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Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist [Hardcover]

Dan Barker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Freedom from Religion Fndtn (Jun 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 187773313X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877733130
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,433,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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IN APRIL, 1984 I received a short, intriguing letter from a man in California, who signed it with a distinctive black autograph. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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3.0 out of 5 stars
3.0 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars He's been there ... 3 Jan 2007
Dan Barker is someone who's been there. He has been a Christian minister for many years who - in search for the truth - could come to no other conclusion than to become an atheist. He's obviously not an angry atheist, but a compassionate, kind, gentle, honest freethinker willing to share his story. Many deconverted people will recognize that story. Dan Barker is the living proof that leaving your religion does not make life meaningless. On the contrary, it opens up new dimensions. In this book, Dan Barker explores the fallacies, the inconsistencies and the harm of religious dogma. He analyzes and tackles all common theistic arguments ("proof") very intelligently. Dan Barker is a smart person who has done research in various areas, and mainly the area he left behind: religion/theology. I'd recommend this book specially to religious people, to read it with an open mind, and perhaps to get to understand the reasoning of the non-religious who really thought things over.

This review is based on the hardcover version, published in June 2006.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The same ol' same ol' 6 Mar 2012
By A. J. Bradbury VINE VOICE
Having read London Matt's review I must say that most of his comments come very close indeed to my own thoughts as I was reading this book. As a Christian with one or two brain cells still functioning I make it a habit to read up on what non-believers have to say, and if this were one of the best books on atheistic thinking then believers (of almost any god-centered religion, monotheistic or not), would have nothing whatever to worry about.

Since Matt has already covered several aspects of the book very competently I will restrict my comments to the quality of the argumentation in the book, using as examples just 3 or 4 sections from Chapter 17, "Refuting God".

1. Barker argues that the argument that "there are many scientists who believe in God [so] belief in God must be sensible" is invalid because it is an "appeal to authority" (page 129).

On the face of it this response is correct. What Barker apparently failed to notice is that his subsequent statement - "Academicians, as a group, are much less religious than the general population" - as used by self-styled New Atheist Professor Emeritus Victor Stenger, for example, is hoist on the same petard.

Barker tries to imply that it is only "religion" that offers "irrational seduction" which "no one, not even a scientist, is immune from". But atheism is also based on beliefs rather than proofs. So just as scientists who are believers in some religion cannot "scientifically demonstrate their faith" (?), neither can atheists, scientific or otherwise, scientifically demonstrate the validity of their *lack* of religious faith.

2. Inevitably (?) Barker includes the "First cause" argument and rebuttal (page 126).
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10 of 22 people found the following review helpful
I am a Christian, but if my Christianity was the the Christianity of Dan Barker, then I too would have become an atheist.

What Dan appears to have really rejected is that kind of "put your brain in neutral" Christianity which dominates North America. It is a christianty which portrays Christ as white, that believes the world is 6000 years old, which has a theology which manages to be both incredibly simplistic and lightweight, while also being incredibly dogmatic and picky.

This is the Christianity which Dan was a part of, and it was this Christianity he rejected.

This is where it gets confusing though, as since his deconversion, he has critised the likes of C.S. Lewis, yet, when he does so, it is as though he is critising through the eyes of the simplistic fundamentalist. It is really quite bizzare.

In this book, Barker has a chapter on "Bible Contradictions". Now, I was aware of nearly all of these at 14 years of age, and the counter arguments. Many of them are "old chestnuts". People like Josh Macdowell have written extensively on them.

Yet Barker seems to write about them as if in a vacuum. Surely he would have come across these very contradictions himself as a Christian and be aware of the counter arguments? One might argue that he was aware of the counter-arguments and simply choses to disagree with them, but if this is the case, why does he not at any point discuss the counter arguements?

A vast amount of scholarly research has been done on the genalogy of Jesus for example, yet Barker's treatise is to simply place two verses side by side from two gospels to appear to create a contradiction over the father of Joseph and say "There ya go..contradiction". This is flatly disingenious.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  238 reviews
466 of 508 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful refute of Christianity. Score one for Skepticism. 3 Mar 2000
By "neeterskeeter27" - Published on Amazon.com
There is one word that can sum up the effect of this book for me: "powerful". Most of the books I have read about religion have been pro-religion and this is very different from the old "We need religion to fill the spiritual side of ourselves" claims they always make about it. These books produced a response from my heart, but this book produced a response from my mind. It makes the claim that there is no more evidence of God than there is of Zeus, or any other god that humans have created for their stability throughout history, and it is very effective in proving this claim. It is about time someone cries out for the intellectual awakening of people instead of one more emotional one.
Dan Barker was an evangelical minister and missionary who did everything from writing songs and skits for children to working with youth groups to preaching street sermons to adults. However, somewhere in the course of this career he began to be aware of the fact that his religious beliefs were in serious conflict from his intellectual knowledge about our scientific world.
This book brought many negative aspects of Christianity to light that had been completely ignored, conveinently explained away, or totally unknown to me in my super-religious past. I never realized the Bible was so anti-family and that the various qualities we attribute to God are so self-contradicting. It also further examined some parts of the Bible I had already wondered about, such as its blatant sexism and racism, and its inaccuracy in accordance to history, although I had been told by every preacher out there that it was correct.
If you are from a Christian religious background I can only imagine the response my little book review is illiciting, and I totally expect to receive self-righteous hate mail under the guise of loving Christianity. However, I completely understand, for if I had read a book review like this during my very devoutly religious stage, I would have felt the same way. All I can ask you to do is read the book for yourself. If you read it and disagree with my conclusions, that's great and there is no harm done. I think that if anyone can truthfully answer to themselves the questions that this book raises about religion and can still say that it is in accordance with what they feel is moral and intellectual, their faith will only be strenghtened. But if you have ever been able to sing along with good old Alanis "In the name of the father, the skeptic, and the son, I have one more stupid question..."- in other words, if you have had some doubts about religion that you would like to explore but have never known a way to do this, you will really appreciate this book. All I can say is that it totally changed my perception of religion and I was as strong a believer as anyone out there, having been in church since I was an infant and continuing it in my youth by going on many mission trips to foreign countries. I was not an atheist who picked up this book so that I could prove I was still right; I was actually a pretty strong Christian who was beginning to have some doubts, and when this book was offered to me by someone I had serious pre-conceived judgements about it and even started reading it with the desire to prove the guy totally wrong. I was sure everything he would say would be like "I don't believe in God because I want to do what I want and no one can tell me what to do." However, this book appealed to my mind as well as my sense of moral rightness, and although I started page one with a preconception that it was totally offbase, I finished it with a strong "Amen, Amen. Finally a book about religion makes totally sense!"
106 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book for the X-tian 21 July 2000
By Gilker Kimmel - Published on Amazon.com
Looking at some of the other reviews, it's obvious that this book polarizes readers, being rated either very highly or very poorly. I'm not surprised. The high ratings are to be expected - there's a real shortage of good quality material for former Christians. That, too, is understandable since America frowns so mightily on unbelievers. That brings us to the negative reviews, frowning mightily.
Personally, I appreciate Barker very deeply. I came to the same conclusions via a slightly different path. I was also a devout Christian, though never a preacher. I was Washed in the Blood of the Lamb at 16, Sanctified and Born Again. I had a personal friend in Jesus. I also had a thirst for understanding, so I studied the Bible for years and took everything to the Lord in prayer. I studied and prayed until one day I realized that I didn't believe anymore.
No tragedy; no rebellion; just realization.
It was only after I came to grips with this change in worldview that I came to understand just how much Christianity warps a person's thinking, denigrating reason and elevating faith. It's been a long climb up from the muck, but it's great to be clean now. Christians reading that will be as outraged by the thought as they would be by reading Barker's book. Former Christians know precisely what I'm talking about.
This is an excellent book for recovering Christian.
137 of 148 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thank you, Mr. Barker! 24 Nov 2000
By Anna - Published on Amazon.com
I, too, have spent years in an Assembly of God Church. I started out in a Church of Christ, which taught me to hate the Charismatics (who were deceived by Satan), who in turn, taught me to hate the New Agers (who were deceived by Satan), who in turn, taught me that everybody is on their own spiritual path, and we are all brothers.
I was watching "Prince of Eygpt" with my 4 year old niece recently. There was a roomful of Christians present. The movie was on the Passover scene where the firstborn of Eygpt were dying, and my niece suddenly looked up and said, "This story isn't true. God wouldn't create people and then kill them." It stunned the adult Christians in the room. One of them said, "But, honey, you don't know the Bible yet." She said, "I know that God isn't mean."
That, in a nutshell, is where my spiritual journey has finally taken me--through the years of dogmas and theatrics of Christianity and back out again. I learned to think for myself, and I discovered what my 4 year old niece knows instinctively, without any Bible telling her differently. God isn't mean.
I no longer see through the eyes of "Christianity" in terms of "good" or "bad"--"lost or unlost." That, to me, is one of the most damning things about Christianity--it divides mankind from his brother.
I struggle with what I know is my approaching "emancipation" from the Church. I love my friends, and I know that when that day comes, I'll never be a part of it again, and it makes me sad. In many ways, it served my needs, (until it didn't anymore). But I also know what Mr. Barker came to know---that once you come to this truth, there is no going home again. You can never turn back. Once you know--You "know." It's not something you can change.
Mr. Barker's book encouraged me in so many ways and assured me that I will meet other people who are free thinkers and will again feel the bonds of fellowship that I have known in the church. And because there are people who exist without the "divisions" of Christianity in their hearts & in their minds, I will not have to be afraid of being "rejected" or cast from the fold if my belief system does not correspond to their own.
This is a well-written book. Walking away from a belief system that has been ingrained in you from birth is not an easy thing to do. I remember when I finally realized that the end was coming, I lay in bed night after night and was literally numb. Fundamentalist Christians may think this is a "light" thing or some kind of serious "deception," but it is neither. It's like a light finally shining on darkness and a terrible fear of moving away from that darkness because it's all you have ever known. It's a soul-tearing, gut-wrenching, coming apart at the seams kind of realization, but when it's all over, there is peace.
I believe in a better God today and in a better world. I believe that every man is truly my "brother." I only wish that every man believed that of me.
330 of 377 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is without a doubt a MUST read! 24 Aug 1998
By Mc. (calsac1@pacbell.net) - Published on Amazon.com
Dan Barker, a man not afraid use his mind, tells us of his transition -out of the mental confounds of Christianity -into the nationally acclaimed freethinker he is today.
Barker says "It is interesting to read the Bible now, with new `eyesight' so to speak. I used to read all the ugly parts of the Bible, but for some reason they were invisible, even beautiful. I was taught that God was perfect, loving and righteous -so there could be no question in my mind of his character. Any apparent contradictions or ugliness could be ignored in the faith of the `mystery' of Gods ways. I'm glad those days are over."
In his book, Dan provides strong historical and logical evidence against the myths dispelled by religion. In chapter 29 [Dear Believer], Dan wonderfully sums up the vary essence of Christianity and it's `merciful' God. Barker writes >>
"Dear Believer, You ask me to consider Christianity as the answer for my life. I have done that. I consider it untrue, repugnant, and harmful... The Biblical god is a macho male warrior. Thou he said "Thou shall not kill", he ordered death for all in opposition (Exodus 32:27), wholesale drowning and mass exterminations; punished offspring to the fourth generation (Exodus 20:5); ordered babies to be smashed and pregnant women to be ripped up (Hosea 13:16) demanded animal and human blood to appease his angry vanity; is partial to one race of people; judged women inferior to men; is the sadist who created a hell to torture unbelievers; created evil (Isaiah 45:7)... sent bears to devour forty-two children who teased a prophet (II Kings 2:23-24); punished people with snakes, dogs, dragons, drunkenness, swords, arrows, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide; and said fathers should eat their sons (Ezekiel 5:10) Is that nice? Would you want to live next door to such a person?...Do you see why I do not respect the biblical message? It is an insulting bag of nonsense. You have every right to torment yourself with such insanity --but leave me out of it."
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with an open mind and whom sincerely seeks genuine truth.
60 of 67 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Decent Introduction to Atheism 14 July 2003
By William Alexander - Published on Amazon.com
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
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