According to Alexa Internet, Pharyngula.org was started on 19 June, 2002. It started out as an experiment in writing instruction for a class. Students were required to submit mini-essays to be published online. After the project was finished, Myers still had the web-publishing software, and started to use it personally. The blog is named after his favourite stage in embryonic development, the pharyngula stage. Pharyngula moved to hosting at ScienceBlogs in 2005.
In 2007 Myers reviewed Stuart Pivar's book Lifecode, which argues that self-organization at the embryonic and fetal determines the development and final structure of organisms. Myers reviewed the book negatively, stating that the diagrams and ideas in the book arose from Pivar's imagination and had no basis in actual evidence. After some discussion in the comments threads of Pharyngula, Pivar sued Myers for libel. Within a week Pivar withdrew the lawsuit, stating that "the real issue got sidelined" and that his problem was more with Seed Media Group.
In June 2008 Myers commented on national press reports that a University of Central Florida student took a host (Eucharist wafer) from a Catholic Mass in response to forcible attempts to stop him from carrying it back to his seat, where he planned to show it to a fellow student who was curious about the Catholic faith. After death threats were directed against the student by some who were offended by the student's behavior, Myers composed his first blog post on the topic. After describing the harassment leveled against the student, he asked readers to acquire for him consecrated Eucharistic hosts, which he could treat "with profound disrespect and heinous cracker abuse, all photographed and presented here on the web." Donohue's Catholic League responded with a letter demanding the University of Minnesota and the Minnesota State Legislature take action against Myers. Proponents of this action noted that Myer's blog could be reached from his university web page. Myers has received several death threats and a lot of hate mail over the controversy.
Myers often criticizes intelligent design, creationist and other pseudoscientific websites. He also often posts on subjects such as science, religion, politics, superstition, and education. His experience in evolutionary developmental biology and as a teacher provides depth to the subjects of science and education. One theme that arises regularly is that of cephalopods, creatures that Myers finds quite fascinating.
In particular Myers frequently offers specific criticisms of creationism, including intelligent design as well as the Discovery Institute, Answers in Genesis, and other groups that promote pseudoscientific ideas. For example, in February and March 2007, he focused many of his attacks on creationist neurosurgeon Michael Egnor, who had recently joined the Discovery Institute. In addition to Myers' criticisms of Egnor's arguments on evolution and Intelligent Design, Myers criticized the Discovery Institute's reliance on someone whose expertise wasn't relevant to evolution.
In early April 2007, Myers participated in an April Fools joke arranged by The Panda's Thumb which manufactured a website spoofing the Discovery Institute's page on which "Egnor" admitted that his association with the Discovery Institute was itself an April Fools joke. This elaborate prank succeeded in fooling many of his readers, while others succeeded in spotting jokes in the design of the false Discovery Institute page and concluded that this admission was itself the prank. He made a point the following day that he perceived it as getting exceedingly difficult to believe some creationists were for real and highlighted a quote by Stephen Meyer.
In June 2005, Myers criticized a cartoon by biblical literalist Jim Pinkoski which claimed that the Biblical line, "There were giants in the earth in those days," (Genesis 6:4) was literally intended to convey that early humans were much taller than their modern counterparts. Pinkoski placed Adam at tall and Noah at tall. What Myers found most interesting about this cartoon, however, was the note on it which read, "NOTE: If you doubt this is possible, how is it there are PYGMIES + DWARFS?? [sic]".
Myers argued that the existence of pygmies and dwarfs now is a non sequitur when it comes to whether humans were tall 6,000 years ago. If Pinkoski's claims were valid, humans would perhaps continue to decrease in height and approach that small size at some time in the future, but this doesn't mean those small humans would exist now (barring the use of time-travel, a claim Pinkoski never makes). Myers went on to mock the irrelevance of this argument with parodies such as:
The phrase has since been picked up by various bloggers to ridicule creationist arguments, and is also popular with commenters at The Panda's Thumb. The phrase is generally capitalized and bolded to match how it originally appeared in Pinkoski's cartoon.
I have considered the impudent accusations of Mr Dawkins with exasperation at his lack of serious scholarship. He has apparently not read the detailed discourses of Count Roderigo of Seville on the exquisite and exotic leathers of the Emperor's boots, nor does he give a moment's consideration to Bellini's masterwork, On the Luminescence of the Emperor's Feathered Hat. We have entire schools dedicated to writing learned treatises on the beauty of the Emperor's raiment, and every major newspaper runs a section dedicated to imperial fashion; Dawkins cavalierly dismisses them all. He even laughs at the highly popular and most persuasive arguments of his fellow countryman, Lord D. T. Mawkscribbler, who famously pointed out that the Emperor would not wear common cotton, nor uncomfortable polyester, but must, I say must, wear undergarments of the finest silk.
Dawkins arrogantly ignores all these deep philosophical ponderings to crudely accuse the Emperor of nudity.
Dawkins himself quoted the Courtier's Reply in a debate with Alister McGrath, referring to its author as "the magnificent P-Zed Myers". He also referenced the Courtier's Reply in the preface to The God Delusion's 2007 paperback edition.
The "new atheism" (I don't like that phrase, either) is about taking a core set of principles that have proven themselves powerful and useful in the scientific world — you've probably noticed that many of these uppity atheists are coming out of a scientific background — and insisting that they also apply to everything else people do. These principles are a reliance on natural causes and demanding explanations in terms of the real world, with a documentary chain of evidence, that anyone can examine. The virtues are critical thinking, flexibility, openness, verification, and evidence. The sins are dogma, faith, tradition, revelation, superstition, and the supernatural. There is no holy writ, and a central idea is that everything must be open to rational, evidence-based criticism — it's the opposite of fundamentalism.Eventually, Myers summarized his stance by invoking "Blake's Law", which he named for the blogger who first codified it. Blake's Law is an adage that frequent Pharyngula commentator Blake Stacey formulated in 2007, based in concept on Godwin's Law. The law states:
As with Godwin's Law, the person who compares the atheist to a religious fundamentalist is considered to have lost the argument.