Dan Barker is one of the most fascinating personalities in the atheist circles. A former evangelical that "you would not want to sit next to on a bus" (pg. 16), Barker begins his story in Godless
by describing just how deep a believer he was. He started evangelizing young, and went on to be an ordained minister, Christian songwriter and playwriter, missionary, bible-thumper and soul-winner. His belief in Jesus Christ was complete, humble, immersive, inspirational, and honest. He seemed like the most unlikely person to lose his faith, but as he tells in this book, that is exactly what happened.
After describing his years of evangelical work, he talks about the years during which he began to honestly question some of the things he believed, and found that his doubts only got stronger the more research he did. Eventually, he accepts his deconversion and renounces his former passion. His handling of the Kalam Cosmological Argument
is very solid and one the book's strengths, as is the interesting 'Dear Theologian' chapter, whereby Barker assumes the role of a lonely and isolated Judeo-Christian God questioning those who assume they understand 'his' needs and desires.
The third section of the book is the strongest in terms of refuting apologists and directly arguing for an atheistic mindset. Barker has done his research and then some. This part, titled "What's Wrong With Christianity" leaves no argument for God and Jesus Christ unanswered. Barker deals solidly with the ideas of morality and biblical murder, goodness and ethics. He goes deeper in examining the numerous biblical contradictions and discrepancies, mistranslations and outright forgeries, including very strong arguments that Jesus was a character largely created out of legend and propaganda, with nearly zero evidence of his life available in sources outside of the Bible.
Finally, Barker sums up this book with a few chapters analyzing his life as an atheist and his work with the Freedom From Religion Foundation
, which actively challenges issues dealing with Church and State consitutionality.
I challenge any Christian believer to read this book and not come away with some serious doubts about faith and the idols they worship. The case for Christianity is so flimsy that it is very hard to understand how so many millions of people believe its central tenats completely. Barker is not out to offend or antagonize (unlike some other atheist writers), but he offers his arguments in an unapologetic and reasonable manner and directly challenges the reader to examine his/her beliefs with honesty and integrity. Non-believers of all stripes can find an excellent source of ammunition for countering religious apologists, and even believers can gain insights and reasonable interpretations of the mythologies they hold dear. Five big stars and very highly recommended as one of the very best books I've read in years on the subject.