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The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God Paperback – January 25, 2011


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The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God + Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists + The God Delusion
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ulysses Press (January 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1569758468
  • ISBN-13: 978-1569758465
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.6 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,233,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dan Barker received a degree in religion from Azusa Pacific Univer-sity and was ordained to the ministry by the Standard Community Church. He is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Found-ation and host of Freethought Radio. He has appeared on numerous talk shows, including Oprah Winfrey, Hannity & Colmes and Good Morning America.
Julia Sweeney is an actress, comedian and author, best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live and for her autobiographical solo shows.

Customer Reviews

The first chapter covers this issue, but not in great depth.
Stephanie
In fact, as I was reading the book, I kept thinking, "This would be a great little book for a beginner atheist to see how many hugely important people have no gods."
Darrel W. Ray
He contends that if our lives come to us with a chosen outcome and path, we are not in control of ourselves.
LaRae Meadows

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By LaRae Meadows on April 26, 2011
Format: Paperback
I bent the binding of The Good Atheist, Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God, by Dan Barker, in hopes that I would either come out of it in some way affirmed or finally have a resource for a person struggling with the decision to let go of their faith. When I closed the book, I felt like a sore eared member of the choir. The majority of Barker's book is an appeal to authority and celebrity, a mishap of astonishing proportion when speaking about, to, or for, a community that prides itself on its rational thought.

The Good Atheist is an attempt to address and refute the assertion of bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life by Saddleback Church Pastor Rick Warren that God gives people their purpose. In earnest, Barker only gives himself twenty-five pages to make his argument about the dangers of Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life and to examine how atheists can live good, purposeful lives. The rest of The Good Atheist is a series of topically or categorically collected quotes from atheists, agnostics, or free thinking famous people.

Barker does make an interesting and insightful point about the consequences of a life given to us preplanned by God, as Christians contend. He contends that if our lives come to us with a chosen outcome and path, we are not in control of ourselves. If we were created to worship God and spend our days serving him, we have no autonomy. The Christian contention that we must live within the parameters of the plan set out by God to worship and praise him is not a contention of freedom. It makes us slaves.

A new atheist, or a person who is going through the de-theist-ing process, may find his slavery argument a precious bit of emotional nourishment that facilitates their metamorphosis for a short while.
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By John Mark Green on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dan's book "Godless" was an excellent combination of personal story and reasoned argument.
In contrast, "The Good Atheist" feels like it was slapped together and rushed to press to meet a publishing obligation.
Basically it consists of an essay on why it is demeaning to find purpose in life by being a slave to a god. Dan delivers a good analogy using the Robinson Crusoe story, but his explication of finding purpose apart from God is very lacking. I was expecting the book to be an exploration of what it means to live a well-rounded meaningful life without believing in an imaginary deity. Instead, the rest of the book consists of short bios of atheists, and their contributions to society. The book isn't bad, but if I had been able to look through it, I probably wouldn't have spent the money on it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By RAH on January 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I write this with a heavy heart because I am a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the author is a co-President of FFRF. Other reviews here sum up the major problem of this book - it all-too-briefly glosses over what most readers will assume to be the main point of the book (since it's the subtitle on the front cover): "Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God". Instead, the vast majority of the book is basically just a Bartlett's Quotations From Famous Atheists, with the author's argument being "Look at all these famous accomplished atheists with great lives!"

I guess the book isn't totally useless - if I have an atheist dinner party any time soon, I'll have a book full of witty bon mots from which I can borrow at will. If you want an intellectual treatise, though, this ain't it.

(PS: As a gay man, I was rather appalled to see that for some reason, the author likes the term "homosexuals" when most of the rest of thinking society has moved on to "gays and lesbians". "Homosexuals" is so Masters & Johnson.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By nels on February 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
basically a quick summary of "godless," with the rest of the book just quotes from well-known atheists throughout history. the quotes are definitely interesting, but i read this before "godless," and i'd recommend doing it the other way around.
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful By D. Ld Barker on February 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
I appreciate Dans ambitious writing in his latest book, The Good Atheist.(TGA) It being welcomed by me mostly for his keen and unfavorable critique of Rick Warrens "Purpose Driven" best seller book about how to cultivate a religiously submissive slave mentality.

Warren says to "die to self," to be acquiescent to an imaginary God and Barker says to proudly live your life abundantly for yourself. Warren thinks you are unworthy, stating "it's not about you," and Barker says "not so fast" it IS about you. TGA clearly defines humanist secular values to be recognized, embraced and practiced, with those liberating freethought values being starkly contrasted with the "lowly worm" Christian worldview.

Additionally, if you are needing a quick anthology of well known good atheists / secular humanists that think and live like Barker, you'll now have such a profession referenced collection at your finger tips with TGA.

It might also be noted that even good atheists like me can occasionally experience disillusionment too, for I gave TGA a less than favorable 4 star rating. I don't know if it is fair to judge a book by what was NOT included, but if I may be slightly disappointed in the good publisher, because, for some well thought out reason I'm sure, they left out several really good chapters I was privileged to have proofread in editing prior to printing. I don't mean to disparage Ulysess Press and I don't pretend to know what's best in publishing like they do. I can only hope those good chapters will be included in Barkers next book.

This addendum below is written by me on behalf of a friend, Dave Merner, who doesn't have a computer and asked me to type his review:

Dave Merner (aka Equa Sapa)

If the authors goal was to give encouragement to those struggling with non-belief, he then did a good job.

I read books with two purposes in mind; 1. To learn, and 2. To be entertained, and this book failed in those regards.
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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.)