Right on cue Richard Dawkins answers the charge of being an atheist fundamentalist :
"Fundamentalists know they are right because they have read the truth in a holy book and they know, in advance, that nothing will budge them from their belief. The truth of the holy book is an axiom, not the end product of a process of reasoning. The book is true, and if the evidence seems to contradict it, it is the evidence that must be thrown out, not the book. By contrast, what I, as a scientist, believe (for example, evolution) I believe not because of reading a holy book but because I have studied the evidence. It really is a very different matter. Books about evolution are believed not because they are holy. They are believed because they present overwhelming quantities of mutually buttressed evidence. In principle, any reader can go and check that evidence. When a science book is wrong, somebody eventually discovers the mistake and it is corrected in subsequent books. That conspicuously doesn't happen with holy books."
To which I respond: What's so great about evidence? Is not your belief that evidence is a reliable guide to Truth just a matter of faith?
I can only imagine how Dawkins would respond to that, but there is only one answer that I can think of so I'll argue with myself and say: the difference between evidence and faith is that the holy books are mutually and internally contradictory, and there is no principled way of resolving those contradictions. Scientific evidence, by contrast, is consistent and independently reproducible, and therefore everyone at least agrees on what the evidence is even if they might differ from time to time about the implications.
The problem with this is, interestingly, a manifestation of the Universal Asymmetry that I pointed out in my last post on this topic. Dawkins may have come to his beliefs by studying "the evidence" but very few people have this luxury. The vast majority of the people in the world do not have direct access to "the evidence." At best they have access to books written by people (scientists) with access to the evidence. And the vast majority of such books are written specifically to be inaccessible to the layman. (To be fair, many of Dawkins' own books are notable exceptions to this rule.) Take me, for example. I believe in evolution, but not because I have actually studied the evidence. I don't have time for that. I believe in evolution becuase it makes sense to me. And people who believe, say, that Christ died for their sins, believe that for the same reason: because it makes sense to them.
Make no mistake: I absolutely believe that those who deny evolution are wrong. The difference between me and Dawkins that I understand how someone might reasonably come to a different conclusion and Dawkins doesn't. He believes despite evidence to the contrary that all non-scientific worldviews are unreasonable. They are not. They just start with different premises and life experiences. Until Dawkins and his ilk come to understand and accept this (and adjust their rhetoric accordingly) I predict they will make little progress towards their stated goals.
P.S. It is not true, as Dawkins claims, that there is are no corrective processes in religion. The text of the holy books may not change often (although it does happen) but the interpretation of the holy books is in constant flux, just as the interpretation of scientific evidence is.