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← Interview with Richard Dawkins on fairy tales and retirement

Steve Zara's Avatar Jump to comment 16 by Steve Zara

Comment #272442 by Cerbera6

I love RD but this video posting had me slightly worried. Does he not know that intelligently brought up kids can love science fiction yet realise what they're hearing/reading is fiction.

On this thread, and the other related one I keep seeing responses to things Richard Dawkins has never said. I listened carefully to what he said and read what he as written, and I see not the slightest mention of science fiction.

I can't speak for Dawkins, obviously, but I get the impression that people think he is against fictional stories. All I see is him wondering in an open-minded way if introducing children to ideas of magic can prime them for belief in religion and even hostility to science.

I can see what he is saying, and I think he may have a point. If a young child fantasizes about wizards and dragons, and they are told science says that those beliefs are just dreams, and can never be real, I am sure is is possible that there could be some hostility to science if the true wonders of science aren't introduced to the child at the right time. In place of wizards, tell them about Newton and Kepler. In place of dragons, dinosaurs.

I can also see how such magical stories could prime a child's mind for religion. The disappointment that a child gets whenever they realise that the stories of fairies and unicorns aren't true can be less if they believe in eternal life, angels and baby Jesus.

Dawkins is not saying don't tell children stories. Just that we should ensure that we open their minds to the wonders of science, and give them the ability to think critically at an early stage. I think that is a wonderful attitude. I can't think of a more important project than to educate children in this way, and I can't think of anyone better to write such a book.

I have to add that this was a truly awfully presented interview... "Dawkins taking on Harry Potter"! What nonsense.

Mon, 27 Oct 2008 13:09:00 UTC | #258814