British author Melvyn Bragg blasts atheist attacks on Christianity

(Photo: REUTERS / Kevin Coombs)Melvyn Bragg (R), Andrew Lloyd Webber (C) and wife Madeline attend an arts reception at Downing Sreet in London hosted by Prime Minister John Major, February 22, 1995. The festival of Arts and culture has been billed as "the biggest worldwide promotion of UK arts and culture ever planned." REUTERS/Kevin Coombs

British broadcaster and author Melvyn Bragg, who says he does not have strong beliefs, has condemned atheists who attack Christianity.

He says Christianity should be respected for its history and its contribution to mankind.

He told an audience at the Daily Telegraph's Ways With Words festival that even though he did not believe in the "fundamental tenets" of Christianity, the history of the religion was central to understanding how knowledge developed.

The broadcaster and author expressed resentment for people who fail to respect Christian beliefs and who openly dismiss their deity as "'sky gods" when he was speaking at the yearly British literature festival.

"How dare they?" he remarked, while discussing the vocal criticism of religion by atheists in modern society.

Christianity ought to be respected for its historical perspective, said the author, The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported on July 13.

At the same book festival earlier last week, British philosopher A. C. Grayling, argued that the Christian Church has too much influence in modern society and should be treated like any other "interest group, lobby or trade union,'' the Telegraph reported.

Grayling said, "Of course for historical reasons, and in our own country for constitutional reasons, religion has been given a massive megaphone. Its footprint in the public square is out of all proportion to the actual support that it has."

Bragg has penned, "The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011."

In it he explores the King James Bible's history, impact and enduring influence of the English language's undisputed best-known text.

At the festival he said, "What I really resent is their (atheists') attack on the Christian ways and particularly the Christian history. Dismissing the 'sky Gods' - how dare they? That was the best people could do at that time.

"That was the best they could do with the information at their disposal, with the means at their disposal.

"When they had to work out, say, the nine key questions which we're still trying to work out, they did the best they could.

"And they produced magnificent artefacts - there are things that we now think they got completely wrong but they did some marvellous things. And I think we have to respect that; because that's the history of knowledge."

Bragg's attack may have been aimed at Professor Richard Dawkins, who is said to have evangelical-like zeal in his crusade against religion and Christianity, had written of "sky-god religions" in his book The God Delusion.

Dawkins has declared himself "anti-God" and has stated that "being raised a Catholic is worse than child abuse. "

During the Way with Words festival Bragg was publicising his latest novel, Grace and Mary, which is based on his own mother's experience with dementia and old age.

Bragg who is a broadcaster as well as author, is a Labour Party member of the upper chamber of Britain's' Parliament, the House of Lords.

In his speech he said, "I now think there is an unconscious. Things strike us at particular times that come out of what we think is nowhere. Memory and imagination are joined.

"As intelligent people we're going to have different belief systems.

"I used to be a very strong Christian until I was in my 20s. And that spiritual space, as it were, is still there.

"Do I believe in the fundamental tenants of what make Christianity, that there is a God who cares about every one of us? I'm afraid not. Resurrection? I'm afraid not. And so on.

"But I do think the Christian books - and other religions too - are an extraordinary body knowledge and wisdom about how people have lived at different stages."

He asserted "I do think that people who close their minds to those possibilities are missing a lot."

He also talked of the human tendency to assume each generation had peaked in ability and knowledge, urging the public to recognise their place in the world.

"The human condition, in this very short history of Homo sapiens has scarcely changed a bit," he said. "With all that, in every civilisation, there is this fantasy that we are somehow the apex of everything.

"For hundreds of thousands of years, people having been getting better, doing things, making things, making progress - we are the beneficiaries of that and we can't get much better.

"Well, if life can be compared to a journey from here to America, where we are now is half way down the River Dart - we aren't even in the ocean. It's all to come."

He noted: "I think I agree with [scientist] Stephen Hawking's idea, that there are some things we will never know.

"We are reaching into the unknown. We're going somewhere and we don't know what the end of it is. That's what we're doing."

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