PZ Myers: The Rush Limbaugh of Atheism?

I certainly understand why people like PZ Myers’s style. It is easy and uncomplex, and impatient with nuance. It’s what makes Fox News so popular. And it may well draw a crowd of young people. Myers is ever on the ready to stir the shit. And he is supremely confident. These are attractive features to many insecure people. They are also the characteristics of the demagogue. I know I take a harsh view of PZ Myers, but I also share a number of his beliefs. But just like you can be a conservative and not like Rush Limbaugh, so you can be an agnostic or atheist and not like PZ Myers.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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9 Responses to PZ Myers: The Rush Limbaugh of Atheism?

  1. morsec0de says:

    “It is easy and uncomplex, and impatient with nuance.”

    Have you read a lot of PZ’s stuff?

    Now, you are fully within your right to dislike him. That’s fine with me.

    And perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t find his posts uncomplex or impatient with nuance. Certainly a lot of what he says within his posts can be that way. And if you only read what other sources quote him as saying, you’ll get a very one-sided view of him.

    If I’m wrong and you have read a lot of PZ and still dislike him, so be it. To each their own.

  2. It’s funny when people say stupid crap like “um, have you read a lot of his stuff????”

    Myers actually makes Limbaugh look relatively decent, rational and open-minded. And the MORE one reads by PZM the MORE obvious that is.

  3. santitafarella says:


    I’ve blogged or alluded to Myers quite a bit, and I have a search engine above and to the right. I agree with you that Myers can be complex at times. But his “confidence atheism”—or faitheism—is (for me) a general disappointment. I thought, for example, his Catholic host wafer gesture last year was wildly jut-jawed, illiberal, and gross, and was conducted in the rhetorical style of a fanatic. See here for my take on that:


    And I think (for example) that the way he talks about Francis Collins etc. is in the rhetorical mode familiar to shout radio. It’s a cultural thing, obviously. We live in a world of Twitter and Fox News, and people are conditioned to salivate to invective that sizes up people and ideas quickly and dismissively. I’m not surprised that Myers is popular. I just think it is pathetic that secular movements supposedly devoted to reason are so blatantly mirroring the surrounding culture in rhetorical style.


  4. santitafarella says:


    Thanks for the link. I’ll post the YouTube in a separate post.


  5. Dan Fincke says:

    There are good reasons to engage in mockery as Myers does when challenging faith which do not apply to most other intellectual debates. The issue is that the point of contention is reason itself. When you are debating people who show contempt for the need to give reasons itself, then such absurdity requires laughter and derision because it has sworn off responsiveness to reason. Secular rationalists, as far as I can judge them, seem to want nothing more than a world of rational debate but have learned that reason itself must be defended through emotional appeals to counter the pervasive and often irrationally powerful influence of tradition and traditionalism on the average person.

    I mean, when Daniel Dennett is getting attacked for daring to simply tell OTHER ATHEISTS that it’s okay for them to own up to their disbelief and not fear that it is socially detrimental and something to discourage in their neighbors, you can tell we have a ridiculously long way to go before people’s emotions are receptive to secularism: willing to acknowledge that truth matters for its own sake, willing to accept faithlessness as a good thing, willing to frankly call superstitious nonsense superstitious nonsense rather than treat it with undue reverence—regardless of how many people hold it dear, and willing to challenge the myth that faith is an inherently good thing always capable of clear disassociation from religious authoritarianism.

    When people’s hearts are set against reason itself, you have to turn to addressing their hearts and making them feel embarrassed or angry or otherwise uncomfortable with themselves when they are being irrational. For too long the opposite feelings have improperly been cultivated.

  6. Pingback: How PZ Myers Differs From Rush Limbaugh « Camels With Hammers

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