Apart from being a very intelligent witty and gifted writer Richard Dawkins is also a brave man in my opinion.
Here are some of the claims Dawkins brings to the table:
1. Science deals with facts and religion with fantasy and subjective feelings. Science will hit bedrock from time to time, religion will just dabble on forever. It is sloppy and plain wrong to label science as a new religion with prophets. You have no understanding of the term religion.
2. The burden of proof for the existence of God or a particular God rests on the believers. I could challenge you to disprove the existence of The Flying Spaghetti Monster and you would label me as silly or deranged. You challenge me to disprove Allah or the Judeo-Christian God and suddenly it seems very sensible to you. It's not; TFSM and Allah is on the same plane. It's just that Allah has had a couple of billions of followers. That doesn't make the claim that he exists right or relevant. I can claim a million things that are true... so what? Why should you care.
3. Religion is a parasite on a much older Moral sense endowed in humans. The Old Testament for example is a horror house of evil behaviour, especially on God's behalf. Live on that basis and you will live immorally. Then you go and find the bits in the old and the new Testament which ARE morally sound. But how did you do that? You already knew that, you made the judgment, the Bible is not the basis for morality, although it contains some valid moral principles. Morality is best of without religion, it's doing fine on it's own.
4. The monotheistic religions are highly in-out group centered. They are exclusive in the extreme and can therefore easily be used as justifications for segregation, persecutions, murder and territorial expansions. So, there is religion at the root of a great deal of conflict in the world which many people are afraid to adress openly. Dawkins is accused of contributing every evil in the world to religion but he obviously does not do that. When speaking about the conflict of Northern Ireland, for example, in his new book, he mentions and acknowledges all the historical reasons as well.
Why does Dawkins piss so many wellmeaning people off?
Well, he is logically consistent; we don't want or aren't able to believe in God but still like that warm fuzzy feeling that "belief in belief" (Daniel Dennett's term) gives us and have a sort of loophole open to blurry concepts from the New Age department - for instance the I-M model (a kind of Santa Claus worldview).
We are also afraid to actually take a stand on these issues because what the community might say and the fundamentalists do. I live in Denmark, I work at the newspaper which you all know so well, so I have first hand experience with the rage and irrationality parts of the Muslim world is able to express.
Dawkins is also very polemical, partly because of the reason above, it IS time to take off the gloves or a lot of the things we value could go down the drain, and partly because he is a coldblooded British intellectual who has probably lost his patience with the dogma and the ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ (in Harry G. Frankfurt's use of the term.)