In which Richard Dawkins proves that atheism…

29 Oct

… does not inoculate one against puritanism.

See Harry Potter fails to cast spell over Professor Richard Dawkins.

As for me, reading The Phantom, Batman, Biggles, The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, and [God] knows what other twaddle has made me the man I am today… Let alone Peter Pan – but I won’t go there.

I should have stuck with the Dictionary and Encyclopedia Britannica, though there are probably fairy tales in both of them.


Posted by on October 29, 2008 in diversions


7 responses to “In which Richard Dawkins proves that atheism…

  1. arthurvandelay

    October 30, 2008 at 1:43 am

    … does not inoculate one against puritanism.

    No, it doesn’t. Though I think charges of puritanism are a touch premature in this case. It isn’t as if Dawkins is calling for a ban on Harry Potter; he simply suggests that the effect of fairytales on the ability of readers to think rationally might be something worth researching.

    My own take is that the capacity to think rationally entails the ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Hence, as long as this ability has been sufficiently honed, exposure to and the enjoyment of fantasy and fairytales is nothing to worry about.

  2. Neil

    October 30, 2008 at 8:39 am

    I agree with your take in your second paragraph, but even if all Dawkins is doing is what you suggest I still think he’s making an ass of himself.

  3. Jim Belshaw

    October 30, 2008 at 10:41 am

    Here, here.

  4. AV

    October 30, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    I don’t know if it will alter your opinion of him, Neil, but here’s what Dawkins himself has to say:

    I am sick and tired of being wantonly misrepresented. I have finally managed to listen to the More4 News piece that started all this off, and am thoroughly irritated to discover that the commentator said that I am “now going to take on Harry Potter”.
    [. . .]
    I NEVER said I was going to take on Harry Potter. I have never even read Harry Potter. All I did was to muse, aloud, on how interesting it might be to do RESEARCH on the possible effects on scientific education of children’s stories about magic spells. I had in mind not Harry Potter at all (I’ve never read him, so how would I “take him on”) but Hans Anderson, Grimm, and the Arabian Nights. I never said I was against magic stories, merely that I’d be interested to see some research done. Yet from this — you might think harmless — curiosity about possible educational research, I find myself accused of hostility to fiction, hostility to imagination, hostility to children, hostility to science fiction — all of which I of course love.


  5. AV

    October 30, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Sorry . . . forgot the link.

  6. Jim Belshaw

    October 30, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    AV, phrased as Mr Dawkins has above, I find myself in sympathy with Mr Dawkins on this matter.

  7. Neil

    October 30, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Well there you go. If you want fairy stories, you need to go to the London Daily Telegraph it seems.

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