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Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists Paperback – September 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Ulysses Press (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569756775
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569756775
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Conversions on the road to Damascus are for those who hear voices and fall prey to delusions and who would be better off seeking professional help. Much more valuable in the human story are the reflections of intelligent and ethical people who listen to the voice of reason and who allow it to vanquish bigotry and superstition. This book is a classic example of the latter.

—Christopher Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

I think Godless is fabulous. It came on Friday, and I spent much of the weekend reading it. It was a revelation to me. Others have made the journey ('faith to reason,' childhood to growing up, fantasy to reality, intoxication to sobriety -- however one likes to put it), but I don't think anyone can match the (devastating!) clarity, intensity, and honesty which Dan Barker brings to the telling. And the tone is right all the way through -- not belligerent or confrontational (as is the case with so much, too much, of the literature on this subject—on both sides). I think Godless may well become a classic in its genre.

—Oliver Sacks, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain

Atheists are the last of the minorities in America to come out of the closet, and like other civil rights movements this one began with leaders like Dan Barker and his Freedom from Religion Foundation defending the civil liberties of godless Americans, who deserve equal protection under the Constitution. In his new book, Godless, Barker recounts his journey from evangelical preacher to atheist activist, and along the way explains precisely why it is not only okay to be an atheist, it is something in which to be proud.

—Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, author of How We Believe, Why Darwin Matters, and The Mind of the Market

My kids are in the process of learning about literature, and a rule of thumb they’ve picked up concerns how to recognize the protagonist of a Story: it’s the character who undergoes the greatest transformation. This makes sense, because one of the hardest things we confront is the need to change. By this criterion, in the enormous story of what we all do with our lives, Dan Barker is one of the most interesting and brave protagonists I know. Godless is a fascinating memoir, a tour of one distressing extreme of religiosity, a handbook for debunking theism. But most of all, it is a moving testimonial to one man’s emotional and intellectual rigor in acclaiming critical thinking.

—Robert Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers: An Updated Guide to Stress, Stress-Related Diseases and Coping

Dan Barker's esteemed reputation is richly deserved. I recommend getting three copies. You will need one as a source of evidence to which you will frequently refer. There will be miles and miles of underlining as you mark the pages of special interest to you. You will need your second to lend to others. You will be enthusiastic about this book, and you will want to share its wisdom with family and friends. Others will likewise want to share it, and the book will never be returned to you. Finally, you will want a third copy to be in pristine condition on your bookshelf, since Dan Barker has created a volume which will only grow in its historical significance.

—David Mills, author of Atheist Universe

Review

I think Godless is fabulous. It came on Friday, and I spent much of the weekend reading it. It was a revelation to me. Others have made the journey ('faith to reason,' childhood to growing up, phantasy to reality, intoxication to sobriety -- however one likes to put it), but I don't think anyone can match the (devastating!) clarity, intensity, and honesty which Dan Barker brings to the telling. And the tone is right all the way through -- not belligerent or confrontational (as is the case with so much, too much, of the literature on this subject -- on both sides). I think Godless may well become a classic in its genre.

I think Godless is fabulous. It came on Friday, and I spent much of the weekend reading it. It was a revelation to me. Others have made the journey ('faith to reason,' childhood to growing up, fantasy to reality, intoxication to sobriety -- however one likes to put it), but I don't think anyone can match the (devastating!) clarity, intensity, and honesty which Dan Barker brings to the telling. And the tone is right all the way through -- not belligerent or confrontational (as is the case with so much, too much, of the literature on this subject -- on both sides). I think Godless may well become a classic in its genre.

More About the Author

Dan Barker (1949-) is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and co-host of Freethought Radio. After 19 years as an evangelical minister, Dan "saw the light" and announced his atheism in 1984. His first public appearance as an atheist was on Oprah Winfrey's "AM Chicago." Since that time he has traveled extensively, lecturing and performing on college campuses, and participating in more than 110 public debates defending atheism. A former composer of Christian songs and musicals (for which he still receives royalties), Dan is now a jazz pianist and writer of freethought music, including the albums Beware of Dogma, Friendly, Neighborhood Atheist, and Adrift on a Star. Dan has 5 children, 10 grandchildren, and lives with his wife (and co-president) Annie Laurie Gaylor in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo at window by Tim Buchanan. Photo at piano by Brent Nicastro. Photos at microphone by Bruce Press.)

Customer Reviews

Dan structured the book very well.
McButters
You know, most Christians like to say things like "A Christian can't lose their salvation. And if they do then they were never a Christian in the first place".
Katie-Bell
If a Christian wants to say people like Dan and I leave the faith because we just didn't want to believe, then she needs to read Barker's story.
John W. Loftus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

327 of 349 people found the following review helpful By Kindle Customer VINE VOICE on September 22, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a very good book. I had not been a big Dan Barker fan, but I am now. He did the extraordinary in fully responding to something I had heard from nearly every Christian I've met in the past ten or so years: "You were never really a Christian." I thought my bono fides were pretty good, having a radical conversion experience at 17, scrubbing my plans to become a marine biologist to go into the ministry, obtaining a biblical studies degree from a respected evangelical college, working in churches and for Billy Graham...but Barker has me over a barrel. I can say with Barker that I loved my Christian experience, and that I am an atheist not because of anger, disappointment, bitterness, or temptation, but just because we found that Christian claims are mistaken. They are not true. It is a painful realization that Barker quite rightly likens to a divorce, but we have to find ways to live with ourselves, and living with a lie can only work so long.
The part of the book that presents various arguments against theism is good. I've read pretty widely in atheist literature, so there was nothing really new for me there, but Barker does have a very pleasing writing style, so what I mostly got out of that section are ideas for better expressing myself on, for example, the problem of evil or Pascal's Wager.
But there's something that just about ruins the book, I think, and that's the Richard Dawkins foreword. First I must state clearly that I have enormous respect and affection for Dawkins, go to his website every day, have read nearly all of his books and articles, and count myself a huge fan. But with Dawkins, when it comes to religion you know what you're going to get, and the offering here is typically unsympathetic, coldly rational, and comically insulting.
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463 of 500 people found the following review helpful By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on September 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
Dan Barker's life is an amazing testimony to the power of reason and science over the delusion of believing in Christianity. As an influential Christian evangelist and song writer he shares in this book why he could no longer remain a Christian, and why he became an atheist. It is a powerful and profound story that almost brought tears to my eyes, having experienced a similar change of mind as a former minister and apologist for the Christian faith.

If a skeptic wants to get into the mind of a Pentecostal Christian then she needs to read Barker's story. Dan tells of how everything that happened had a "spiritual significance" for him, even to the point of following so-called divine hunches while driving, to turn right, and then left, wondering if these hunches were actually voices from God. Dan tells of a time when he followed them and found himself at a dead end in the middle of a cornfield! He concluded God had merely tested him to see if he'd be faithful! Isn't that the hoot!

If a Christian wants to say people like Dan and I leave the faith because we just didn't want to believe, then she needs to read Barker's story. Dan tells us that this process "was like tearing my whole frame of reality to pieces, ripping to shreds the fabric of meaning and hope, betraying the values of existence...It was like spitting on my mother, or like throwing one of my children out a window. It was sacrilege." Right that.

As he became an atheist he went through an "awful period of hypocrisy." Especially moving was when Dan, who had recently become a closet atheist, was asked to preach in a service where an openly atheist person named Harry was in attendance. Dan shares how he wanted to say, "Harry! You are right, I'm sorry. There is no God, and this is mumbojumbo nonsense.
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153 of 180 people found the following review helpful By Mark S. on August 28, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is a masterful book that powerfully refutes the bible using logic and reason. Powerfully written, this book should stand in the way in many of those Christian missionaries who preach the bible as an infallible book at face value.
What is also great about this book is that it uses intelligence and common sense as opposed to emotions.
This book serves as a big wake-up call to many Christians who never seriously questioned their faiths.

Dan Barker has the apparent talent in writing with an entertaining, lucid, live, and humorous way. He also has gathered a wealth of knowledge on the subjects of preaching, the bible, and Christianity and became an enthusiastic Evangelical Christian at an early age. Insomuch he became an Evangelical preacher as well as a Christian songwriter for many years. It wasn't until a later age where Dan approached his Christian beliefs by reason and thought, and thus cost him his faith altogether. It's worthy here to note that Dan is part of the "Prometheus society" which requires an extremely high IQ entrance.

With depth and clarity this book sheds light on the ignored side of Christianity that many people who adhere to this faith seem to have no real knowledge about. In this thought provoking book, you'll end up realizing that there is no real reason to believe that Christianity is greater than say, Buddhism.
Dan tells his amazing story in a very interesting and an easy to read way. He explains the various conflicts in Christian doctrines, the fallacies in Christian reasoning ( e.g. resurrection, atonement, ... etc), and the various inconsistencies and contradictions in the Bible, as well as the morality behind many of its teachings. This book is a powerful evidence that many of the Christian Preachers today preach at face value.
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