isn’t saying that they deny the existence of the god. As far as I know, if you deny something, that thing has to exist for you to deny it. :/

rooeytoo's avatar

The semantics is too much for me. You say “atheists don’t deny god.” To me that would indicate they believe god exists. Then you say “they just don’t believe in god.” I assumed that to mean that atheists don’t believe this god truly has the power or whatever it is that theists attribute to it.

Now Oxford says simply atheists don’t believe that god exists at all.

Berserker's avatar

You’re the one making things too complicated lol. Atheists don’t deny God as in, they don’t say he might exist, they do something other than deny him; they don’t believe in him. What’s the problem?

Then you say “they just don’t believe in god.” I assumed that to mean that atheists don’t believe this god truly has the power or whatever it is that theists attribute to it.

Assume all you want, but I’m pretty sure you know for a fact that’s not what I was saying. :/

rooeytoo's avatar

@Symbeline – I have no idea why you would say, “I’m pretty sure you know for a fact that’s not what I was saying. :/” That is not at all true. I don’t understand your distinction. It does indeed seem to me to contradict what the dictionary says.

I have no idea why you would think my question to be insincere.

Berserker's avatar

I mean I think you know that when I said atheists don’t believe in God, it doesn’t mean that they believe in God, but don’t think that he has the power that theists think he does, as you assume. That’s what I meant. I didn’t say nothing about your question being insincere. Find where I did.

rooeytoo's avatar

omg, this is getting crazy. When you said, “Assume all you want, but I’m pretty sure you know for a fact that’s not what I was saying. :/” it sure sounded to me as if you were doubting my sincerity in saying I don’t understand what you are saying. It seems to me you are going in circles, but hey I ain’t looking for an argument. As I said way up there ^ I really don’t care what anyone believes. I was only trying to understand your distinction because it was different from anything I have heard anyone say before. No worries.

Berserker's avatar

When you said, “Assume all you want, but I’m pretty sure you know for a fact that’s not what I was saying. :/”

I said that in relation to this;

I assumed that to mean that atheists don’t believe this god truly has the power or whatever it is that theists attribute to it.

fundevogel's avatar

Thor rulez!

lillycoyote's avatar

@fundevogel Perkele: “Most likely the most powerful curse word ever created by mankind.” Is that really true or that just like Americans prancing around, saying “were the greatest nation in the world!!!!” No matter how far we fall behind in the things that matter.

How do you pronounce it?

Is it a word that a non-Finn can master? That a non-Finn can adopt and use as our own?

Can you go to audioboo, the site from @Jude’s accent challenge and post a recording of you saying it, so I can listen? I am very interested in having possibly “the most powerful curse word ever created by mankind” in my arsenal and at my disposal. Can you do this or is there some price to pay, will there be some damage to your soul if you just toss the word around casually or pass it on to a non-Finn?

Have I done damage to my eternal soul already, merely by sort of uttering it already, without fully understanding it? Not even saying it, just typing it out without a full understanding of it’s power and significance?

Lord have mercy on my soul if I have. Lord have mercy on all your souls if I have somehow unleashed some sort of horrible plague or pestilence into the world by simply typing the word. If any of you have suddenly developed boils or some sort of pox, that’s probably my fault, sorry!

rooeytoo's avatar

This question had 38 responses, sparked some interesting and sometimes heated conversation and discussion and didn’t get one damned great question.

some days it just hardly seems worth it!

Now, @lillycoyote what the hell are you talking about???

lillycoyote's avatar

@rooeytoo my friend, don’t make me out to be, to sound like the crazy one!

I am referring to @fundevogel‘s comment, about 27 comments down.

@fundevogel said

in Finland the top cuss is taken from a deity. It’s pretty badass

and provided this link:

describing “most likely the most powerful curseword ever created by mankind.”

And if you don’t want to be as big an idiot as I am, and count 27 comments down, to find the comment, just use your browser’s “find” function and type in “badass” and it will take you right to the comment and the link.

rooeytoo's avatar

It didn’t elicit any reaction in my gut.

But thank you for the clarification.

And thank you also to the kind soul who gave me a GQ!!! :-)

rooeytoo's avatar

Merci merci mwahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Seek's avatar

@rooeytoo The Dictionary is often wrong. For example, it claims “w00t” is a word, as well as “d’oh” and “irregardless”.

The Dictionary, though less flawed than the Bible, is hardly an infallible reference.

The simple fact of the matter is that, as atheists, we do not believe a god exists. We do not look at a plethora of gods and say “You are not my god, and you are not my god, and you are not my god.” We simply don’t have a god. There are no gods to deny, blaspheme, insult, glorify, plead to, or bestow our general apathy upon. They are just not there.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr – I have been truly surprised at the answers here. As I said I asked it tongue in cheek but so many have taken it seriously. Now your response again intrigues me. When I use “shit” as an expletive, it generally denotes something with a negative connotation. Now inherently shit is a good thing, if you didn’t do it you would be in a pile of trouble, but it is not particularly pleasant stuff so it is a negative. Now if shit didn’t exist, saying oh shit would have no meaning. Therefore if you say goddamit, it means nothing unless you are acknowledging the existence of a deity of some sort. I think????? What do you think?

Michael_Huntington's avatar

“Irregardless” is definitely not a word! I am going to write a letter about this.

ragingloli's avatar

Dictionairies do not define meaning, they only give the meaning prevalent in general use at one point in time.

rooeytoo's avatar

So where do you go for a definition of a word whose meaning is not clear to you?

fundevogel's avatar

@lillycoyote Sorry I haven’t been around. I’m not a Finn and I haven’t been to the country either so I really can’t give you the nuance of the word. I picked it up from my Finnish metal. Here’s the thing. I listen to a fair few of Nordic bands and I mostly just pick up on cognates. It takes something special to zero in on a word when you don’t know what in helvete they’re talking about. But perkele just stuck with me. I loved how it sounded and the power it was given, savored and drawn out like a sweet satanic prayer.

Here are some actual Finns to explain it. You’ve really got to roll the ‘r’ for all it’s worth as far as I’m concerned.

Seek's avatar


I think whenever I say something at a moment of extreme emotion (in the throes of pain or orgasm, for example) the word is simply a release of endorphins, and the content is unimportant. The choice of word is based mostly upon familiarity, and less upon actual meaning.

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