Dear God…. Oh God…. Good God! Good Lord! Great God!!! Jesus Christ!! Jesus H Christ! Christ!! Good Heavens! For Heaven’s sake! Mary, mother of God! Holy mother of God! Heavenly Father… Thank you Lord! Thank God! Dear Jesus…. Please God…. [Add your personal favourite here]
How did these words and exclamations become so entrenched in our languages, our minds? Why, when wanting to express our feelings with the greatest possible emphasis, do we resort to using the word “God”? For many, the utterance of one or more of the above phrases or words is as automatic as breathing and is used by people all over the world, in just about every language, every single day in a million different situations or experiences. No other words manage to convey the strength of emotion intended in just one or two words. Expressing just how important, noteworthy grand, shocking or sincere something is by exclaiming “Mount Everest! Did you see the speed that car was doing?!” Or “Twin Towers!! That was awesome!” Or “That was just Grand Canyon” or “Oh Universe, I hope so” simply does not have the same impact.
All it took to instil the belief in your mind, that nothing is greater than God and Jesus, was your very first introduction to that notion when you were a child still being taught by others about the world you had entered. Just as your first encounter with a dog, a cat, horse, chair, car or book was named by someone who told you its purpose and what it is called, was stored in the blue-print file in your brain labelled ‘Things I Know,’ so too, your reference for ‘supreme’ became the word 'god'.
Someone, a parent, a teacher, Sunday-school, told you about God being the most powerful, greatest, most good, most wonderful, grandest, kindest, cleverest ever in the entire universe, and that blue-print for “supreme”, was imprinted into your frame of reference for life along with the emotions that revelation evoked. And let’s face it, your first experience of being ‘in the presence of’ or ‘privy to’ or ‘watched over by’ the most powerful entity known to man, is highly evocative. Either you felt it was scary, mysterious, it made you cautious or, you were captured and enslaved by the concept of otherworldly holiness, you felt safe and secure. Either way, you responded emotionally. From that moment, as a child, you accepted the validity of what ‘Those Who Know ‘, i.e. parents, authority figures, people smarter than you, taught you until you eventually developed the mental capacity to verify and accept or query and reject, the information you had accepted as truth. Mental development and evolution of thought, understanding and emotion, is different for each person. Some are curious minded and seek more information and others are happy to never move from that initial point.
The power of suggestion onto the blank canvas mind of a child should never be underestimated. I know of someone who is now in their late 70’s who was told as a very young child, by her mother, that she [the child] was allergic to onions. From that day to this, [more than 70 years] she has never eaten onions or any food even in close proximity to onions during the cooking process. The worst that has happened on the rare occasion that she inadvertently ate something that had onion in the cooking process, is that she broke out into a sweat and became mildly panicked – but only when told that onion was in the meal she had eaten. It has never been medically verified that she is allergic to onion and she has never suffered the usual anaphylactic response or symptoms associated with an allergy. But the belief is ingrained in her mind and will never be removed. That is the power of suggestion. Especially in the mind of a child who has no defences established with which to counter or defend against the suggestion. Tell a child he/she is ugly, and he will internalise and carry those words with him for life regardless of what his mirror tells him and even beyond eventually knowing intellectually that it is a lie. Reinforce that lie to him by repeating it over and over throughout his formative years, and he will never be able to internally believe or see himself differently.
The ability to let go of the belief of what was instilled in your mind as a child is almost impossible for some and absolutely impossible for many.
This brings us to the indoctrination of the belief that the word ‘god’ equals ‘supreme’. Having this information reinforced throughout your childhood along with the threat of punishment and damnation, and the admonishment that you should ‘not use the Lord’s name in vain or blaspheme’ and then daring to tentatively at first, utter it frivolously, almost daringly as a child, is a heart-palpitating experience. You say or do your first ‘naughty’ thing and wait breathlessly for god’s hand to smite you! If something perceived as punishment does happen, the belief is reinforced. When nothing happens, a question mark takes shape somewhere in your mind….
So why, whether or not we are religious, do we still use the word ‘god’ to depict the ultimate in our daily expressions or exclamations? Was that blue-print written in indelible ink?