Have Proper Noun, Will Capitalize

Thou Shalt Capitalize Proper Nouns.

I don’t make the rules folks, but we all benefit from them, and my fellow writers, well criminy—look them up will you?

Earlier, I ran across a thread in a writer’s forum — a well-respected writer’s forum mind you–that went on through page after page and month after month of ignorant prattle about whether to capitalize “bible” or “the Bible” or “God” or “gods”. Every single post, it seems, missed the point utterly. You capitalize proper nouns: God, Zeus, Elvira Mistress of the Night, Scoobie Doo, what have you. It has nothing to do with whether you believe in God or whether you want to pay respect or reflect the importance of a figure.

We don’t capitalize God out of deference to God. We don’t do it because we believe and fear his wrath. This is not a question of style or belief or fashion. We do it out of deference to our reader, because we believe and fear his scorn. Even Christopher Hitchens would write, “God is notĀ  great”. We don’t capitalize Charles Manson because he is so influential (well, I certainly hope not!) but because that’s his name. Piss off Charlie you git.

We also generally capitalize adjectives derived from proper nouns, such as Malthusian or Reaganesque. Oddly enough, notable exceptions to this rule include “biblical” (generally not capitalized anywhere in the English speaking world except the editorial department of the local Baptist church), or vedic or talmadic. For the record, neither theist or atheist are capitalized, but Baptist is. The latter is a religion, a proper noun and derived from a proper noun, the former areĀ  states of being (adjectives), like “agnostic” or “fed up with people who can’t be bothered with an Internet search before stating an opinion on the Internet”. Oh, and “Internet” is capitalized because American dictionarists are under the collective misapprehension that it’s a proper noun instead of a noun meaning “a network connecting computers in two or more installations”, as opposed to “intranet”.

So atheists, you still have to capitalize God and the Bible. Theists, you still have to capitalize Wiccan and Galilean, and Darwinian. Anything else just wouldn’t be cricket, Cricket.

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