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Former pastor Dan Barker eloquently, powerfully, and rationally upends this long-held belief in Life Driven Purpose. Offering words of enrichment, emancipation, and inspiration, he reminds us how millions of atheists lead happy, loving, moral, and purpose-filled lives. Practicing what he preaches, he also demonstrates through his own personal journey that life is valuable for its own sake: that meaning and purpose come not from above, but from within.
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By Gary on 04-20-15
Purpose starts with us not outside of us
The weakest arguments for the existence of God are 1) life would have no meaning without God (therefore God must exist) and 2) how can something come from nothing if there isn't a God to make it happen (an ontological argument). This book refutes those two arguments. As he says in the book it's a rare person who acquires a belief in God because of those arguments, but usually a person believes in God first and then adopts those arguments.
This book firstly demolishes the premise that the purpose for life must come from outside of us since we can be inspired from within and don't need to be "out spired" to find our meaning. The author doesn't just state things but steps the listener through on how to get past the sophistry foisted upon us by fundamentalist who can't get past their slave/master mentality inherent within their self referential religious belief system, Adam sinned, Jesus died for your sin of Adam, and forgiveness must be asked for and submission to God must be asked for the sin which you have for which you were born in and you must only accept this so you can be forgiven. And the fundamentalist say morality must come from this revealed book based on this revealed religion. The religious book written by men but claimed to be inerrantly written by God or Gods unlike any other book tells us LGBT are abominations and women are second class citizens and even mentions how all the tombs of Jerusalem opened up and the Saints walked the streets of the city (the first Zombies! Matthew 27:52) and our morality and ethics are selectively chosen from this book.
Understanding morality is hard, the author makes it easy, "do no harm". There are nuances and there are ethics to consider but first the author starts there. He develops it better than most authors do (much better than Michael Shermer did in his latest book). He'll even tells us we need to consider our intuition, our reason and the law. It's tough being a "good" human but much more profitable than believing a book based on magic can answer such complex questions.
The second thrust of the book deals with why the question "why there is something rather than nothing" is as flawed as saying twelve divided by zero. The question needs context, 'nothing' only has meaning contrasted with something. In our universe virtual particles are created all the time and as the author states when this happens on the boundary of a black hole matter is created. Even stipulating to the premise that 'God did it' how do we know that God is not a machine with advanced AI and it too realizes morality is complex and has been programmed to never interfere.
There are two ways of discovering the truth about revealed religions. One is to read science books (I've read over a hundred science books in the last four years), such as Dennett's "Darwins Dangerous Idea" which was referenced in this book, the other is with books like this one which demonstrate that our purpose in life can come about by learning about the universe by reading books like this one.
I really like the author. I enjoy watching his debates online. He's always polite in his debates as he is in this book. I liked this book so much that I'll end up getting one of his other books (even though it's not on Audible and I'll have to actually read it) in order to understand how he got out of the narrow minded fundamental trap he was in before realizing truths such as happiness (subjective well being) comes from within us not outside of us instead of some imaginary transcendent plane which is undefinable.
For me, there is no greater compliment to an author that I like him so much that I'll read his other books even though there not available on Audible.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Rich on 06-15-15
Dan's best book to date!
After reading three previous books by Dan Barker, hearing him on their radio program, and watching a few debates, I'd formed an opinion of him as sound but hardly an original thinker. However, after reading this little volume, I had to alter that impression. He is committed to intellectual growth; he is studying in several fields of study; and he is clearly an original thinker in his own right. I am most impressed with an amazing ability to use brand new analogies to illustrate his points. As a retired academic in his 8th decade, I'm seldom "blown away" by a book. This one achieved it. Highly recommended!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful