As we were well aware at the time, our discussion of Dan Dennett in the episode was lame. He didn't fit with the other authors, we'd nearly run out of steam by the time we got to him, and the other guys were certainly not interested enough in him to warrant a follow-up recording or anything of that sort. So, it was mostly me giving a half-assed recap (which I edited down considerably, as the monologue was getting tiring), and frankly, he deserves better than that. So, for those of you that are interested, here he is giving an in depth account of the very same section of the book we discussed:
Watch on YouTube.
Note that Dennett's speech starts around 11 minutes in (though the story about his illness that Dawkins tells in the introduction is interesting, I thought: the point being the Nietzschean secular one that being grateful to God shouldn't lead one to ignore all the actual people and institutions that there are to be grateful to).
There are plenty of propositions that we personally can't justify but which we believe are true based on deference to expertise, such as the more technical parts of science that we hear about and sort of understand. On the episode, I described this fact about the human condition as being hijacked by religious authorities, who encourage their flocks to similarly cede intellectual authority to them. Dennett is actually more charitable to all parties than I described, but he makes a more daring point: it's not that the clergy themselves pretend to understand theological truths just like professional physicists understand the minutae of mathematical physics in our stead. It's that the clergy (at least those arguing in favor of an apophatic theology, unlike, say, Swinburne) proudly declare that the central tenets of their faiths cannot be understood by we limited mortals.
In this lecture, we can see where Dennett and Harris are similar: they both slam moderates. Whereas Schleiermacher sees it as a matter of maturity in religious thought that we outgrow a concrete God with a Zues-like personality, Dennett sees this a gradual, historical retreat in the face of skepticism. He likes using the "emperor has no clothes" analogy: it's as if the spectators in that story in the face of the observance that the emperor has no clothes just redefined "clothes" so that we mortals were no longer competent to say whether such "clothes" were present or not.
I'll admit to some sympathy with this point. The religious urge has a basis in experience; I think part of our emotional data certainly suggests that more is going on than is observable, but appropriating this into the "brand loyalty" of theism seems a historical artifact to me.
Re. his point about belief in belief, I find his analogies compelling. Love, as he states, is one of those phenomena where pretending is part of the act of creation. If you've proclaimed your love to your partner, but then the both of you are constantly analyzing, out loud, whether you really love each other, that's not going to help the relationship. He had a couple of other vivid ones. Are these comparable to the believer-in-belief's fear that if he or she admits doubt, this will lead to social collapse? I don't see any evidence that this is actually a wide-spread fear, and he freely admits that we can't know how wide-spread it is (because, of course, those afraid-to-doubt people can't admit they're in doubt). Whenever you second guess people's own reports to make generalizations like this, you're on shaky ground, and if Dennett is as much in favor of science as he claims, then I'd like to see at least something on par with Gilligan's interviews to back up this claim that there's widespread fear-based fakery going on among intelligent believers. Instead, his claim is specifically designed to resist such investigation. Now, there are many interesting philosophers (Nietzsche, again, comes sharply to mind) that rely on such an anecdote/personal-insight-based methodology (i.e. they're bullshitting), but we should not be seeing that out of someone who specifically scolds those philosophers for not backing up their claims with empirical data.
As Wes said on the episode, Dennett is "interesting." He provides a fresh framework for thinking about things: in this case the historical evolution of ideas. So I walk away from it with a new toy to bat around, but not much of a sense as to whether it amounts to much of anything scientifically.
Edit: Thanks to Evan for pointing me after I posted this to some actual interviews Dennett did about this (http://www.epjournal.net/filestore/EP08122150.pdf), so maybe he has met the Gilligan minimal threshold. In Breaking the Spell, he talks in general about having done a lot of interviewing of religious folks about what they believe, why, and how, but those details are not generally given in the book itself. Regardless, the generalization still seems very much a hypothesis, not a finding to be reported on with the confidence that he is in this video.