Atheist inspirational book no April Fool’s joke

lifedrivenpurposeDan Barker’s newest book, debuting today, Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning, challenges the Rev. Rick Warren. Rev. Rick Warren’s best-selling Christian book, Purpose Driven Life, begins with the sentence, “It’s not about you.” God planned your life before you were born, Warren preaches. “You don’t get to choose your purpose.”

Barker, a former minister who is co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, turns Warren’s sad world view right-side up in his new book, released by Pitchstone Publishing, “It is about you,” Dan’s book begins. “When it comes to purpose, it is about you and no one else.”

Life Driven Purpose, with an eloquent and moving foreword by philosopher Daniel C. Dennett (author of Breaking the Spell and an honorary director of FFRF), is the first book by an atheist aimed at the “inspirational/motivational” bookshelves. “We atheists are truly IN-spired,” Dan says, “while believers are OUT-spired. They desperately seek their marching orders from somewhere outside themselves—a king, commander, lord, or slave master—while we nonbelievers find and create purpose and meaning within ourselves.”

Inner-directed purpose is the only true purpose, Dan writes. “Asking, ‘If there is no God, what is the purpose of life?’ is like asking, ‘If there is no master, whose slave will I be?'”

Chapter 1, “The Good News,” softly mimics the “inspirational” style of psycho-faith authors like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, but comes to a novel conclusion: the truly good news is that there is no purpose of life. There is purpose in life. Nonbelievers have lived, and are living, immensely meaningful lives as they work to solve problems and meet the challenges that confront us in the real world.

The rest of the book returns to Dan’s familiar writing style. Chapter 2, “Mere Morality,” reverses C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity and offers a superior naturalistic moral philosophy in its place. Chapter 3, “Religious Color Blindness,” is a creative attempt to explain the polarized mind of a fundamentalist believer. You’ll have to read it to discover how Annie Laurie’s misplaced hat sheds light on religious belief. Chapter 4, “Much Ado About,” is Dan’s thoughtful answer to the question, “Can something come from nothing?”

The warm final chapter, “Life Is Life,” circles back to meaning. Recounting personal stories from Dan’s family, the chapter replaces the elusive “meaning of life” with the very real “meaning in life.”

Life Driven Purpose flips almost every single religious precept on its head. You can see the real world much better, Dan says, if you are looking through the right end of the telescope. “A supernatural additive pollutes what is pure and precious in our species,” Dan writes. “We atheists simply refuse to be cheated of the good life.”

Richard Dawkins, who helped with the editing, calls Life Driven Purpose “a lovely book!”

If you order the book from FFRF, it benefits FFRF. Dan contributed his royalties to FFRF’s stock of books. You can order the book for $20 postpaid via U.S. mail, FFRF Shop, PO Box 750, Madison WI 53701, or online at, where online prices vary slightly due to custom shipping.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend