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Dan Barker

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Barker is the Public Relations Director for the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), a prominent freethought group based in Madison, Wisconsin. His best known book is his 1992 Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.

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From a December 7, 1997 article in the New York Times Magazine titled "Godless and Proud of It":

Dan Barker, 48, a spokesman for the foundation, calls himself a "positive atheist," but it was not always so. He was an evangelist for 19 years, 8 of which he spent hauling the word of God across the country in a sunshine-yellow Chevy Nova.

Barker, like many atheists, did not lose faith as a result of personal trauma. No murdered child or dying father poisoned his love of the Lord. If asked about his transformation, he likes to dismiss the five-year process with a quick and somewhat loaded remark: that he simply "grew up."

When pressed, however, Barker admits to a more anguished meta-morphosis. "I was raised fundamentalist," he says, in an easy cadence that has long since lost its evangelical verve. "But eventually I began to wonder if I truly had to reject other Christians who believed Adam and Eve were not historical, but simply a parable. It sounds like such a minor thing now, but it was a dreadful first step."

During Barker's first 30 years of life, he had never so much as glimpsed a gray area. As his fundamentalism started to give way, though, the lines of his spiritual life were redrawn for good. "I started to migrate," he says. "My preaching took on less hellfire and more evangelical love. Finally I became the sort of liberal Christian who redefines God right out of existence, as the 'ground of all essence,' or something like that. I had dumped out the bathwater and there was no baby there."

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The following quotes arrive from Wayne Aiken's Atheist Fortune Cookie File. Most of them are excerpts from Barker's book Losing Faith in Faith:

"The very concept of sin comes from the bible. Christianity offers to solve a problem of its own making! Would you be thankful to a person who cut you with a knife in order to sell you a bandage?"

"How happy can you be when you think every action and thought is being monitored by a judgmental ghost?"

"You can cite a hundred references to show that the biblical God is a bloodthirsty tyrant, but if they can dig up two or three verses that say "God is love," they will claim that *you* are taking things out of context!"

"I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that iscontingent upon authority, punishment, or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being."

"I have something to say to the religionist who feels atheists never say anything positive: You are an intelligent human being. Your life is valuable for its own sake. You are not second-class in the universe, deriving meaning and purpose from some other mind. You are not inherently evil--you are inherently human, possessing the positive rational potential to help make this a world of morality, peace and joy. Trust yourself."

"There is joy in rationality, happiness in clarity of mind. Freethought is thrilling and fulfilling--absolutely essential to mental health and happiness."

"It's not easy to change world views. Faith has its own momentum and belief is comfortable. To restructure reality is traumatic and scary. That is why many intelligent people continue to believe: unbelief is an unknown."

"For my money, I'll bet on reason and humanistic kindness. Even if I am wrong I will have enjoyed my life, the existence of which is under little dispute."

"The longer I have been an atheist, the more amazed I am that I ever believed Christian notions."

"Not thinking critically, I assumed that the "successful" prayers were proof that God answers prayer while the failures were proof that there was something wrong with me."

"To think that the ruler of the universe will run to my assistance and bend the laws of nature for me is the height of arrogance."

"Without "The Law of Moses" would we all be wandering around like little gods, stealing, raping, and spilling blood whenever our vanity was offended?"

"Truth does not demand belief. Scientists do not join hands every Sunday, singing, "yes, gravity is real! I will have faith! I will be strong! I believe in my heart thatwhat goes up, up, up must come down, down. down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about it."

"You keep accusing me of blasphemy all of the time, But I cannot be convicted of a victimless crime."

"You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that _we_ are the ones that need help?"

"Faith is a cop-out. It is intellectual bankruptcy. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can't be taken on its own merits."