Feature

Richard Dawkins vs. Harry Potter?

Why the author of 'The God Delusion' is writing a children's book

Apparently, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins thinks books like Harry Potter might have a negative effect on the emotional development of kids, said Dave Itzkoff in The New York Times. “Having sufficiently inflamed the passions of his adult readers with The God Delusion—his treatise on rationalism and atheism”—Dawkins has now decided to write a book that will “explore children’s relationships with fairy tales and encourage them to think about the world scientifically rather than mythologically.”

“This isn’t about Harry Potter at all,” said Harrison Scott Key in WorldMag.com. Dawkins has a beef with “Christianity and theism in general.” He believes that teaching kids about hell, for instance, is a form of child abuse. Will it make “Junior feel so much better to know the chasm of unfeeling blackness will envelope him upon death” instead?

Look, it “depends a great deal on context” and the “way in which the stories are presented,” said Derek James in Thinking as a Profession. And even if studies showed that fantasy books do have a negative effect on kids, “I’m pretty sure Dawkins” is more interested in “informing parents so they can make choices about what and how to present material to children” than he is in condemning books like Harry Potter.

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