Richard Dawkins supports school Bible plan
From The BBC
27 May 2012
Leading atheist Richard Dawkins says he supports the plan to put a Bible in every English school. The privately funded distribution of King James Bibles began this month to mark its 400th anniversary. Prof Dawkins, writing in the Observer, said: "It is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite". Critics have said it is unlikely that schools do not already have a Bible. Education Secretary Michael Gove supported the plan, saying the text had had "an immense influence" on the English-speaking world. He said pupils should learn about its role in the nation's history, language, literacy and culture.
Prof Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist at Oxford, said: "A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian” He added: "I have even heard the cynically misanthropic opinion that, without the Bible as a moral compass, people would have no restraint against murder, theft and mayhem. The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself." Although he questioned whether any child would actually read it, he said: "Whatever else the Bible might be - and it really is a great work of literature - it is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite." He added: "Not a bad way to find out what's in a book is to read it, so I say go to it. But does anybody, even Gove, seriously think they will?"
In the same way that Mr Gove wanted pupils to learn about its wide influence, Prof Dawkins emphasised the Bible's contribution to literature. "The whole King James Bible is littered with literary allusions, almost as many as Shakespeare (to quote that distinguished authority Anon, the trouble with Hamlet is it's so full of clichés)."
The Bible distribution costs of £370,000 are being funded by charities and philanthropists.
[I’ve heard it said that an effective way of promoting atheism is to get people actually reading the Bible. As I have never read it – or any part of it (hence being verging on barbarism) – I couldn’t possibly comment. As far as I can tell, both from western history and the number of books dedicated to the subject, the Bible is far from self explanatory. It requires, so it seems, a great deal of interpretation and debate over the various interpretations. How this is expected to be a significant part of any reasonable school curriculum is beyond me. After all, shouldn’t schools be teaching something a bit more relevant to 21st Century life like Science, Mathematics and even History? By all means have the Bible (and the Koran and other religious books) in school libraries for reference but I wouldn’t waste too much time actually teaching them. As to the Bible being a ‘great work of literature’ again, not having read any part of it, I couldn’t possibly comment. But I could probably list 50 books off the top of my head I’d rather study instead of it. Finally, in this so-called Age of Austerity, couldn’t the charitable groups involved find something better to do with £370,000?]