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The Happy Atheist

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  483 ratings  ·  86 reviews
From the author of one of the web's most popular science blogs, The Happy Atheist takes on religious fanaticism with all the gleeful disrespect it deserves. A small, fearless book that takes aim at big, stupid targets--and nails them.

For the last several years, PZ Myers, writing the blog Pharyngula, has entertained millions of readers every month with his infectious love o
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2013)
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people aren't religious because they're stupid; rather, religion is a parasite of the mind that makes people do stupid things and think stupid thoughts and, worst of all, believe that freeing themselves of superstition would make them less human and less able to cope with reality, when the exact opposite is true. i laugh because they do goofy, foolish things in the name of their god, but also because i hope that a little raucous hilarity will wake a few of them from their surreal lives and show
Per my status update, for any non-Gnu Atheists, skeptics, agnostics, etc., who are familiar with PZ, this book is what you'd expect. Basically, it's a collection of edited blog posts.

He has good critiques of religion, and is good at things like rejecting non-overlapping magisteria, at pointing out that liberal-minded believers have the same metaphysical problems as fundamentalists, and more.

But, it's the usual PZ bombast that goes beyond snarkiness to snideness.

And, this made me realize one new
Occam's Whetstone
I bought this book as a possible toilet reader, thinking it might be fun to have short essays to dip in and out of on visits to the throne, and to be hyperbolic I'd suggest this book could be put to good use in the water closet, just not for reading.

The essays themselves are poorly written and edited, the sources are minimal, the arguments are straw and there's no theme or consistency. There is nothing additional to the original blog posts in most cases and it just doesn't work in this format. W
Good points for preaching to the choir (irony intended), but a bit confrontational for non-atheists. I call myself "The Peaceful Atheist," because, after a personal 55-year long Reformation that has taken me from Catholic school pupil to agnostic to atheist, I have attained a peaceful belief in post-death oblivion. I attribute this acceptance to the book THE SWERVE, which seemed to give me permission to be atheist. THE HAPPY ATHEIST seems to tell people what to think, just like many Christians d ...more
PZ Myers is a breath of fresh, godless air. As much as I enjoy reading the works of the "new" atheists (Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc), the tone of their efforts is generally of a much more serious, often times combative nature, an urgent call to action against primitive beliefs that hold back the progress of humanity. While Myers does address many serious topics, his humor pervades within The Happy Atheist, offering an alternative, light-hearted perspective on why the belief ...more
This book was a fun read, and I enjoyed reading it, but it didn't really bring up anything that hasn't been brought up before, and I figure is probably preaching the choir. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it isn't a bad book. I laughed out loud a few times, and I certainly enjoyed reading this.
I think PZ was just creating a book of whatever he felt like, and he did that. So it's not a good non-fiction book, but it isn't a bad read. I guess if you don't have Wifi and want a bit of PZ's bl
Jinx Mchue
Oct 11, 2011 Jinx Mchue marked it as to-read
The fact that PZ is writing a book called "The Happy Atheist" is incredibly ironic. This man is NOT happy.
Probably the most difficult thing about this book is that what he spends most of his time with are exact same issues I have with religion today.

I believe in God, but sometimes I wonder what's the point when so many who claim to follow him are silly at best, and evil at worst.

"Lately [God] has become a devotee of football, and players and spectators beg for his divine favor in helping to get a ball from one side of the field to the other."

"Jehovah is the god of sanctimonious killjoys. How else t
This book made me a Happy Atheist. Not that I wasn’t before I read it, but in some small way PZ Myers has made me that much happier. I have already recommended this book to a number of friends and will continue to do so. Unlike many of Myers’ critics, who predictably complain that he broke no new ground here, and that his approach was unrefined and lacked direction, I enjoyed the pace and meandering path the book led me along. In fact, I dare say, this is precisely the point of any book, to allo ...more
Ryan Smith
While it admittedly sounds harsher than I really intend, what I want to say about this book is that I don't have much to say at all, because neither does PZ Myers. By this I don't mean at all that he is unintelligent or inarticulate in his criticisms and observations; he is obviously both of these things and has a relatively commensurate following in the skeptical community. Arguably worse, this book largely commits the cardinal sin that the late and indelible Christopher Hitchens warned against ...more
Tommy Carlson
Not an earthshaking work and it suffers from a lack of direction. Despite that, it's a good fun read and I recommend it.

On the negative side, it reminds me of a lot of popular science books in that there's a lot of stuff that any decently well-read atheist already knows. It also reads more as a series of blog posts than as cohesive work. Until the very end, where it then attempts to string some chapters together. Which, at that point, merely illustrates the lack earlier in the book.

On the positi
Easy targets. Little insight. Nothing on the complexity or poetry of religion. Unhappy (a)theist.
David James
I suppose I could complain here that Myers spends this entire book going after the low hanging fruit. But the fact is, religion has never been composed of anything other than low hanging fruit. And in our society, at least, the dominant religion is based on the idea that if you dare pluck that low hanging fruit from the tree, you'll be condemned to hellfire eternal. It's such transparently absurd nonsense that any reasonably intelligent five-year-old could see right through it. So it's always go ...more
Koen Crolla
PZ's inevitable and long-awaited book about atheism. He talks about most of the major events that have also made his blog—Crackergate, Terry Jones, Catholic paedophiles and paedophile apologists, Boobquake, &c.; Atheism+ is conspicuously absent—as well as general issues surrounding religion, but each chapter is an independent vignette and the whole thing lacks focus and a directed narrative.
In fact, The Happy Atheist reminds me of nothing so much as Paul Arden's execrable God Explained in a
Gemma Alexander
Arguments about the existence of god bore me. I know my own opinion, and I don’t care about yours.

I’m ambivalent about books based on blogs. Part of me feels gypped; it’s just a a bunch of prewritten material lazily recycled. Another part of me thinks, “Way to go fellow writer! Way to build on a platform and add a book to your bio. I wish I was smart enough to do that.”

I often found myself arguing with the book – not with the arguments per se, because Myers pretty much only shoots at targets too
Yes I am agnostic but this book made me cringe. The sarcasm that is splattered profusely throughout this book is heightened to the level of ridiculous. Myers resorts to rather offensive depictions of a godly figure, (remember I'm agnostic, so for me to be offended....) and enjoys imagining a fallen god. I don't condone following religious beliefs, but to slam other religions in such a poor style of writing shows a lack of respect and shall only fuel anger in religious believers.
Hugh Coverly
I am a graduate of both a Bible College ("advanced Sunday School") and a liberal, multi-denominational ("highly dysfunctional") seminary. In the late 1990s I came out as an atheist, after years of attempting to reconcile religious belief with scientific knowledge; Simply put, I discovered it cannot be done. This is the book I wish I had had access to 20 or 30 years ago. Had it been available then, I would have taken a different direction in my education.

This collection of essays, based on previo
Classic PZ Myers, a style very familiar to those who read his blog, where much of the material in the book apparently originated. Many well-done criticisms of religion, many uplifting praises of the godless life. The essays near the end are some of the best in the book. It was good to have the "crackergate" story and the "Courtier's Reply" essay in there, along with several essays decrying accommodationism.
Kelly Sinclair
Not bad. It's most just a collection of blog posts. Each chapter reads and feels like a blog.

It's kinda rant-y, very opinionated, but casual and amusing. Myers in this book doesn't bring anything new to the table. Every argument has been done before, he just uses a few different examples, but the message is still the same. If you've been an atheist for a while now you won't learn anything from this book, and if you're a new atheist I still wouldn't recommend this book because it's just a rant bl
This is one of the best books on the topic I have read in a very long time. Mr. Myers puts the emphasis on being happy and true to one's self over the need to nose in and disprove the beliefs of others. He refers to the professional method of today's most prominent New Atheists as simply "being dicks."

SO on point. Love it.

As a professor of biology, Mr. Myers does spend a healthy portion of the book on evolutionary theory, but it is far from the sole topic. I found this collection of essays to be
Eileen Breseman
Hits the nail on the head. Argument for logic, reason, science, proof and total debunking of religious claims in a humorous, sometimes poke-in-the-eye style, but overall an intelligent read.
Favorite passage "many letters from people... that I made them look up the evidence to show that I was wrong, and that eventually they changed their minds, and come around to something close to what I'd argued - but never exactly right on to my views. That's the curse of skeptical and scientific thinking: it
This is a very a ell written book that will never be popular. Not only because of the topic which is about as controversial as you can get, but also because this is t writing "for the masses". PZ Myers is a professor of biology and he writes like one. I should know because I'm one too. If I were to give this book to a non scientist, even an atheistic one, my guess is that they would struggle to get through all 186 pages.

That said, each chapter can stand on its own. I don't recommend reading it
I like PZ Myers. I follow him on Twitter and read 90% of his blog posts. So it surprised me how little enjoyment I got out of his book. I like to read his blog because he is an atheist, biologist, and feminist and anytime those 3 topics intersect he has something interesting to say. My problem with this book is it has little in the way of biology or feminism.
Each chapter is very short and the individual chapters have virtually nothing to do with each other. A chapter is essentially the length of
Joseph F.
There are quite a few books out there about atheism. I read a few but had my fill. However, I picked up this one because it looked humorous. Indeed it was! P. Z. Myers does not disappoint. He has a sarcastic biting wit that will make you gleefully cheer, mainly for the fact that someone finally said what you've been thinking for a long time. Some of his arguments have flaws, and I don't agree with everything he says, but much of what he says reveals the insanity of various belief systems. Needle ...more
May 28, 2015 Alis added it
This is an odd sort of book; a collection of homilies about a bunch of atheism-related topics.

It's definitely no The God Delusion or God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, lacking the incisive research and driving polemic. In fact, and unusually for Myers, The Happy Atheist could almost be called... cozy?

I guess different people will have different reactions to the various chapters. For me, "So Alone"--about of place in the vast universe--was probably the most effective. Followed by
I read PZ Myers blog for a long time and largely agreed with his sentiments at the time so my hyperbolically negative review does not come from any animus I brought with me when beginning this book. My main problem is that the book completely fails, in my opinion, to integrate his blog posts into a coherent readable work. They were fine on the blog where there's more context or non sequiturs and extreme changes in tone and lack of resolution are permissible. In the book however it makes for pain ...more
Todd Martin
PZ Myers has been a leading force on the web for science and rationality and a staunch opponent of religious superstition (particularly where those beliefs intersect with public policy). He is known for his no-holds-barred style of writing and direct, sometimes confrontational approach … he also has a great sense of humor. His blog may be found at:

With that as an introduction, I very much wanted to like PZ’s book The Happy Atheist. I read his blog regularly
P.Z. Myers is not included in the so-called Four Horsemen of the New Atheism (same as the Old Atheism), but he'd make an excellent wing-man for any of them. His blog Pharyngula, the main act at FreeThoughtBlogs, is commendable for pointing out the daily absurdities of religious thought and practice of people of faith all over the world. An evolutionary biologist and university professor in the American mid-west, Myers is often at the forefront of discussions about evolution and creationism, laug ...more
Joe G.
Powerful and simple essays

Powerful and simple essays

I grew up in a very religious household. I remember asking my mother questions about things that bothered me with religion. Most of her answers were that I should take those things as truth and not question them. As I grew older I realized that most of what religion teaches is just stories made up to conform with the bible. It was pleasure to read a book that reads like I feel.

Yes I'm a theist...and no this isn't why the book gets 1 star. It gets on star because PZ Myers just rants.

I don't have much to say, because neither does PZ Myers.

Summed up:

Christians aren't idiots just disillusioned and incarcerated by these stories that limit their freedom.

But his take on life is much more credible....

We live and then we die (to quote rocky from the boondock saints)

So eat, drink and be happy for when you kick the bucket you kick the bucket. The end.
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Paul Zachary Myers is an American biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and the author of the science blog Pharyngula. He is currently an associate professor of biology at UMM, works with zebrafish in the field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and also cultivates an interest in cephalopods. He has published numerous research papers in Nature and other notab ...more
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“at best, religion generates comforting noises to mask the fact that someone is starving to death, or is dying of cholera, or has had a crusader stick a sword in his or her chest.” 0 likes
“That's the difference between a godly person and an atheist. Our stories are shorter and don't assume the protagonist is an idiot.” 0 likes
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