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  Good: Defining G-d and saying Good Night

                               By Rocky Reichman

      G-d is good.

      Nothing could be closer to the truth. G-d is good, or rather, good is god. The word good comes from god. Etymologically, good originates from the Anglo Saxon word god. And it makes sense on a religious level, too: For those who believe all goodness comes from god, etymology proves their point.

      Atheists have big problems, now. Why should nonbelievers care? Because if good means god, then that means every time they say the word “good” they are actually saying god’s name. They can’t do Good or even utter the word “Good” without attesting to god’s existence.

      How would you define the word good? Short, simple words can sometimes have long definitions. The Concise Oxford English Dictionary gives a “short” summary of what good means. Good can mean “to be desired or approved of; of a high standard; satisfying.” It can also mean “skilled at doing or dealing with a specified thing.” Or, as is relates to god, “morally right, virtuous; obedient.”

      Good afternoon, good day, good evening, good morning, and good night are all salutary expressions meaning “I hope you will have a prosperous, pleasant or enjoyable afternoon, day, evening or morning.” (Webster’s Dictionary, Unabridged.)

      Good day, good morning and good afternoon are expressions used to greet people that can be used in place of the standard hello. That works when you are greeting someone during daytime. But what about at night? Sure, good night can be used in place of goodbye, but the phrase does not work when greeting someone, when saying hello as opposed to good bye. So how do you greet someone when it is night-time? Some linguists suggest using good evening as a replacement. But evening does not mean the same thing as night. Evening is the period of time between late afternoon and bedtime, the latter part of the day when it begins to get darkness. Night-time, however, is the period between evening and morning (from sunset to sunrise), when there is total darkness. Good evening can only substitute for good night if used in the evening itself, meaning before total darkness (or bedtime, if you want to be lenient). After total darkness occurs and night comes, good evening becomes obsolete.

      Without any salutary expression for it, what is one to do when greeting their friend at night? The expressions above were created in the pre-electricity era, when people were in bed before dark and the only visitors who came at night time were thieves or drunks. Today, however, society has adapted. Thanks to electricity, people now enjoy longer nights, and frequently have visitors during this time. For those who do not want to return to the days of yore and go to sleep early, the English lexicon needs a new salutary expression, one that can be used to greet someone at night. Good evening or good night may be adapted to fill this need, or else some new phrase will be coined, one that can be used to greet people at night time. My guess? People will continue using good evening or good night, and the meaning of those words will eventually adapt to solve this problem.

      For goodness sake, I hope someone finds an answer to this conundrum soon. But until then, let me say….

      “Good Bye.” This term, used to “express good wishes when parting or ending a conversation,” is actually a contraction of “G-d be with you.”

      Really? Good god!



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