Renowned Atheist Richard Dawkins has suggested that the King James Bible be read in schools as a great work of Literature instead of using it as the arbiter of morality proposed by education secretary Michael Gove.
“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 rivalreligion that sees him not as God’s son at all but just reveres him as a prophet.
I have an ulterior motive for wishing to contribute to Gove’s scheme. People who do not know the Bible well have been gulled into thinking it is a good guide to morality. This mistaken view may have motivated the “millionaire Conservative party donors”. 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.”
What really caught my attention was his reasoning about the “betrayal” of Christ:
“In the words of Paul, the inventor of Christianity (or whoever really wrote the Epistle to the Hebrews), “without shedding of blood, there is no remission”. And the scapegoat couldn’t be just anybody. The sin was so great that only his son (or God himself, depending on your Trinitarian theology) would do. It was necessary for God to come “down” personally to Earth and have himself tortured and executed, after being “betrayed” (though why it was a betrayal since getting himself executed was the main purpose of the visit, is never explained, nor is the millennia-long vendetta against Jews as “Christ-killers”).“
The subject of the “betrayal” of Christ is always a bit of a hot topic on Twitter – not least because of Christian Fundamentalists in the US spreading their virulent, misinformed and extremely hypocritical peculiar breed of hate. A fellow campaigner dared to suggest that the events leading to the Crucifixion were a part of “God’s Plan”. As a woman of Faith (albeit a Native American one) that’s the view I’ve always taken with the Great Spirit:
“… everything on the earth has a purpose, every disease an herb to cure it, and every person a mission. This is the Indian theory of existence.” ~ Mourning Dove, Salish
I tweeted the following observation on Judas “The Betrayer” from Twitlonger on 12th May:
“My take has always been similar to the scenario laid out in the controversial film “Priest”:
Imagine you’re the soul known as Judas in “heaven” about to incarnate. You’re standing before God & he says: “I have a very important job for you to do but it means that you will be forevermore be misunderstood, maligned & hated. You can go down there or you can remain here, free from the burdens experiencing earthly concerns but humanity will pay a price for you having never been born.”
How brave a soul Judas must have been in Spirit!”
PRIEST (1994) on Judas:
“It’s doin’ me head in, this predestination business. Honest to God, it is.
And Judas and all that, yeah. I mean, he redeemed us, didn’t he? Judas, not Christ.
All Christ had to do was go to the cross and– bang, that’s it. He’s in Heaven and we all worship the ground He walks on.
Poor old Judas, he’s got to betray Him, then hang himself, then go down in history as a right dirty bastard.
Now, that’s sacrifice, ya know what I mean?
But God made him, do ya know what I mean ?
Judas, Saddam, Adolph and Joe, He made ’em. Now, that’s a bit tight on the human race. You know what I mean?
But it’s even tighter on them, isn’t it?
I mean, could you imagine them queuing up to be born and God turnin’ ’round saying, “Listen, Saddam, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but you’re gonna be a tyrant. You’re gonna gas the Kurds and destroy lraq.” Well, he’d say, “No, ta, I’ll go to the back of the queue if it’s all right?”
Well, wouldn’t you?”
In the words of Sogoyewapha “Red Jacket”, Seneca – “Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agreed, as you can all read the Book?”.
As for me, I am “a wee child toddling in a wonder world, I prefer to their dogma my excursions into the natural gardens where the voice of the Great Spirit is heard in the twittering of birds, the rippling of mighty waters, and the sweet breathing of flowers. If this is Paganism, then at present, at least, I am a Pagan.” ~ Zitkala-Sa.
Native American quotes from http://www.ilhawaii.net/~stony/quotes.html
- Richard Dawkins the arch-atheist backs Michael Gove’s free Bible plan (guardian.co.uk)
- Well-known atheist blesses ‘bibles for schools’ plan (express.co.uk)
- Is he a believer now? Atheist Richard Dawkins SUPPORTS plan for free bibles in schools (dailymail.co.uk)
- UPDATED: Why I want all our children to read the King James Bible – Richard Dawkins – The Observer (richarddawkins.net)
- Michael Gove’s biblical zeal is a ruse (guardian.co.uk)
- Prayer to St. Judas (original poem & discussion by Mark Nielsen) (markingtime4now.wordpress.com)
- Gove’s Bibles: good for schools? (guardian.co.uk)