As Dawkins reveals in today’s Observer, support for the Bible plan is justified on the grounds of literary merit and he lists a range of biblical phrases which any cultivated English speaker will instantly recognise. These include “salt of the Earth”, “through a glass darkly”, and “no peace for the wicked”. Dawkins states: “A native speaker of English who has not read a word of the King James Bible is verging on the barbarian.”
Rapprochement would seem to be in the air – until Dawkins’s thesis is studied more closely. While Gove believes the Bible is a guide to morality, Dawkins is sure it is not. “I have heard the cynically misanthropic opinion that without the Bible as a moral compass people would show no restraint against murder, theft and mayhem. The surest way to disabuse yourself of this pernicious falsehood is to read the Bible itself,” he says.