About the Book

Every thinking person wants to lead a life of meaning and purpose. For thousands of years, holy books have told us that such a life is available only through obedience and submission to some higher power. Today, the faithful keep popular devotionals and tracts within easy reach on bedside tables and mobile devices, all communicating this common message: Life is meaningless without God. Former pastor Dan Barker eloquently, powerfully, and rationally upends this long-held belief in Life Driven Purpose. Offering words of enrichment, emancipation, and inspiration, he reminds us how millions of atheists lead happy, loving, moral, and purpose-filled lives. Practicing what he preaches, he also demonstrates through his own personal journey that life is valuable for its own sake—that meaning and purpose come not from above, but from within.

Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister, is co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, co-host of Freethought Radio, and co-founder and board member of the Clergy Project. A widely sought-after lecturer, debater, and performer, he regularly discusses atheism and life’s meaning and purpose in the national media, with appearances on Oprah Winfrey, The Daily Show, the O'Reilly Factor, Good Morning America, and many others. Daniel C. Dennett is university professor, professor of philosophy, and co-director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University.

About the Authors

“A lovely book!”

—Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

“One of the biggest misconceptions about atheists is that without God they can have no morals, values, or meaning in their lives. In this lovely secular sermon, Dan Barker handily rebuts that claim, showing that true meaning and morality can come only from accepting our finitude, and dealing with it rationally and humanistically.”

—Jerry Coyne, author of Why Evolution Is True

“Dan Barker has cleverly reversed the arrows of purpose so they fly from the bows of life instead of raining down from an imaginary archer in the sky.”

—Victor J. Stenger, author of God: The Failed Hypothesis


ISBN: 978-1939578211 (paperback)

SRP: $14.95 (paperback)

Page count: 216 pages

Trim size: 6 x 9

Pub date: April 1, 2015

Ebook availability: Yes

Audiobook availability: Yes

Foreword by Daniel C. Dennett. Introduction. The Good News. Mere Morality. Religious Color Blindness. Much Ado About. Life Is Life. Acknowledgments. Notes. Bibliography. Index. About the Author.


Op-ed in Los Angeles Times

“If you’ve been searching for meaning and purpose in life, it’s a sure bet you've never found answers in a book—at least not answers that are grounded in any kind of objective reality—until now. Dan Barker’s Life Driven Purpose deserves its own category. It’s a book of emancipation, a book of vitality, a book of enrichment, a book of celebration, a book of inspiration—put simply, a book that honestly and rationally teaches how to live.”

Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists

“Religions hijacked the meaning of life long ago and now Dan Barker is stealing it back. In this brilliant and inspirational book, he shows that value, worth, and meaning can be discovered and created by anyone—no religion required.”

Guy P. Harrison, author of Think: Why You Should Question Everything and 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

“This book is really ‘Something’ (see chapter 5). In his calm, patient voice, Dan Barker helps us understand and untwist black-and-white thinking so we can see and appreciate all the colors of the rainbow.”

Linda LaScola, co-author (with Daniel Dennett) of Caught in the Pulpit: Leaving Belief Behind 

Life Driven Purpose is an important book that puts the lie to the strange notion that without God life has no purpose. Living is great, fulfilling, and meaningful without God. Like his previous book, GodlessLife Driven Purpose is a book that every one with an interest in spirituality, religion in political life, and how to lead a meaningful life will want to have on their shelves.”

Daniel Everett, author of Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes and Language

In Life Driven Purpose Dan Barker takes us out of the warm, fuggy room of religious delusion and exposes us to the bracing, crystal-clear reality of a blind and meaningless universe. And that’s where the good news begins! Deftly handling the complexities of philosophy and physics, meaning and morality, Barker debunks the woefully inadequate monochromatic world-view of the religious fundamentalist and replaces it with one of rich colour and beauty. This accessible, witty, and thoughtful book provides answers to the most profound questions but, more than that, it helps us embrace life; life in all its fullness.”

Paul Beaumont, author of A Brief Eternity

“Dan says he's certainly not pretending to be a Deacon of Atheism or Bishop of Freethought, but he is. In this book Deacon Dan uses good scholarship in offering convincing answers to some of the most important reasons why believers keep on believing despite the lack of sufficient evidence. Writing with the wit and storytelling of a preacher, this series of ‘sermons’ will definitely reach the masses. I heartily endorse it. May it produce a revival, one of reason, logic, and science.”

John W. Loftus, author of Why I Became An Atheist and The Outsider Test for Faith

Dan Barker is an atheist, but he is not a “new atheist”; he’s a veteran atheist, an erudite atheist, a stern and playful atheist.   In Life Driven Purpose he confronts the complexities of moral behavior and offers us the gift of his lifelong engagement with the Big Questions. Everyone will profit from reading Barker’s penetrating and revealing analyses, but the true believers will profit most, since they have the most to lose, and to gain. One of Barker’s advantages in wrestling with these profound issues is that for many years he was himself one of the true believers, preaching the orthodox gospel—so he knows the tricks of the trade; he’s been inside the orthodox stronghold, and knows where the bodies are buried.  This book offers to atheists some clarifications that they will be grateful for, and it offers persuasive truths to believers who have never faced them before.  Barker is not only smart, he is wise, and this book is an invaluable gift to all of us.”

Philip Appleman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University

Advance Praise

Op-ed on creating meaning in life

Article on Madison’s atheist church

Radio interview