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In 2007 I compared the concordances (lists of the 100 most often used words) from What the Bible Says About Parenting and Parenting Beyond Belief. That the former, written from a conservative religious perspective, included the words SIN, DUTY, EVIL, FEAR, AUTHORITY, DISCIPLINE, COMMAND, COMMANDMENT, SUBMIT, and LAW in its top 100, while PBB had not a single one of those (and instead had things like REASON, QUESTION, and IDEA) is as telling as any other analysis.
I also mentioned at the time that both books had GOD in the top three. If you think it’s surprising to mention God a lot in a nonreligious parenting book, consider that the top four words in Quitting Smoking for Dummies are SMOKING, SMOKE, TOBACCO, and CIGARETTES.
This week I began wondering what words would end up in the top 100 of Atheism for Dummies. Because I’m working in 21 separate chapter documents, I haven’t done a scan yet, but I have a guess.
ATHEIST and the other labels will be up there, of course, as will GOD, our very own cigarette. But I’m willing to bet that qualifiers like MOST, MANY, LIKELY, FAIRLY, and TEND will also be in the top 100. That’s because it’s damn nigh impossible to speak in absolute terms about who atheists are, how they behave, or what they believe beyond the definitional thing. So I end up saying MOST atheists consider X to be true, atheists TEND to be Y, a given atheist is LIKELY to also be Z.
Obviously there’s variety in every worldview, but at least others can USUALLY point to a canon of presumed beliefs and practices, even if adherents diverge from them in the uh, real world.
(Eighteen days to go.)