Famed atheist Richard Dawkins is entering uncharted waters. The infamous, yet culturally influential, non-believer is preparing to release a pro-evolutionary children's book.
The literary work, entitled, "The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True," is focused upon delving into some of the world's greatest wonders. Dawkins, of course, can't help but include what he calls "the Judeo-Christian myth," as he apparently seeks to pass his atheism on to young readers.
While the book is, indeed, written for youths and adults, alike, Dawkins says that he imagines families reading it together and enjoying his take on the universe's "truths." NewScientist's Andy Coghlan describes the book as follows:
Dawkins has repackaged his passion for atheism - and for the capacity of science to deliver demonstrable truths about nature - in a book designed to appeal to teenagers. [...]
The writing is also masterly, if a little waffly in places. From the strident polemicism of The God Delusion, Dawkins has shifted into "wise grandad" mode. His strategy is laid bare in the list of chapters, a clear "scientific" rewrite of the contents of Genesis. The formula is simple: each chapter addresses a basic question: "Who was the first person?" or "When and how did everything begin?" Dawkins then supplies imaginative answers provided by ancient myths from around the world - among them prominent tales from the Bible. Finally, he demolishes these myths by supplying the "real" answers provided by science.
Below, watch Dawkins further discuss this controversial book project on the BBC:
In an interview with The New York Times, Dawkins explains his motivation behind writing, "The Magic of Reality." “I’ve had perfectly wonderful conversations with Anglican bishops, and I rather suspect if you asked in a candid moment, they’d say they don’t believe in the virgin birth." He continues: “But for every one of them, four others would tell a child she’ll rot in hell for doubting.”
This, apparently, is the reason why he's targeting children in his latest literary work. Dawkins claims that he wants to raise basic educational questions for kids, helping them better understand the sun, earthquakes and other natural phenomenon. Apparently, he also told the Times that he's considered launching his own state-sponsored school, though he says it wouldn't be a school for atheists.
“I am almost pathologically afraid of indoctrinating children,” he says, claiming that “It would be a ‘Think for Yourself Academy.’" While this may be a genuine sentiment, there are many who will see his new book as an attempt to indoctrinate young minds to believe, early on, that faith and religion are mere figments of the human imagination. How would his school differ in its goals and works?
In an article on The Christian Post, Dawkins' intentions to do what many would deem "indoctrination" seem evident:
“When children ask ‘where did I come from’ they are quite capable of understanding – and being taught – evolution,” Dawkins penned. “Evolution could be taught in such a way as to make it easier to understand than a myth.”
That is because, he said, “myths leave the child’s questions unanswered, or they raise more questions than they appear to answer. Evolution is a truly satisfying and complete explanation of existence, and I suspect that this thing is something a child can appreciate from an early age.”
It seems he's focusing upon children simply because they will more easily grasp his theoretical constructs. Instead of fighting against the personal beliefs that have worked their way into adults, Dawkins has an easier time reaching children (who are more willing to believe the information they are being taught).
This, in itself, will inspire controversy. But Dawkins has proven himself little interested in avoiding debate in the past.