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

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,345 ratings  ·  240 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 from the zany, surreal/>“The/>“Valuable
Kindle Edition, 394 pages
Published (first published September 1st 2008)
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 ·  6,345 ratings  ·  240 reviews

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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  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
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
Dec 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 fro
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
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
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...w
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
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
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 w
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I had read the author's more recent book, "The life driven purpose" and had wanted to know a little bit more on how a person goes from a superstitious based mindset to a reason based one. He only touches a little bit on his transition in this book. I would recommend Jerry DeWitt's book "Hope After Faith" for a more detailed look at that kind of journey. I would say though that this author gave some of the best arguments on reason verse fundamentalism I've seen in one book. This book, I suspect, ...more
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.
Jan 04, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
His interpretation of the Bible is from a fundamentalist perspective; all of his arguments are made from this stance. He does not take advantage of the multiplicity of interpretations that exist in Christianity.
Cody Sexton
The subtitle of this book is very misleading. It was less about how an evangelical preacher became an atheist and more about how a "former" evangelical preacher provides a point by point refutation of the tenets of Christianity.
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.
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
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
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 t
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
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 t
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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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