Watched the second part of Root of all Evil? last night. The Doctor arrived just in time for the chimps, and quickly ran away again.
There's an unbearable smugness about evangelical atheists, which I'm conscious of if myself. And I know Dawkins is constantly criticised for the same.
It's difficult, then, to know whether his programme impressed me for preaching to the choir. It seemed, quite fairly, to argue against "demonstrable falsehoods" and how they muddy our lives. There was good evidence of the downright pessimism of religion - that we can only behave ourselves if we live in fear of God.
While there was much made of the gays and abortionists going to Hell, it's not Jesus who talked of damnation. No, Hel was a Viking (thus pagan) god, part of their brutal, pillaging "morality".
The punishment of the wicked by some authoritarian power speaks of huge inadequacy - the equivalent of an child wailing, "I'm telling mum". We should do what's right because we should do what's right, not because some invisible Bogey Man will get us in the end.
The Dr points out that of course many Christians refute the idea of Hell. And, answering her criticism of the first episode, Dawkins did interview a moderate. While Dawkins found the Bishop of Oxford's arguments for tolerance and calm were "music to my ears", he then refuted the man for fence-sitting, for picking and choosing which bits of the Good Book to hold dear.
The need for the Bible to be literally true also speaks of inadequacy. Jesus taught by telling stories, so there's no reason at all the good book can't still hold moral worth while not being right about dinosaurs.
I always thought Jesus was a far more impressive figure without the God stuff. As the perfect son of an omniscient God, part of a divine trinity and blessed with special powers, he's amazing. But because he's got special powers, what he does isn't special.
As just a bloke who stood up to authority and said, "You could be nicer..." he's incredible. And imitable. He was the bastard son of a lowly carpenter, and look what he achieved... I note Dawkins quickly glossed over the not-easy-to-argue-with teaching of Jesus in favour of a pop at St Paul.
At the end, Dawkins was good on dealing with the real world and not seeing it as a test-run for the real thing. There's sheer wonder in what we do know - the hugeness of statistical probability against our very existence, the vastness of the universe, the complexity in the detail.
Yet, he's also keen to admit what we don't know, what we can't prove, what we haven't worked out yet. Which contrasts with the "easy truths" of religion: again that resolute need for certainty speaks of inadequacy. Like people who can't admit when they're lost.
And I couldn't help feeling that by exploring the world as it's given to us, striving never to bear false witness, to pursue truth and morality whatever the received wisdom from the leaders of church and state... Well, Dawkins is probably doing God proud.