Life Driven Purpose: How an Atheist Finds Meaning

I have read articles for years from Dan Barker, but recently I just finished the book Barker wrote entitled LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which was prompted by Rick Warren’s book PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE which I also read several years ago.

Dan Barker is the  Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, And co-host of Freethought Radio and co-founder of The Clergy Project.

On March 19, 2022, I got an email back from Dan Barker that said:

Thanks for the insights.

Have you read my book Life Driven Purpose? To say there is no purpose OF life is not to say there is no purpose IN life. Life is immensely meaningful when you stop looking for external purpose.

Ukraine … we’ll, we can no longer blame Russian aggression on “godless communism.” The Russian church, as far as I know, has not denounced the war.


In the next few weeks I will be discussing the book LIFE DRIVEN PURPOSE which I did enjoy reading. Here is an assertion that Barker makes that I want to discuss:

I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is nonetheless true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting.

NOT EVERY ATHEIST CAN ACCEPT THAT THERE IS NOTHING AFTER LIFE!!! Take this curious case of Sam Harris below!!!


Ricky Gervais To Launch Podcast 'Absolutely Mental' With Sam Harris –  Deadline


Ricky Gervais has announced that he will host a new paid-for podcast called Absolutely Mental.

The 11-part podcast will be available on from May 10, and will feature the comedian in conversation with his friend, neuroscientist Sam Harris.


Ricky Gervais plays Tony Johnson in AFTER LIFE.

After Life on Netflix

In the podcast series ABSOLUTELY MENTAL Sam Harris answers questions from Ricky Gervais and many of these same questions are covered by the issues brought up in After Life. How are we different than machines? Why do humans think there is any afterlife? Is there any point to life? Many of these issues were also covered 3,000 years ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes by Solomon. 

In the past I have done over 100 blog posts on the Netflix series AFTER LIFE written by Ricky Gervais and staring Ricky as Tony Johnson. I respect both Ricky and his character Tony for being people who demand evidence and they refuse to accept anything with a blind faith. That is part of the reason I started writing letters to Ricky several years ago with historical evidence from archaeology and ancient cultures on the Bible’s claims. I personally think his latest series AFTER LIFE is his best by far and it does a great job of examining Ricky’s humanist worldview and the natural conclusions that come from this time plus chance view of the world.

Just like Solomon in The Book of Ecclesiastes, Ricky in AFTER LIFE is examining life under the sun, which is life between birth and death without God in the picture. The key to understanding the Book of Ecclesiastes is the term UNDER THE SUN — What that literally means is you lock God out of a closed system and you are left with only this world of Time plus Chance plus matter. In fact, the phrase under the sun appears 29 times in Ecclesiastes. 

Francis Schaeffer indicated Ecclesiastes is truly the book of modern man because modern humanist man’s philosophy has brought him to the nihilistic conclusion that all is vanity and meaninglessness. This appears to be the place that the atheist Tony Johnson has landed and many of the characters around Tony have come to pessimistic conclusions about life too, though they have searched for satisfaction and meaning in life by pursuing ladiesluxurieslearninglaborliquor, and laughter.

In Podcast Series ABSOLUTELY MENTAL episode 8 WHY DO WE FEAR DEATH? is this following exchange: 

Sam Harris “I get it from the other side because I am kinda agnostic about what happens after death. I am sure the religious pictures are wrong. There is no way there is a heaven and a hell of the sort that is imagined by monatheoistic religion, but given that we don’t actually know what reality is. We don’t actually know the distinction between mind and matter, it is still spooky right? We just don’t know how mind relates to the base layer of reality, but I have no expectations of my personally in terms of maintaining the memories of my life will persist. But I just don’t know what CONSCIOUSNESS is in the end.” Ricky Gervais responds “But we are all agnostic by definition because it deals with knowledge.” Sam notes, “ I am pretty sure that I know that rivers of milk and honey don’t exist.” Ricky states, Are you saying you think there might be other than nothingness in terms of experience? I can’t believe you think that. Based on what?” Sam responds, “Based on strange experiences both on psychedelics and in mediation where the mind seems to be…” Ricky observes, “Yeah but you are off your head. You are f$&@ng thinking nonsense!”


This reminds me of Henry Miller who could not live with his secular view and had to embrace some sort of vague pantheism to give himself a leap into the dark irrational and come out of it with a nonsense belief that there is really a future somehow after death while clinging to his secular view.

Francis Schaeffer noted in THE GOD WHO IS THERE: 

Mysticism in Literature — Henry Miller 

In the writing of his earlier books, Miller (1891-1980) had not just set forth something which is dirty in a trivial sense, but he had succeeded in murdering everything which is meaningful, including sexual things. In these books he expressed his antilaw position, in every sense. However, Miller is another man who could not stand by his own position. Many others have been destroyed in their inner lives by his books, but he was not able to be so tough-fibered. So he joins the growing list of modern men who have accepted the new mysticism. In his later life Miller held to a pantheistic view of the world. 

(PAGE 80)

His later views are very cogently and consistently expressed in the Preface which he wrote to the French edition of Elie Favre’s History of Art. He calls his preface, “A Sense of Wonder.”4 This is an important title, for it implies that he is going to contrast the “sense of wonder” with the intellect. And this in fact is what he does. For example, he says, “Above all, he [Elie Favre] was a devout worshipper of the creative spirit in man. His approach, like our own Walt Whitman’s, was nothing less than cosmic.” This already has a pantheistic ring about it. Later on he continues, “What impact his work may have today, particularly on the young who are almost immune to wonder and mystery because of all the knowledge which has been crammed into their heads, I do not know.” This is a significant sentence because he has set the intellect and knowledge against the sense of wonder. One’s intellect would lead one only to the lower story of rationality and logic where there is no meaning in life, only machines. But in contrast to this one has a sense of wonder which bypasses the rational, and this sense is very much related to the use of the word awe that is so much in vogue today. The intellect is divorced and rejected. 

It must be plain that the later Henry Miller cannot in any sense be called a Christian. He is doing the same as Salvador Dali and the new theologians are doing—namely, using Christian symbols to give an illusion of meaning to an impersonal world which has no real place for man. 

This is Henry Miller, the writer of The Tropics, who in this preface takes up basically the same position as the new theologians. We have ample warning not to accept the “god words” of many modern theologians without being certain that they, like Henry Miller, are not using these words to give an illusion of meaning.

Night Of 1,000 Stars

In the 5th episode of the 2nd season we have the NIGHT OF THE 1000 STARS presentation by the TAMBURY PLAYERS and James becomes a central figure in this episode. We learn that his father left his mother because of James’ hyperactivity and later in the town show James ruins a poem that Rebecca was giving because of a fart that makes the stage STINK! This does make the episode come full circle as the first scene has Tony visiting an elderly gentleman who never washes up because it is not worth it since he has no one to love. Take a look at this review of the episode.

The Man Who Was Putting His Mail In A Trash Bin

After Life Season 2, Episode 5 recap: The Revue by Wade Wainio

Episode 205 of Netflix’s After Life is awkward entertainment.

In After Life 205, Tony (Ricky Gervais) must still face the eccentricities of his job. This time, he and Lenny (Tony Way) interview a man (Steve Speirs) who’s been erroneously putting his mail in a dog waste bun, due to his bad eyesight.

It gets sadder and weirder when he admits he thought the stench came from himself. He also mentions he never had any relationships due to low self-esteem, knowing that any woman would leave him.

In preparation for his Revue performance, James (Ethan Lawrence) “limbers up” his leg on a desk, annoying Valerie the receptionist (Michelle Greenidge).

We also learn that, due to his hyperactivity, James’ father gave June (Jo Hartley) an ultimatum: Either James goes or he will.

On the bright side, the character of James seems to like being at The Gazette. In fact, Tony and Sandy (Mandeep Dhillon) consistently seem more down in the dumps.


Revue host Ken (Colin Hoult) does a rousing rendition of Dion’s “The Wanderer,” then June and James perform Elton John’s “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.” James also wards off Rebecca (Tracy Ann Oberman) with a fart, essentially thwarting her poem.

The other big event

After Life has obviously hinged on Tony’s reaction to the death of his wife (Kerry Godliman). This episode offers another sad event: Tony’s dad dies. It gives us a chance to hear another side of the character. Tony tells Emma his father never hit him as a child, choosing instead to say he’s disappointed. On the surface, Tomy takes the news with aplomb, but we’ve seen how he can struggle to cope with loss before.

What’s the theme of the episode?

This episode can easily be considered clumsy, blending themes of a talent show with a tragic death.  However, one possible message is that life is sort of RANDOM like that.  It does NOT necessarily have a coherent message.  Life can be a bunch of semi-random events, then you die.

Joker- Send in the Clowns by Frank Sinatra

Tony’s character seems to reflect the idea that life itself is almost nihilistic.  It throws endless pitches at us, with many of them being curveballs.  In that sense (if I may stick to the baseball analogy), this episode perhaps knocks it out of the park.  Even if it’s nobody’s favorite, it is definitely a hodgepodge of events highlighting the random nature of human experience.

The last song of the show James dances to the song SEND IN THE CLOWNS. This song seems to support the idea that Tony is surrounded by fools. I agree with the reviewer that Ricky Gervais believes:

Life can be a bunch of semi-random events, then you die.Tony’s character seems to reflect the idea that life itself is almost nihilistic.

Wikipedia notes: 

Send In the Clowns” is a song written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1973 musical A Little Night Music, an adaptation of Ingmar Bergman‘s 1955 film Smiles of a Summer Night

The “clowns” in the title do not refer to circus clowns. Instead, they symbolize fools, as Sondheim explained in a 1990 interview:

I get a lot of letters over the years asking what the title means and what the song’s about; I never thought it would be in any way esoteric. I wanted to use theatrical imagery in the song, because she’s an actress,but it’s not supposed to be a circus […] [I]t’s a theater reference meaning “if the show isn’t going well, let’s send in the clowns”; in other words, “let’s do the jokes.” I always want to know, when I’m writing a song, what the end is going to be, so “Send in the Clowns” didn’t settle in until I got the notion, “Don’t bother, they’re here”, which means that “We are the fools.”[2]

In a 2008 interview, Sondheim further clarified:

As I think of it now, the song could have been called “Send in the Fools”. I knew I was writing a song in which Desirée is saying, “aren’t we foolish” or “aren’t we fools?” Well, a synonym for fools is clowns, but “Send in the Fools” doesn’t have the same ring to it.[3]


Ricky Gervais is member of the British Humanist Association and an atheist. Therefore, it is logical that he thinks life is a result of TIME and CHANCE!

In episode 2 of the second season of AFTER LIFE is the following discussion: 
Tony: I drink in times of trouble. I can’t help it the world is filled with trouble. It is a horrible place. Everyone is screwed up in someway. Everyone has worries like money or health or famine, war. We are chimps with brains the size of planets. No wonder we get drunk and try to kill each other. It is mental.

Matt: Always good to talk.

Tony: I was just explaining my new plan is to drink myself to death till I eventually implode in on my own evolution. 

In his interview with Russell Brand Ricky Gervais asserted, “We are machines. We are machines trying to understand ourselves and that is hard. Will there one day be a computer suffering from anxiety? I reckon so. We are chimps with brains the size of the planet….I don’t understand CONSCIOUSNESS…”

Francis Schaeffer noted:

Modern man resides in a two-story universe. In the lower story is the finite world without God; here life is absurd, as we have seen. In the upper story are meaning, value, and purpose. Now modern man lives in the lower story because he believes there is no God.But he cannot live happily in such an absurd world; therefore, he continually makes leaps of faith into the upper story to affirm meaning, value, and purpose, even though he has no right to, since he does not believe in God. Modern man is totally inconsistent when he makes this leap, because these values cannot exist without God, and man in his lower story does not have God.

This ties in well with what Schaeffer said in describing Andy Warhol’s art:

THE OBSERVER June 12, 1966 does a big spread on Warhol. Andy is a mass communicator. Someone has described pop art as Dada plus Madison Avenue or commercialism and I think that is a good definition. Dada was started in Zurich and came along in modern art. Dada means nothing. The word “Dada” means rocking horse, but it was chosen by chance. The whole concept Dada is everything means nothing. Pop Art has been said to be the Dada concept put forth in modern commercialization. Everything in his work is being leveled down to an universal monotony which he can always sell for $8000.00.

ANDY WARHOL says, “It stops you thinking about things. I wish I were a machine. I don’t want to be heard. I don’t want human emotions. I have never been touched by a painting. I don’t want to think. The world would be easier to live  in if we all were machines. It is nothing in the end anyway.”

Ricky’s atheistic humanism makes his selection of the song SILENCE by Dave Thomas Jr. perfect for AFTER LIFE because there has been no revelation from above which brings me to this discussion below. 

Francis Schaeffer when he was discussing the artwork of Francis Bacon then he skips over to  Paul Klee, Jackson Pollock, and John Cage and compares them to Bacon in their view that possibly that a message break forth  from the impersonal chance universe:

I have an essay on Francis Bacon by John Russell. Methuan published it in London in 1964.

Bacon goes on, “In my case all painting–and the older I get, the more it becomes so–is an accident.” Now this is very important and to think of Jackson Pollock putting on his paint as a pure accident and you may remember my lecture on Paul Klee.

Paul Klee (1879-1940) speaks of some of his paintings as though they were a kind of Ouija board. Klee thinks that the universe can speak through his paintings. Not because he believes there are spirits there to speak, but because he hopes that the universe will push through and cause a kind of automatic writing, this time in painting. It is an automatic writing with no one there, as far as anyone knows, but the hope that the “universe” will speak.We think of John Cage with the universe speaking though chance.

Now Bacon continues and he says something very similar to what Pollock, Cage and Klee believed, “I foresee it and yet I hardly ever carry it out as I foresee it. It transforms itself by the actual paint. I don’t in fact know very often what the paint will do, and it does many things that are very much better than I could make it do. Perhaps one could say it’s not an accident, because it becomes a selective process what part of the accident one chooses to preserve.”

Now here from Francis Bacon’s own viewpoint. An absurd universe in a total sense and in some element of the paint taking on its own personality and a message may come through from impersonal source.

Ecclesiastes 9:11

11 Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.

Chance rules. If a man starts out only from himself and works outward it must eventually if he is consistent seem so that only chance rules and naturally in such a setting you can not expect him to have anything else but finally a hate of life.

I like Francis Schaeffer‘s term “Mannishness” of man. He defines it as those aspects of man, such as significance, love, rationality and the fear of non being, which mark him off from animals and machines and give evidence of his being created in the image of a personal God.

(Francis Schaeffer pictured)

The scientist Blaise Pascal is quoted by Sagan and then Sagan notes, “Most of the philosophers adjudged great in the history of western thought held that humans are fundamentally different from other animals…”

As you know Pascal was the inventor of the barometer and he lived from 1623 to 1662. Pascal also observed, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man,and only God can fill it.”

What is the solution? “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The scriptural directive is not for us to work harder to achieve God’s favor (Romans 3:20), but to accept God’s mercy through our repentance and receiving Christ as a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-10).

In his interview with Russell Brand Ricky Gervais asserted, “I don’t understand CONSCIOUSNESS…”

Both Ricky and Sam admit that they can’t begin to understand consciousness yet Ricky is upset with Sam for admitting this is the basis for his being agnostic about what happens after death!

Francis Schaeffer

Image result for francis schaeffer roman bridge

How Should We Then Live | Season 1 | Episode 7 | The Age of Non-Reason

How Should We Then Live | Season 1 | Episode 8 | The Age of Fragmentation

Whatever Happened To The Human Race? | Episode 1 | Abortion of the Human…

Whatever Happened To The Human Race? | Episode 4 | The Basis for Human D…

1984 SOUNDWORD LABRI CONFERENCE VIDEO – Q&A With Francis & Edith Schaefer

Georges Braque - 1908 - 1882-1963

GEORGES BRAQUE (1882-1963)

Along with Picasso and Juan Gris, the main figure of Cubism, the most important of the avant-gardes of the 20th century Art

Georges Braque: A collection of 249 works (HD)

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