Meanwhile, off the coast of Oregon at a depth of 2000 meters… »« Hey, he’s speaking to my tribe!

I resign from the Atheist Papacy

All the time now, I’ve got people yammering at me about how I’m an awful, terrible, wicked person because I’ve become what I hate. I’ve got one guy calling me the “god of atheism”, another person calling me part of the “high priesthood of atheism”, illustrated with that lovely photoshopped image to the right. Then I’m accused of “believing [my] own press” and “thinking [I] can do no wrong” because my “swarm of mindless groupies” are all telling me my every word is golden.

You know, if I actually started believing my press, I’d have to go shoot myself. The only people lauding me as an atheist god or pope are the people who detest me; there are whole sites out there dedicated to spitting on Pharyngula, and my mailbox is full of missives telling me how arrogant/stupid/evil/ugly/Jewish/female (yeah, they think those last two are insults) I am, and very few praising what I’ve written. Here on my own blog, some people despise me, and even my allies nag and carp and pick at every phrase (which is what I expect). Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…why, I might pay as much as a quarter.

You have to have a thick skin to be an assertive blogger on the internet; my primary input from the world is not that I’m coddled in a little bubble of approval, but that I’ve put myself in a prime position for every rock-thrower out there to take a shot at me. I don’t post with the attitude that I’ll get accolades for every word, but as an act of defiance.

And then we got complaints like that one on bitchspot, which dismiss every one who even partially agrees with me as “highly fanatical followers” who must “Stop being a groupie. Stop bowing before the altar.” That isn’t legitimate, valid criticism. That’s a kind of blindness in itself, treating everyone who might align themselves with my position as incapable of independent thought. It is a dishonest, dismissive tactic. What we have here is a horde of thoughtful, often angry people who think science, social justice, and the Enlightenment are good things, and are willing to fight for their causes.

Whining that I am an atheist pope is also incredibly dishonest, but OK, I resign. I’ll stop doing the things that make me equivalent to a high-ranking priest. I’ll give up my non-profit status. I’ll sell off my Italian villas and all their exquisite, priceless furnishings and art. I’ll give up the support of a well-established atheist institution, staffed with lawyers and professional apologists and PR persons. I’ll step down from my official position at the top of the atheist hierarchy. I’ll stop dogmatically pushing the infallible words of Charles Darwin on the populace. I’ll take off my uniform that grants me special privileges and respect.

I’ll just become an ordinary citizen, a guy with a blog. Will that do? Or is it expected that I also shut that down and be silent?

Because that’s all these baseless criticisms of my godless papacy are about: I’m already nothing but a guy with a blog, and there isn’t much more I can give up to satisfy these wanking whiners.

Comments

  1. sambarge says

    Too late. The Atheist Cardinals have voted and the smoke signals were sent. You’re in for life.

    Oh wait… Did none of that happen? Forget it. Nothing to see here.

  2. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    GASP! Just a guy with a blog???? But..but…but…*makes sure heavy duty fainting couch is in position* SWOON.

  3. says

    So do we are we rejoining with the group that recognized Dawkins as Pope, electing a new one or are us Eastern Orthodox Atheists going to have to make due with a council of cardinals?

  4. Randomfactor says

    The obvious solution is the one the Discordians used (going the Universal Life Church one better.)

    Every atheist is Pope. (Except me, I’m the Antipope.

  5. says

    And then we got complaints like that one on bitchspot, which dismiss every one who even partially agrees with me as “highly fanatical followers” who must “Stop being a groupie. Stop bowing before the altar.”

    They are trying to convince themselves, so as to give themselves an excuse to ignore valid criticism.

  6. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…

    Oh just get a dog already.

  7. says

    Yeah, we’re going to have a holy war between all the mindless groupies who think Dawkins is God/Pope, and all the mindless groupies who think I am God/Pope.

    You know, I’m sitting here prepping for a painful long semester teaching cell biology for the first time in ten years, and seeing idiots out there decrying my much esteemed, privileged position with swarms of obedient minions. I think I need to tell you people to get off your asses and move to Morris and do this work for me. Oh, and you can teach the classes too. I sure as hell want to give up the grading part.

  8. Stevarious says

    May I please have your collection of fancy gold hats, since you won’t be needing them anymore?

  9. eric says

    Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…why, I might pay as much as a quarter.

    No need – pound puppies are free.

  10. says

    By the way, that awful bitchspot person also claims to be “more critical of people in the skeptical community than anyone else”, yet look on the blogroll: there’s that deranged “elevatorgate” blog. I can see exactly where the author is on the spectrum of rationality, somewhere down around the equivalent of a yapping pekinese.

  11. says

    I’m keeping the fancy hats. And the shoes, those fabulous shoes.

    I won’t flaunt them to the little people, though, I’ll just prance around at home while wearing them.

  12. says

    Damn. I think the only solution is schism. Could be fun, though! I mean, back when there were three claimants solemnly declaring themselves to be The One True Pope, Catholics could conveniently pick which one they wanted to follow, depending on what suited them best. But that whole circus finally came to an end in 1415 (or so they would have you believe).

    A word of warning, though, PZ: things did not go at all well when the last Roman pontiff chose (or was nudged) to resign. His successor found it convenient to lock him up for the rest of his left. (Does Dawkins have a dungeon? I’m sure he must!)

  13. says

    Yes, we are all victims of groupthink, what with our echo-chamber acceptance of the existence of privilege, the idea that we can change society for the better by raising awareness of said privilege, and evolution.

    All of these are indicative of mindless dogma.

    It’s because of you, PZ. If you hadn’t set yourself up as Atheist Pope Pro-Tem For Life, I’d never have to accept evolution!

  14. joed says

    “…and seeing idiots out there decrying my much esteemed, privileged position with swarms of obedient minions.”
    Well, their “decrying” tells me you still got it PZ.
    Imho(fwiw) you are on the right track, if you can piss’em off and get’em het up then you are doing something correctly.
    fuck’em!
    And thank you for the great site.

  15. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    I posted over there (I am stuck in moderation), though I don’t expect much of a result for my criticisms. I will X-post here,

    X-post 1:

    Quite the skeptic you are. You assert, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that people who agree with certain bloggers do so “blindly” and you imply that the consensus on many issues is due to some sort of group think.

    I’ll propose an alternate hypothesis to your insulting and condescending suggestion that the followers of these blogs are sycophantic fanaticals accepting the dogma of the bloggers from on high. I assume you are familiar with the concept of selection bias? Couldn’t it be that people who agree with view X would self-select the blogs they read, resulting in them ending up at blogs promoting view X?

  16. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    X-post 2:

    Furthermore, even if your unevidenced assertion were accurate, and followers of these blogs dogmatically agreed with everything the writers say, that doesn’t at all validate your claim, “I’ve really become convinced that the “atheist community” is no better than the religious community”.

    You really need a caveat in that statement to clear up specifically what you mean by “no better”. Atheist groups are not systematically discriminating against GLBT people and women. They are not funding legislation taking away the rights of minorities. They are not frightening their children with concepts of eternal torture.

    You really need to provide more evidence for your assertions. What is your proof for the claim that the “atheist community” is no better than the religious?

  17. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    X-post 3 (reformated to use blockqoutes):

    “We ought to go after anyone who makes logical, rational or evidential errors in their claims and arguments and frankly, I think that the whole FtB crew is guilty of such errors.”

    Overgeneralizing much? “The whole of FtB”? Are you not aware of the number and diversity of bloggers at Free Thought Blogs, or are you just a lazy writer?

    “They don’t have a rational leg to stand on in the extend of their claims and desires.”

    This is extremely vague. It would be more intellectually honest to specifically state which claims FtB (*snort*, as if it was a single monolith) makes which are not rational. Not being specific with your criticisms is an easy (and dishonest) way to shield yourself from criticism.

    “If I say something stupid, I expect people to correct me. How can I improve my statements if people are not willing to challenge me and demonstrate where I’m wrong on intellectual grounds?”

    How can I show you that your criticism is flawed if you won’t specifically state it. Make specific claims, and provide evidence for them, then people may challenge them.

  18. Gregory Greenwood says

    Yeah, we’re going to have a holy war between all the mindless groupies who think Dawkins is God/Pope, and all the mindless groupies who think I am God/Pope.

    Deeeep riffffts!

    You know, schismatic holy war just doesn’t have the same ring to it when the parties involved don’t actually recognise anything as ‘holy’, and when the ‘war’ consists solely of a difference of opinion expressed through words rather than genocidal violence.

    *Sigh* They just don’t make holy wars the way they used to when I was young…

    As for that picture in the OP, it is clearly a feeble photoshopped fabrication. Everyone here knows PZ’s true, non-euclidean form

    By the way, while searching the web for Cthulhu images (what? That is a totally normal thing to do…) I found this utterly brilliant Cthulhu Fish T-shirt.

    With that, one can make a fashion statement at the same time as you give fundies aneurysms.

    Want. Want now.

  19. Gaebolga says

    PZ Myers wrote:

    Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…why, I might pay as much as a quarter.

    A quarter?!??!!!?!

    That, sir, is an insult to blind, obedient minions everywhere. No self-respecting minion would settle for a mere quarter.

    Few would refuse a fifth, however….

  20. cuervodecuero says

    Sooo, Professor M is the most powerful mental manipulator in the world? Influential leader of an outlaw band of reviled freak atheists (the A-men? That comes out wrong somehow…)?

    He’s merely disguised as a ‘guy with a blog’. At least one of his minions likely has the power to build hypnosis into the fonts here (perhaps comic sans is the defense against that). Seeming to be a lowly academic who pretends to have no control over university students? Evil genius. Of course, he keeps giving the game away when he talks about ‘science’ and ‘inclusion’ and ‘secularism’. Where is the jet kept? Where’s the comic book? The merchandising needs to be upped.

  21. dantelevel9 says

    I’ve seen the light of PZ’s ineffable wholesomeness! Where do I send my money? Er, or do you call it a seed?

  22. says

    Actually, that’s not a bad Photoshop job. You look more plausible than that Ratzinger guy.

    So instead of having a holy war, why can’t we just agree that Dawkins is the atheist pope of Rome, and you’re the atheist pope of Avignon? Or maybe you could move to some town in the Merovingiens’ old turf?

  23. ChasCPeterson says

    Reminds me, I need to go down to Kohl’s and get some new prancing slippers before the weather turns. My last pair are done pranced out. I do so prefer barefoot prancing, though, don’t you?

  24. eric says

    I’m keeping the fancy hats. And the shoes, those fabulous shoes.

    I think you should do like that Russian Orthodox leader did a few months back: keep all the bling, but have the newspapers photoshop it out when they show pictures of you.

  25. machintelligence says

    I think I need to tell you people to get off your asses and move to Morris and do this work for me. Oh, and you can teach the classes too. I sure as hell want to give up the grading part.

    I thought that was what grad students were for.

  26. kifflington says

    So does this mean we *don’t* need to scatter rose petals before you? Holy war sounds fun, I propose shiny golden armour for the (Piziites? Pharyngulists?) team.

    More seriously, I don’t seem able to drum up any words of support that don’t sound patronising, so with that caveat here goes: I read your blog frequently; I’m glad it’s here; I don’t think you’re full of yourself or should wind your neck in; I feel that if, after reading something said about your deeply held views and how you present them to the world you find yourself thinking ‘what a c***’, you should probably ignore it. Have a lovely day.

  27. truthspeaker says

    So that $10,000 I sent you to buy plenary indulgences is just down the drain?

  28. says

    Let’s see what happens if we follow Cephus’s advice and question his conclusion…

    Question everything and every one. Doubt all claims until sufficient evidence is provided. Stop being a groupie. Stop bowing before the altar. Be an actual skeptic!

    Let’s try that out…

    They have their own individual agendas and their own individual playbooks and they expect their adherents to follow their teachings to the letter. If they don’t, they get excommunicated.

    False Equivalance and hyperbole-There isn’t an atheist leader playbook and no one gets excommunicated. In fact, atheist leaders are publicly criticized in a way you will never see church members criticize their own leaders.

  29. llyris says

    Someone has accused you of being FEMALE ???
    They must have some unusual women over there.

  30. says

    Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…why, I might pay as much as a quarter

    A quarter, you say? Well… I could use the money…
    ALL GLORY TO THE PEEZUS!

  31. UnknownEric says

    I can certainly see why you’re resigning the papacy. I mean, that outfit has to be ridiculously hot at this time of the year.

  32. AshPlant says

    I don’t post with the attitude that I’ll get accolades for every word, but as an act of defiance.

    But…that attitude is why we all worship you, Oh Peezy One.

  33. maudell says

    Bitchspot writer in
    a Holier-than-Thou rant
    jasmine blooms vanish

    (It inspired me a haiku)

  34. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    So this got me thinking, what would an atheist communion be?

    I immediately thought “whiskey and cupcakes” but then I wondered what those things would represent.

    I’m thinking whiskey = firey breath of reason and cupcakes = devouring the poor of logic?

    But aren’t we supposed to have both things be things we want in ourselves or something? I just can’t figure out how to justify eating cupcakes for atheism!

    Help me Pope PeeZus, you’re my only hope!

  35. says

    Well, let me be one of (probably) many willing to say that I appreciate PZ’s contributions here, even though I don’t always agree with him.

    I need no pope, god, or any person or group to tell me what to think. I listen to people’s arguments and weigh their arguments on my own. And quite often, PZ’s arguments are pretty good.

    But that idea will not reach the morons out there, so I waste my breath, probably.

  36. Loqi says

    @Alukonis
    Can we have a non-alcoholic alternative to the whiskey of reason? Perhaps the orange juice of rationality?
    Totally on board with the cupcakes, though. Because we routinely devour cupcakes around here.

  37. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Let’s see what happens if we follow Cephus’s advice and question his conclusion…

    Yeah, there is definitely a little irony going on when a skeptic wanks about how we should “Doubt all claims until sufficient evidence is provided”, and at the same times makes a shit ton of unevidenced assertions.

    Cephus, you are aware that following your advice means rejecting your claims, right?

    Citations needed on your whole article, shithead.

  38. Alukonis, metal ninja says

    @Loqi

    Maybe we should just have an open bar, so everyone can get whatever drink they want. And then we have a veritable rainbow of cupcake flavors, including gluten-free and vegan ones for people with dietary restrictions! Also bacon cupcakes. Those are a real thing, by the way.

    But wait that’s not dogmatic enough for a papal hierarchy thingie of atheism! Argh this fanatical following and altar-bowing is hard :(

  39. RFW says

    @ #9 P-zed Myers says:

    I’m sitting here prepping for a painful long semester teaching cell biology for the first time in ten years…

    Stop worrying about that pope-anti-pope-panty-ope-antelope nonsense and tell us more about this course you’re preparing. In particular, what advances made in understanding cell biology in the last decade have to be slotted into the curriculum?

    What are the prerequisites for the course?

  40. efogoto says

    @4) Randomfactor

    Every atheist is Pope. (Except me, I’m the Antipope.

    It’s true, as evidenced by your unclosed parenthesis. You’re evil.

    )

  41. PatrickG says

    Does this mean we won’t get to see you in your Papal Squid Hat?!

    NOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    Also, I’m sure that others have beat me to this, I’ll go reread to find out who did.

  42. PatrickG says

    Damn it, beaten (potentially) by PZ himself:

    I’m keeping the fancy hats.

    Is there a Papal Squid Hat I’m unaware of? I’m new here, the best I’ve seen linked is your earmuff cap from travels to, uh, wherever you were.

    Allow me this last act of papal worship and LINK IT DAMN IT.

  43. consciousness razor says

    Is there a Papal Squid Hat I’m unaware of? I’m new here, the best I’ve seen linked is your earmuff cap from travels to, uh, wherever you were.

    Allow me this last act of papal worship and LINK IT DAMN IT.

    Yep, rule 34 still works.

  44. Mattir says

    I am so not clicking on that Rule 34 link.

    The thing I most like about the GroupThink cult accusations is that PZ is so powerful that he even attracts regular commenters who disagree with him. I showed up here because of one of the anti-homeschooling screeds, three years ago now. PZ has signed my Spawns (well, their atheist sweatshirt hoodies, anyway). We still homeschool, and I’m not endungeoned yet.

  45. goon says

    Is it because Sam Harris took those jabs at your intellectual integrity?

    If not, you should read that anyway.

  46. Menyambal --- Sambal's Little Helper says

    Who the hell imagines PZ looking like that photoshop?

    It should be more like Davy Jones in _Pirates_of_the_Caribbean_, except, you know, sninier.

  47. Tony •King of the Hellmouth• says

    PZ:

    I’ll stop doing the things that make me equivalent to a high-ranking priest. I’ll give up my non-profit status. I’ll sell off my Italian villas and all their exquisite, priceless furnishings and art. I’ll give up the support of a well-established atheist institution, staffed with lawyers and professional apologists and PR persons. I’ll step down from my official position at the top of the atheist hierarchy. I’ll stop dogmatically pushing the infallible words of Charles Darwin on the populace. I’ll take off my uniform that grants me special privileges and respect.

    Total WIN.

    If you do all that though, would anyone still recognize you?

  48. coffeehound says

    @ #49,

    Help me Pope PeeZus, you’re my only hope!

    Peezus the Christ; I like it.

  49. vaiyt says

    PZ only looks like a deity next to the gaggle of brain-dead clowns that are most of his opponents.

  50. dccarbene says

    You, sir, must be a False Pope/god/Priest/Rabbi/Guru

    You speak of “wanking whiners”.

    True Scotsmen know the proper term is “whining wankers”.

    And if you are willing to mislead us about wankers, what other blasphemy might you promulgate?

    I refuse to blindly follow such a flawed deity as you. Always have, come to think of it.

    Of course, I think I have the right to agree with you on things from time to time. Always have, come to think of it. Relatively often, it seems, but far from always. You have this tricky way of citing, and linking to, your sources. I always read these BEFORE I read your main text, come to my own conclusions BEFORE I read yours, and fairly often they do gibe. If not, so what?

    But I feel bloody pissed off that someone I have never met can assume I would just do as I’m told by someone else I have never met. That’s just plain…. rude. Or even stupid, if I may be so bold.

    I mean, I LOVE Teh Kittehs – and would never worship the Anti-Feline.

    [Kind of fond of the invertebrates too - oh, I'm so torn.]

  51. PatrickG says

    @consciousness razor

    Thanks ;) Though Rule 34 really didn’t seem appropriate there.

  52. davidml says

    Sign me up for the mindless worshipping. :P

    There is no god and PZ is his prophet!

  53. Pierce R. Butler says

    How the hell did René @ # 57 post a live YouTube link in FtB space without creating the usual too-wide video window?

  54. Jonathan, Foot In Mouth says

    So, what would a Pharyngulary indulgence get you? A year of not having to worry about privilege? Symbolic forgiveness for that time you decided to make fun of organized religion by praying to Skeletor in front of your grandma?

  55. Pyra says

    Oh FFS, I have been online for 17 years, reading all sorts of blogs, and finding little things in each I like. This one stood out as worthy of reading, among them all, not because I was brainwashed as a young child to worship PZ, but because it has expressed so many things in my head that I was unable to articulate, myself. That I agree with PZ’s posts has more to do with the fact that I feel like there is validation in what I already experienced as true. The commenters are very tenacious, and that keeps me coming back for more. Whether I agree, disagree, or haven’t made up my mind on an issue, these comments always give me all the angles I need to think about issues. That brings in the challenge of my biases. So, I came here originally because I already agreed with many things on my own, but I stayed to have my biases challenged, too. Too often, I find people stop arguing too soon, or people are silenced too soon in a heated argument just because emotionality is creeping into a discussion. It’s usually very clear what parts of arguments make some kind of sense to me and which don’t, after a thread here. People who don’t see the dissent and discussion are perhaps only skimming for their own confirmation biases. I like PZ, and will continue to side with him on many things, only because these are my experiences. Not because he’s a rock star. Trent Reznor and Robert Smith get that place in my heart.

  56. gijoel says

    Can we burn Kent Hovind’s dissertation to declare we’ve got a new atheist pope?

  57. dccarbene says

    I’m pretty sure that would produce black, black smoke.

    What could we burn that would produce the good white smoke?

  58. Rip Steakface says

    Perhaps we could burn an infant and declare a new Atheist Pope while making dinner?

  59. keresthanatos says

    Damn man hate to see you go. You were the best Pope ever.

    P.S. can I have your porno collection ???? Please ????

  60. Louis says

    I love the GROOP THINKI™ accusation. It’s nearly as much fun as the DEEEEP RIFTS™ accusation.

    Both are entirely free of substance and are a great distraction from any topic at hand.

    Of course I shall accuses anyone who disagrees with me of GROOP THINKI™/DEEEEP RIFTS™ as appropriate. Possibly both.

    Convenient dishonesty, it’s what’s for breakfast.

    Louis

  61. says

    People seriously can’t get over the old ad hominem attack. Most people don’t even know what it is! I get accused of making ad hominems because I’ll say “You’ re an idiot and here’s why.” They fous on the first part of that, failing to realise that an ad hominem isn’t an insult, it’s a way of questioning someone’s character to dismiss their logic instead of addressing their actual arguments.

    The whole godless pope thing is nothing but an ad hominem, even if the attacker thinks they’ve also addressed a person’s arguments they’re still using this as a way to dismiss a person or set of people’s opinions. It’s decisive, dishonest and plain fallacious.

  62. Louis says

    Also, a quarter?

    I realise you arrogant Americans think that the rest of the world is poor and can survive gratefully on your leavings, but a quarter is so small as to be an insult.

    I demand fifty cents and not a penny less.

    Louis

  63. Marcus Hill (mysterious and nefarious) says

    Ah, what I’d give for at least one blind, obedient minion who’d revere me as a deity…

    Hey, that’s reverse ableism! I want to apply for the position of minion, but I’m sighted!

  64. dianne says

    I think I need to tell you people to get off your asses and move to Morris and do this work for me.

    Well, ok, but only if I get tenure with it. Some might say that getting tenure in the current economic climate is a miracle, thus proving PZ at least a saint, if not actually god.

  65. Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says

    I’ve just managed to not have any marking for the rest of this year! I’m not doing PZ’s for him.

    Plus biology’s not my area.

  66. What a Maroon, el papa ateo says

    Hey, that’s reverse ableism! I want to apply for the position of minion, but I’m sighted!

    If you were truly worthy, you’d poke your own eyes out.