Sunday, December 6, 2009

Godless:How An Evanlegical Preacher Became One Of America's Leading Atheists

For a biography of the author, go here:

Barker is a major force in the Freedom From Religion Foundation precisely because he has an insider's knowledge of Christianity, and especially of the clergy. But he is also very well educated and well read, and very, very intelligent. There's no question in my mind that his atheism is a result of that intelligence. He learned how to use the mind control techniques in common usage among evangelicals, and he learned to despise them as unfair. Rather than try to characterize this book, I'm just going to provide a few appropriate quotes."Between the summer and Christmas of 1983 I went through an awful period of hypocrisy. . . . I was still preaching, and I hated myself. I was living with the momentum of a lifetime of Christian service, still receiving invitations to minister, still feeding my family with honoraria from ministry and singing engagements in churches and Christian schools."[A woman told him that she "felt the spirit of God" in his sermon.] "I realized that the whole sermon/worship setup is a huge drama that we are all acting out, not just the person in the pulpit, but the audience as self-selected participants without whom there could be no preaching. We were all playing along with the illusionary meaningfulness of it all.""If someone tells me I am going to hell, I say, 'Thank you! All the great people are in hell. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mark Twain . . . I was afraid you were going to tell me to "go to heaven" and spend eternity with Jerry Falwell.'""When ministers who are untrained to science make cosmological pronouncements that contradict science, why are they granted more credibility than professional physicists, mathematiians or biologists? . . . because, like quacks, they are believed qualified."

OK, I'm not having much luck finding the quotes I want, and the screen saver keeps kicking in while I look for them.]One of my favorite chapters is "Dear Theologian," a letter from God to a theologian. He has a lot of questions . . . and not much hope of getting sensible answers. It's as amusing as it is enlightening.In Part Three, "What's Wrong With Christianity," most of it involves either moral issues or historical issues. In a chapter entitled "The Bible and Morality," Barker makes all the usual arguments about the moral example set by a ruthless Old Testament god, but also makes the point that there are some pretty heartless events in the New Testament, too.Two chapters that are very valuable to me are "Did Jesus Exist?" [probably not], and "Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead? [just plain no.] His arguments are very well documented, including various interpretations of the same bible passages.The last segment deals with Barker's life since becoming an "activist" atheist, including his role in the Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am a member) and their involvement in First Amendment issues in the courts. It's all fascinating reading, possibly even for a Christian.

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