Dan Barker – U-Turn on the Road to Damascus

August 22, 2011

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.

This is point of inquiry for Monday, August 22nd, 2011. Welcome to Point of Inquiry. I’m Robert Price. Point of Inquiry is the radio show and the podcast of the Center for Inquiry, a think tank advancing reasons, science and secular values in public affairs and at the grassroots level. Dan Barker used to be an evangelical preacher and a Christian musician. One day he started having second thoughts about the path he once imagined that God had chosen forum. Whoever had urged him to pursue the ministry had no idea he was creating a Frankenstein monster, at least from a fundamentalist standpoint. For Dan has become a frequent and effective debater against Christian opponents. Dan is one of the executives of the organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation. His books include Losing Faith in Faith From Preacher to Atheist and the Good Atheist Living a Purpose Filled Life Without God. And finally, Godless. How an evangelical preacher became one of America’s leading atheists. 

Welcome to Point of Inquiry, Dan Barker. Oh, hi. Thank you, Bob. 

Great to have you here. We’ve been corresponding for many years on and off. And I’ve always been amazed that your your work and would like to. Well, I feel kind of silly saying I want to share it with a bigger audience. That’s ludicrous, since you’ve already got such a great job with that. You’re such a leading spokesman for the Freethought cause now I almost hate to ask you this because I know you’ve done this a million times already, but would you mind giving us a summary of your born again Christian career and then how you exited that for a new one? 

Yeah, well, it never gets old. You know, the one thing we each of us does own is our own story. Everybody has their own story and you can’t argue with that. And in fact, we had you on our radio show on Freethought Radio and you talked about your bat born again passed in you and I parallel each other somewhat and that we were true believers in in the the Bible, basically. And my family was born again fundamentalist evangelical Christians. And we went to church all the time, twice on Sunday, Wednesday night, weeklong revival meetings and more than that. We went door to door witnessing and we you know, we were true, true believers thinking Jesus was coming back any moment and we had to you know, we we were hoping to be one more day left on this earth before the end of times so that we could bring in one more soul to the kingdom. And, you know, and I wasn’t pretending. I loved it. I believed it. I preached it. I went to two azouz. The Pacific College at university now got a degree in religion. And, you know, I wasn’t a great scholar academic in those sense, but I learned enough about the Bible to preach. And course, I didn’t care about academics. I thought the world was ending. I had to get out on the street and park benches and in prisons and schools and preach the gospel. And I was ordained to the ministry. I served as an associate pastor of three different churches in California, evangelical Bible believing types. One was a charismatic church. I was an assembly of God for a while where we spoke in tongues and did faith healing. And I’m kind of glad I went to that church. I was there for a year and a half. They were very sweet, very sincere, although deluded people, but they were way too noisy for my taste. If you know what I mean. 

Just very, you know, falling on the floor. And I’m kind of glad I was in that experience that Catherine Coleman, I was her librarian for a while. And when she came to Los Angeles, her faith healing. 

I sat like six feet away from her in about eight of those rallies at the Shrine Auditorium. And I had to move my feet because people kept falling toward me, toward me when they’re getting slain by the spirit. But anyway, I then I then became like I was a missionary in Mexico for Mexico for a couple years, trying to trying to change Catholics into Christians, if you know what I mean. 


And and I was at a cross country evangelist for eight years. I drove around the country thinking Jesus was coming again any minute. You know, keep bringing one more soul into the kingdom. I wrote some Christian musicals and Christian songs. One of my songs was performed by Robert Schuller’s Hour of Power, if you know what that is. Yeah. 

And his choir on TV. And then I wrote some musicals, which actually were pretty popular for Manam music, the Christmas story and the Easter story. And I am still getting royalties. Even today, I’m still getting royalties from the musical, which is kind of fun. I, I forget all about it, you know. And then once a year this check comes in the mail from from these Christian musicals. But. And by the way, I signed over my last check to the Women’s Medical Fund, which helps poor women pay for abortions. 

And and the idea with the bookkeeper, Katie, said, should we send the thank you letter to the Christian publisher? I should try. 

But anyway, I was a true believer and I lived it. Evangelist, missionary preacher, you know, Christian songwriter. And I loved it. And I felt that. And I saw answers to prayer. And you know what I thought were just a prayer in miracles and, you know, you see what you want to see. And I and I got goose bumps. And I you know, I prayed in the spirit and I felt the presence of God in my mind. And I knew it was true. And I didn’t realize at the time that goose bumps are not evidence for the Holy Spirit. They’re actually evidence for evolution. Our ancestors were hairier. And they when they got cold or when they had the scarf or predator, their hair would rise up. And so goose bumps are actually a proof that we evolved from earlier ancestors. But but I changed my mind in my mid thirties and in my book, Godless, I tell the whole story, the philosophical reasons. And for me, the kind of Christian I was, and I think you identify the Bible was a big deal, you know, the reliability of the Bible and then. Morality that you can actually be good without God, in fact, believing in God makes it harder for you to be good. And in a nutshell, I changed my mind in 1983 and 1984, I started becoming an atheist spokesperson. And the rest is history. 

Yeah, I that’s that is so similar to my story, except that you were much more active and more enthusiastic about it. I did all the witnessing I did out of a sense of duty and I did manage to swallow my embarrassment. But I always kind of thought. Now one of my myths and I guess was the Holy Ghost. 

That’s right. You just weren’t blessed like I was. Hallelujah. 

Geez, I guess you what sort of reactions do you get when you tell someone who is presently in the whole thing and filled with a spirit? And so for the. Yeah, yeah. I know what you’re talking about. Been there, done that. Here’s what’s wrong with it. 

Well, either that I am possessed of the devil, you know. And this is sort of a backhanded compliment they give you. You were so powerful to God that the devil had to go after you to stop you ministry or that I had mental problems. 

You know, it. Oh, it can’t be anything. 

I can’t be it can’t be the idea that possibly I’m right about 80 ism in the Bible. But, you know. Well, you know how you and I used to be a skeptic had come up to us. We would have just shaking her head and said, but you don’t have what I have. You don’t have the presence of Jesus. You don’t know you’re a blind skeptic and you don’t have this reality. And I see people shaking their head at me right now. And I know what they’re thinking. And when I say I know what they’re thinking, they still say you don’t know because they’re having this very real. They’re not pretending, but a very real mental experience, a delusion or whatever you want to call it, that’s happening in their brain that affirms their beliefs. And yet I say now and they don’t know this, but I know this now that nothing in their mind points to anything outside of their mind. It doesn’t point anything transcendent. It’s just an illusion of transcendence. 

What? Jack Dairy dad calls the error of presence. Metaphysics seems so real to you. It’s it’s gotta be real. Yeah. Think again. The sad DASK Jim Jones, how he feels alone. And tell us about the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Like what is its specialty as compared with other Freethought, atheist and humanist groups. 

Yeah, well we are right now. We happen to be the largest group in the country of atheists and agnostics. We have almost 17000 paid up members. These are actual members. We actually have a mailing list of about fifty or sixty thousand. But for members, we have about 17000. And about 85 or 90 percent of our group call themselves atheists. And we we do two things. We work to keep religion and government separate. And we have taken the lead in a lot of significant and sometimes not so high profile legal cases of fighting violations to the First Amendment. And for example, we just tried to restrain Governor Perry of Texas from getting involved in this prayer rally down there and sued over the National Day of Prayer proclamation and so on. And so we have three legal staff, full time staff. Plus right now in the summer, we have four legal interns or seven legal staff in here, and they are busy, busy, busy, mostly writing letters to the legal staff here. Doesn’t do litigation. We hire out for litigation. But you can have a lot of victories without going to court. If you write a letter, a high school principal or a county executive or postmaster or whatever. Often they will correct the abuse just by a letter. And so we we’re sending out dozens of letters. I think in the month of June, it was like 60 letters that went out all over the country from our members complaining and asking for abuse correction. So we were really taken the lead. It’s sort of a membership service to our members who have complaints in their area and they’re coming in everyday complaints, prayers at city council meetings, for example, or a court mandating the religious a program for people with problems and so on. You know, there’s all these nativity scenes on public property. And so and so anyway, this this is mainly what we are about, which would set us apart from other groups in that we are we are activist. We do something where, you know, we love to sit around and talk. We love to go to conferences that we love that as well. And we have our national radio show and we have our conferences. And by the way, we just found out this week that Charles Strouse, the songwriter who wrote the musical Annie in Bye Bye Birdie and a whole lot of other stuff. 

He’s coming to our conference to accept whatever awards. Why? 

He’s a lifelong atheist humanist and he’s 83. So it’s pretty exciting. Have someone like him in Annie, by the way, is being revived. I think the end of this year or early next year. So it’s it’s in the news somewhere. But that’s the other thing we do. The first thing we do is state your separation. Our second purpose is to educate the public about the views of non theists. And so it’s atheists or agnostics or secular humanist or we don’t care what we call ourselves, whatever label. We even have a few desists in the group and some some atheistic Buddhists. And we don’t care what our members call themselves. We’d like to say we all disbelieve in the same God. 

We want to make a difference. We want to educate. And that’s why we had this huge presence just last week. 

In Houston, we were down to any learning I and one of our legal staff protesting the prayer rally, but also educating the public. 

We stood for eight hours out in that hot sun, no banners and signs and chanting and along with the gay rights people and a bunch of other liberal Christians were there to protesting the rally. And we have billboards, we’ve we’ve put up more than 300 billboards around the country on various campaigns right now. Our campaign has gone out of the closet and it features an actual face of a local person. Hi, I’m Sandy. I’m a housewife or. Hi, I’m Joe. I’m a truck driver with a with our own saying on a billboard that you can drive by on the highway. And we’ve had more than 300 of those in half a state so far already, which is introducing local people. Well, we had one in Raleigh, North Carolina, just a couple of months ago. About 12 of them were up. And our next one will be in Phenix. We just had about a dozen in Columbus, Ohio, gone up. And it’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. We have to organize with a local photographer and the local people have to you know, it’s not just a generic billboard. It’s an actual person that people know in a community that are brave enough to be on it. So we’re excited about that. And by the way, if if if you can’t be on one of those real billboards, we have a virtual billboard campaign going where you can go online to our Web site and just make you know, you can even pick the background and the wording in your picture and all that and make your own virtual billboards you put up on Facebook or or wherever you own it. And you can use it to help promote free thought. 

You guys do amazing things. I would never have thought of most of this stuff. It’s incredible. How would you characterize the difference in mission between. I think I know this already from what you’ve said, but I’m intrigued at the apparent similarity between what you’re doing and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. I gather there’s a bigger liberal Christian contingent in that. So they’re probably not trying to clarify the nature of non theism. But our deal worked work with them much or they much different than any any way on the church state issue. 

Yeah, we’re all on the same page when it comes to that Barry Lynn and and those people, in fact, we cooperate on a number of cases in Americans United and the ACLU and other groups. American Atheists and Center for Inquiry have have helped us with friend of the court briefs, for example, on some of our major federal lawsuits. And this is really useful because we can’t say it all in one brief. But Americans United has been wonderful with with offering their services to help out some of our lawsuits. And we did the same thing. These different groups around the country, which I think is great, that there’s this alphabet soup of different kinds of groups because we’re all free thinkers. We all you know, we are you know, we’re organic bottom up. It’s not a hierarchical thing that’s happening. And I think it looks good that there’s a whole bunch of different groups that on a voluntary ad hoc basis, we come together and help each other out on issues that are important to all of us Americans. United is broader than we are. Our group focuses on the nonbelievers and we are advocating in pushing for these issues. From the point of view of 80s and agnostics, Americans United, I think, is primarily liberal believers, just like Barry Lynn is a minister, although we agree 100 percent on all of these issues. So we would we don’t want to be as broad, if you know what I mean. 

We don’t want to run big. We want to be is more focused, tighter group that gets gets things done. 

You do. You get an awful lot of them done. Speaking of the court cases, I gather you your suit was dismissed or turned out or whatever, because they said you did not have the standing to bring it. And then I gather that you’re you’re appealing it or taking it to a higher court since the right. If that’s so, if since the rally is over, what would you be trying to. 

Chief, by a second stage of the suit. 

Well, the immediate thing we achieve is that we can we can keep. We can stay it say it’s still alive. You know, we could start some PR value, you know, even if, you know you’re going to lose. You can still have some PR value in saying, hey, we’re still fighting this. And you’re talking about the Perry case in Texas. 

Yes. I’m sorry. Yeah. 

Because of the likelihood of a we’d like to appeal to the 5th Circuit. It’s a federal case. The likelihood of them continuing with it is very low because they would just say it’s moot. The rally happened. It’s not the kind of thing that’s likely to. Well, it might be likely to happen, but the court has no indication that the government is going to say, let’s make a yearly event out of this. So what would our remedy be? What we would really like and the courts aren’t set up for this. But what we would really like is for a declaration that what the governor did was unconstitutional. We’re not we’re not asking for anything other than the court to declare, you know, this was wrong and used as a precedent for future things that come up right. So in the end, you know, there’s no penalties. What does it. What happens to a government official who violates the law? And then it’s over and it becomes moot. It’s like back in the 80s when we sued Reagan over the year of the Bible. I think it was 1980 eight or something. And by the time he got through the courts, it was 1989. And so the court said, well, as over. So you don’t have a lawsuit. So so you’re right. The likelihood of anything happening now is that, you know, the course they want to deal with. In fact, they they did not tell us the court did not tell us that what the governor was doing was constitutional. There was no ruling at all on the merits. Right. It was only on the standing to sue. They were telling us that you can’t bring a lawsuit because you’re not heard any way. You know, hurt feelings are not enough. You was voluntary. You’re not coworkers. Nobody’s forcing you to go. 

So you can see if that had anything to do with the issue. Yeah. Exactly. Believable. Yeah. 

And in fact, in fact, the the the judge’s decision flies against all Supreme Court precedent where coercion is not the test. Coercion has never been the test. The test has always been neutrality. The government at every level must be neutral and not promote or hinder religion in any way. And so the standing thing is just a way for them to slam the door in our face and get get get rid of this issue. And so at least we can say this is not a spin. This is a this is a fact. At least we can say that the court did not validate Governor Perry’s actions. The court simply sidestepped the issue. 

You know, I’m more of a political conservative than most people in our movement, but I have to admit that things sent a shudder through me. I mean, if you were even when I had ties with the Baptist Church years ago, one thing I was proud of was that they were big church state separation advocates. They’re not anymore. It’s just amazing to me. Have a they. They’ve sold that out. Well, we owe a lot. 

We owe a lot to some of those early Baptist cases. And actually, this might be hard to believe, but we owe a lot to Roman Catholics, to Roman Catholics in the in the late 19th century and early 20th century, took the lead in state separation because at that time they were a tiny minority who needed First Amendment protections against the Protestant majority. Now, you don’t hear the Catholics doing that anymore. They got what they wanted, but they have more political power. But it’s usually the the Jews, the the Omeish, the atheist, the smaller groups that need to take these lawsuits against the status quo. 

You do a lot of debating, I notice. And what are some of the topics and who are some of the people you’ve debated? What’s your experience like with that? 

Did my first debate in February of eighty five in Nashville, Tennessee, and I just did my 90 second debate in Kansas a month ago and I’m having 92, 93, 94 coming up so early. Yeah, but over that. How many years? 26, 27 years. It spreads out but. And I’m counting them. I’m aiming for 100, which I think I get to. But most of them are the existence of God right next to that. Can you be good without God? Morality comes up a lot. And these are like sexy debate topics. Most of them happen at universities. And so the students are organizing them in cooperation with religious groups on campus. They’re putting on these debates. So usually the topic is something that will draw once in a while. I’ll debate the resurrection of Jesus, which is a bit more technical, as you know. And I did one debate on the pagan origins of Christianity, the pagan parallel of which was. Which was. Way, way, way too technical, it wasn’t a good popular he was a good debate. I mean, this is a good issue. But most the time, as does God exist or can we be good without God? And once in a while on separation of state and church. That’s what I’ll be doing next month in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Should religion and government be totally separate? 

Zera, an online archive of your debates that people could listen to? 

I, I think so. Actually, a lot of them go up on YouTube. 

The one that I did at Harvard with Dinesh D’Souza three or four years ago, that one’s online. But it’s like in 12 pieces, you know, you have to listen. Oh, yeah. You know, you have to do it like that. 

And Dinesh and I have done seven debates already. Wow. 

And we did one a couple months ago that I didn’t want to do. And I turned him down. It was at the Cleveland Right to Life conference. And Dinesh, you know, announce that he wants to debate somebody on the on abortion. And I said, well, that’s not what our group does, really. We’re state church. And I could you know, I could come as an individual, you know, but not representing the foundation, although there’s a lot to say about it. I just didn’t feel like helping this group promote its agenda. But but they offered to pay me to go at first time, ever been paid to do a debate. So I went and as an individual speaking for myself and I took the money and I donated to the Women’s Medical Fund again, which helps poor women pay for abortion. So I at least I felt like, you know, I had a good conscious about what I did. And in doing that debate, it was interesting. They were all I was the only nonbeliever, their only liberal person in this whole room. And Star Park was there. And a bunch of these radical anti-abortion is. And they were all saying it may be legal, but it’s against God’s law. They kept saying that it might abortion might be legal, but it’s against God’s law. So I went up. I got up and I said, where in God’s law warrant the Bible is saying about abortion nowhere. And people were wearing these what pins that said, what would Jesus do? And I said, Jesus didn’t say anything about abortion or about gay rights. If you want to do what Jesus did. Keep your mouth shut about abortion. 

Amy, Dinesh got really, really mad about that. 

He’s accusing he’s accusing me of having this subjective relative morality. And I came back and said, hey, you guys are the ones with the subjective. The Bible doesn’t say anything about it. The law is not on your side. You guys have a subjective relative idea that you are personally opposed to this thing. And you’re free to have your opinions, of course, but don’t claim that you have some some solid objective basis for your views. 

Once again, the Bible is dragged down to the level of a ventriloquist dummy. It’s amazing. 

He said that and your book. I think that was good. 

Finally, I want to say before before we in here that I was just talking about you a couple of days ago, a former clergy member who used to be Wickliffe Bible translator in Africa. He’s now a nonbeliever and he’s going to join this clergy project thing that Dawkins invented and I Lindela scholars study. But he said when he first started questioning his faith as a Wickliffe Bible translator, the first thing he read was something you wrote. I think it was the thing on the Internet, infidels or and he said for the first time in his life, he read somebody who was informed, who wasn’t just an angry nonbeliever out there, but an actual informed person about the Bible. And he was quite impressed with the work that you were doing. 

Well, I guess off to fit me for the Millstone necktie. Now, as the Gospels are over the side, I go now. 

I am mighty glad to hear that. I’m glad it’s getting to somebody and engaging them. Have you. What sort of reactions have you had to your book? That’s a rejoinder to Rick Warren. I did one myself and and that seemed to have helped a lot of people. I’m sure yours would even more. Have you gotten much reader reaction from it? 

Yeah. And you probably know that I quoted you in that book, too, because know I didn’t know them. 

I haven’t. 

Yeah, well, you did a lot of the legwork and I read your book, you know, about Warren and Reason Driven Life. Is that what it is. Yeah. Yeah. 

And so I wanted to call my book Life Driven Purpose. 

That is great. And the publisher wouldn’t go for the publisher, was scared they would get sued. I argued with them and I said, bring it on. I mean, wouldn’t that be great for publicity? 

You know, and and so. 

So they changed the title to the good atheist and which is which is the wrong title for the book. But at least the sub. The subtitle says it’s a good atheist living a purpose filled life without God. And so I’ve heard people say that, well, if you take away a purpose and meaning, then why live? You know what? And I’m trying to say we. If there is a purpose of life, then why live if there’s a purpose of life that cheapens life, it’s the good news. The truly good news is that there is no purpose of life and that life can be its own reward and that there’s purpose in life. And that’s something I read years ago, that kind Nielsen wrote in his book, Ethics Without God. The fact that there’s no overriding purpose of life doesn’t mean you can have it. You don’t have a life with purpose. You have purpose in life. When you’re solving problems, when there’s a hunger to eliminate or or knowledge to gain or oppression to fight or you name a disease to to research. If there’s if there’s something that you can latch onto a problem to solve. You have an immensely purpose filled life. But it’s not a purpose driven life. It’s a life driven purpose. 

I’m so glad you wrote this book. There’s so many copies of Warren’s manifesto of nonsense out there that anything we can do to counteract that is is so worthwhile. I’ve always been amazed when I first read that thing because people had said, oh, you got to read this. You may be opposed to what you know as Christianity, but this is different. I ran off. 

This is the same old pablum I am all fundamentalists have heard all our lives. What is the big deal here? It’s just moronic. Eve, I’d feel the same way if I were still an evangelical. I just couldn’t believe it. So anything we can do to spear this whale is really welcome. 

Well, you know, what Rick Warren says is the purpose of life. If you boil it all down, read his book, it’s to know God, go to church and get others to join you in going to church. 

That’s just one ways. 

That’s it. That’s the purpose of life. You know, I you know, maybe I’m too cynical, but I think it’s just I think it’s money. Get people in there and bring bring in their ties and offerings. I think that’s basically what he’s selling. 

But even if it isn’t and you may well be right, what he says he believes is no better, because like you say, it just means that you’re you’re an automaton. Here’s the operating manual and this is what you’re you’re you’re all about. And it winds up just being an Amway scheme. It’s just this is religion. I mean, I think better of I have this funny Jekyll and Hyde personality. I have huge problems with Christian theology. And yet some of these people are so in name. 

I feel like a kind of a nostalgic Christian umbrage and what they do. And it’s it’s amazing. 

Yeah, well, they weren’t they’re not true Christians, as we know. 

Hallelujah. Unlike some of the the people in in my glorious state, which I do love, some of these strange street preachers and end of the world. The prophets, though, though, of course, who don’t have any kind of corner on that market. 

But hell, I would love to go on and I’ve got loads more questions, but maybe I could use that as a sneaky way of getting you back on for another interview sometime this year. 

Well, you’re the perfect guy to talk to. Yeah, you do. Yeah. 

Do you understand the struggle of words to change our minds? 

Yeah. James Barr and Fundamentalism as great book says, usually an emotional crisis is the path into fundamentalism, and it’s probably going to take another one day to get out of it. And of course, it’s the the intellect for many of us that causes that crisis. But you’re. Oh, no. You know, it doesn’t square with the facts. Don’t square with what I want to believe. And then you can just gotta get through it. But it’s certainly well worth it. 

We surveyed our members in most of them say the reason they left religion was for intellectual reasons, but some of them volunteered that they had emotional reasons. Some even had social reasons, like they they didn’t like the way the church treats women. And some had political reasons. But the majority of us who leave religion do it because it just doesn’t make sense. 

Mm hmm. Well, I remember once, long ago when I was getting just into the state of severe doubt, I was sitting by a pond in a park near my home off and went there to meditate, read and I’m reading through the pastoral epistles unravels first or second, Timothy Affricate. 

And there was this thing of how women should be silent in church, and if they keep their mouths shut, they’ll be saved through childbearing. 

And I wanted to continue to believe in the Bible, but I remember just looking up from the page and saying, you know, this is a lot of us theologians say boogies, Shifta and I. That I think maybe was the beginning of the end because one of these. Like an issue like treatment of women that quickly becomes an intellectual issue. You find what’s in the supposed revelation of God morally repugnant. How can that be? And then the dominoes start to fall. 

And then there’s the emotional response to that. And that, wow, what kind of a moral monster is this? And you feel kind of an embarrassment and a shame. And it’s sometimes a bit of an outrage that how this book is harmed so many lives over the centuries. 

C.S. Lewis says in mere Christianity that those who accuse God of morality. What an irony, because it’s God, after all, who gave them their moral compass. 

I read that and I said, wait a minute, you don’t seem to see your you’re cutting the throat of your own argument here. You know, how can God have given you this Marlin’s? He is violating it all over the place. Yeah. 

Well, if there is a God and if he created hell, then morally I would say you go to hell. You’re the one who deserves it. You’re the one, you know, creating genocide and limiting human rights and and on and on. 

And we just talked with Frank Schaefer on our radio show this week, the center, Francis Schaeffer, you know, the theologian. And he points out in his new book that he’s very he’s very good on the Bible, by the way. He would agree with you and me, although he still is something of a mystical believer or something. But when Christians tell him that, well, the New Testament supersedes the brutality of the Old Testament and he comes back and he says, well, wait a minute, doesn’t the New Testament say all scripture is profitable, all scripture, no matter what, it’s profitable. 

And Jesus didn’t do away with the Old Testament. He came to fulfill it. So even these horrible rape manual verses of the Old Testament that you read about the New Testament says all scriptures profitable. You can’t get around that verse. 

Yeah, it’s incredible. I guess Francis Schaffer must be spinning in his grave. That’s tough luck. 

Well, I hope you will come back. And I know they always say that on TV and so on, but I hope you will. And that’s great talking to you. And I find myself enlightened. Thanks for being on, Dan Barker. Well, thank you. It’s always a pleasure. 

Thank you for listening to this episode of Point of Inquiry to get involved with an online conversation about today’s show. Join the online discussion forum at point of inquiry dot org. Views expressed on point of inquiry aren’t necessarily the views of the Center for Inquiry, nor its affiliated organizations. Questions and comments on today’s show can be sent to feedback at point of inquiry dot org. 

Point of inquiry is produced by Adam Isaac in Amherst, New York. And our music is composed for us by Emmy Award winner Michael Whalen. Today show also featured contributions from Debbie Goddard. I’m your host, Robert Price. 

Robert M. Price

Born in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1954, Robert Price moved to New Jersey in 1965. At Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary he took an MTS degree in New Testament (1978), then, at Drew University, a PhD in Systematic Theology (1981) and a second PhD in New Testament (1993). He has served as Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College, North Carolina, pastor of First Baptist Church, Montclair, NJ, and Director of the Metro NY Center for Inquiry. He founded and edited the Journal of Higher Criticism and has authored scores of articles on the Bible and religion. His books include Beyond Born AgainThe Widow Traditions in Luke-ActsDeconstructing JesusThe Incredible Shrinking Son of ManThe Da Vinci FraudThe Reason-Driven LifeThe Pre-Nicene New TestamentJesus Is Dead, and The Paperback Apocalypse. Price is a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar. He served as Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary and Professor of Biblical Criticism for the Center for Inquiry Institute in Amherst, NY. He and his wife Carol and daughters Victoria and Veronica live in Selma, NC.