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

Bookstagrammers: the Insta tribe keeping it real on social media

They're not in it for money or exposure

by Anna Brech
26 May 2017

Blake Lively is set to star in her own version of Big Little Lies

Get ready for The Husband's Secret, everybody...

by Kayleigh Dray
26 May 2017

Watch: Anna Kendrick reveals her favourite female writers

"They have written these beautiful, funny, wonderful books.”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
25 May 2017

Why you should keep a list of every book you’ve ever read

An act of honesty in a 'fake' digital age

by Anna Brech
25 May 2017

UK publisher launches new imprint to address diversity in books

Fewer than 100 books written by non-white British authors were published last year

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 May 2017

Emily Browning slams Twilight series as “emotionally abusive”

Aussie actor was Stephenie Meyer’s first pick to play Bella

by Joe Ellison
16 May 2017

Here’s how you can (legally) watch The Handmaid’s Tale in the UK

We finally have the answer

by Kayleigh Dray
16 May 2017

These are the books you need to read, according to female TED speakers

12 inspirational tomes to add to your reading list

by Sarah Biddlecombe
15 May 2017

Two brilliant word-of-mouth books to pop on your summer reading list

Load up your Kindle, pronto

by Anna Brech
10 May 2017

Book lovers, this is what your reading habits say about you

Good news for drama and romance fans

by Sarah Biddlecombe
09 May 2017