I’m reading Dennett’s “Breaking the Spell” at the moment.
I’ve made it clear I’m a fan of Dennett as a pragmatic philosopher, unlike Dawkins as an unreconstructed logical positivist scientist. Their language and quality of argument are chalk and cheese. “Breaking the Spell” is explicitly an argument against god and religion aimed at an American Christian audience. That said the chapter “Belief in Belief” reads philosophically like the final word in epistemology and ontology generally – it really does.
Interestingly he concludes said chapter with the conclusion of his earlier work “Darwin’s Dangerous Idea”.
Should Spinoza be counted as an atheist or a pantheist ? He saw the glory of nature and then saw a way of eliminating the middle-man ! As I said at the end of my earlier book :
“The tree of life is neither perfect nor infinite in space or time, but is actual, and if it is not Anselm’s “Being greater than which nothing can be conceived” it is surely a being that is greater in detail than anything any of us will ever conceive in detail worthy of its detail. Is it something sacred ? Yes, say I with Nietzsche. I could not pray to it, but I can stand in affirmation of its magnificance. The world is sacred.
And in summary :
“The belief that belief in God is so important that it must not be subjected to the risks of disconfirmation or serious criticism has led the devout to “save” their beliefs by making them incomprehensible even to themselves. The result is that even [those that profess belief] don’t really know what they are professing. This makes the goal of either proving or disproving God’s existence a quixotic quest – but also for that reason not very important.”
The real debate starts with the value of believing in God, despite that.