Earlier today, John Loftus posted two segments of video footage of a discussion involving Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. The discussion is about two hours long. There are a lot of problems with the assertions and arguments made by the four participants, but I want to focus on one point made by Daniel Dennett, a point that the other three men seemed to agree with.
Around 35 minutes into the first hour, there was an exchange about competition among scientists. Supposedly, the fact that scientists compete with one another, have motives for arguing against the theories of other scientists, etc. gives science a significant advantage over religion. Daniel Dennett claimed, with emphasis, that there's "nothing like that" in religion, and the other three men indicated that they agreed, either by saying so or by gesture.
Surely they would want to revise the argument, though, upon further reflection. Not only do religions like Christianity and Islam compete with one another in the modern world, but they also competed with each other in more significant contexts in which the evidential foundations of a religion were at stake. One of the reasons why most scholars, Christian or not, accept the historicity of the empty tomb, for example, is because the evidence indicates that the earliest Jewish opponents of Christianity acknowledged the fact. Jesus was executed, and the earliest church leaders were persecuted and put to death, by competitors. As I've noted in previous discussions concerning issues like New Testament authorship and the historicity of the infancy narratives, some of the most significant evidence we have is hostile corroboration. It's not just that many ancient Jews or Romans, for example, would have been interested in arguing against Christianity, but also that many within professing Christianity - Gnostics, Marcionites, Ebionites, etc. - had reasons for wanting to dispute popular Christian beliefs. Claims such as that Jesus was a descendant of David, that His tomb was empty, or that a document was written by the apostle John, for example, were made and maintained in contexts in which people would have had the desire and means to argue effectively against such beliefs if they were false.
In the modern world, scholars working in religious fields often go through the same sort of process of competition that scientists practice. When the large majority of relevant scholars affirm the historicity of the empty tomb or the early Christians' belief that they saw the risen Christ, for example, those are conclusions that scholars have reached in an atmosphere of competition. Christianity didn't originate as a state religion that disallowed competition or as a religion that was unchallenged or uninterested in competition, and it isn't such a religion in today's world.