As every school receives a free copy of the King James Bible to mark its 400th anniversary, the initiative has won the support of outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins – though not because it is a ‘moral book.’
Writing in The Observer, Professor Dawkins described the Bible as a great work of literature but said: “It is not a moral book and young people need to learn that important fact because they are very frequently told the opposite.”
Education secretary Michael Gove is a supporter of the scheme to distribute Bibles to schools, saying that it has had an immense influence on the English-speaking world. Like Mr Gove, Richard Dawkins praises its contribution to literature, giving the language many of the phrases in common use, including the salt of the earth, filthy lucre, a wolf in sheep’s clothing and no peace for the wicked. He commented: “A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian.”
However, the evolutionary biologist may have another motive for urging people to read the Bible, saying: “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.”
The scheme is costing £370,000 and is being funded by charities and philanthropists.
Do you think Professor Dawkins is right?