Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Atheist Objection to Harry Potter

I'm sure we've all come across Christians of various stripes who object to the Harry Potter books, but I was amused to see that prominent atheist Richard Dawkins also finds them objectionable:
Outspoken atheist Professor Richard Dawkins is to warn children of the dangers in believing "anti-scientific" fairytales such as Harry Potter.
Prof Dawkins will write a book aimed at youngsters where he will discuss whether stories like the successful JK Rowling series have a "pernicious" effect on children.
The 67-year-old, who recently resigned from his position at Oxford University, says he intends to look at the effects of "bringing children up to believe in spells and wizards".
'I think it is anti-scientific – whether that has a pernicious effect, I don't know,' he told More4 News.
'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.'
However, the outspoken atheist said he hadn't even read Harry Potter and admitted he "didn't know what to think about magic and fairytales".
Now, in fairness to Professor Dawkins, it does seem as though the journalist is exaggerating his objections to Harry Potter and fairy stories and so on... However, it's interesting that Dawkins seems to be entertaining the suspicion that the stories he heard as a child might have had a negative effect on his rationality.


Enbrethiliel said...


"An insidious effect on reality"???

Uncle Gilbert did say that fairytales are true not because they tell us that dragons are real, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten! =)

Anonymous said...

There is an entire book that exposes the pernicious sexist/bourgois paradigm of the Potter novels as well.

Richard said...

When I was at school they tried to tell me stupid fairy tales about a monkey turning into a man. What was the author's name? Darwin?