God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction by Dan Barker.
Book Review by Cari Mayhew. Rating 6/10.
A striking book designed to hit Christianity in the heart.
(Please note: It is beyond the scope of this book review to go into whether or not there is a God, or if God is good.)
This book is written by Dan Barker, a former evangelical preacher. The inspiration for this book comes from a single paragraph in Richard Dawkin’s God Delusion, which goes as follows:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomanical, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Now that’s quite a statement! And it’s also what Barker’s book is centred around. In Part 1, Barker sets out examples of these 19 characteristics within the Christian bible.
Sadly for Christianity, not only had barker found examples of every single one of these 19 characteristics, but he usually found several examples in every case. In fact, the reason I haven’t given it a higher rating is that it was so repetitive, with so many examples of remarkably similar and disturbing passages. A whole chapter is dedicated to each of the descriptors in turn, and the whereabouts of each of the passages are clearly noted in bold before being presented underneath.
In Part 2, Barker takes the argument further still:
“He [Dawkins] forgot to mention that the God of the Old Testament is also a pyromaniacal, angry, merciless, curse-hurling, vaccicdal, aborticidal, cannibalistic slavemonger.”
Again, the following chapters are full of examples of these characteristics.
The book is predominantly a laundry list of evil requests and doings of the God of the Old Testament, but Chapter 28 asks “What About Jesus?” And here Barker even manages to find evidence that Jesus endorsed invasion and bloodshed (Deuteronomy 6.15-19), and encouraged the beating of slaves (Luke 12:47-48). Barker also sites a lot of Jesus’ bad advice
Several passages may be unpleasant for even strong atheists to read. I couldn’t get over how many times “fingers dripping with blood” comes up in the Bible.
Overall, Barker has little comments around and between the examples he sights, but I would suggest that this makes for a stronger argument, handing the role of the jury to the reader. Obviously, this book will upset just about any Christian who attempts to read it, and for those who do read it may feel better to recall that the analysis is only of how God is presented in the Bible, and not an analysis of any effect (if any) of God in their daily lives.