Not that they would have thought of themselves as being 'adversaries.' It just occurred to me that Dawkins published his legendary The Selfish Gene back in 1976 while Hawking's classic A Brief History of Time came out only in 1989.
So, by that token, Dawkins precedes Hawking by more than a decade when it comes to conveying the ideas of science to a general population.
But, Hawking of course became the darling of the public overtaking every other popularizer of science including the incomparable Carl Sagan.
Perhaps, it's to do with the differing subject matter of the material covered in those books or perhaps it's the 'unusual' and heroic life story of Hawking himself which helped to propel him directly to the top.
Nevertheless, Dawkins has acquired quite a lot of fame if not notoriety now a days for his books and his militant atheism. I am very happy about this. He is a scientists who pulls no punches when it comes to his religious viewpoints in contrast to most scientists.
Perhaps, it's just that the time is now right for all atheists to come out of the closet as Dawkins says ... no thinking scientist can believe in the follies of the Bible as Dawkins describes them.
Watch Dawkins tear apart all that nonsense and clearly prove how we do NOT derive our moral values from the book.
Of course, no religion is funnier in its stupidity than Hinduism. Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of ... anthropology perhaps ... knows how human religions have 'evolved' starting with religions where animals and trees and forces of nature were worshipped. You had anthropomorphic gods — multiplicities of them.
Presently, the oldest surviving form of religion still practiced by significant numbers of people — ladies and gentleman, the utter stupidity known as Hinduism.
Leave aside the stupid rituals — leave aside the fact that Hindus worship ... I mean, what do they worship in a Shiva temple? Will you explain to me, please??? What stupid mind boggling nonsense!!!
Oh, not to forget the god with 10 hands ... a female god ... another god with four heads ... one god with four hands ... only, one might say ... I mean, neuroanatomists would love to lay their hands on the brains of these gods, I guess ... to derive some interesting insights into how the mind works ... the mind of god.
Oh, I digressed from my topic: Dawkins vs. Hawking.
So, now Dawkins has become the preeminent apostle of the community of atheists ... the unanointed 'Pope' as it were.
This is not a bad development ... the real papacy is embroiled in controversies too tawdry to enumerate.
Christopher Hitchens is also a shrill critic of the idiocy called religion. Great! Bill Maher makes fun of religion — which is a great way to try and put some holes in the balloon of religion.
Perhaps all these things put together will persuade significant numbers of humans that whatever religion they may have grown up with is basically a joke.
Perhaps it'll still take quite a while for all this to happen since if we were only in need of 'leaders' who were skeptics, then you have to look no further than Thomas Jefferson.
He didn't have too many nice things to say about the literal truth of the Bible or the stories in it.
Yet, his thoughts about these things have not necessarily influenced people's thought processes in any significant manner which is sad.
People have an enormous capacity to shut off their minds to anything that they do not wish to expose their minds to. Religion happens to be one such blind spot for most people. They simply REFUSE to put religion and religious beliefs through the prism of logic.
And unfortunately, it will take quite a long while for the average man on the street to have the same sort of intellect as Jefferson or Dawkins ... not a very hopeful prognosis then.