The right to not be offended

October 16, 2010

…like god, as far as I can tell, does not exist. But it’s been a running theme on the Rational Skepticism forum, where a probable sockpuppet/stalker is stubbornly trolling away about ‘new atheism’ as a cult. Naturally, after opening with such inflammatory rhetoric, the troll then whines about the profanity-laden responses. Not that I indulged, but others certainly do.

Oh, we’re just cult members. Nothing to get worked up about eh?

At the same time, I’ve seen a skeptic launch a thread to complain about the believer’s habitual god bless you when someone sneezes. And an essay by Steven Pinker, to me, suggested a possible link between the two.

Curses provoke a different response than their synonyms in part because connotations and denotations are stored in different parts of the brain.

Pinker suggests brain structures as responsible for storing these connotations, these invested emotional meanings, and that the word brings up an involuntary response through recall.

The response is not only emotional but involuntary. It’s not just that we don’t have earlids to shut out unwanted sounds. Once a word is seen or heard, we are incapable of treating it as a squiggle or noise; we reflexively look it up in memory and respond to its meaning, including its connotation.

While Pinker’s point is about garden-variety profanity, it made me wonder if that’s the sort of connotation I have applied to the concept of a god. Especially the one that saturates my society, the xian one. I have learned quite a bit about it since I left the faith. I’ve read the book, I know the laundry list of divine atrocity that is the holy bible. I wonder if I have associated ‘god’ with this malignant, repulsive entity. Such a god, if it did exist, would earn only my scorn. To think that it doesn’t exist is more charitable than the accusations I could heap upon such an existent…thing.

And so, like if I mention a certain synonym for a steaming dogpile you might recall some pungent memories and cringe a bit, perhaps the notion of ‘god’ for me brings up pillars of salt, campaigns of genocide, malicious toying with hapless mortals, discrimination, slavery and sexism, and other such butchery.

Actually, I think I know what memory that will bring up for Dave, but that’s ok. It was pretty funny.  🙂


One comment

  1. said in a somewhat hurt, confused voice…”you almost crapped on my head!”

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