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Bible THUMP: Good Book beats Darwin to most influential tome title

Folio Society crowns fittest of surviving volumes

Members of the Folio Society have named the Bible as the most important book of all time, with Darwin's On The Origin of Species coming in at a close second place.

The literary group commissioned YouGov to survey more than 2,000 British grown-ups and ask them which book they thought was the most valuable to human civilisation.

Some 37 per cent of respondents said The Bible was the top tome, while 35 per cent reckoned Darwin's masterpiece was the fittest of the surviving books.

Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time snuck into third place with 17 per cent of the vote with Einstein's Relativity closely orbiting it with a 15 per cent score.

“The first question I had was whether the similar figure for Darwin and the Bible does show a continuing polarisation between the realms of science and religion, or whether in fact it reveals a more balanced approach to ideas for the modern reader,” said Tom Walker, who is The Folio Society's editorial director.

“They are the two ideas which have clashed in the 20th century – this shows, I think, that we can take understanding from both of them.”

The Bible is on the list because it "contains principles and guidelines to be a good person”, he continued, while On the Origin of Species “answers fundamental questions of human existence”.

Don't worry if you haven't read the trickier screeds, because the Folio Society regards the Brief History of Time as “surely one of the most underread bestsellers ever written” and said the readership of Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica is “pretty thin”.

Here is the full list:

  1. The Bible (37 per cent)
  2. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection by Charles Darwin (35 per cent)
  3. A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (17 per cent)
  4. Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein (15 per cent)
  5. Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell (14 per cent)
  6. Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica by Isaac Newton (12 per cent)
  7. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (10 per cent)
  8. The Qur’an (9 per cent)
  9. An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (7 per cent)
  10. The Double Helix: A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA by James Watson (6 per cent)

What books do you think should be on the list? ®

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