“Godless” Hits Bookstores

Dan Barker’s Newest Book

Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists by Foundation co-president Dan Barker, with a foreword by Richard Dawkins, was published by Ulysses Press this fall.

In the top five of bestselling atheist works at Amazon.com, Godless has won praise from high places.

“I think Godless is fabulous,” writes Oliver Sacks, M.D., author of Musicophilia and Awakenings. “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 adulthood, 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.”

God Is not Great author Christopher Hitchens writes:

“Conversions on the road to Damascus are for those who hear voices and fall prey to delusions and who would be better off seeking professional help. Much more 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 of the latter.”

“My kids are in the process of learning about literature,” writes scientist Robert Sapolsky, “and a rule of thumb they’ve picked up concerns how to recognize the protagonist of a story: It’s the character who undergoes the greatest transformation. This makes sense, because one of the hardest things we confront is the need to change. By this criterion, in the enormous story of what we all do with our lives, Dan Barker is one of the most interesting and brave protagonists I know. Godless is a fascinating memoir, a tour of one distressing extreme of religiosity, a handbook for debunking theism. But most of all, it is a moving testimonial to one man’s emotional and intellectual rigor in acclaiming critical thinking,” writes Sapolsky, author of such bestsellers as Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, author of the blockbuster The God Delusion, writes in his fascinating foreword:

“The most eloquent witness of internal delusion that I know–a triumphantly smiling refugee from the zany, surreal world of American fundamentalist Protestantism–is Dan Barker.”

Dawkins continues:

“He has a truly remarkable tale to tell of his personal history and breakout from the badlands of religious fundamentalism. He was in it right from the start, up to his ears. Dan was not just a preacher, he was the kind of preacher that ‘you would not want to sit next to on a bus.’ He was the kind of preacher who would march up to perfect strangers in the street and ask them if they were saved: the kind of door-stepper on whom you might be tempted to set the dogs. Dan knows deeply what it is like to be a wingnut, a faith-head, a fully paid-up nutjob, an all singing, all glossolaling religious fruit bat. He can take us–simultaneously laughing and appalled–in to that bat-belfry world and even make us sympathize. But he also knows what it is like to stumble upon the unaccustomed pleasure of thinking for oneself, without help from anybody else, right in the teeth of opposition from what was then his entire world. The socially unacceptable habit of thinking led him directly to realize that his entire life so far had been a time-wasting delusion. All by himself, he came to his senses–in a big way.”

“Dan Barker’s road from Damascus will, I predict, become well trodden by many others in the future, and this book is destined to become a classic of its kind,” Dawkins concludes.

The book, already going into a second printing, is divided into four parts: Part 1–Rejecting God (with chapters “The Call,” “The Fall,” The Fallout” and “The New Call”), Part 2–Why I am an Atheist, Part 3–What’s Wrong with Christianity, and Part 4–Life Is Good!

Although there is overlapping content with Dan’s 1992 book, Losing Faith in Faith–From Preacher to Atheist, since, as Dan notes, his story hasn’t changed, Godless fleshes out and reflects on Dan’s deconversion, and updates his experiences in the last 16 years.

One chapter is about the Supreme Court case last year that Dan was a co-plaintiff in, on behalf of the Foundation. Another chapter, “Adventures in Atheism,” recounts highlights of people, places and activism. The concluding chapter, which Dan calls his favorite, “Life and Death Matters,” opens with a suspenseful account of his wife’s life-threatening pregnancy and the birth of their daughter.

Writes Dan: “During this entire traumatic experience we never once thought of invoking a god for help.”

Writes “Letting Go of God” author Julia Sweeney, “This book profoundly affected me. It’s funny, and poignant, and most importantly, true! You must read this book.”

Godless is available from FFRF for $15 postpaid (available online or FFRF, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701). It will be autographed if requested. It is also available through other book outlets.

Freedom From Religion Foundation