• as sure as Hell
      • Gospel truth
      • as sure as God made little green apples
      • the voice of an angel
      • if we have to wait until doomsday
      • God's in his heaven and all's well with the world
      • God willing
      • that's very Christian of you
      • you're a saint
      • be an angel
      • the devil's in the detail
      • devilishly difficult
      • thank God!
      • hotter than (the fires of) hell
      • gone to meet his maker
      • this is heavenly!
      • a den of sin

Not forgetting that classic cry of pleasant surprise (often tinged with karmic schadenfreude) when something unexpectedly goes the way you want: There is a god!

Would a Christian expect to burn in hell if he said his wife looked divine, his boss looked jovial or that if the mountain wouldn't come to Muhammad then Muhammad would have to go to the mountain?

These are just figures of speech. We don't mean them literally. Our language is full of references to the Christians' god but also to pagan gods, superstitions, myths and long discredited scientific theories:-


      • the ends of the earth
      • the four corners of the earth
      • it's an omen
      • consulting the oracle
      • in a bad humour
      • phlegmatic
      • an auspicious day (divination based on observing the flight of birds)
      • jovial (having the character of the Roman god Jove/Jupiter)
      • saturnine (having the character of the Roman god Saturn)
      • Thursday (The day of the Norse god Thor)
      • aphrodisiac (from Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love)
      • titanic (from Greek primordial monsters)
      • ozonic (from the discredited idea that seaside air contains beneficial ozone)


I want to live in post-Christian country. Christianity is definitely the religion I want not to have, it is the religion I feel most comfortable with not having. I am a post-Christian secularist, a Church of England atheist.

It does not bother me to have a language that contains fossil remains of old ideas. Our language would be significantly denuded if we tried to eliminate all relics of superstitious or unscientific thought, and so would our culture. However, it doesn't do us any harm to be aware how our language has grown and what it used to mean.

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