English as a Second Language/atheist at work


QUESTION: Dear Shannon,
Thanks for ever helping answers.

Can you please tell me what is the meaning of "atheist at work"?

Is it, an influencing atheist? There is aomething with "at work". Is it an expression and mean "influencing"?


ANSWER: Typically this is a variation of the expression "Men at Work," used on signs to warn people walking or driving their cars to be careful because workers are repairing or constructing something in the area.  So, the word "men" oftentimes in quirky expressions gets replaced by whatever type of work or kind of person the writer wants.  If I were to hear, "Chef at work," then I would expect some cooking is going on.  If an atheist is at work, then I would expect someone to spread the idea that there is no god (similar to what you said: an influential atheist.)

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

What do you say in this regard: "The Godless in the Workplace".
It is the title of a Soviet atheist press.
Many thanks again.

In English, "godless" means not just someone who doesn't believe in God, but also someone who doesn't obey God (do things that are not godly).  This becomes difficult to translate, because an atheist, ironically, is not necessarily godless.  This is because ungodly (or godless) usually equates to immoral in most religions.  Therefore, to be godless, one must do something against God's will and commands.  It would be easier to say non-believer, etc.

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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