Richard Dawkins, evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist, congratulated Malala Yousafzai for her recent Nobel win, tweeting that the Nobel Prize Committee “got it right” with their decision to award the 17-year-old laureate with the most-coveted honor of the year. However, Dawkins didn’t evade the usual controversy associated with his stark critique of religion, especially after he followed up his congratulatory tweet with an atheism-related post that sparked controversy among fans and critics of his work.
Of course Malala is religious now but give her time, she’s only 17 & getting the education she fought for on behalf of girls like her.
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) Oktubre 11, 2014
The tweet was inevitably met with backlash, and even fans of the God Delusion writer pointed out what they perceived were flaws in Dawkins’ statement.
@richarddawkins Tweets like these are counterproductive… We wouldn’t have problems if every Muslim was like her.
— Cyruss1989 (@Cyruss1989) Oktubre 11, 2014
@RichardDawkins how patronising?!? If she wants to believe, she can. You (and I) might not agree, but she’s talking peace & you hate.
— Colin Holmes (@ColinMHolmes) Oktubre 11, 2014
@RichardDawkins Don’t patronize her. She may very well grow to be educated and religious, like lots of people.
— Felipe Botero (@fboteroj) Oktubre 11, 2014
@RichardDawkins I doubt she will ever openly give up her religion as she’ll lose the trust of her country and fall from grace
— Nixi Allen (@nixiberry) Oktubre 11, 2014
Although Richard Dawkins’ contributions to biology have been positively received by people from his field, his views on atheism and religion have always been controversial. Earlier this year, Dawkins criticized fairy tales, allegedly claiming that they were harmful to kids.
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 skepticism? 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.”
His statements found an unlikely critic in Angelina Jolie, star of the recent blockbuster Maleficent, who said in an interview that fairy tales are an important tool in teaching moral lessons to children.
Despite these controversies, Dawkins has always been supportive of Malala Yousafzai, regardless of her religious leanings.
Richard Dawkins is the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including The Greatest Show On Earth, The Selfish Gene, and his most infamous work, The God Delusion.