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Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists Kindle Edition
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 subjecton 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...
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. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B003ODHOQ8
- Publisher : Ulysses Press (September 1, 2008)
- Publication date : September 1, 2008
- Language : English
- File size : 660 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 394 pages
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #292,863 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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Why? What makes Barker works so much more superior than his colleagues? What it really boils down to is that Barker is the most well rounded in his work. We're other authors peak high in particularly areas in their delivery, such as humor or science or argumention, Barker succeeds on all fronts. And he adds plenty of uniqueness as well. He's articulate, funny, intelligent, personal and more.
In "Godless" you get it all. You get a entertaining yet personal tale of a person going from one extreme to the next (from Fundamentalist Preacher to Outspoken Atheist). The story is likely to relate to most people in someway or another. This is what part one, "Rejecting God" consist of.
Part two, "Why I'm An Atheist", is where Barker addresses the arguments for and against the existence of god (leaving no stone unturned). The section, in part two, "Dear Theologian", was particularly entertaining and insightful. However I won't spoil what it's about here so you'll have to read it for yourself.
In part three, "What's Wrong With Christianity", Barker uses all his experience as a preacher and from studying the word of god to point out, and address the concerns of Christians, what wrong with their religion in particular and why it's wrong. There is plenty of great reasoning and humor in this section.
In part four, "Life Is Good", Barker brings everything together showing how he, and you to, can live your life to the fullest even after losing your faith. The section is also very personal as he details a very rough period in his life. There's also some great insight why so many people believe in God and more in this chapter.
Coming to the book I thought I already knew it all (from my other readings) but boy was I wrong. Barker has plenty of unique and fresh moments while still articulating well popular arguments. As said before there's plenty of humorous along with more serious moments in this book. There's just so much packed in this book, but not too much, and Barker puts it all together so nicely and almost perfectly that for me at least I can't find any shortcomings in this book.
For anyone soul searching for their beliefs I can't recommend this book enough. Even if your just casually reading it's still awesome. I feel christians will particularly find this book appealing as the author has them in particular in mind so their likely to be able to relate to him more than some of the other popular atheist authors.
The book is also motivational. I found myself inspired and more appreciative of my life after reading this book. You know what they say you only live once!
Because of the quality of this book I would say it alone is enough for most people. I would only venture off into other authors if your looking for more specific approach or area in regard to the god debate. For example if your more interested in the science side than Stenger (The God Hypothesis) and Dawkins (The God Delusion) are great. If your more on the philosophical side than Harris (End Of Faith) is your go to. If your all about humor than Hitchens (God Is Not Great). And so on and so on. Even if you read those you should still check out Barker's work because of its uniqueness and quality.
For the most well rounded (good at everything), easy to read, brilliantly articulate and written piece, there's nothing better than Dan Barkers "Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One Of America's Leading Atheist".
The first half of the book covers his years of ministry and his (once ignited) steady, gradual shift from religiosity to atheism. The second half is a more logical, and philosophical dismantling of religious belief. This book is very well-written and perfectly structured. It doesn't contain science, per se. But, science is not the only tool one may use to refute god. Logical thought will do quite nicely. Science may simply be the straw that breaks the camel's back.
There are parts during which I thought he meandered a bit, or stayed too long targeting a particular belief. But, by reading his story I gained a better understanding of the mind and how it can be possible for even a fundamentalist to see the light. At some point in the book, I realized there's a way to read it which helps make it more meaningful and impactful. Instead of reading it critically (although this can still be done) as a simple argument against theism, one should read it as if you are inside the mind of Dan Barker, struggling to grasp the same contradictions with which he struggled.
What you are seeing in print are the conscious thought processes of someone questioning lifelong-held, previously accepted (unquestioned) convictions. Read in this way, you are witnessing the transformation of Barker's mind. If you follow the transformation, you will see how it can be done. Unreason, faith, dogma are so damaging when they are allowed to spread through cultures unhindered. With just a little bit of resistance, mountains (of bulls***) can be moved.
If you dismiss this book (this perspective) as unnecessary, or lacking because it doesn't have lots of science or because you think Barker lacks the credibility to stand amongst the aforementioned authors, you'd be missing the point. Those brilliant books are still on my shelf, and will probably be read again. But, so is Barker's book. Because, while it travels a different path, it ultimately leads to the same place.
Remember what Tim Minchin says, "I only read one book, but it's a good book, don't you know. I act the way I act because the Good Book tells me so. If I wanna know how to be good, it's to the Good Book that I go. Cause the Good Book is a book and it is good and it's a book." A clearer perspective can be gained by reading many books on the same subject. Read one book, and you get but one.
As a born again Christian turned atheist it was interesting comparing experiences with Barker. I also feel this book could help Christians understand atheists, even if they weren't tempted to leave the faith.
Top reviews from other countries
Part 1 of the book explains how Dan became an atheist. As I have lived all my life in the UK, he did give me a better understanding of Evangelical Fundamentalism in the US and explains some of the views and behaviour of US Evangelical Christians today. It was interesting to read how he operated as an evangelist within that tradition with a focus on judgement and fear. I found myself feeling rather sorry for him as I read his life story that he was force-fed such a horrible understanding of a relationship with God and then spent so many years indoctrinating others with, I guess, that same concept. I am not surprised that he rejected it and can understand why he feels that he threw the bath water out and discovered that there was no baby there.
I was particularly struck by Dan's mother's comment "I don't have to hate anymore" - quoted in the main part of the book but also identified by Richard Dawkins in the foreword so I guess that it's an important point. Yet when Dan is discussing Jesus' teaching about loving your enemy, he writes "There are some enemies who ought not to be loved. Some enemies should be hated" so I guess his mother will still have to hate after all if she is going to reject Jesus' teaching.
I didn't think much of the stories that he relates about the various debates that he has had with people of faith. He celebrates his successes in them but doesn't say much about the points that his opponents made. Also I have found that the person who "wins" a debate is not necessarily the one with the right answer; he or she may just be the best at arguing.
Parts 2 and 3 claim to find all the contradictions in the Bible and I was looking forward to a really good challenge but I was actually disappointed. I found him to be manipulative and dishonest. He used passages that would back up his argument but did not mention relevant passages which refuted it and even editted Bible verses so that they would say what he wanted them to mean.
He also needed to be a bit more careful about the scholars that he quotes from. I didn't check out all of them but I found that at least one has since changed their minds about the non-existance of God and another whose studies were pretty shallow compared with the rest of the research team and whose claims were scorned by the rest of them.
There is so much more that I could say about these two parts of the book but this review would be far too long. He regularly claims that atheists know the Bible better than Christians and has called his movement Freethinkers (the implication being, I guess, that Christians cannot think freely!) He appears to rely on the fact that people won't know the Bible very well and will trust that he has a good knowledge of it. I would just encourage readers to make sure that they check every quote in the Bible and read around them as well to get a better understanding of the history and context of the words. And please check his other sources too.
Part 4 covers his dealings with the church and state in the US today which I found to be so different to the UK. One thing that I can relate to is Dan and his wife's experience at the hospital though there are differences. Their child lived, ours died; they didn't call on a deity, we did; their blood pressure would have risen if they had seen a chaplain, our wouldn't have. I guess that they didn't experience God's presence with them; we did. I can't help but feel that there is a very angry man inside of Dan.
Despite my criticism, there are things that I agree with Dan on, such as his views on televangelists and big all-singing, all-dancing faith-healing events. I also believe, like him, that "Life is a great adventure" and I am happy to work with people of any beliefs, whether Dan judges them as good or not.
With similarly simple, unarguable logic, he also destroys the idea than a god can be both infinitely merciful and infinitely just.
Guaranteed to cause a nasty case of cognitive dissonance to any Christian, and especially any fundamentalist Christian, who has the courage and integrity to read it.
I was interested in reading a book describing the experience of a former preacher who became one of Americas leading atheists
This book by Dan Barker is an excellent read his knowledge of the bible and it's fundamental flaws are a total revelation
This book exposes the lies and deceit of religion which has far too much sway on our lives
I have several books in my collection Sam Harris The End of Faith, Christopher Hitchens God is not Great, and Richard Dawkins The God Delusion,Daniel C Denett Breaking the Spell all are a must read