PZ Myers – Atheist Supremacist
Paul Zachary Myers was born March 9th 1957, the oldest of six children in a working class family. PZ (named after his father, Myers opted for PZ over “Little Paul”) says if anyone had asked him about his religious beliefs at age twelve, he would have identified himself as a committed Christian. “We were Lake Wobegon Lutherans,” he remembers. But by his mid-teens he’d decided, “I just don’t believe a word of this.”
A developmental biologist (one who studies embryos), Myers holds a BS in zoology from the University of Washington, a PhD in biology from the University of Oregon, and currently teaches biology at the University of Minnesota, Morris. Graying, bespectacled, and bearded, PZ is disarmingly affable in person, but the mild mannered professor cuts loose with fiery ferocity on his blog: “Screw the polite words and careful rhetoric. It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.” Those lunatics and idiots would be scientists who believe in the existence of God.
Where fellow New Atheists advance the cause by writing books, this cyber Napoleon makes war online through his blog, which he started in 2002 and named Pharyngula, after the stage of embryonic development he’s most interested in. Despite its classification as a science blog, though, Pharyngula reads more like an online journal. A typical day’s postings include comments on politics, religion, and occasionally PZ’s appointments or travel plans. “Evolution, development and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal,” reads the heading, capturing Pharyngula’s flavor fairly accurately. PZ estimates he receives a million to a million and a half unique visitors per month.
In addition to shock-blogging, PZ applies the weight of this influence toward advancing “the public understanding of science,” which amounts to imposing his atheistic worldview onto science. Here PZ breaks from the National Academy of Sciences and other scientific organizations who maintain that religious faith is perfectly compatible with belief in evolution. Especially choice spleen gets vented on the Discovery Institute, and in tones reminiscent of the proverbial preacher whose sermon notes advise, “Argument weak here: pound pulpit harder.” Calling the Intelligent Design think tank “a propaganda organization trying to poison the educational system of our country,” PZ is at least frank: “I have nothing but contempt for ID.”
Most Recent Offense:
Last summer, PZ asked his readers to get him a consecrated communion wafer. “I’ll show you sacrilege, gladly, and with much fanfare.” When he got one (Who knows if it was actually consecrated or not?) PZ pierced it with a rusty nail, threw it in the trash with a banana peel and coffee grounds, and posted a photo as proof of the deed. He dubbed it, The Great Desecration, and pronounced, “It is finished.”
But Myers’s most pernicious influence is his crusade to make science education, atheist education. PZ says he doesn’t aim to expunge faith from the country, but he clearly aims to expunge it from the hearts and minds of science students, saying he wants believers to “look at the book of Genesis and ask lots of questions about it.” Meanwhile he opposes – zealously – any suggestion that one of them look at Darwin and ask any questions. Apparently in his world, this is free inquiry.
This article first appeared in Salvo 8, Spring 2009.
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