Although most books like Dan Barker’s God: The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction are almost exclusively read by skeptics, agnostics, and atheists, it most certainly should be read by believers. An interesting forward by Richard Dawkins connects this book with Dawkins’ best seller, The God Delusion, and Barker begins his introduction with a quote from Chapter Two of God Delusion, “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, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capricious malevolent bully” (1).
Strident yes, but Barker then breaks down each of these charges with extensive quotes from the Bible. Every rational, literate, and open-minded person – regardless of beliefs – should exam this collection and think about what they truly know as completely separate from what one believes. Belief should be a personal and private set of vies of life, death, and everything we experience in between. Knowledge is entirely another matter. If you can read this and come away with your belief system intact, fine. If you reject all of Barker and Dawson, also fine, but perhaps you might learn one lesson and that I take from Matthew 6:5-6, “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, They have their reward (5). “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward they openly” (6). Amen.