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Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
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Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  5,521 Ratings  ·  211 Reviews
"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."
--CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS author of God is Not Great
"The most eloquent witness of internal delusion that I know--a triumphantly smiling refugee fr
ebook, 392 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Ulysses Press (first published September 1st 2008)
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May 11, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm closing in on having read all the major atheist books in existence, I think. Out of all of them, this is the only one so far offering an inside look at the evolutionary process of a fundamentalist evangelical Christian into a hardened atheist who eats children and celebrates Halloween twice a year. Deconversion stories all seem to share a common narrative arch––the most important aspect of which is a period of glaring ignorance and indoctrination followed by an awakening of the mind to other ...more
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I found this book fascinating for the simple reason that the author's experience mimicked so much my own. I may not have been an evangelical preacher, as the author was, but I was about as devout a Mormon as one could be when, in the '80s (and I in my 30s and a mother of six), I came to the painful realization that I did not really believe it all and left my church. It was, without equal, the most painful episode of my life; and in time, I believe, the most liberating for myself and my family. A ...more
Dec 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.

First of all, what is a leading atheist? I never knew we had a vote. Since I'm more of an agnostic dabbling in the philosophical side of Buddhism, I may not have been eligible to vote. Being a leading freethinker makes sense since it implies an interest in freedom of speech and fighting for the choice to think for oneself, which Barker does admirably. But a leading atheist? That sounds a little forced to me, not to mention egotistical.

Second, Dan B
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot of the book is the pretty typical "arguments for the nonexistance of God" stuff, but I thought the biographical section to be the most interesting. Barker does a great job of describing exactly what was going on in his head when he began to question his Christianity.
Jarkko Laine
Oct 05, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Now, here's a book that's very hard to rate objectively. I liked a lot of it, mostly the parts where Barker told about his own life: the struggles with Christianity, becoming atheist, and then living as an atheist.

When he criticizes Christianity, things get a bit more complicated. I agree with a lot, maybe even most of his arguments, but it's all about a fundamentalist approach to Bible and other Christian doctrines. In fact a lot of his reasoning is exactly the same as what has been said by "li
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This was a phenomenal read. Barker is articulate, intelligent, witty and immensely likable. His deconversion from fundamentalist preacher to staunch atheist comes across as honest (not to mention the only logical conclusion when someone is sincerely seeking truth). I have nothing but admiration for someone who is able to let go of a fallacious belief when faced with overwhelming evidence that it is wrong. I wish more people would have the courage to ask questions and seek out a similar path for ...more
Wayne Barrett


I thought this was a great piece of inspiring and educational writing. First of all, this mans experience closely mimicked mine. I was raised in a a Christian belief, indoctrinated in its faith from the time I was born and was being primed for the ministry as a young man. Through my own soul-searching and extensive research I finally had to admit to myself that I simply did not believe the bible or the Christian religion, or any other religion for that matter, was true. I went from a dedicate
James Rye
My holiday reading was Godless: How An Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists by Dan Barker. I had travelled a similar journey (albeit in a less publicised way). Having made the change from being an evangelical leader, preacher, counsellor, and author (for over 30 years) to an unashamed, blogging atheist, I thought it would be interesting to read the human story. I wondered how far Barker’s experience would parallel my own, and if his analysis of his change would help me s ...more
Nov 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The subtitle is rather misleading, as the "how" can basically be boiled down to "I started reading things other than the Bible," while the rest of the book’s 360 pages is devoted to attacks on theism. Using logical arguments (pointing out discrepancies and contradictions in Biblical teaching; arguing that by definition God cannot be timeless, nor can a god be both infinitely merciful and infinitely powerful), moral arguments (citing the many barbarous acts the Bible condones), and linguistic arg ...more
Aug 14, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am agnostic at best, but I don't think I would like Dan Barker very much in real life. He seems to be one of those people who always think that what they think is right and brilliant, and they need to tell you all about it, and try to convince you to believe it too. His journey -- which sounds far but maybe was not so much -- was from being an evangelistic Christian preacher to being an evangelistic atheist, aggressively promoting his beliefs in either guise. He delights in describing how succ ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-christian
Dan’s personal story of going from evangelical Christianity to atheism was riveting. It’s followed by sections on “Why I am an Atheist” and “What’s Wrong with Christianity,” which get into philosophical arguments, a lot of which were new to me, and fascinating (with a couple boring ones in between). I recommend this book to anyone who has general questions about atheism and its arguments, or would wonder what made an evangelical turn atheist.

I always like including a few of memorable passages an
Jason M. Wester
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The power of Barker’s Godless is in its behind-the-scenes focus on what happens when an honest preacher figures out that his sermons are dishonest. As Barker puts it, Godless shows what happens when a believer loses faith in faith.

Barker began his career as an evangelical minister when he was fifteen years old. He attended a Bible college, married a Christian woman, and spawned four children, all the while figuring out ways to scrape out a living by freelance preaching and composing songs of wor
Dec 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I have mixed feelings about this book. Part 1 of the book entitled "Rejecting God" is the most interesting as it is the author's personal story of his journey from fundamentalist Christianity to atheism.

Part 2, "Why I am an atheist" is very dense and philosophical - and I appreciated some of Baker's arguments and critiques regarding God and the various arguments often offered for God's existence by Christian apologists - some of which are clearly wanting.

Part 3, "What's wrong with Christianity?"
Oct 18, 2010 rated it did not like it
A poorly written critique of Christianity.

Made me want to read a real critique, just to make up for how poorly written this one was.

He ripped things out of context and distorted them. All you have to do is look up most of the Bible passages he quotes and you'll realize how badly he distorted them. Rather than looking up and being educated on the truly challenging aspects of the Bible, he chose to pick out verses he didn't like and distort them to ensure that they proved his points.

Most of the t
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atheism-religion
Absolutely fantastic. A thoroughly enjoyable read. Mr. Barker takes you through a personal journey to freethinking. My only question, Mr. Barker what took you so long???

I'm an avid reader and I can honestly say that this is one of the best books ever written about this topic. It's freethinking at is best, Mr. Barker's clear intellect is displayed for all to enjoy.

1. Interesting transformation to Atheism
2. Well written, eloquence throughout
3. Well organized
4. Well informed
5. Good
Because the author gives both his experiences as a gung-ho evangelical preacher and as a gung-ho atheist, the book is particularly interesting. It also brings together material such as contradictions among the Gospels and answers to common objections to atheism. Not a deep book, but entertaining and worthwhile.
Joe Sampson
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: atheism
Sets out persuasively the arguments for atheism. Shows that the arguments for God's existence are unconvincing. Shows that the Bible is historically unreliable, contradictory, promoting of cruelty and unscientific.
Jun 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the first few chapters were hard to get through because they were just a yawn. But it is quite interesting and true.
Joy Davidsen
Sep 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book. I recommend this to anyone who is raised religiously or is religious. He covers everything from philosophy to theology and does this in an interesting and humorous way. Personally, I think he uses to much space on telling stories about other atheists and how they have converted like himself. Even though Dan Barker uses a lot of space on anecdotes, his well educated and thought out arguments against religious "delusions" are so well written that I still find it necessary to give thi ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barker speaks as one who has been on the other side of the fence and found it in himself to climb over. You'd think that this would be a unique insight into the zany world of American religious fundamentalism, but unfortunately Dan wrote it too late, and he has obviously achieved a full 180° turn. He no longer beliefs the silliness and cannot fully reproduce it. No matter, because he has written a fine book from this side of the fence instead.

He is at his strongest when he addresses the content
Aug 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was pretty darn good. The reason it gets four instead of five stars is that he sort of glosses over a few arguments in the later chapters that he either could have omitted altogether or expounded upon. As it stands, a few of the things of which he does not go into very much depth felt understated and brought the pace and academic tone a little down. If he'd gone deeper, the book would have been more consistent. If he'd skipped them, the book would not have suffered, since the book is h ...more
Feb 06, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Barker has a really interesting story to tell. Unfortunately, he's not always that good at telling it. What he needed most was a heavy handed editor. The first half of the book is his own story, the history of his life of Christian faith and then his leaving that faith, and the consequences that had for himself and his family. The most interesting part of the whole book was the chapters about the reactions of those around him, particularly friends and even family, people he had considered great ...more
Apr 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well told, fascinating story of an evangelical preacher turned atheist. Barker begins by detailing his journey in the first half of the book, followed with the philosophical problems of the existence of god, and finishes with his critiques of Christianity.

The critiques and arguments he presents in the book are well stated, clear, and thought provoking. This is a great alternative to books such as "The God Delusion," especially for those who prefer a tad less venom in their reasonings for a go
Mar 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Dan Barker is a likable author with a fascinating story to tell, as a former evangelical pastor turned non-theist/agnostic.

In telling his journey, Barker presents arguments that are well stated, well researched, clear, and very thought provoking. His writing style invokes sincerity and humor into an often emotionally charged topic.

A recommended read for anyone questioning their faith in a god, who wants to fairly look at the many sides of the question in light of facts rather than emotion, ad ho
Naomi V
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: freethinkers
i've been listening to Dan Barker on Freethought Radio for years, so it's about time i got around to reading his story of evolution from evangelical (fundamentalist) preacher to atheist.

and it's pretty damn interesting. Barker was raised in a fundamentalist household, and he started preaching as a teenager. he was a true believer, not only preaching but writing songs for christian singers, etc. he had a traveling ministry, moving from place to place, preaching his truth to other believers.

a must read for anyone who is curious, questioning, or just looking for a different perspective about god! really one of the best, most informative books i've ever read! barker comes at the subject from such a unique angle - for most of his life, he was a true believer, an evangelical preacher who traveled the world preaching the gospel and trying to convert people to christianity. he started at just 15 years old. but in his early 30's, he started meeting people that had slightly more liberal (t ...more
Jan 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This is partly an autobiography, and partly a philosophical treatise.
As autobiography, Godless is very interesting, as Barker admits he's had "religious experiences" and what believers would call a "personal relationship with God" but Barker is able to give a coherent and convincing account of how these experiences are natural, rather than supernatural.
As a treatise, Barker does a great job summarizing a large number of arguments for the existence of God and exposing the logical they rest on.
Jun 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much any criticism that can be found in the Bible is covered here, and I very much enjoyed his personal story. The downside is that for the first time in my life (and I never thought this would happen) I found myself actually thinking that an abridged version would be better! Do we really need to know the detailed reaction of every single person he came out as an atheist to, even though many of them mirror each other and don't give us anything new we didn't just read? Is not just that tho ...more
Autumn Kotsiuba
I wish more Christians would read this.

Disclaimer? I'm a Christian (even after reading this book. Weird, right?). But I truly do wish Christians would read more than just "Christian literature." How can you know what you believe unless you understand what you don't believe? Without deciding what you believe?

So. This book...The first section on his story certainly offered the author some credibility for me personally, as I fall under the evangelical category. The meat of the book...well. Okay. I
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it
I really liked Barker's personal story, but I felt like the book lulled as he got into technicalities and such. I've heard Barker in person and I find him a better speaker than writer. Nonetheless, I did get what I wanted out of the book and that was to read about his experience.

I didn't end up finishing the book. While I find the arguments against creationist and apologists and the "morals" of the bible interesting, I've heard a lot of it already and don't really "need it." But I felt like Bar
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The Atheist Book ...: Godless by Dan barker 2 18 Nov 29, 2016 01:47PM  
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“Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing "Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.” 467 likes
“People are invariably surprised to hear me say I am both an atheist and an agnostic, as if this somehow weakens my certainty. I usually reply with a question like, 'Well, are you a Republican or an American?' The two words serve different concepts and are not mutually exclusive. Agnosticism addresses knowledge; atheism addresses belief. The agnostic says, 'I don't have a knowledge that God exists.' The atheist says, 'I don't have a belief that God exists.' You can say both things at the same time. Some agnostics are atheistic and some are theistic.” 33 likes
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