Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning, by Dan Barker

My Copy: 9781939578211 (image from

You can probably tell that the title is a bit of a reverse play on Rick Warren’s best-selling Purpose Driven Life book, and is quite the reverse with it’s outlook. Whereas that book insisted on religion as the foundation of our lives (specifically Christianity as he saw it), Barker believes differently.

Barker is a former evangelical minister who became an atheist and wrote this book (and many others) to answer the claims of those who insist that you need God to be a good person, moral, have values, etc. Barker upends those arguments throughout this work with moments from his own discussions and debates as well as a logical approach to each point.

His whole point is what many atheists make regarding life: this is the only one we’ve got, so let’s make it the best we possibly can. The book’s a good way to help those who are in between belief and disbelief, or those struggling in general, realize their own innate goodness or sense of purpose and ability to see the world as it is. Barker patiently breaks down some arguments against the possibility of atheists living fulfilling lives without a god, and that we don’t need a god to be moral.

I liked the presentation, though I wanted to break into a sweat briefly when some of the logic equations started to show up (it’s a short bit, I swear… but that’s the one class I failed in college). I haven’t read any of Dan Barker’s other works yet, but will do so in the next couple of years. He doesn’t want to repeat himself too much, so you can read this book without wanting to go “aw crap, I’ve already read all of this.” He has a few moments where he references his other works, but they’re brief and largely guidelines to another point.

Overall, I’ll be hanging on to this one. Took me longer than I thought it would to finish reading it (I think it’s the shortest one of his I’ve picked up), but November was a lousy month for keeping my head on straight and I wanted to go back and check a few things I’d read as I went along.

Definitely going to read again and take it under advisement.

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