The Good Book mirrors the Bible in both form and language, and is, as its author says, ''ambitious and hubristic - a distillation of the best that has been thought and said by people who've really experienced life, and thought about it''. Drawing on classical secular texts from East and West, Grayling has ''done just what the Bible makers did'', reworking texts into a ''great treasury of insight and consolation, inspiration, uplift and understanding in the great non-religious traditions of the world''.
Atheists, according to Grayling, can be divided into three broad categories. There are those for whom a secular objection to the privileged status of religion in public life is their driving force, and those, ''like my chum Richard Dawkins'', who are principally concerned with the metaphysical question of God's existence. ''And I would certainly say there is an intrinsic problem about belief in falsehood.''
In other words, even if a person's faith did no harm to anybody, Grayling still wouldn't like it. ''But the third point is about our ethics - how we live, how we treat one another, what the good life is. And that's the question that concerns me the most.''
It's only in the past decade that these three strands have coalesced into a public campaign against faith - but it wasn't the atheists, according to Grayling, who provoked the confrontation. ''The reason why it has become a big issue is that religions have turned the volume up, because they're on the back foot. The hold of religion is weakening, definitely, and it is diminishing in numbers. The reason why there's such a furore about it is that the cornered animal, the loser, starts making a big noise.''