PZ wants help finding the right adjective for the title of his book…but I don’t think it can be done. I think The _______ Atheist is a boring title no matter what ________ turns out to be. I think this because I tried to think of something interesting and then I read other people’s attempts and there’s just no spark, no matter what. This tells me that the formula is a dud – at least, it’s a dud if they (the publishers) want a buyer-thrilling title, which of course they do.

The Something Atheist. I just don’t think there’s a word that can make that sound exciting.

Unless they go absurdist or something. The Ruritanian Atheist. The Pioneer Atheist.

Think of something. Something not boring.


  1. Ophelia Benson says

    That was on the list I drew up before reading comments there – but it’s a bit boring – plus it’s too lukewarm for PZ, really. Hm…actually that suggests a few ideas.

    Meanwhile I thought of “Vertebrate” – which I quite like.

  2. Vern Balbert says

    The Tentacled Atheist
    The Squiddly Atheist
    The Sniny Atheist

    I suppose those are obvious, but are pretty much not going to make it.

  3. says

    Holy crap — 443 replies over there and still going! Glad I didn’t subscribe to the thread after my one (flippant) contribution. But I tend to agree with OB: the formula doesn’t work. Not unless you can find a really good, smack-em-upside-the-head adjective to fill that blank.

  4. satan augustine says

    “The F**king Atheist” is not boring. And as someone on pharyngula pointed out the book “Go The F**k To Sleep” hit the top of the bestseller list on amazon.com, so “F**king” in the title does not mean the book would necessarily be banned. In fact, I can’t think of a better title if one want to get publicity for ones book (given the “The ____ Atheist” template anyhow).

  5. Jeff D says

    Haven’t had time today to even begin reading the comment thread for P Z’s original post. I’d favor “The Unrepentant Atheist” or “The Unapologetic Atheist” or [pseudo-irony] “The Bashful Atheist.”

  6. Godless Heathen says

    The Purpose-Driven Atheist
    Ha! This is a winner!

    But if that doesn’t work out, we should definitely stick completely unrelated words into it a la The Electronic Atheist

  7. ippy says

    “The bumptious Atheist” fits well with PZ, as well as “The uninventive Atheist” for this little stunt. Asking the Internet for help to name your book? Really PZ? Isn’t this rather pathetic? Do I expect something worth reading from it when the author can’t even come up with a name? Definitely not.

  8. Russell W says

    “The Popular Atheist”…”The Modern Atheist”…”The Progressive Atheist”…”The Friendly Atheist”..forget the definite article…”Everyone’s Atheist”.

  9. mordacious1 says

    I think Frackin’ Atheist would be a cracker of a joke, but agree with Ophelia that an entirely new concept for a title is needed.

    Maybe I’ll go over to ERV and see if they have any suggestions…

  10. ippy says

    Ophelia, did you mean my comment? Really? Do you seriously think the world needs another “book that skewers religion and triumphantly praises the godless way of life”? Named after himself? Why do I feel like somebody just spat in my face reading something like this from a person like PZ who wants to be taken seriously? Isn’t is rather horrible to have a scientist like him waste his time on this kind of self-absorbed nonsense? “Look at me I am an atheist!” Wouldn’t a popular science book be much better? Or a peer-reviewed scientific paper much more worthwhile? Should we really sink to the level of evangelical preacher types and “skewer” our opponents and “praise” our way of life?

  11. Classical Cipher, OM says

    Wow. Do you really think you’re qualified to decide how it’s best for PZ to spend his time and use his formidable talents, ibby? Talk about arrogance. And so long as atheists are still a marginalized minority, there is every need for atheist-positive literature by excellent writers like PZ. There are still people in the world who are of the mistaken and harmful impression that atheists are inherently and necessarily nihilistic, and spreading the positive worldview shared by many atheists is a great way to counter that meme.

    I love “purpose-driven” and some of the others that have been suggested there, but I agree with Ophelia that there has to be something better than this format.

  12. Ophelia Benson says

    ibby, yes, I meant yours; yes, really. That was because of what you said in that comment, not what you said in the second one – I don’t know everything you’re thinking, you know, so my saying the first comment was absurd has nothing to do with all that stuff in the second one.

  13. Hamilton Jacobi says

    The Crotchety Atheist

    Regarding “Electronic”, it should be “The Electric Atheist” if it is to fit into the Douglas Adams theme:

    The Electric Atheist was a labour-saving device, like a dishwasher or a video recorder. Dishwashers washed tedious dishes for you, thus saving you the bother of washing them yourself, video recorders watched tedious television for you, thus saving you the bother of looking at it yourself; Electric Atheists disbelieved things for you, thus saving you what was becoming an increasingly onerous task, that of disbelieving all the things the world expected you to believe.

  14. Ippy says

    Nevermind than and apologies for my silly sally. I guess I’m just not his target group. May he help lapsed Kansans and Wyomingans to appreciate their inner infidel. I’ll read more interesting things about more urgent matters instead.

  15. Richard says

    I do like ‘The Purpose-driven Atheist’. The Ardent Atheist? The Bare Atheist (obvious and unimaginative word play, I know)? A Natural Born Atheist? I agree, however, that the template is undeniably bland.

  16. Ophelia Benson says

    I’m liking The Vertebrate Atheist. It has that Robert Ardrey note………….should sell like hotcakes.

  17. says

    You could go for something that sorta contrary the “the faithful atheist” or “the spirit of the atheist” or simplex “the believing atheist” but all are indeed boring. for PZ the only title that I could think of was “I ain’t no dictionary definition atheist” or something along those lines.

  18. julian says

    Why not just leave the blank blank? Someone browsing for books and not familiar with PZ Myers might pick it up just to see what it’s about. (Caught myself doing that a couple times.) Titles aren’t as important as content and really don’t serve any purpose besides catching a potential reader’s attention.

  19. amavra says

    I liked the idea on PZ’s comment thread of leaving it blank, but making the background a grayscale list of various adjectives. Shows that an atheist can be many things and anything, and PZ is many multiple of things as well.

  20. Rrr says

    After restlessly pondering this problem over a dark, rainy night, I came back to the idea of Bach:
    The, well, tempered, Atheist
    or as a more PZ-alized modifyer:
    The Mollifying Atheist (after his Order of Molly meritocracy) — maybe with a (TM) kind of logo attached?
    Strangely, PZ’s thread had 480 comments until I refreshed it, and now there’s only 203. But because his logon does not agree with me I post the suggestions here instead.

  21. thephilosophicalprimate says

    I’m certainly not joining this endless thread at Pharyngula, but the one adjective which seemed to me to fit the blank perfectly for PZ is The Obstreperous Atheist. But the publisher would never go for it because “obstreperous” is such an old-fashioned, three-dollar word, so my only contribution is worthless. I hope his attempt at crowd-sourcing creativity works, but I’m dubious: I think the formula “The ______ Atheist” is just too tiresome and boring to be saved.

  22. Philip Legge says


    as a sometime-singer of Bach, The Well-Tempered Atheist has a very pleasing ring to it…

    and the thread’s actually past 1,000 comments. After 800 posts, the comments page resets into a second page. (Hopefully Ophelia won’t have to worry about that level of activity on the blog, unless we go digging up past controversies!)

  23. NMcC says

    What’s ‘bland’ about my suggestion:

    The Bad-Ass Atheist…?

    Though I can’t quite work out if that should be Bad-Assed.

  24. NMcC says

    Oh, my first effort DID post. Sorry if others appear! Yikes! What’s with the misinformation about not being registered?

  25. Ophelia Benson says

    I’m (still) with philos primate – I think the formula itself is dull, so no one word, however perfect, is going to save it.
    Still…The Flaming Atheist is growing on me. It has a lot of levels.

  26. Kevin Anthoney says

    I’m (still) with philos primate – I think the formula itself is dull, so no one word, however perfect, is going to save it.

    Definitely agree. Not only that, it makes it sound like it’s about PZ, and I haven’t heard it’s an autobiography.

    Anyway (remembering this from way back), how about

    A Carnival of Atheism

    Or, if it really must be “something personal and about [PZ]”, as per the publisher,

    PZ’s Carnival of Atheism.

  27. says

    I think if he’s truly attached to this formula, “That Fucking Atheist” is the closest I can get to finding it interesting. And that’s with twisting “the” to “that.”

    I’ve never really liked any such formulations. “The Thinking Atheist,” for example, despite his fine content, has never sat well with me. I’ve always found it rather odd if someone needs to advertise that they are thinking, rather than simply showing it by doing and saying thoughtful things. Hemant Mehta’s “The Friendly Atheist” has never been my favorite either, though I do get what he’s going for. But frankly, I think his actions in that direction are still much more effective than the title.

    But yeah, that formula is a bad one, especially if profanity is not allowed. If he really wants help, he should give us an idea what the book is about, and let us come up with something actually interesting.

  28. Ophelia Benson says

    Now I’m tempted to try to come up with an apt one for me. The Pissy Atheist. The Bad-tempered Atheist. The Irascible Atheist.

    Nah; kid stuff. I’d have to mine the ERV threads to get anything really…erm…attention-getting.

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