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The Happy Atheist

I just finished reading your book; honestly, I had a hard time putting it down (I got very little accomplished in the past couple of days) and I found myself calling friends who are Atheists like me and reciting whole paragraphs for them and telling them they MUST read this book.

My favorite chapter, the one I reread as soon as I’d finished it because it was so hauntingly beautiful and thought-provoking was “The Proper Reverence Due Those Who Have Gone Before”; while the entire book should be required reading, that chapter could stand alone.

As a nurse, I am surrounded at work by fervent believers, people who are convinced that prayer (and idiocies such as “healing touch”) work, even people who believe in creationism and who take the Bible literally. The administration requires all of us to take a class in alternative “healing” annually, a colossal waste of my time and intellect! Your blog is my daily dose of quality thinking, the antidote to all the mushy thought that supports the waving of hands over a body to “straighten out the energy fields” and other such nonsense.

Thank you, Professor Myers!


  1. garnetstar says

    That’s exactly what I thought, too, PZ, but I was too lazy to type it all out. So, ditto that the book should be required reading! It’s that good. Thanks for writing it.

  2. says

    I am currently reading the book, and so far I am enjoying it (though I suffer from the fact that I have read all the original blogposts the chapters I’ve read are based on).

    I’ve not yet reached “The Proper Reverence Due Those Who Have Gone Before”, but I am happy that it is included. It is my absolute favorite blogpost, whether by PZ Myers or anyone else (I have a few other favorite blogposts by other bloggers out there, but none as good as that)

  3. borax says

    I’m also a nurse and I cannot agree more. I’ve pissed off several people above my pay grade by speaking against our holistic nursing program.

  4. grumpyoldfart says

    Faith healers and creationists looking after patients in hospitals. Thank Christ I don’t live in America.

  5. says

    I sent copies of The Happy Atheist to my Loyal Subjects co-bloggers, who have both been gushing praise. They know I’ve long been a huge fan of Pharyngula (hell, PZ is the Official Patron Saint of my blog), and I’ve sent them many links or quotes over the years. But it wasn’t until reading this collection of writings in a single, massive dose that I think they really got why this blog is my first and last stop on the ‘net every day.

    I’ll have a review up at The Feminist Hivemind tomorrow, but I just want to heartily echo the testimonial writer…except that I don’t think I could possibly pick a favorite chapter. Some are profoundly insightful, some deliciously hilarious, and some are exemplars of both of these things simultaneously. That rare ability is what I think is PZ’s greatest strength as a writer.


  6. says

    Have downloaded it a couple of weeks back from the Kindle store. But the priority now is the long pending Tropic of Cancer (Henry Miller). Reading, The Happy Atheist thereafter, depends on my sanity, else will proceed to The Rosy Crucifixion series.

    On iTunes store, your costs $2 more than on Amazon Kindle store. But then iTunes does say “From the Hardcover edition”.

  7. lowkey says

    “Hauntingly beautiful”? I was expecting straightforward, no-nonsense anti-theist prose. I am intrigued.

  8. says

    @10: No, no: PZ can wax lyrical almost as easily as he can excoriate, and “Proper Reverence” is easily among the most moving pieces he’s ever written. I’m about half-way through the book — it’s best read one chapter per day, I think — and enjoying it.

  9. notsont says

    Over at “the blog that is not a blog” its being said that PZ has spent the past year or so lying to everyone and saying the book would be “all original”. Never mind that in multiple places you quite plainly state that a lot of it is from previous Pharyngula posts. Apparently your a bad writer because you did not put in bold type on the cover that most of it can be gotten for free on the internet…something something peer reviewed science journals don’t allow “self plagiarism’ so you shouldn’t either.

  10. Randomfactor says

    Guess I should take it out of the box sometime. But they lose so much value when you drive them off the lot…

  11. operabuff says

    I’m the fan who wrote that letter, and if anyone knows of any classes (online or in the Twin Cities area) debunking alternative “healing”, please let me know; I’d love to use a class like that to try to fulfill my alternative “healing” requirement. I believe the classes have to offer CEUs, so that leaves out using books on the subject.
    As for “Proper Reverence”, yes, that chapter is truly beautiful. I grew up in NYC, the product of a secular Jewish household, and some of my fondest childhood memories involve roaming the halls of the American Museum of Natural History; by the time my children were old enough for the AMNH there was a diorama of the Laetoli footprints, plus halls of human evolution, halls of vertebrate evolution and halls of invertebrate evolution, brilliant arranged cladistically so you could walk along the lines of the cladogram while viewing the exhibits.
    Another wonderful childhood memory is my parents’ subscription to National Geographic magazine; I watched for the new issue each month and, if there was an article by Louis and Mary Leakey in the magazine, I would read it before my parents even realized a new issue had arrived! Even as a child, I found the idea of early hominids living their lives in Africa, raising their children, forming bonds and relationships, doing the day to day tasks of life, moving and inspiring.

  12. burgundy says

    I just looked up the original “Proper Reverence” post. Wow. Just knowing there’s an expanded version in the book is enough for me to want to buy it.

  13. bodie425 says

    Sigh. . . As a nurse, I too deal with the religious non-sense of co-workers, families, and occasionally patients (though I tend to be much more tolerant when it’s a patients beliefs.) It’s a real challenge to not go PZ on them when they spout their silliness, especially after they’ve been slammed with medical science and skill to stave off death. Too often I hear the, “I believe miracles can happen” blather.

  14. wirelizard says

    Getting more and more interested in snagging a copy of PZ’s book now. Shall have to see if the local library has it.

    The thought occurs that “The Proper Reverence Due Those Who Have Gone Before” would also make a very suitable name for a Culture spaceship.

    Strange, the things that drive me to finally de-lurk and comment here!

  15. athyco says

    “Niobrara” being the next to last essay made it yummy dessert.

    My son asked to borrow my car (better by far on gas than his) for an outing with friends. I wouldn’t give him the keys until he’d read “Niobrara.” Now he’s reading The Happy Atheist from the beginning, and he’s commented “Explain chalk formation” on the FB page of a friend flirting with YEC.

  16. marcus says

    I just got the book as an ARC at my bookstore (as in real book, you e-readers are going to be sad when the zombie apocalypse renders those little plastic thingies useless). I am starting it today! And of course we are carrying it at the store. Congratulations PZ!

  17. Lynn says

    I bought your book for my boyfriend, which means I’ll read it eventually. He’s enjoying getting into the atheist scene in the PNW and is currently obsessed with finding art that speaks to non-belief.

  18. says


    (as in real book, you e-readers are going to be sad when the zombie apocalypse renders those little plastic thingies useless).

    :ahem: I haz the tree version and the e-version. I’m covered. :D