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The Happy Atheist

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  823 ratings  ·  126 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
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published August 13th 2013 by Pantheon (first published January 1st 2013)
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Occam's Whetstone
Aug 19, 2013 rated it did not like it
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.
Sep 08, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jinx Mchue
Oct 11, 2011 rated it did not like it
The fact that PZ wrote a book called "The Happy Atheist" is incredibly ironic. This man is NOT happy, as clearly evidenced by his blog. Speaking of his blog, that's all this book is: culled and marginally edited copies of his blog posts. If you've read his blog, you've read the book. Pretty sad.
Aug 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: freethinker
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 ...more
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
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Aug 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Ryan  Smith
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
The Happy Athiest is a book of essays about the insanity of religions and the religious. Many of the essays were about topics many of us have probably wondered about or thought. Some of the things PZ Myers wrote was worth a good laugh but it was scattered throughout.
Sep 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Easy targets. Little insight. Nothing on the complexity or poetry of religion. Unhappy (a)theist.
Jul 12, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2018
I'm an atheist and was hoping this book would talk about how to lead a meaningful life and form connections without religion, the title makes it seem like that. But the emotion I got from this was contempt, and the sick satisfaction that comes from pointing out someone else's faults. The book was published in 2013 and in this post-Trump culture I just couldn't stand to read something so divisive.

"People aren't religious because they're stupid; rather, religion is a parasite of the mind that
Koen Crolla
Sep 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
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
Tommy Carlson
Aug 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book spoke to me. This is a collection of essays by PZ Myers, a biology professor at the U of M - Morris. PZ is a nationally known personality in the skeptic and atheist circles, and is very active on Twitter and posts regularly on his blog at scienceblogs.pharyngula. He speaks eloquently of evolution and takes down such things as creationism, biblical literalism, intelligent design, and a number of religious-based beliefs. Each essay is interesting and well written. He mixes a lot of humor ...more
Steve Chaput
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Myers does a wonderful job of explaining just what it is to be an atheist in a world filled with so many believers. He does this with humor, but also with a serious and scientific viewpoint. He examines the sometimes laughable arguments of those who defend their beliefs, but also understands where some of that belief comes from.

Wonderful book for those beginning to question what they were raised to believe and also for those who have been happy to have put that behind us years ago.
Stopped reading 13% in. I think this author is well meaning, but he comes across as very antagonistic. I doubt he will change anyone's mind.
David James
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it
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 ...more
Jul 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: secularism
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.
Sep 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
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.
Amanda [Novel Addiction]
Oct 03, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This wasn't bad. Parts were very interesting. He definitely gets his point across, but I dunno... I wasn't wowed. Amused sometimes, but not wowed.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book is quite controversial and, at the same time, typical for the majority of the people being atheists. It includes a lot of interesting, wise and somewhat funny ideas about religions. Yet, the philosophy of the author remains on the level of a teenager who has just started analyzing the world and found many illogical aspects of the things which are important only for real fanatics while the majority of the Christians treat this religion just as a simple tradition which lacks any sacral ...more
Susan Chow-Dukhan
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A thought provoking book regarding religion and the existence of God. It covers a variety of questions/observations regarding religious beliefs with tongue-in-cheek humour. His writings provide food for thought, but they should only be read for entertainment value.
While some of his arguments have been brought up before, the author chooses to ignore/misrepresent parts of the Bible. In several sections in the book, P.Z. Myers repeatedly says that based on the Bible, the Earth is approx. 6,000
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked the book (audio, read by Aron Ra)
tho it didn't offer anything new to me, similarly as many reviewers pointed out. I'm not from US and I've never been religious.
I think the book might be useful for those who recently lost, or are in the process of leaving religion, and are going through "angry atheist" phase. It may offer some arguments if you aren't familiar with how to argue with theists.
The title like that, in my opinion, is there to show that you can be generally happy but still
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
This was a fun easy audiobook to listen to on a long thanksgiving drive. It definitely brought up the same arguments against religion that have always been told. Though they are right, it would have been interesting to hear a new perspective or argument. But I did like that it was way less serious and "people are so stupid" than most other atheists' writings. It was a good blend of thought and humor that I was looking for.
Franz Pajunen
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: atheism
funny, irreverent, and made me think hard about what I believe and why...not afraid to poke jabs at the sacred cows in our lives, and the episodic nature of the book works well for its content...glad to have read it...may have to revisit it in a year or so and see how my perceptions have changed...anyway, do recommend to people of any faith who are aiming to be a little less serious and a little more critical
Jacob Folkman
Aug 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Nothing new. It's a fine book, but isn't covering anything that isn't covered elsewhere and in a better fashion. Anyone familiar with basic tenets of atheism and its corresponding view of modern religion will find this book to be an echo chamber. If you're new to reading about atheism, however, this is a good book.
Michael Tardibuono
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I made the mistake of reading the previous reviews and thinking this was a bad book. It's not. I always resented PZ for Crackergate, but it turns out I didn't know the details. It also cemented the idea that many people actually believe in religion. They aren't just agreeable people going along with it because that's the civil thing to do.
John Stowe
May 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Atheism Elevated

It was so refreshing to digest a positive and sensitive view of atheism. Much atheistic material is so defensive as to be reactionary but Myers embraces his beliefs in a positive and rational way with love and intelligence. Laced with spot-on humor, the Happy Atheist is a great read for skeptics who still have one foot in religious mire.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #92 The Happy Atheist by PZ Myers 1 4 Aug 30, 2014 05:01PM  

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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 ...more
“What religion has always done is pander to biases, achieving success not by challenging people with something new but by reinforcing what they already believe, no matter how wrong it is. By contrast, science shines by breaking the shackles of our preconceptions and letting us work with what really is. The” 1 likes
“I’m an atheist swimming in a sea of superstition, surrounded by well-meaning, good people with whom I share a culture and similar concerns, and there’s only one thing I can do. I have to laugh. Living” 1 likes
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