Update: Chris has a follow up post.
In that talk Dawkins sounds, at times, like a 5-year old with the vocabulary and factual knowledge of a world-renowned scientist….
I find it hypocritcal and, as an atheist, more than a little embarrassing that these fundamentalist, Dawkinsian, scientistic, self-styled free thinking atheists, who know jack about the history of religion, or serious philosophy and theology, feel that they can criticize religious fundamentalists for saying things about science (in the evolution-creationism debate, for example) when those religious fundamentalists are clearly ignorant of the science, but have no problem making grand claims about the rationality of religion or its practical implications. I can’t help but think that they feel they’re justified in this because they have a distinct sense of intellectual and, perhaps, moral superiority over the religious….
Well, I’ve stated that a diversity of viewpoints is necessary, and this needed to be said too. I think fundamentally a problem that too many intellectual atheists have, and Chris alludes to this, is to reduce religion to scriptural literalism and the general movement which is fundamentalism. Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris argue strongly for a necessary connection between non-fundamentalist monotheism and fundamentalist monotheism precisely because their assault against the latter need not be repeated for the former if you view the latter as simply an extention upon the bedrock placed upont he former. I think this is something of a nasty rhetorical trick myself, I can see where they are coming from, but I feel that their motives are more driven by tactics than strategic sincerity. Additionally, fundamentalist religion in its extoric avowed trappings is not difficult to comprehend for those who are not religious, it is naturally easy to confuse the bare totems of fundamentalist religion, righteous fidelity to text, tight community and a powerful clerical class (in practice, often not in theory) as the essence of religion. But what if it’s not? One can not see the psychology of the religious, one must study it, if one can not partake of it in a direct fashion. And that is where Harris and Dawkins seem to go wrong in their emphasis, they confuse the exoteric elements of fundamentalism for being an increase in magnitude of the vector when it is in fact somewhat orthogonal to the root of basal psychological religiosity.
Ezekiel 16:20-21 Moreover thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters, whom thou hast borne unto me, and these hast thou sacrificed unto them to be devoured. Is this of thy whoredoms a small matter, That thou hast slain my children, and delivered them to cause them to pass through the fire for them?