Richard Dawkins on 'the magic of reality'

First aired on Day 6 (6/01/2012)

dawkins-175.jpgRichard Dawkins is known as many things. Evolutionary biologist. Intellectual provocateur. Staunch atheist. But children's book author?

Indeed, the outspoken academic has penned a book encouraging young readers to embrace science. In The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True, Dawkins de-bunks numerous ancient myths and religious beliefs with hard science, while keeping the language appealing to children. The book is illustrated by veteran comic artist Dave McKean.

There are many children's book that aim to explain religious stories and theories like creationism, but Dawkins, author of several books including The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, argues that it's important to expose kids to a broad range of ideas, both religious and scientific.

"Young people are not taught many different myths. Perhaps they should be," Dawkins said during a recent interview with Day 6. "Instead, young people tend to be taught the one particular myth, out of all the hundreds of myths from all around the world, that pervades their own culture. In North America, for example, they tend to get taught Judeo-Christian myths. Same in Britain. In India, they might tend to get taught Hindu myths and so on. There's nothing wrong with teaching the Genesis myth as long as you make it clear that it's just a myth, like a Hindu myth or a Thai myth or an Australian-Aboriginal myth or something like that."

While Dawkins's anti-religious views are well known, he says religion has artistic and literary merit and would be "beneficial to the imagination." But he argues that religious education shouldn't come before scientific education.

"What is wrong is to do what is actually done in the United States. For example, in many places, [educators] teach children that [creationism] is true, which is obviously nonsense, because the truth has been known for quite a while now and the truth is, of course, the evolutionary truth."


The Magic of Reality

by Richard Dawkins

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From the publisher:

"Richard Dawkins, the world's most famous evolutionary biologist and one of science education's most passionate advocates, has spent his career elucidating the wonders of science for adult readers. But now, in a dramatic departure, he has teamed up with acclaimed artist Dave McKean and used his unrivaled explanatory powers to share the magic of science with readers of all ages. This is a treasure trove for anyone who has ever wondered how the world works. Dawkins and McKean have created an illustrated guide to the secrets of our world &,dash; and the universe beyond -- that will entertain and inform for years to come."

Read more at Free Press.