The Purpose-Driven Atheist January 9, 2011

The Purpose-Driven Atheist

Dan Barker, the co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists, is one of the few notable atheists who actually lived his life under the spell of religion. He knows first-hand what it’s like to come out as an atheist and lose people you thought were friends in the process, and he spends a lot of time traveling around the country, telling his story.

Now, get ready for the release of his newest book: The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God:

The title is self-explanatory, but the description is very promising:

Christians often claim that people who do not believe in God are unable to find true fulfillment and live a purpose-driven life. In The Good Atheist, author Dan Barker constructs a simple moral argument for finding happiness through altruistic living — without calling upon the notion of God’s reward or punishment. Barker outlines an easy-to-follow plan for making these principles part of one’s everyday life. Profiles of many notable atheists serve to emphasize these points and provide inspiring examples of freethinkers who have made the world a better place.

To those who criticize recent books by atheists as too focused on tearing down religion while offering nothing in its place, this is a book that finally addresses the positive aspects to living without a god.

To those “aggressive” atheists who thought Greg Epstein‘s book Good Without God was a little too “spiritual” and treated religion with kid gloves, this is a book that will no doubt hold nothing back against faith. Dan Barker is one of the most outspoken critics of religion out there.

And, of course, you have to love the not-so-subtle subtitle jab at Rick Warren, who thinks you need a god in your life for it to be “purpose driven.” Dan’s a seasoned debater, he’s constantly in demand by college atheist groups, and he’s a thorn in the side of the entire Religious Right thanks to FFRF’s stack of successful lawsuits. He’s as good a spokesperson for atheism as we’ve got.

I’m so excited about the publicity push for this book 🙂

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  • Peter Mahoney

    Dan Barker is an awesome speaker and a terrific advocate for separation of church and state.

    This book looks like it will be GREAT! I will DEFINITELY want to read this.

  • Thanks for the heads up – I just put in my pre-order!

  • Jenilee

    Can’t wait! I’m excited to read this book.

  • When I first heard of Warren’s book A Purpose Driven Life, I was excited to read it. I had no idea it was a Christian book, and was disappointed (to say the least) when I discovered its premise; I never read it.

    Sounds like Barker’s book was exactly what I was looking for.

  • I wonder if Dan Barker’s book will be written for a 4th grade reading level like Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life was?

    Then I can finish reading it in less than an hour like I did with Warren’s book.

  • Hemant,
    I will add it to the reading list, until then — have you gotten anywhere with the publishers of Anarchy Evolution?

    The Humanist just featured the book in one of their reviews @

  • I should add Dan Barker will be making numerous appearances promoting his new book.

    He will be in Naperville, Jan. 27 at the West Suburban Chicago Chapter (Illinois)
    Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

    See for a list of his upcoming appearances.

  • I liked Godless, and I have a lot of respect for Barker, but I winced at the new book’s title. I think aiming the subtitle at the Rick Warren book was a mistake. It sounds reactionary. Such a title gives the original book a home-field advantage and makes the reactionary-titled work come across as just a knee-jerk “is NOT!”

    Cases in point: go look on Amazon at all the christian responses to Dawkins and Harris. “The Dawkins Delusion.” “The End of Reason.” “The End of Certainty and the Beginning of Faith.” “God is No Delusion.” Do those titles sound like books with anything original to say, or do they just sound like reflex denials of the works they criticize?

  • Carlie

    I am SO EXCITED for this book to come out. I became an atheist right after Warren’s book came out, so I had to sit through countless sermons from pastors enraptured with Warren’s pablum.

  • NotYou007

    I just ordered mine from Amazon. Can’t wait to read it.

  • Claudia

    Thanks for the heads up. Just ordered mine. Can’t wait to read it, though I’ll have to wait, since apparently living in Western Europe is like living on the moon with shipping costing almost as much as the book and an estimated 3-5 weeks shipping time ¬¬

  • Claudia,

    Buy an e-reader if you can — problems solved.

  • Margy

    FYI, it’s “kid gloves,” not “kids’ gloves.” See:

    (Hemant says: Fixed!)

  • george

    When I saw the title my reaction was: “Barf. If he starts telling me I need purpose in my life I am checking out.”

    From reading reviews it seems like it is more a rebuttal to the argument that atheists can’t live moral lives, rather than a sermon about what I should do in order to fit someone else’s idea of a “good” person.

    I can be good without God OR books on morality.

  • i’m with george. i need to live a “good” life, why, again? according to whom? measured by what? what is most important and who gets to decide? etc.

    i know i live a good life filled with virtue, and the only person i have to satisfy in that regard is myself. no one else can know, nor should they. i don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s sanctity and i don’t want anyone telling me what that “really is.”

  • NotYou007

    How can you judge a book you have not read CD?

  • TRUTHOVERfaith

    This book does sound interesting.

    Bible scholar and skeptic Robert Price wrote a book that sounds similar called “The Reason Driven Life”. Sort of a polemic against Rick Warrens “Purpose Driven Life”.

    Both are probably worth a read.

  • Steve

    Thanks…ordered it…

  • my point is with the assumption, not the book. i don’t like the idea of “purpose” as it reminds me too much of woo. the universe is a harsh and uncaring place in this regard and a blade of grass has as much “purpose” as a human being.

  • Kan

    I read Price’s The Reason-Driven Life a few years back; it is a very good, point-by-point rebuttal to Warren’s book.

  • Chicago Dyke: “i don’t like the idea of “purpose” as it reminds me too much of woo.” +1 on that.

    Our language is full of that kind of assumption. Ever hear a smart person described as “gifted”? That rankles me the same way.

    I’m sure Barker and Warren mean “purpose” in different ways – Warren assuming a divine purpose, and Barker answering with a personal purpose – but there again it’s another good reason not to answer Warren using his title and on his terms.

    Rebuttal books usually come off like also-rans, and if the rebuttal book fails to convince the reader, it can wind up inadvertently reinforcing the work being criticized, at least in some readers’ minds.

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