I recently was privy to a discussion about philosophical development within early Buddhism. In one sense, the problems are similar to trying to dig out the "historical Jesus" (namely, "Good luck, because you will need it") due to the contributing factor of seminal writings being penned by persons way, way outside the living history of events and persons in question. This Christian/Buddhist parallel also comes down to the detail of a sort of embellishment of doctrine of an enlightened soul at the expense of spinning retrograde assessments of their immediate dependents ... so, as an example, you have Trinitarians downplaying the spiritual acumen of Jesus's disciples in order to provide a bit of breathing space for their sleight of hand on what the holy ghost really wanted to say, but had to wait a few hundred years in order to spill the beans in the presence of the right company. Of course the narrative of Christianity was staged on the backdrop of the collapse of an Empire, so the victorious philosophy is mixed with equal parts academic rigour and equal parts being the right friend with the right leader of the right standing army. So in this manner, the similarities with Buddhism begin to drastically differ. But all this is, by way of introduction, to bring up the case of a big player in early Buddhism called Nagarjuna. He appeared on the scene several hundred years after Buddha, and similarly, by many popular historical accounts, gave rise to many doctrines that the Buddha did not directly give by engineering an intellectual inaptitude between who the Buddha really was and what his disciples could really understand. During this time in India, it was not so much a melting pot of tribal conflict, but a melting pot of philosophy. It is very much reminiscent of ancient Greece, except on a broader scale. Philosophy, logic, debate, etc were vocations and taken seriously (and awarded similar serious accolades of praise and prestige). Anyway, there was a suggestion that Nagarjuna was not so much an advocate of Buddhism, but simply an overzealous argumentative vocational logician who went out of his way to trash metaphysics with metaphysics, and through the onset of time and posterity, came to be held as a prominent "father of logic" in Buddhism. He was not out to "establish" Buddhism, but to kick up a stink amongst the contemporary intelligentsia of the era (who, it would seem, got the last laugh since they shrouded his stink within the overlay of Buddhist Intelligenstia ...." beating us is never an option, only joining us", it appears) The point of bringing all this to your attention is not to attempt to establish the veracity about the life and times of Nagarjuna (which is a feat that requires equivelent measures of the before mentioned "Good Luck"), but to introduce the notion that there is scope for rigourous opposition to meld into the narrative it is opposing, so much so that drastic elements of its opposing nature is lost. Time heals all wounds? It is like a refutation that is so specific of a narrative it seeks to critique, that it has no scope for independent existence outside of that narrative, and over the course of time, becomes part of the narrative. It is kind of like Frank Zappa being relegated as an iconic 70s band despite many of their songs attempting to take the piss out of 70s bands. You cannot understand his music unless you understand why he hated the 70s music scene, which means he gets defined by what he despised, and talked about in the manner that he influenced 70s music. He noted this irony by saying people will buy whatever crap he produces. Of course there are socially accepted means that an institution requires to sustain a continuum for a narrative. You could say if Zappa was really pissed, he could have just traded his guitar for a pan flute and bowed an ingratious departure from the rock industry. Or that Nagarjuna's issue was that society was very formal in the means for validating protest through argument ... so the finer points of the internet age, such as distinguishing scream therapy from philosophical dialogue, was not a manifest science (or maybe "fine art"?) over 2000 years ago. So in the case of Dawkins, one could split hairs to determine to what degree his reactionary element is philosophical or more akin to a farm animal undergoing castration, but one could conclude, either way, that it is far too reactionary for an obvious path towards catholic sainthood 2000 years in the future by the powers that be. But is that true for the all and everything of atheism? For instance, there is a notion that secularism has the capacity to empower a deeper appreciation and commitment to religious and spiritual life. (In brief ..) Previously, there was no demarcation between work, politics, justice, philosophy, art, science vs religion. There was literally no choice to "think" otherwise. Now that we live in a world that requires "conscious choice" in order to be religious, there is a greater opportunity to focus on the deeper aspects of religion than previously afforded by history etc etc.... renaissance just around the corner ... etc etc Once again, not an attempt to establish the veracity of a claim (future trends, are, by their nature, determined by the future), but an offering on how a cornerstone of a reactionary rhetoric ("Secularism! Haa! Another nail in the coffin of the corrupted bourgeois, Comrades!") can take an apparent course to lose its diametric reactionary edge and join the ranks of the world's Frank Zappa's and Nagarjuna's.