Letters: The Bible is not a moral manual

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The Independent Online
Sir: Lord Runcie's understanding of the Bible - if accurately presented by Andrew Brown's article ("And the Word of God is: ambiguous", 17 May) - seems perfectly correct. The Bible is not a moral manual. It is a collection of religious books. Anyone looking for a secular moral code in the Bible will not find it. Contrary to your headline, the Bible is not at all ambiguous on this issue. A secular Bible is a contradiction in terms.

Secular morality, on the other hand, is a well known and much debated area of human experience that owes little or nothing to religious codes of behaviour. Grossly oversimplified, for an action to be correctly described as a moral action it (logically) must: 1) be rationally based, 2) be freely and autonomously chosen, 3) treat other people as "ends" and not "means", and 4) be applicable to all. Following a set of religious commandments is, clearly, not one of the necessary criteria for being moral. One does not have to be religious in order to be moral.

One simple but significant implication of this distinction is that state school inspectors must be vociferously, and if necessary, legally, attacked whenever they criticise an RE teacher for not including moral education in their lessons on religion.


Morton, Lincolnshire