I find Wilson's speculations more scientifically appealing than Dawkins'. I think religion as a social practice has far too much effect on human behavior to not be adaptive in some sense; I don't buy Dawkins' speculation in The God Delusion that religion is just a side-effect of children's uncritical acceptance of their parents' teaching. But that's not the point.
The Scientific Method is a little bit subtle. It is not just drawing logical deductions from the evidence; the Scientific Method requires the creative invention of hypotheses and theories which are justified by the evidence. It's also the case that the details of various theories drives the collection of new evidence. It's a feedback process, where the invention of theories and the evaluation of evidence both affect each other, and it is an empirical observation, not a logical necessity, that this feedback process tends to be dynamically stable and lead to well-accepted theories. (Contrast science with religion, which does not appear to be particularly dynamically stable or convergent outside of authoritarian institutions such as the Catholic Church.)
Science as a social system depends strongly on advocacy, but advocacy is very different from dogma. Dawkins is an advocate for the non-adaptationism and "accidentialism" of religion. I share Wilson's opinion that Dawkins is wrong, but I don't share Wilson's opinion that Dawkins is dogmatic or closed-minded. Nothing of Dawkins work, but much of Wilson's essay, is philosophically troubling.
Wilson opines that Dawkins is "just another angry atheist, trading on his reputation as an evolutionist and spokesperson for science to vent his personal opinions about religion." This is an outrageously tendentious ad hominem. Why shouldn't Dawkins use his scientific reputation to express his personal opinions about religion? It's not at all shameful to have personal opinions, and that Dawkins is an accomplished scientist ought to bring those opinions to the public's attention and give them at least a degree of weight. And, in The God Delusion Dawkins definitely does not trade on his scientific reputation to justify those opinions: Like any good scientist or philosopher, he presents his arguments for critical analysis.
Wilson justifies his opinion with a single quotation:
Here is how Dawkins recounts the period in his 1982 book The Extended Phenotype:The characterization of the quoted passage as "fundamentalist rhetoric" is absurd. To be fundamentalist, rhetoric must assert the authority and unerring truth of scripture. Dawkins clearly does not do so in the quoted passage. If merely negatively characterizing those one disagrees with counts as "fundamentalist rhetoric", then Wilson would clearly be guilty of the same sin.The intervening years since Darwin have seen an astonishing retreat from his individual-centered stand, a lapse into sloppily unconscious group-selectionism … We painfully struggled back, harassed by sniping from a Jesuitically sophisticated and dedicated neo-group-selectionist rearguard, until we finally regained Darwin's ground, the position that I am characterizing by the label "the selfish organism…"This passage has all the earmarks of fundamentalist rhetoric, including appropriating the deity (Darwin) for one’s own cause.
The above passage appears in a section entitled "Scientific Dogmatism". Wilson asserts that "the case against group selection began to unravel almost immediately after the publication of Adaptation and Natural Selection, although it was difficult to tell, given the repressive social climate." But Wilson gives no evidence whatsoever to substantiate this assertion, noting only philosophical quibbles with terminology. The only science he mentions is a study in 2006. Forty years does not seem to qualify as "almost immediately after" the publication of Adaptation and Natural Selection in 1966. If the case against group selection began to unravel "almost immediately", then why the heading of the very next section, "The Revival of Group Selection"?
Wilson insinuates that Dawkins commits the worst scientific sin: Getting the facts wrong.
The problem with Dawkins’ analysis, however, is that if he doesn’t get the facts about religion right, his diagnosis of the problems and proffered solutions won’t be right either.This is a contemptible insinuation, made even more reprehensible by the weasally "if". The facts are what every honest, competent person ought to uncontroversially agree on: To get the facts wrong is to exhibit dishonesty or stupidity.
But Wilson does not ever substantiate Dawkins misrepresenting actual fact. Dawkins may get the science wrong (and I think he has), but we have to be free, as honest and competent inquirers, to get the science wrong: We have to invent hypotheses which we do not know a priori are true, test them against the facts, and discard the ones we get wrong. If we make it ethically wrong to get the science incorrect, who would risk an unproven hypothesis?
I found one passage from Wilson's essay particularly disturbing:
I recently attended a conference on evolution and religion in Hawaii that provided an opportunity to assess the state of the field. It is not the case that everyone has reached a consensus on the relative importance of the major evolutionary hypotheses about religion. My own talk included a slide with the words SHAME ON US! in large block letters, chiding my colleagues for failing to reach at least a rough consensus, based on information that is already at hand. This might seem discouraging, until we remember that all aspects of religion have so far received much less attention than guppy spots from an evolutionary perspective. The entire enterprise is that new.The idea that reaching a consensus is per se a normative standard—that the failure to reach a consensus should entail shame—takes an ethical page straight from the manual of religious dogmatism. Consensus should emerge "naturally" from the facts and rational analysis of competing hypotheses, not imposed as a normative standard. And this goes double for an area of inquiry that is very new and has not yet received substantial scientific attention.
I think it is Wilson himself who, although I think has better scientific ideas, exhibits the worst characteristics of religious dogmatism, fundamentalist rhetoric, and weaselly, tendentious, fallacious debating. This is the pot calling the not the kettle but the silver spoon black. Dawkins may be wrong on the science, but Wilson is wrong, dangerously wrong, on the philosophy.
 Link fixed