Indeed. As Lovelock himself pointed out, most scientists are locked into just looking at one or two problems, sometimes just one or two aspects of a problem, enslaved almost. And it's getting worse. Perhaps for many of the reasons below.
Dawkins is pushing for reason instead of blind faith... yes, he chooses public forums and to be "saved" in athiesm....
This makes him an evangelist?
In a word, yes. You've made a better case for that than I ever could with your prior quote.
Public forums are how politicians get elected, how commercials push products and how several public services are annouced... are we all "Cultural Christians"?
No. Dawkins explains it in these terms.
I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims...I like singing carols along with everybody else
I think the full quote notes how he still goes to Church and such.
As for scientific credentials; Dawkins is still winning awards for science, has worked as a professor, has a long history in evolutionary biology and has a long, successful sceintific career.
If it weren't for the books for laypeople, he would have been out on his arse. Do a simple search of his scientific output using Web of Science.
I believe his actual last first author scientific paper was in 1981. Since then he has contributed to a few, but they are far more overwhelmed by opinion pieces in august publications such as New Scientist, Scientific American and the Times Literary Supplement.
In the UK, each academic department has to submit to a review every couple of years, a system previously known as a Research Assessment Exercise and currently known as the Research Excellence Framework. Essentially each academic submits four selected papers which they believe represents a portfolio of their most significant contributions to science in the intervening years. These are then judged by peer review for their significance in the international context. The better the body of work, the better the scientist does, and the more scientists like that submitted in one of these reviews, the more likely an academic department is to survive thanks to government funding and attracting grants and bright students.
By any measure of this, Dawkins is not REF submissible, and has probably not been for nearly thirty years.
For the rest of us, to fail to be REF submissible once one has the slightest modicum of scientific maturity is to essentially write the death warrant on your career. The entire system is based upon a kind of Darwinism, and I suppose it has to be.
There are many arguments as to why this is a crap system, but it does provide some measure as to whether someone is a practising scientist, and the quality and quantity of their work. When you consider Dawkins in a bibliometric sense at the very least, he stopped making an original contribution to science sometime in the eighties. Arguably his career as a scientist lasted for not much more than fifteen years, and that largely under the patronage of Niko Tinbergen. Dawkins turned to writing the Selfish Gene in 1976 because he could not keep his lab running, albeit partly because of the economic conditions of the UK at the time.
You say he is a Professor. As if that were his measure as a scientist. This is inaccurate for several reasons.
First, a technicality. He *was* a Professor. Some people are appointed Professor on their merit whereas others gain a Professorship as an endowed chair. Dawkins was one of these - appointed Charles Simonyi Professor for Public Understanding of Science (PUS). He retired and is no longer Charles Simonyi Professor for PUS. I believe Marcus du Sautoy is the incumbent Professor. As such Dawkins doesn't hold the title of Professor any more, except perhaps as an emeritus.
Secondly, and most significantly - there is a major difference between a Professor in a field of Science and a Professor in the Public Understanding of
Science. The two fields are very different. It's a bit like being a propagandist for science. I say that as someone who has been active in PUS for the last five or six years. When I go out and evangelise for science to schools and such, I feel what credibility I have as a speaker is enhanced by the fact that I'm still working as a scientist. If I became a plumber, and still did these activities in twenty years' time I'd have to think carefully!
All this said, Dawkins deserves considerable respect for his achievements in the field of public understanding of science, inf making science more accessible. But this is distinct from his achievements in science, and I also believe that he compromises his achievements in the former by his style, but that's just my taste.
My main criticism is that to portray him as someone at the cutting edge of science is to misrepresent him fundamentally. And that opens up several questions about what he actually has to tell his audience - (because unquestionably, every speaker implies loyalty to their version of things - I'm asking you to buy in to this post in the way RD asks his audience to buy into his take on rationality!) when it is presented as science from a practicing scientist. I'm sure we're all familiar with Gillian McKeith "Ph.D." and her message as a more extreme example of this phenomenon and its repercussions.