Book Review: Godless By Dan Barker

This is my first atheist book, I’ve read.

I have mixed feelings about this book, because it had some really good parts and some really dry parts.  And just some parts that went completely over my head and some parts I really could care less about.

Pros: The book is so diverse in structure anybody can get something out of it, because it hits such an array of topics.  The beginning of the book which begins with his life as a christian and his de-conversion.  It provides a level of comfort for anybody who is or has ever gone through the process of losing ones faith especially from fundamentalist Christianity.  My favorite parts were the section on Bible Contradictions, and the discrepancies on the resurrection and the mythological history of the many messiahs.  I especially enjoyed those parts.  And for anybody who is hard pressed on the civil challenges of atheist or the life of atheism, would really enjoy the last part of the book.

Cons:  There were chapters in the book I simply did skip because they were really of no interest to me or just went completely over my head.  (i.e. The Sections: The Cosmological Argument, Dear Theologian, and Murder He Wrote.)  They weren’t necessarily bad sections, but they were in my opinion dull if the topic was not a major interest to you.  For example the cosmological argument is not a big deal.  So that section could have been two paragraphs with a simple rebuttal and I would have been fine with that.  The section on murder, could have said, “God killed a lot of people, The End.”  and that would have been enough for me.  They were in my opinion to radical in detail for me to care about that chapter.

Final Thought: The book covers so many things, its hard to walk away without learning something from it.  The lesson I found the most helpful….”Never bring up an issue during debate that you are not prepared to defend in-depth.” A simple concept, but still an important one not to be forgotten.

About M. Rodriguez

When I first received Christ salvation, I made it a priority to read the whole bible and I did. But it was the Bible that made me question my faith. For I found it flawed and lacking. Due to this I launched a personal inquiry/investigation into my faith, and ultimately realized that the Christian God of the Bible was indeed man-made. Now I Blog about those findings and life after Christ.
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12 Responses to Book Review: Godless By Dan Barker

  1. unkleE says:

    G’day BR, I’m wondering what he said and you meant by “the mythological history of the many messiahs”. Could you explain just a little please? Thanks.

  2. unkleE says:

    That was what I thought you meant. I may have to break it to you gently, but, according to the scholars, that is simply not true. Barker is repeating information that has been shown to be almost totally wrong! These ideas were believed at the end of the nineteenth century, but were shown to be wrong by the end of the twentieth century. I’ve only heard of one recognised scholar who believes them (Robert Price) and I’ve read on one who thought they might be true, investigated them, and found they were not (TD Mettinger). The rest have rejected them.

    If you think I’m making this up, read this summary (under the third heading), and Jesus vs Mithras. Then check out the references I give in Jesus and Mithras and this blog by Bart Ehrman, and check out Wikipedia.

    It’s sad, but true, that atheists are just as prone as christians to make claims without evidence, believe what people tell them (as you have done) or simply make things up to suit their own views.

    Don’t believe everything you read! : (

  3. Dan Barker says:

    To be accurate, in the book Godless, “Mithra” is just a very tiny part of one smaller section of the larger argument that Christianity is cut from the same fabric as other pagan religions. The case does not rest on Mithra. The problem (which the book does not address in enough detail — as if there weren’t enough detail in the book!) is that “Mithra” is really two different characters. Nobody doubts that the old Persian “Mithra” is largely irrelevant to Christianity, but the more modern “Mithra” (modern in the sense of Roman times versus ancient Persia) who was widely worshipped as a “mystery” by many Romans was a distortion (through the lens of the Greek Perseus) by naive soldiers who thought they had discovered an “ancient” religion. See, for example, The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries by David Ulansey.

  4. unkleE says:

    G’day Dan, thanks for your comment.

    But if you read the references I gave in my comment above, you’ll find that the scholars now (as opposed to 100 years ago) almost unanimously say both the later Mithras, and all the other pagan gods, are largely irrelevant in the study of christian origins. All the alleged parallels are spurious. David Ulansey, who you mention, is among those who hold this view as far as I can ascertain.

    So my question to you is this: Do you now accept the verdict of the scholars (which apparently makes your book in error at this point)? I am not criticising you in this, because the misunderstanding is common, and anyone can make a mistake. I have made one or two myself! : )

    But if you now recognise this mistake, it would be good to make that clear. And if you hold to the views that are in the book, those of us who value the historical evidence need to know that too.

    What do you say?

  5. I dont think he meant it in the aspect that Jesus did not ever exist, but more of that his legacy and legend is greatly and vastly influenced by pagan religion (ie. Mithra)

  6. unkleE says:

    I don’t think he meant Jesus didn’t exist either. But the scholars say that Jesus’ legacy and legend was not at all influenced by pagan religion (ie. Mithra), which you’ll see if you read the references I gave you.

  7. keith says:

    probably one of the most intellectually lacking book review I have ever read…

    • M. Rodriguez says:

      Its a basic book review based on my opinion of the book, not a book report. Pro i liked, con what I don’t like and final thought. What else were you expecting?

  8. unklee says:

    Keith: why does his review have to be “intellectual”? LIke he says, he shared his opinion, what more should he do?

    Biblereader: I guess Dan’s not coming back to answer my questions about what seem to be errors in his book?

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