Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Are fairy tales bad for children? Richard Dawkins claims they could be

rexfeatures-3773601ai.jpg

In a talk at the Cheltenham Science Festival, renowned evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins said that fairytales are harmful to children.

The Daily Telegraph quoted the author of The God Delusion as saying that fantastical stories “inculcate a view of the world which includes supernaturalism”.

“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.”

However in response to the story, Dawkins spoke to Radio 4 on the matter and said that the comments were taken out of context.

Taking to Twitter, Dawkins also responded with the following tweets:

Dawkins, 73, however, did say that children should be taught scientific rigour from an early age, as he himself stopped believing in Father Christmas when he was just 21 months old, and stopped believing in religion when he was eight years old.

“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,” he said. “I grew up. I put away childish things.”

While he conceded that parents who allow their children to believe in God shouldn't be considered guilty of child abuse as it was "a bit stronge", he did add that “when you tell a child to mind their Ps and Qs otherwise they'll roast in hell, then that is tantamount to child abuse.”

Dawkins is renowned for being a staunch critic of religion and has described it as a "cop-out" even though he refers to himself as a "secular Christian".

Last January, in a debate with the former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, he described religion as a "betrayal of the intellect, a betrayal of all that's best about what makes us human".

In August 2013, Dawkins tweeted "All the world's Muslims have fewer Nobel Prizes than Trinity College, Cambridge. They did great things in the Middle Ages, though."

His comments sparked outrage on the social networking site from writers such as Caitlin Moran who tweeted 'I's time someone turned Richard Dawkins off and then on again. Something's gone weird."

He became known world-wide after causing controversy with his views on the 2001 September 11 terrorism attacks, stating that the strikes on the United States showed that a harder line must be taken with believers.

(Images: Rex Features)

Related

rexfeatures-3045625w.jpg

Hillary Clinton: I've moved on from the Monica Lewinsky affair

rexfeatures-3716520ab.jpg

Keira Knightley would "150 million%" discourage daughter from acting

lady-gaga-hero.jpg

The best celebrity no-make up selfies

cover.jpg

How we made our fairy tale cover

darkfairytales.jpg

The eight darkest fairy tales

alice.jpg

Fairy tales gone bad

Comments

More

Daisy Ridley and Judi Dench to star in new Agatha Christie movie

All aboard the Orient Express... by Moya Crockett

30 Sep 2016

The best new books to read in October 2016

From murder mysteries, to magical dream-quests by Sarah Shaffi

27 Sep 2016

The 10 best book-to-film adaptations have been revealed

Can the film ever be better than the book? by Kayleigh Dray

27 Sep 2016

The girl power cast for the Peter Rabbit movie is beyond incredible

The cast of Star Wars and Bridesmaids are teaming up for the Beatrix Potter adaptation by Kayleigh Dray

27 Sep 2016

How to stop procrastinating and finally publish your own book

The UK's bestselling author shares her advice by Sarah Biddlecombe

26 Sep 2016

Judge orders sex offender to buy feminist literature for victim

Titles include The Diary of Anne Frank and works by Virginia Woolf by Harriet Hall

26 Sep 2016

Why India’s latest comic book heroine is a rape survivor

In Priya's Mirror, the resilient heroine teams up with acid attack survivors to defeat gender-based violence. by Moya Crockett

26 Sep 2016

Girl on the Train author on the moment that sparked her smash hit book

And it was all down to the commute... by Sarah Biddlecombe

22 Sep 2016

The cast for The Handmaid’s Tale is beyond incredible

Yet another talented star has been added to the Margaret Atwood adaptation... by Kayleigh Dray

22 Sep 2016

This bestselling author is offering her cottage as a free writing spot

"Are you a writer, and wish you had some peace in which to write?" by Sarah Biddlecombe

20 Sep 2016