Posted by: cochinblogger | January 4, 2011

An Unbeliever Praises the Bible

After yesterday’s post (see An Unbeliever Goes to Church), it struck me as a curious coincidence that today I stumbled across this article (see Forgive Me, Spirit of Science), in which the outspoken atheist and detractor of religion, Richard Dawkins, writes of his love for the Bible.

Naturally enough, it is the Bible as as a work of literature, not as divine revelation, that attracts his praise. In fact, he does not lose even this opportunity to unleash a couple of potshots at Christianity:

Naturally, I have to come down on the side of accuracy, even at the expense of poetry. From the religious point of view, however, I can’t help wondering whether accuracy of translation is desirable. If you are trying to persuade people to follow your religion, do you really want them to understand it? When the Roman Church gave up Latin, the congregations suddenly saw, with merciless clarity, exactly what it was they had been reciting all those years.

And he ends with this stinging denunciation:

Let’s celebrate the 400th anniversary of this astonishing piece of English literature. Warts and all – for I have not mentioned the carnage, the smiting, the vindictive, genocidally racist, jealous monster god of the Old Testament. Warts and all – for I have drawn a veil over the New Testament misogyny of Paul, the founder of Christianity, or the Pauline obscenity of every baby being born in sin, saved only by the divine scapegoat suffering on the cross because the Creator of the universe couldn’t think of a better way to forgive everybody. Warts and all, let’s encourage our schools to bring this precious English heritage to all our children, whatever their background, not as history, not as science and not (oh, please not) as morality. But as literature.



  1. Dawkins’ tirade is not just against the ‘New Testament’ but also the Jewish Bible.

    Although the King James version is not a very accurate translation, and therefore not suitable for religious purposes, the beauty of its language is undeniable.

    In my youth, I did something I would not do today, namely went to a Roman Mass. To my consternation, it was not in the elegant Latin I had heard snatches of, and finished with something like “The Mass is ended,” to which the cong. replied “Thank God for that,” which seemed rather uncomplimentary.

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