Print Wed, Feb 25, 2015 - 11:31 PM
I don't in most cases. For me, god is only capitalized if it starts a sentence or refers to a specific theological construct, or if I am quoting someone who did capitalize it. For instance: "Christians claim Jesus is god's son". Contrast that with "Arius was excommunicated for maintaining that 'God the Son' is subordinate to, and not co-eternal with, 'God the Father'".
However, many atheists and humanists do capitalize the word god. Most do so for the same reason they capitalize "Tom Sawyer". Whether the character is fictional or not, the name is capitalized.
Some would argue that god should not be capitalized because it is not a name, but a job title. These people insist that "Yaweh" is the name, "god" is the job title. However, when we write about a specific president, we capitalize that job title as well, although we don't capitalize it when referring to the office itself. For example, "I support President Obama" as opposed to "I supported Obama when he was running for president". The same goes for the title of caesar - on its own, it is not capitalized, but when it refers to a specific emperor, it is - "The first emperor of Rome was Julius Caesar", vs. "There had never been a caesar prior to Julius".
However, there have been other presidents, and will be others in the future. Same goes for caesars. However, from a modern Judeo-Christian perspective (ignoring the seldom-acknowledged fact that the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is clear in saying that there are other gods), no one but Yaweh has ever held, or will ever hold, the title of god. For these people then, god is Yaweh and Yaweh is god. So it has always been, so it shall always be. Thus, for them, god and Yaweh are effectively synonymous. And in any case, many Christians certainly do consider their deity's name to be "God", even if they acknowledge that he has other names (YHWH, Yaweh, Jehovah, El, Elohim, I Am, etc). For instance, if an American whose religious affiliation is not immediately apparent says "I have been blessed by god", they almost certainly don't mean Ganesha, Zeus, Thor, Ba'al, Molok, Horus, etc - they probably mean the Christian god. Clearly, then, they see "God" as a title uniquely and solely applicable to their god, and non-transferable to any other potential candidates. Thus, since the title has always applied to their god, and always will, the title is effectively a name as well
So most atheists and humanists who capitalize the word god do so because when it is capitalized, it is understood to refer to the Christian god, and in this context, it is functionally the name of that god. In this sense, it simply saves them the trouble of having to write "the Judeo-Christian god". It is commonly considered a name, or at least treated as a name in practice, and since you capitalize names - even the names of fictional characters - they believe it makes sense to capitalize this "name".
And of course, in the Western world, most people who are now atheists/humanists were once, at least nominally, Christians, there is undoubtedly an issue of "force of habit" at work here. If you were taught to capitalize it when you were little, and it is generally capitalized when you see it in print, you'll probably keep capitalizing it yourself.