Richard Dawkins: Why I Want All Our Children to Read the King James Bible

King James BibleRichard Dawkins writes in the Guardian:

A native speaker of English who has never read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian. In the week after the 2011 census, my UK Foundation commissioned Ipsos MORI to poll those who had ticked the Christian box. Among other things, we asked them to identify the first book of the New Testament from a choice of Matthew, Genesis, Acts of the Apostles, Psalms, “Don’t know” and “Prefer not to say”. Only 35% chose Matthew and 39% chose “Don’t know” (and 1%, mysteriously, chose “Prefer not to say”). These figures, to repeat, don’t refer to British people at large but only to those who self-identified, in the census, as Christians.

European history, too, is incomprehensible without an understanding of the warring factions of Christianity and the book over whose subtleties of interpretation they were so ready to slaughter and torture each other. Does the eucharistic bread merely symbolise the body of Jesus or does it become his body, in true “substance” if not “accidental” DNA? Prolonged wars have been fought over how we should interpret the words allegedly uttered at the Last Supper. Three bishops were burned alive just outside my bedroom window in my old Oxford college for giving the unapproved answer. Centuries-long schisms were based on nothing more serious than the question of whether Jesus is both God and his son, or just his (very important) son. Even bloodier wars were fought against a rival religion that sees him not as God’s son at all but just reveres him as a prophet…

Read More: Guardian

27 Comments on "Richard Dawkins: Why I Want All Our Children to Read the King James Bible"

  1. I live in California.

    While I’ve never read the law against rape in the criminal code of the California Revised Statutes, I support having a law against rape.  

    • It might not be a bad idea to take 30 seconds and actually read the law against rape in the criminal code of the California Revised Statutes, if you are mentioning your advocacy of it. Even if doing so anonymously, here on Disinfo, in the comments section.

      Your comparison isn’t really valid though. Reading criminal code usually requires legal knowledge to fully understand nuances, associated case law, precedent, blah and blah and blah. Reading The King James Bible is accessible to everyone as a work of literature, and European history.

    • Donalynette | May 22, 2012 at 8:11 pm |

       That is after the fact.  With or without law, there is rape.  If there is a better way, we, as humans have not found it.  BTW, did any law ever, change, or deter human behavior?  I am always at, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace, and truth came by Jesus Christ”.

  2. Not reading the bible is barbaric? I think it’s RELIGION that is barbaric…

    •  article


      your head

      • mannyfurious | May 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm |

        I don’t know if the article’s really over his head, because he obviously didn’t actually read the article. He just saw the headline and reacted. Which is ironic because he’d probably call out some Christian Fundamentalists or Moslems and get all self-righteous if they did the same thing.

        • smokintokinjokinbrit | May 23, 2012 at 2:14 am |

          yeah but the dude’s entitled to, i somewhat enjoy being a dick to religious people, they tell me i will spend eternity being tortured and on fire, i like getting self righteous on them, faith IS dangerous, its time we acknowledged that   

          • mannyfurious | May 23, 2012 at 11:27 am |

            Nah, I don’t buy it. Sure faith is dangerous. But any idea is dangerous if people hold steadfast to it too tightly. It just so happens that religion is one of the more effective ways of mobilizing groups of people, for whatever reason. The Nazi’s weren’t very religious, either was Pol Pot or Stalin. It was their adherence to their ideas that was dangerous. That’s why I don’t get why people talk shit about people who “sit on the fence” or are hesitant to take sides. Those are my kind of people. The kind of people who know they’re ignorant and not very smart and know that they can very easily choose wrongly and fuck shit up even worse.

          • JohnFrancisBittrich | May 24, 2012 at 12:27 pm |

            but this article has nothing to do with religious people. it is about a hard-core atheist encouraging other atheists, agnostics and free-thinking people to read an important work of the western literary canon that some people happen to believe was divinely inspired. Religion doesn’t play into it at all, except in the sense that if some of the biblical literalists actually read the text, their opinions might change for the better.

        • Quite right, Mannyfurious, quite right…

    • JohnFrancisBittrich | May 22, 2012 at 3:29 pm |

      Yeah, but what makes this article noteworthy is the fact that Richard Dawkins is one of the world’s most well-known vehement atheists. So anything he says is said in the knowledge that it is already obvious to the reader that religion is stupid.

  3. rofl!
    just look at how many ‘babtist’ people there are on facebook. They can’t spell baptist, why the fuck should they bother reading the bible.

  4. The Bible is weird shit, man. Really weird shit. Phew

    • After you’ve actually read it, tooCents, I’ll listen to you…and thank you for expressing yourself in such filthy terms…I suppose filthy language endears you to others and shows your ability to persuade them.

      • Because I’m wanting your thanks you can thank me now bitch. I mostly read other versions since I grew up Catholic, ya Protestant puke.

  5. DeepCough | May 22, 2012 at 7:31 pm |

    By reading this verbose and inconsistent piece of literature, kids will be turned off by Christianity just by sheer boredom.

    • Deep cough…these fora seem to bring out all the folks who want to discredit the Bible in any way they can and very few of them have any real argument except the business of how “verbose” it is…as if that is an argument against it in any way.  “Kids will be turned off” by boredom…again the lazy mind who simply doesn’t want to live in faith and then in eternity with Jehovah and His Glory.  You are turned off simply by the Bible not recognizing that YOU are smarter than anyone and would know anything necessary to discredit anything that had to do with faith in Christ.   Show me how “inconsistent” it is, after you’ve actually read it, of course, and I’ll listen to you.

      • read the catholic bible in high school and the protestant one in jail. not much difference. I completely failed to see any glory or beauty in it whatsoever, tho it does makes sense that the world was created by a complete narcissist with the emotional maturity of an 11 year old who hated everything that was not himself.

      • DeepCough | May 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm |

        The Bible is like a reference book: most people don’t read it from cover to cover, rather, they open it up, read a certain chapter, or specific book, on a subject, and go from there. That is pretty much the history of every modern denominational sect of Abraham
        in the present day. Anything else, Christfag?

  6. I am Jewish, somewhat (well, let’s say, I hold out hope. I am a wanna-be believer). It is very reasonable to have some familiarity with The King James Bible, both halves, due to its important in understanding European History. It also has literary merit. I think the same is true of the Koran, and Bhagavad-Gita. I don’t believe that comprehensive familiarity, of any of those works, is necessary (well, I am not going to opine on what is necessary for believers, as I have no basis for doing so!). 

    I think it is appropriate for school children in Great Britain (of any faith) to have some exposure, in a secular way, with such an influential text as The King James Bible. Obviously, there are problems with incorporating it into school curricula! Richard Dawkins is correct, though I am not sure how his suggestion might be implemented.

    • Jin The Ninja | May 24, 2012 at 1:24 pm |

      while i think primary/secondary education should be secular or at least attempt a multi-faith perspective, i agree that reading of the king james is important- and indeed it is required reading in nearly all syllabi for intro comparative lit classes and intro western tradition at the post-secondary level.

  7. One extremely easy way to become an atheist is to read the entire Bible.  You’ll find that it’s filled with magical beings (talking snake and donkey, plus angels, demons, etc), impossible feats (woman made from a rib, man made from dust, transmuting common objects, etc) and outright lies (dragons exist, the Earth is held up by pillars, the Earth has four actual corners, etc).  Plus, in the very first book of the Bible, you’re introduced to the deity.  That deity is GENOCIDAL.  Yep.  He drowned every living creature on this planet (animal, plant, bacteria, etc), save a few samples of humans and animals – but surprisingly not plants.  Then, after its second repopulation, by way of incest (the first mention of incest is the Adam and Eve story: after all, who did Cain have sex with?), that deity proceeds to murder over 2 MILLION human beings over the course of dozens of chapters.  Just. Count. The. Bodies.  Two. Million.  It’s right there in print.

    Anyone who isn’t aware of what I just stated above, or anyone who disputes it, is unaware of what’s in the Bible. Yet, they’ll tell you what they *believe* to be in it.  What’s so tho, is that they don’t KNOW what’s in it. 

    Watch.  Watch the replies to my post.  You’ll find all sorts of people who believe they know what’s in the Bible, but who haven’t a single clue as to what’s really in it. Those are the most dangerous people on this planet: the one’s who BELIEVE they know what’s in that Bronze and Iron Age book of tribal Jewish mythology, but who’ve not actually READ it.

    It is imperative that people read that book of superstitious nonsense.  Then they’ll really understand why US culture is as pig-headed as it is, why the bloodbath of European religious warmongering led to the creation of the first secular nation on this planet (the USA) and why religion should never EVER be fed to children before they’re capable of reason.

  8. Agreed. Read the book.  Most of the devout have never actually read the whole thing and only go by what they’ve been told. The more I read it, the more I was sure Christianity was full of crap. 

  9. The King James bible was a vastly important book, for the simple reason that it put the scripture in the hands of ordinary people, allowing them read for themselves what had up until then been only been written in the language of the learned and the powerful. It’s little wonder there was so much opposition to its being published, because it took power away from the church and allowed ordinary people to decide its meaning for themselves, rather than be told its meaning by the church leaders. Few people realise the impact it had or the difficulty there was in getting it published.

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