Knowing Darwin’s theory of evolution may be an essential part of education today, but can you be an educated person without knowing the Book of Genesis too? Britain’s poet laureate, Andrew Motion, thinks not. He says the Bible is an “essential piece of cultural luggage” that children should be taught throughout their schooling so that they can understand literature.

Too many students arrive at university to study English literature barely knowing who Adam and Eve were because the teaching of the Bible and its “great stories” is disappearing from the school system, he said. (Makes you wonder what happens in the 45 minutes per week of religious education that is still part of the standard curriculum in British schools.)

People cannot expect to understand much of literature — from John Milton to TS Eliot — without learning the Bible first, says the laureate. Besides the beauty of the writing, it is “full of terrific stories” that “speak to us about human nature and the recurring patterns of human behaviour.”

Andrew Motion, who is professor of creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London, said all humanities undergraduates should be given crash courses in the great stories — starting with, in his view, “Christian stories, Qur’anic stories, Greek and Roman stories”. Guardian, Feb 17


Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet