Imperial nudity is openly on display, in taverns women discuss the emperor discourteously. Less uncouth women snigger quietly behind their handkerchiefs. Many women compare imperial attractiveness with the manliness of their husbands and boyfriends. Indeed later we know those women will be cuddling their partners while making comments like, "You look better than the naked emperor, darling."

Then a courtier gets involved and refuses to admit anything is wrong. That is The Courtier's Reply, a sequel to "The Emperor's New Clothes". [1]

The courtier[]

See the main article on this topic:The Courtier

The courtier insists nobody should dare suggest his imperial majesty is undressed without first studying fashion design, tailoring and other similarly sophisticated subjects in detail.

How is fashion and tailoring relevant to recognising that the emperor is naked? The courtier doesn't get round to explaining all that.


There is a parallel with the way Christians too often avoid answering the arguments that Richard Dawkins and other new atheists give and instead insist that atheists haven't read enough Sophisticated theology. We note Muslims also to it. [2] Similarly some Christians try to argue, atheists shouldn't criticise Christianity without studying what Sophisticated theologians write in detail. Then if we read theology they still complain. We haven't read enough or we read the wrong stuff, or we haven't read it in the uncritical frame of mind Christians prefer. There's always a new criticism.

If they really had evidence for God they'd tell us where to find that evidence instead of complaining that we don't read enough irrelevant theology wouldn't they?. [3]

Religion is unsound[]

Those who support Christianity sometimes recognise there's no sound reason to believe in Jesus but would rather ordinary people don't find that out. After all teaching Christian humility is a good way to stop subordinates questioning when those in authority become corrupted by power.

—(PZ Myers)

Personally, I suspect that perhaps the Emperor might not be fully clothed — how else to explain the apparent sloth of the staff at the palace laundry — but, well, everyone else does seem to go on about his clothes, and this Dawkins fellow is such a rude upstart who lacks the wit of my elegant circumlocutions, that, while unable to deal with the substance of his accusations, I should at least chide him for his very bad form.

Christians and their supporters often see they can't answer arguments showing belief in God isn't reasonable. Then their next tactic can be to complain that attacking Christianity is somehow improper. Christians feel free to criticise atheism in impolite ways but we shouldn't exercise free speech. The Religious Right and Christian Fundamentalists generally do a great deal of harm, we think we should be able point out all the problems.

See also[]

The Courtier's Reply When can one use The Courtier's Reply? Find that out and more.

External links[]

"Courtier's Reply" from Pharyngula Wiki quotes Myers in full. It’s really funny and well worth reading. [4]



  1. The Courtier's Reply by PZ Myers imagines how the famous story, by Hans Christian Andersen could continue. A few people outside western countries may not know the story so for anyone who would like to read it or refresh their memory here are links. Swindlers persuade a vane emperor that they can get him magic clothes. These clothes look fine, really magnificent to worthy folk but fools and unfit people can’t see anything. (People do sometimes believe wild, improbable paranormal stories so perhaps this fairy tale isn't too bizarre.) The climax of the story has the emperor parading while neither he nor anyone else admits they can’t see wonderful clothes. Finally a child says the emperor is naked and after that everyone recognizes the emperor’s nudity.
  2. Sophisticated Courtier's Reply
  3. Defending the Courtiers at Intellectual Conservative
  4. Incidentally Myers isn't the only atheist who compares religious faith to the naked emperor of Andersen. Galileo Unchained uses the same comparison, see Faith Shows the Emperor has No Clothes.

External links[]