I wonder – aiming a science book at children entitled The Magic of Reality might be seen as encouraging them to think of the practice in the same way they might read a fairy story, or watch Fantasia or the fictional Harry Potter for that matter. I have not read this new book yet, but online accounts suggest it is well illustrated and aimed at giving children an understanding of how scientists ‘know what’s really true.’ A shame it doesn’t teach children to think in terms of formal logic and philosophy and give them the skills to engage science critically by asking questions about prior foundational commitments; or more simply, giving children skills in scientific hermeneutics, or an understanding of the place of paradigms in science where scientists actually have the freedom to disagree. Of course in this brave-new-world thinking children are not part of the vision, instead appealing to the imagination is more beneficial with brightly colored books.
But that is an aside; I would question whether the desire to instill a sense of godless wonder in nature is really encouraging nature worship. Is this Dawkins’ true goal? I can’t imagine it is, but this is why I ask whether he really cares about science. For the Christian a sense of wonder arises out of the beauty and order that God has given to the creation; but for the godless naturalist there is no need to hold to a belief in order at all, in which case science loses its firm foundation. I wonder whether Dawkins is unwittingly taking us back to Zoonomia, The Temple of Nature or the Botanic Garden where the naturalistic narrative is more important than the science?
Perhaps he ought to reassure us on this question.