'If people want to get down on their knees and believe it line by line, good luck to them. I often wish I could, but as it happens I can't. But it doesn't destroy my pleasure in reading the Bible or my sense of its importance, at all.' Double yuk. As it happens I am too brave and honest to accept the old myths, with their illiberal God, he is saying. But it's good training for deep souls like me, to kick against. I once wrote an article in the Spectator about people like him: Devout Sceptics, who claim to yearn for a bit of faith. I have contempt for them.
Listen Andy, if Christianity has fallen out of the public mind, it is the fault of people like you, who fail to engage with it in a serious way, but find it charmingly interesting background to your favourite books. Either engage with theology, or shut up about it.
Jonathan Swift wrote a satire about Andrew Motion. In 'A Letter Advice to a Young Poet' (1721) he warns an ambitious young poet not to take religion too seriously; he should 'think it better to be a great Wit than a good Christian.' For earnest faith is 'a wonderful check to Wit and Humour, and such as a true Poet cannot possibly give in to with a saving of his Poetical License.' He should know his scriptures, as they're a good source of material, but 'Far be it from me to desire you to believe them, or lay any great stress upon their Authority.'
I have more respect for Richard Dawkins than the sort of person who wants to salvage religion for cultural and aesthetic ends.