Review of GOD: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction
By Dan Barker, Sterling Publishing, New York
February 2016 $23
Think of any fiction book you’ve read, any fictional movie you’ve seen, any tall tale you’ve heard. Now think about the worst character from any of those.
No matter who or what you think of, Dan Barker knows of one who is worse. God. Specifically, God of the bible.
Barker, co-president of FFRF, has taken a sentence from Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion and, at Dawkins’ request, expounded on it in his new book, God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.
The first sentence of Chapter 2 of The God Delusion says that the God of the Old Testament is “arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” Dawkins says that sentence has been the most heavily criticized sentence he has ever written. Barker even goes a step further and removes the “arguably.”
Believers point to the bible as a place to find love, compassion and understanding from God. But as Barker shows, much of the bible shows a completely different character.
“If you have never read the bible, you might like to know what is in it,” he writes in the introduction. “If you are a believer, you should be happy to see us promoting bible reading. As a former clergyman, let me offer some counsel: don’t take the word of your pastor, rabbi, or priest. My hope is that you will do what Richard Dawkins has done and simply read the bible for yourself.”
As Dawkins writes in the book’s foreword, “Even a cursory look at the bible should be enough to convince a reasonable person that it’s the very last document you should thrust in front of someone if you want to convince them of the love of God.”
In one of the reviews for the book, author and noted cognitive scientist Steven Pinker writes, “With a twinkle that belies the canard that atheists are ‘strident’ and ‘militant,’ Dan Barker cheerfully refutes the common claim that morality comes from the God of the bible.”
In The God Delusion, Dawkins lists 19 of God’s character traits, which, “if they were all combined in a single fictional villain, would strain the reader’s credulity to the point of ridicule.
“Certifiable psychopaths apart, no real human individual is quite so irredeemably nasty as to combine all of the following: ‘jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.’ ”
In Part I of the book, “Dawkins Was Right,” Barker took each of those 19 traits and found verses in the bible to show just how much of a miscreant the Christian God is. But that wasn’t all.
In Part II, “Dawkins Was Too Kind,” Barker tells of other evil traits of God. “Richard’s 19 denunciations are certainly more than enough to demonstrate the downright depravity of the Lord Jealous, but he overlooked a few more,” Barker writes in the introduction. “He forgot to mention that the God of the Old Testament is also a pyromaniacal, angry, merciless, curse-hurling, vaccicidal, aborticidal, cannibalistic slavemonger.”
And for those who might try to make the case that God is real, and not a fictional character, then God would easily become No. 1 on the list of all nonfiction figures, beating out such monstrous people as Adolph Hitler, Attila the Hun, Pol Pot, Osama bin Laden, Vlad the Impaler and Joseph Stalin. You’re better off sticking with fiction.
You may purchase copies of “God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction” directly from FFRF for $23 postpaid. Note: Dan is contributing his royalties for every book sold by FFRF, so your order raises funds for a good cause — FFRF! If you want your autograph personalized, please provide the name(s). You may order online at www.ffrf.org/shop or send your order via check to FFRF, PO Box 750, Madison, WI 53701.