There seems to be a long-standing debate among atheists as to whether or not they should use God and Jesus when swearing. Both sides have valid points, so let’s take a look at it.
Personally, I find that I’m not too keen on using phrases like “oh my god” and “Jesus Christ” anymore. This kind of profanity is incredibly common in our culture, so it’s hard to get rid of, but there are those who’d like to. There are even non-atheists that are just looking for alternatives to these common statements, more for the sake of variety than anything else.
Some atheists feel obligated to remove any Judeo-Christian references from their speech, as another way of officially cutting ties with religion. From what I’ve seen, this happens largely with folks who used to be Christian. However, there are just as many, if not more, people who think that continuing to reference god and Jesus is just fine, and even a good thing. Plenty of atheists support the idea that being blasphemous and taking the names of Christian deities in vain is perfectly appropriate, since they believe that they’re referring to imaginary creations anyway.
As it turns out, it’s actually pretty tricky to get rid of all the deity-centric phrases that have permeated our daily speaking. There aren’t as many alternatives as you might hope, but there are some. For the sake of helping those who are looking for such alternatives, and for some amusement, I’m going to share some alternate phrases that I’ve come across. If you know of others, feel free to submit them as a comment, and I may add them to the list. I’d love to see this list fill out, if nothing else, because I love creative profanity. I’m a big fan of Farscape cursing, like frell (fuck) and dren (shit), among other things.
- God/heaven help us/me!: science help us/me!
- For Christ’s/god’s sake!: for Satan’s/Lucifer’s sake! – for the love of dick/pussy! – for fuck’s sake!
- Jesus [H] Christ!: oh, fucked by Zeus! – by the fertility goddess! – ah bugger
- Christ on a cracker: dog on a biscuit
- God only knows: science only knows – Darwin only knows
- Oh my god!: oh my Satan! – oh your god! (Futurama reference) – geez Louise! – dicks and balls! – by Odin’s raven!
- Holy shit!: unholy shit! – shitnuts! – fuck a duck!
- Dear lord/god!: by Grabthar’s hammer!
- Bless you (for sneezing): gesundheit – may the force be with you – salud – sshhhh! (yes, apparently this one is popular)
- I swear to god: I swear to Satan – I swear to fuck
- Thank god: thank Satan/Lucifer/Darwin
- Sweet Jesus!: sweet transvestite! (Rocky Horror reference) – holy guacamole!
- Heaven/god forbid: none known
- Godforsaken: none known
- God-damned: none known
- How the hell: how on earth – how the flip
- Go to/burn in hell!: go to/burn in Hades! – eat shit and die!
- So help me god: on my honor
For simplicity, some people choose to just replace all instances of “god” or “Jesus” with one of the following: goat, Satan, Cthulhu or dog. Others choose to embrace the blasphemy and take it to another level by using phrases like “holy fucking Jesus mother of shittin’ god.” It’s also pretty common to substitute names of other deities or religious locations, under the belief that they’re all imaginary anyway, and it’s more disturbing to the general public if you reference non-Christian deities. (For instance: “Holy Zeus” or “Oh dear Loki” or “go to Tartarus”)
As an interesting side note, I learned something rather interesting that I wasn’t aware of. Here’s the quote from a post on Quora: ““Crikey” comes from the contraction of “God strike me”, “Blimey” from “God blind me”, or words to that effect. Even “Zounds” comes from the Victorian taboo that verbal offense to God literally hurts him: it is a contraction of “God’s wounds”. “Gadzooks” even comes from a similar history (it is the contraction of “God’s hooks”, referring to the nails that held Jesus to the cross), and was used to refer to the reminder to God of his own suffering when in human form.”