Richard Dawkins, noted zoologist and atheist, is the subject of an article published today in the Telegraph entitled Harry Potter fails to cast spell over Professor Richard Dawkins. The article states:
The prominent atheist is stepping down from his post at Oxford University to write a book aimed at youngsters in which he will warn them against believing in “anti-scientific” fairytales.
Prof Hawkins said: “The book I write next year will be a children’s book on how to think about the world, science thinking contrasted with mythical thinking.
I don’t want to get too involved with this topic right now (we’ll talk about it on our next podcast), but I will say that I’ve read a portion of Dawkins books, and, while I think there is certainly truth to some of his arguments, the guy has a profound misunderstanding of what it means to be a human being.
To be honest, if Dawkins took issue with the Christian content of the Harry Potter books, with the obviously central theme of faith in the series, and J.K. Rowling’s tacit position that faith is the ultimate redeeming quality that Man must strive for in order to combat evil, I’d have no problem with that. But that doesn’t appear to be the case. According to the article, Dawkins just doesn’t like kids using their imagination:
“I think looking back to my own childhood, the fact that so many of the stories I read allowed the possibility of frogs turning into princes, whether that has a sort of insidious affect on rationality, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s something for research.”
To Dawkins, we are all meant to be purely rational and logical, and anything fanciful, anything stemming from the imagination, is a perversion of our nature (surprising that an evolutionary biologist would take this approach, but that’s another story). There’s no question that indulging in one’s imaginative side too much can be detrimental, to one’s self and others, but to banish imagination from the realm of human experience seems, to me, ridiculous. Would the Wright Brother’s ever have discovered flight, if Icarus had never flown too high? I don’t think so.
Dawkins is no different than those that seek to label Harry Potter as witchcraft: unable to appreciate the deeper meaning that a story holds.