A lot of comment this week on Richard Dawkins’ not-at-all-wacked-out decision to step down from his Oxford University post as professor for the Public Understanding of Science in order to write a book warning of the hideous dangers posed to children by imagination and fantasy. (Do you realise some of these fairy tales say a kiss can turn a frog into a prince? Where’s the rationality in that? Did Charles Darwin die in vain? Etc., etc.)
This is not a new concern for Prof Dawkins. At the opening of a chapter in his (superb) 1996 book, Climbing Mount Improbable, he writes as follows:
I was driving through the English countryside with my daughter Juliet, then aged six, and she pointed out some flowers by the wayside. I asked her what she thought wildflowers were for. She gave a rather thoughtful answer. “Two things,” she said. “To make the world pretty, and to help the bees make honey for us.” I was touched by this and sorry I had to tell her it wasn’t true.
My reaction to that now remains the same as when I first read it: “No you weren’t. You enjoyed every moment of it!”
As Jeremy points out, Luther has the best response to this: “Laugh your adversary to scorn … and then joke and play games with [your] wife and others”. So that’s what I’m going to do.