In this video he talks about The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True, a book designed to be read by parents and children together. The hardback, out on October 4, is $18.48 at Amazon, and nontheist or science-oriented families will certainly want to buy it.
In an age of wizards and vampires, children need to rediscover the wonder of the real world.
Magic has three meanings. There’s the supernatural magic of fairy-tale spells, magic of the kind that can turn a frog into a prince or a pumpkin into a glittering conveyance to his ball. There’s stage magic — conjuring — which is nothing but clever tricks and illusions. And then there’s the magic of a thunderstorm over Grand Canyon, of the Milky Way on a cloudless night far from light pollution or of a scanning electron micrograph of an ant’s face. Or, for that matter, the magic of a lover’s kiss.
Supernatural magic not only doesn’t happen, it cannot happen. Frogs can’t turn into princes because princes are complicated: they are statistically improbable collections of atoms that are capable of walking, talking, thinking, playing the piano. You can randomly shuffle and recombine the shredded bits of a box of frogs a million times, and not once will you get a prince — although all the necessary atoms are there. That is why Darwin’s idea of natural selection is so brilliant. It is the only way ever suggested for how purely natural causes can create an illusion of complex design. The key is non-random natural selection and the fact that random luck (genetic mutation) doesn’t come in one big, ludicrously improbable lump like a magic spell but is spread out in small, incremental steps — a ramp of improvement so gentle that no one step represents too improbable a change from the generation before.