This book is easy to read and quite well structured, and the author covers his transition from believer to atheist in a very logical manner. He approaches the topic in multiple ways, sometimes in the form of a dialogue, other times the presentation of relevant historical evidences, his experiences in "coming out", how his life has changed since he became a free thinker, etc. I found it moderately useful, as I am presently making the transition from Christian to agnostic/atheist. As anyone who has gone through this experience knows, it is a very trying, confusing, and mentally anguishing experience. When one begins to question what one has traditionally held to as truth, it can be a very devastating, yet at the same time, exhilarating period in life. I became �born again� when I was 19 and for a few years was very involved in conservative, evangelical groups. I had even considered a career in some form of ministry. My problem, if it can be called such, is that I�ve always been an extremely curious person intellectually. This is what got me into trouble in terms of Christian belief. My love of science, history, politics, and the individual process of logic and reason eventually resulted in a deep questioning of Christian doctrine and belief. I have come to formally reject the traditional claims of Christianity: the virgin birth of Jesus, the supernatural miracles of the Bible, the resurrection, Christ�s ascension into heaven, and his eventual return. This is not something that came about easily or quickly.
I digress: back to the book. What I liked about it was it�s organization and it�s summary style structure. This makes the book good summary, semi-reference material. The chapters are generally short, comprehensible, and enjoyable. It encapsulates many of the reasons why non-believers don�t believe, and offers a biographical human interest story to go along with. The layout is such that one needn�t read it straight through nor require the entire book to even be read. Because of it�s faults I appreciated this quality greatly. Many of the chapters I found quite helpful, others I had no interest in reading.
One fault is it�s tendency to preach. Dan is still an evangelist and this comes through his writing style. I don�t find this helpful. The entire point of being a skeptic and free-thinker is the need to be open-minded, respectful, and appreciative to other�s views. I feel that Dan fails to provide this attitude and his tone can be demeaning at times. He also seems to be on a quest to rid the world of belief in God. I can understand his reasoning but can�t respect this endeavor. There are many individuals whose entire world�s revolve around a religious belief system and if it is questioned would seriously damage their entire lives. It is my opinion that there are many who are simply not strong enough to undertake such a radical paradigm shift, and they need the comfort, structure, meaning, and psychosomatic benefits that religion can provide. An example of Dan�s over-reaching style is his inclusion of his atheist �hymns�. I found this just silly and useless.
It is a good introduction book. It�s historical and philosophical arguments are quite unsophisticated however, and ultimately unsatisfactory. Any true skeptic and free-thinker will need to go significantly beyond this material. For those beginning the journey this book can be useful, for those well into the journey, I recommend skipping this book. This is for the beginner. For all the reasons discussed I give it 3 stars.
For a more thorough undertaking of the philosophical, scientific, and historical aspects of atheism/skepticism, I recommend the following:
Philosphical: Atheism: The Case Against God (can't remember the author)
Scientific: The Blind Watchmaker by Richard Dawkins
Historical: Jesus, the Brother of James by Robert Eisenman