God Bless You

Allow me to pose a question to you atheists: When people say “God Bless You” to you, what do you think/feel/say?

Personally, I have never been bothered by it. sneezeThe saying is almost more habit than it is literal meaning. I doubt most sayers of “God Bless You” literally stop and think that they’re asking God to bless me when they say it. I’ll be okay, I just sneezed. Why don’t people ask God to bless me when I trip and fall? That’s much more serious. Or what about when I have the hiccups? That’s always been frightening. I’ve always been scared of never getting rid of the hiccups. Maybe a blessing from God would do the trick.

I’ve never corrected anyone when they say “God Bless You” to me, and probably never will. But the folks at The Bright’s Net have compiled a list of response statements an atheist could make should they feel so inclined.

Simplest positive

(reception of /gratitude for good intent)

* Thank you!
* Thank you for your kind wishes.
* I appreciate the sentiment.
* Thank you for your good wishes.
* Thanks for your sentiment!
* I appreciate that.


(return of good wishes, with a focus on health or fortune)

* Salud! (Spanish, “Your health!”)
* Santé (French, “health”)
* Gesundheit (note)
* Good health!
* Good health to you, too.
* Thank you – be happy and healthy!
* May Lady Luck bless you and keep you. (John)
* To your health! Peace! (Ed)
* May fortune favor you. (Brian)
* Thank you very much. May you live a blessed life also. (Joseph)
* And you are in my thoughts. (Johnnie)

A gentle rebuff

(“but” = evaluative judgment?)

* Thanks, but Nature already did.
* Thanks, but Nature beat him to it.
* Thanks, but I’m already fully blessed.
* Thanks, but I’ll take my chances unblessed.
* Thanks, but I’m allergic to blessings.

Something of a twist

(contains hints of a naturalistic perspective)

* Thank you. And may the universe be kind to you too. (Marvin)
* And may nature shine on you, as well! (Tracee)
* And a Bright day to you! (Joe)
* And Nature bless you! (Brian)
* Thank you for your tangible sentiment! (Craig)
* May science illuminate you. (Shelley)

Perhaps slightly “corrective”?

* Your blessing is thanks enough!
* Your blessing is all I want.
* Your own blessing will be fine.
* Why, thank you. Of course, I’m much more appreciative of your blessing. (Richard)
* My thanks for your blessing. (Michael)
* I appreciate the intent!
* Thanks for meaning well! (Ed)
* The blessing is from the doing ( Elizabeth)
* Thanks for being sorry that something got up my nose (Pamela)

Popping up from “left field”

(divergent thinking, without attribution)

* May the force be with you! (from Star Wars)
* May your soul remain in your body forever! [which greatly confuses people these days]
* Thanks, Tiny Tim. Please pass the potatoes.
* Curse you, Red Baron!

Find even more responses here.

When someone sneezes in my presence, I almost always run “Bless you,” only because “Gesundheit” makes me feel like my parents. What do you say?


6 Responses to God Bless You

  1. FrumiousBandersnark says:

    Why say anything at all? We now know that sneezing does not stop your heart. Sneezing does not provide an opportunity for the devil to enter your body. Sneezing does not expel god’s “breath o’ life” (TM, Patent Pending, All Rights Reserved) from your body.


    The notion that saying a few words after a sneeze will prevent death or disease is superstitious nonsense. It is a cultural anachronism, much like the religion that spawned this custom to begin with.

  2. Matt says:

    “Damn, cover your mouth and nose next time!”

  3. vjack says:

    I don’t like it. It reminds me that I live in a culture surrounded by superstitious idiocy. I see no need to say anything at all, and I do not say anything when someone sneezes in my presence. I suppose if I ever felt a need to say something, Seinfeld’s suggestion of “You’re so good looking” would be as good as anything else.

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