Richard Dawkins, Oxford-educated evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist, is once again the center of controversy after allegedly stating that fairy tales, like Cinderella and Bambi, may not be suitable for children
Dawkins reportedly suggested to an audience at the Cheltenham Science Festival that learning about the rigors of the scientific method is much better for children than reading about fairy tales. He said:
“Is it a good thing to go along with the fantasies of childhood, magical as they are? Or should we be fostering a spirit of scepticism? I think it’s rather pernicious to inculcate into a child a view of the world which includes supernaturalism – we get enough of that anyway. Even fairy tales, the ones we all love, with wizards or princesses turning into frogs or whatever it was. There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it’s statistically too improbable.”
The statement was heavily criticized, especially by Dawkins’ usual critics. Some of them claimed that Dawkins’ statements had implications that fairy tale stories were harmful for children’s consumption. However, Dawkins clarified on his popular Twitter account that he did not intend to bash the literature themselves. Richard Dawkins tweeted:
“It IS pernicious to inculcate supernaturalism into a child. But DO fairytales do that? It’s an interesting Q. The answer is probably no.”
During his talk, Dawkins claimed that he ceased believing in Santa Claus when he was barely two years old. Richard added that he stopped subscribing to any religion when he was eight, recalling that he was as religious as any other Christian child before he turned away from faith. He said:
“I think I did believe it up to the age of eight or nine, when preachers said if you really, really pray for something it can happen. Even moving mountains, I believed it could really happen. I grew up. I put away childish things.”
Richard Dawkins is no stranger to criticism. Dawkins, who authored the book The God Delusion, has been on the receiving end of harsh commentaries from critics from religious circles. Although highly popular among atheist and humanist groups, Dawkins occasionally receives rebuke from secular groups as well.
The biologist gained scientific fame for his work on evolution, particularly for being a proponent of the gene-centered view of evolution. Richard Dawkins caught attention outside science for being an ardent advocate of atheism and a staunch critic of intelligent design and creationism.
Richard Dawkins has also hosted a handful of documentaries depicting investigative criticisms against faith-based activities, like homeopathy and creationism.