A world-reknowned atheist says that he wants youth to read the Bible — but admits that he has an “ulterior motive.”
Richard Dawkins recently wrote an op-ed for UK’s Guardian newspaper in response to an effort by the country’s Department of Education, which seeks to place a Bible in every public school in the land. The Bible distribution project was spearheaded by Education Secretary Michael Gove, who sought to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible by sharing it with children. While Gove came under fire from secular groups that urged him to distribute copies of Darwin’s “Origin of Species” instead, he has already begun distributing Bibles and will complete his mission by the end of the month.
When Dawkins got wind of the effort, he stated it was a great idea, and even claimed that he would be willing to donate to the cause. However, Dawkins said that the reason he supported the project was that he believes that once youth read the Bible, they won’t want to have anything to do with Christianity.
“People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality,” he wrote in the op-ed. “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.”
Dawkins also claimed that his organization, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, hired a research group to conduct a survey of professing Christians in the UK, asking each of them to name the first book of the New Testament. According to his survey, only 35% of Christians knew the answer.
Therefore, due to his perception that the English people lack knowledge of the Bible, he said that he was supportive of an effort to encourage people to read it. In his op-ed, he proceeded to delineate all of the laws and aspects of the Bible that he found to be “horrible,” explaining that if people became more acquainted with Christianity, they would become just like him.
“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 stated. “The examples I have quoted are the tip of a very large and very nasty iceberg. 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?”
Gove is including a short letter with each copy of the Bible that will be placed in the public school system.