- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Sterling (February 2, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1454918322
- ISBN-13: 978-1454918325
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 140 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,699 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction Hardcover – February 2, 2016
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“If you thought Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion was hard on religion, gird your loins for Dan Barker’s book on God because he makes the New Atheists sound like diplomatic accommodationists in his unrelenting deconstruction of the Bible, a book he knows better than the Four Horsemen combined since he used to preach from it. You will never read the Good Book the same way again.”
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and the author of The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Bend Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom
“Dawkins and Barker have both written books encouraging readers to become atheists. Who knew all they had to do was direct everyone to the Bible?”—Hemant Mehta, Editor of FriendlyAtheist.com
“With a twinkle that belies the canard that atheists are ‘strident’ and ‘militant,’ Dan Barker cheerfully refutes the common claim that morality comes from the God of the bible.”—Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature
“After reading Barker’s book, the absurdity and monstrosity of God is undeniable. Let us hope that Barker takes humanity a few steps further down the path of abandoning religion.”— Marshall Brain, author of How “God” Works
“Dan Barker, a former preacher who knows the Bible far better than most Christians, has produced an excellent handbook for those who doubt the moral depravity of the biblical god.”—Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University and author of The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (2015)
“Barker’s scholarly index will both stupefy and enlighten even the well-informed reader. And it proves beyond doubt that Dawkins’ condemnation was right—there is no more repugnant character in all of fiction than the Judeo-Christian god.”—Hector Garcia, PsyD, author of Alpha God
“Rich in reason, candescent in clarity—this is a must-read for any serious student of the Bible.”—Marian Wiggins, former senior editor, children’s curriculum, Gospel Light Publications
“Dan Barker accurately and masterfully shows us that the bible is the believer’s worst enemy. I don’t see how believers can read his book and fail to conclude that the God of the bible is a fictional character invented by ancient barbaric blood-thirsty men, as Dawkins wrote. If they continue believing despite the overwhelming biblical evidence that Barker presents, then their cognitive faculties are just not functioning properly.” —John W. Loftus, editor, The Christian Delusion and Christianity is Not Great
About the Author
Richard Dawkins was the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society, and the Royal Society of Literature, and has Honorary Doctorates in both science and literature. His many bestselling books include The Selfish Gene (Oxford University Press), The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design (W.W. Norton & Co.), and The God Delusion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).
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This book is well written, well researched and only reinforced my religious views. Even though it starts from the premise that god is fictional, it treats the god character as though he were real (in the context of the book) and that this god really did all of those terrible things. Each chapter is devoted to one of the aspects of god that Richard Dawkins described in his book "The God Delusion". There are chapters on how god is jealous, petty, genocidal, misogynistic, cannibalistic, etc all backed up by scripture. Indeed if you were to write a fictional book today that incorporated all of the negative aspects of god into one villain it would be ludicrous, laughable even. But the Holy Bible does just that, and these horrifying aspects of god are tucked away like dark alleyways in a bad part of town, never discussed crossed by quickly hoping not to be noticed. Dan Barker does a masterful job of hunting down these alleyways and shining a bright light on things rarely spoken of and never addressed from any pulpit.
Even if you do not buy this book I implore you to grab your handy bible and starting at the beginning read it, I mean really read it, and think of the character of this supposed omnipotent, omniscient being, then look around you at the world and ask yourself "does what I see and understand about the universe match up with the collected stories of a small isolated group of Bronze Age nomadic sheepherders". And why out of all the people living all over the planet, some with vastly greater influence and power, why was this tiny isolated relatively powerless tribe chosen? As you continue to read ask yourself "does this make sense"? On your journey if you happen to buy this book things may become just that much more clear. Use those powers of reason and critical thinking that we all were born with take a small step out of your comfort zone.
“God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction” is an expose of “God’s” true qualities based on the very book that attempts to describe “Him”. Taking a page from Richard Dawkins, former evangelist minister and co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, Dan Barker takes the readers on a journey through the Bible and during this trip he clearly describes the “Lord Jealous”. This provocative 322-page book includes twenty-eight chapters broken out by two parts: Part 1. Dawkins Was Right and Part II. Dawkins Was Too Kind.
1. Well-researched, well-written book. Barker takes glee in exposing the character of “God”.
2. The fascinating topic of the characterization of “God” through analyzing the Bible. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
3. The chapters are broken out by character traits. Each chapter begins with a biblical appropriate passage. “A jealous and avenging God is the Lord, the Lord is avenging and wrathful.” —Nahum 1:2”
4. Barker knows the Bible with mastery and provides countless biblical passages that clearly supports his main points. “He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:2)”
5. So many biblical passages that will make your head spin. “Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuttings in your flesh on account of the dead or tattoo any marks upon you: I am the Lord.”
6. Traits of an unjust “God”. “Exodus 22:18 “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.””
7. The concept of hell. “The concept of eternal Hell, a truly infinite lack of forgiveness, does not occur until the New Testament, thanks to Jesus.”
8. Many examples of “God’s” Type-A micromanagement.
9. Traits of a vindictive “God”. “Deuteronomy 32:35 “The Lord says, … ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back. In due time their feet will slip. Their day of disaster will arrive, and their destiny will overtake them.’””
10. The bloodthirsty lord. “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you for making atonement for your lives on the altar; for, as life, it is the blood that makes atonement. (Leviticus 17:11)”
11. Threatening nonbelievers, so cruel. “2 Chronicles 15:13 “All who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, were to be put to death, whether small or great, man or woman.””
12. Ethnic cleanser of biblical proportions. “Go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey. (1 Samuel 15:3)”
13. Misogyny and plenty of it. “Deuteronomy 22:28–29 “If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her; he may not put her away all his days.” RSV (You broke it, you buy it.)”
14. So anti-gay. “Leviticus 20:13 “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.””
15. The Bible endorses slavery, how terrible. “Leviticus 25:44–46 “As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are round about you. You may also buy from among the strangers [NRSV: “aliens”] who sojourn with you and their families that are with you, who have been born in your land; and they may be your property.””
16. Examples of infanticide. “O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us! Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock! (Psalm 137:8–9)”
17. Examples of megalomania. ““So I will display my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the Lord.” —Ezekiel 38:23””
18. Examples of malevolence. ““I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” —Isaiah 45:7, KJV”
19. Just a plain old bully. “But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go. (Exodus 10:20)”
20. Examples of flame-happy “God”. “Leviticus 21:9 “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” KJV (Notice that her “crime” is profaning her father.)”
21. And so much more.
1. I wanted more expert commentary from Barker.
2. I would have added a section on how the Bible came together and the different versions.
3. No notes or links.
In summary, I enjoyed this book. It will serve as an excellent reference when I debate my Christian friends. Barker has great command of the topic and even takes glee in exposing what are clearly difficult and realistic characterizations of the biblical “God”. Provocative and what must be difficult for Christians to digest, this is the word of “God”. I recommend it.
Further recommendations: “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, “The Religion Virus” by James A. Craig, “50 Reasons People Give For Believing in a God” by Guy P. Harrison, “The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture” by Darrel W. Ray, “End of Faith” by Sam Harris, “Faith No More: Why People Reject religion” by Phil Zuckerman, “Atheism Advanced” by David Eller, “Why We Believe In God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith” by J. Anderson Thomson Jr., “The Believing Brain” by Michael Shermer, and “Why I Became An Atheist” by John W. Loftus.