The Happy Atheist by P.Z. Myers

Myer_X_jkt_all_r6.inddThis 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 allow the author to guide you along the path that they intend, not the one you think should be.

The Happy Atheist is a heartfelt and unpretentious look at the folly of religion.  It is blissfully free of condescension and elitism, which many of its contemporary works cannot claim.  And it is smart and witty and impassioned.  Myers set out to write a book on atheism, using humour as a weapon against superstitious wish-thinking, and he succeeded, at least in my mind.

I was immensely impressed with Myers lament for the lost history of generations past.  Lost because their lives, their struggles and their triumphs were not recorded and handed down in the form of a sacred book.  He deftly illustrates the historic and poetic value of the Bible, emphasising its importance as a tool for recognising that our ancestors were people, with lives and dramas and loss.

Though if you take only one thing away from this book, let it be this:  every person has the right to designate any silly thing as sacred to them, but they do not have the right to dictate what is sacred to you and me.  This is the most succinct and intelligent argument that I have ever read against the fallacy that religious beliefs somehow deserve the reverence that the devout so often demand.

Whatever your personal opinion of PZ Myers and his secular antics, or his scathing and often misunderstood wit, you would do well to add this book to your shelf, along-side The God Delusion and God Is Not Great, and if you’re truly enlightened, perhaps even a copy of the Koran and the Bible.

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