Dan Barker - U-Turn on the Road to Damascus

August 22, 2011

Host: Robert M. Price

Host Robert M. Price felt uncannily as if he were talking to himself when he interviewed Dan Barker, the two share so much in common. But then their story is not so unusual, come to think of it. The same sort of thing seems to be happening to more and more Evangelicals these days! 

For you see, Dan used to be an Evangelical preacher and a Christian musician. One day he started having second thoughts about the path he once imagined God had chosen for him. Whoever had urged him to pursue the ministry had no idea he was creating a Frankenstein monster—at lease from the fundamentalst viewpoint, for Dan has become a frequent and effective debater against Christian opponents.

With his wife Annie-Laurie Gaylor, Dan is one of the executives of The Freedom from Religion Foundation. His books include Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist, The Good Atheist: Living a Purpose-Filled Life Without God, and Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists.

Related Episodes

Jaco Gericke - Confessions of a Died-Again Christian
July 25, 2011

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

As the perpetual skeptic: Did Dan find that it was more money in his turning into an atheist than being one of the superstitious?

Posted on Aug 24, 2011 at 11:58pm by shonny Comment #1

As skeptics, we can’t rule it out.

However, my feeling is that few people go into religion for the money, televangelists aside. This would be doubly true for atheism. How many atheist bloggers/writers/etc actually earn a living from it? Mighty few, methinks.

Posted on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:40pm by Piscador Comment #2

Let me state I am a huge fan of Dr. Price. I listen “religously” to his biblegeek podcast and have contributed questions and comments to it. Further in the past I have truely enjoyed the interviews he has done for Point of Inquiry as well. The one with D. M. Murdock (Acharya S.) was simply great.

However, I found this one with Dan Barker to be most distrubing. The fact that he has a legal department running around writing letters and suing people for public expressions of religion is infurating.  Small wonder that athesists are viewed so negatively by Americans (http://www.religioustolerance.org/atheist8.htm). In terms which the athesists community has been discussing; Barker is being a supreme dick.

Posted on Aug 27, 2011 at 3:35am by Old Hoplite Comment #3

However, I found this one with Dan Barker to be most distrubing. The fact that he has a legal department running around writing letters and suing people for public expressions of religion is infurating.

Actually, I find this one of the most admirable characteristics of his organization…actually doing something, rather than just giving speeches.  The separation of church and state means nothing if you don’t have people enforcing it.  Anyone who finds this “dickish” are actually part of the problem, because they’re giving tacit approval to those who are happy to commingle religion and government.

Note that his organization doesn’t sue people for “public expressions of religion”, but rather government sponsored expressions of religion.

Posted on Aug 28, 2011 at 11:56am by Taylor Comment #4

Let me state I am a huge fan of Dr. Price. I listen “religously” to his biblegeek podcast and have contributed questions and comments to it. Further in the past I have truely enjoyed the interviews he has done for Point of Inquiry as well. The one with D. M. Murdock (Acharya S.) was simply great.

However, I found this one with Dan Barker to be most distrubing. The fact that he has a legal department running around writing letters and suing people for public expressions of religion is infurating.  Small wonder that athesists are viewed so negatively by Americans (http://www.religioustolerance.org/atheist8.htm). In terms which the athesists community has been discussing; Barker is being a supreme dick.

In my town of current residency, an atheist billboard was erected recently. Officials claim to be “sickened” when they see it. This is not, apparently, a socially and societally valid means of expression.

In my same town, I see regular billboards from “God” asking if we are listening. Harvest Festival with Greg Laurie is a huge deal in this region. Bumper stickers exhorting neighbors to vote to ban gay marriage, remove the rights of women to control their own bodies, and go forth and kill Muslims. These are socially acceptable.

I honestly believe that it is high time that atheists quit expecting the rest of the world to magically end their superstition, blind ignorance, and paranoia without fuss. We’re playing this game as if there are “gentlemen’s” rules, and the other side sees it as a death match. Religious society already sees atheists and skeptics as amoral at best and monstrous at worst. We’re not going to be able to out-reason an entire culture of people who eschew reason as part of their core self-identity. If Dr. Price in any way evens that playing field, so be it.

There is a very real ideological war going on in the world between reason- and faith-based lifestyles, and you know what they say about fairness in war.

Posted on Sep 01, 2011 at 12:02pm by StYossarian Comment #5