Linguistic Hell

On my usual Monday night delivery route, I passed a lit sign in front of a church somewhere out towards the north fork of Long Island. It said, “GOOD WITHOUT GOD IS JUST O,” and for a little bit, I didn’t catch what it was trying to convey. Good is just O? I thought. O? As in *oh no*? As is the *big O*? Good is an orgasm without God? What? I didn’t get it.
But that’s because I’m a typesetter at heart. *O* is not *0*. I never say “oh” in phone numbers when I mean *zero*. *O* is a letter, and *0* is a digit. Any typeface that is not trying to mimic a typewriter is going to have two different [glyphs][1] two represent two different characters. Anyone who finds it acceptable to replace a zero with the letter *O* should also have no problem replacing the number *1* with a lower-case *l*.
“GOLD WITHOUT GOD IS JUST L” doesn’t make any sense. Let’s put that in proper case (all caps is a crime against typography and clarity anyway). “Gold without God is just l,” is still obviously idiotic. But on a typewriter that could mean “… just one.” It sounds more poetic, but has no meaning, which, all cleverness aside, is what I think of the original as well.
Good without God isn’t *nothing*. Good without God is still good. Why do you need an absolute reference point to do good? Why does one need a specific brand of bearded cloud-father (Methodist, I think) to determine good or evil? Ethics exists without the assistance of religion to classify right from wrong.
And, anyway, it was a poor pun, and it depended on the invention of typewriters and cheap signage to make it work.