Anonymous Theist Coward Tries to Get Me Fired

Last month, an anonymous theist coward with e-mail address “” sent e-mail to at least 35 members of my department, informing them that I am an atheist (gasp!), and trying to get me fired.

This isn’t the first time this happened. About twenty years ago, some local evangelicals were actually picketing outside the gates of my university with the same goal. They failed, but everybody had a good time laughing.

I am happy to say that DrIntellectual’s plan also backfired. Nearly everybody ignored DrIntellectual’s message, except the Dean, who wrote me to offer his support.  I guess DrIntellectual has never heard of “academic freedom” and what it entails.

The two things that drove DrIntellectual to inchoate rage seem to be my review of Stephen Meyer’s book, Signature in the Cell, and my review of Patrick Glynn’s book, God: The Evidence. But DrIntellectual offers nothing against the views I presented there, except some variations on “Wow! Oxygen! Hence, God!”. This is literally an 18th century view: it was Dartmouth’s founder, Eleazar Wheelock, who reportedly once offered the prayer, “O Lord! We thank Thee for the Oxygen gas; we thank Thee for the Hydrogen gas; and for all the gases.” But it’s the 21st century now. We don’t burn witches any more, either.

Why is DrIntellectual driven to act like this? I don’t know, but it’s typical behavior for a certain species of theist. This kind of person is so steeped in Jeebus that it’s literally inconceivable that anyone could believe differently. Furthermore, anyone who disbelieves must be evil, and therefore no tactic against them is too slimy. (It’s the same method used by Scientologists on what they call “suppressive people”.) Luckily, these dirty tricksters are usually too impotent to do much harm.

What DrIntellectual is really saying by his actions is that my book reviews are powerful. They represent such a threat to his insecure world view that he has to resort to this kind of poison-pen attack. He can’t simply leave a comment on my blog or write his own rebuttal. No, the rest of the world has to coddle DrIntellectual’s weak faith by removing all obstacles to it. He even resorts to implicit threats, writing “in the end, there will be a test, a very important test. Don’t fail it.” Threats like these are the theist’s weapon of choice.

The Internet is the most powerful weapon against this kind of theism ever devised. When people of good will see the kinds of tactics some theists have to resort to, they know very well who is winning the argument. We are.


  1. says

    I’m sorry anyone bothered to take the time to do this, but I’m happy this did not affect you in any major way. It would be nice if Christians could manage to live up to that whole ‘love’ business now and then.

  2. cubist says

    We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
    We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
    And we pray that all unity may one day be restored
    And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love
    They will know we are Christians by our love.

    Yes… we certainly do know Christians by what they purport their ‘love’ to be.

  3. Owlmirror says

    I am baffled as to how he thought his complaint was supposed to work. Your writing critical reviews is supposed to inspire the university firing you . . . because?

  4. StonedRanger says

    Dang, a test? Were we supposed to take notes? This is some stupid stuff to have happen to you. Im glad that those who received the emails gave them exactly as much attention as they deserved. I wish I could offer some insight on this kind of behavior, but I too am baffled by these so called ‘acts of love’.

  5. blf says

    I guess DrIntellectual has never heard of “academic freedom” and what it entails.

    The kook possibly has, but filtered though opaque rationalizations / projections: Dr Shallit is not like me, therefore wrong. And an atheist, so cannot possibly be correct. That’s what “academic freedom” means: “Saying ‘Yer a liar! You don’t understand!'” QED (that’s “academic freedom” talk for closing out the “real people” with “common sense”).

  6. Owlmirror says

    The review of Glynn’s book has the following:

    But now that biologists understand the theory of natural selection, there is no need for such untestable hypotheses. Perhaps there is a gene for what Paul Kurtz called the “transcendental temptation”. If Glynn’s data were correct, prayer might lower stress, resulting in better health and hence improved reproductive success. In time, such a gene would spread throughout the population through purely natural processes.

    Which did make me wince. PZ has ranted many times on the fallacy of thinking that there is always necessarily a single gene “for” some complex human behavioral/cultural/cognitive phenomenon.

    (eg: I wonder if there’s a gene for thinking there’s a gene for everything)

  7. lairbear says

    I’m glad this happened. Some new neighbors stopped by my house recently wanting to meet me and pray with me, and they ended up making similar arguments – Well, where did the trees come from? (yeah, right; where did earthquakes and malaria come from?). I live near a church and I’m just about tired of duped nuts knocking at my door. Still, even I was surprised by my loud, insulting “participation” in our long discussion. Thanks for giving me ideas on how to be more simple, clear, compassionate, and effective.

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