Questionable Motives

April 17, 2011

What does that religious euphemism mean?

Filed under: belief,Humour — tildeb @ 7:52 pm

Re-posted in its entirety from comes this handy reference guide written by atheistnurse:

I have often heard various phrases used over and over again to obscure the unexplainable Christian “truths.” But what do they really mean? Let’s look at some:

“It is a deep spiritual truth, too complex for us to grasp.”

Translation: “I don’t know what the fuck this means, but I am going to believe it anyway.”

This euphemism is commonly used to explain bullshit theology that any normal, thinking person would immediately chalk up to being ridiculous such as the trinity (1+1+11), a “loving and just” god’s cruel actions in the bible, predestination vs. freewill, eternal torturing of good people who don’t bow down and worship a megalomaniac god, etc.

“God works in mysterious ways.”

Translation: “Wow! We didn’t see that coming and we can’t explain it to save our lives, but…”

This is usually used when the reality doesn’t match up with what a christian would assume would happen according to god’s will.

“God doesn’t give us more than we can bear.”

Translation: “Suck it up and deal with it. We don’t want to have to think about why god would allow such a horrible thing to happen so stop your bellyaching.”

Hey, if you are breathing, you are bearing it, so there you go. Case closed.

“God’s ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.”

Translation: “We know this looks like he is a bad god, but we just have to believe he is doing this for a good reason otherwise…”

Child abuse, starving people, suffering, etc, can all be explained by god being so smart as to have a perfectly good reason for it all. Yeah, right.

“God is testing you.”

Translation: “You must have pissed god off and now you are going to pay.”

Why in the world would an all-knowing god have to test anyone? Doesn’t he already know if they will pass or not?

“God is so good!”

Translation: “A random event has resulted in my good fortune. Gotta be god!”

It couldn’t possible be due to hard work, luck, determination, or any other plausible explanation. When bad things happen we never hear, “God is so bad.” (see “God is testing you” above)

“It is god’s will.”

Translation: “I don’t know what else to say, but this sounds good.”

When anything happens to a believer it is god’s will. It is god’s will I have cancer/my child died/I won the lottery – you name it. After all, his ways are not our ways (yeah, sometimes the euphemisms overlap).

“Their faith is weak.”

Translation: “Uh-oh. They are starting to think rationally.”

Anyone who doesn’t abide by the blind-leading-the-blind philosophy of Christianity has weak faith. Never, ever, question god. Period.

“We are praying for you.”

Translation: “We don’t want to go out of our way to actually help you, but we will say a five-second prayer for you once a month. This makes us feel really, really good about doing absolutely nothing for you. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.”

Nuff said on that one.

I know there are tons of these, but you get the idea. Christianity is a made up, superstitious, cult that can’t stand on its own. Without these euphemisms, people might be force to just blurt out, “Holy crap!! That doesn’t make any goddamn sense at all! What kind of god would do that?”


  1. Great intellect shown here Tildeb, you must be proud!

    Just because you don’t get it, understand it and weren’t called doesn’t mean it’s not true. Historically proven – remember that! Miracles abound everywhere that science cannot explain!

    Comment by 4amzgkids — April 21, 2011 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  2. Everywhere – just like laptops, MRI scanners, aeroplanes, electricity, medicine, nylon, paint, refrigerators, light bulbs, alloys, gravity, evolution… … everywhere indeed.

    Comment by misunderstoodranter — April 22, 2011 @ 10:04 am | Reply

  3. I think there are also generous ways to translate these. Working with languages, meanings and the multivalence beliefs we all nest in, I think more than one translation is possible. I’d suggest adding the positive translations to give a deeper understanding of mind and of people. See my post: “Generous Translations

    Comment by Sabio Lantz — April 25, 2011 @ 9:26 pm | Reply

    • Of course there are! And of course who doesn’t like a person willing to grant the benefit of a doubt, to look upon others only with the best of intentions, the most positive spin, the warmth of total acceptance and unconditional tolerance?

      But consider…

      …we can also be too generous. We can be so generous that those who receive our generosity come to expect it, to think our generosity is, in fact, an entitlement, nothing more than what is due, a payment owed. And I think this where we are today with religious belief expressed in the public domain. We not only are generous to fault but have allowed it to possess a privileged place, equating an espousal of faith in what’s true to be equivalent with what is true. And this is why seven states currently have nine creationist bills to subvert and undermine science education with empty theology under the skirt of ‘academic freedom’ and ‘critical thinking’… as if these were previously lacking. If not from a popular and privileged position represented by these bills promoters who stand to benefit, why would these bills be before their legislatures and committees?

      But by all means keep a civil tongue and be generous in your translations. But be aware that eventually the piper must be paid and with so much available evidence to us to see what the shoe on the other foot looks like in action, I can assure you that theocracies don’t take kindly to those willing to blasphemy. This, too, is a part of too much empowering through ‘generous’ translations.

      Isn’t it high time we stop coddling and privileging such ‘translations’ and start to take its foundations – faith-based beliefs – seriously with and a healthy and mature liberal dose of ‘critical thinking’ rather than acquiescent coddling as if faith were in need of delicate handling? Perhaps we need a little less ‘deeper understanding of mind’ and little more intellectual integrity and honesty.

      Comment by tildeb — April 25, 2011 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  4. I think both strategies have usefulness but both have large defects (as you point out). Another defect that is ignored is the effect an emotional stance has on an individual. Sometimes people are chronically tight, nasty, angry. Sometimes people are chronically complacent, lazy, uncommitted, submissive. So for me, put simply, the following three factors are part of the calculation:
    A) Understanding the habits of ones own mind and which ones you want to weaken or strengthen at a given time.
    B) Anticipating the benefit or cost of a certain action — short term and long
    C) What is the style and function of my relationship with a certain person at a certain time.

    I understand your points and think the have valid applications. I worry about habitual stances with habitual emotions.

    Comment by Sabio Lantz — April 26, 2011 @ 4:25 am | Reply

    • There are many strategies, of course, and this one post pokes fun at what many of these euphemisms might actually mean under the harsh glare of isolation. Context is important but so too is honesty; do any of these response euphemisms really add anything honestly meaningful that couldn’t be better served with a more honest and compassionate response? I don’t think so; I think these stock responses are mostly fillers that reduce the quality of an honest and heartfelt response.

      Comment by tildeb — April 26, 2011 @ 7:31 am | Reply

      • It sounds like you already have it well mapped out.

        Comment by Sabio Lantz — April 26, 2011 @ 7:46 am

      • Remember that this post is taken in its entirety from atheistnurse and are not my words… although I agree with what these euphemisms so often do mean according to this person. I’m sure that you too have heard these same phrases used repeatedly in your line of work but, like most of us, read behind the stock phrases to figure out what the person actually means. I think the post is funny in that very often atheistnurse’s understanding is exactly what is translated here.

        On the one hand it is easy to fall into what you call habitual stances and emotions which can be a real drawback (and an unnecessary impediment) to connecting honestly with people especially if that connection is central in importance to fulfilling some immediate goal (like in the practice of medicine). On the other hand, habitual stances and emotions in the face of typical and oft repeated defensive responses can be important for one’s consistency of maintaining an ethical standard. Knowing when to stay firm and when to change tack is always a challenge.

        Comment by tildeb — April 26, 2011 @ 8:47 am

  5. Great piece! Nice to see others who actually have the ability to think once in a while.

    Comment by godless mom — May 20, 2011 @ 6:47 am | Reply

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