Given the history of humanity we have absolutely no reason to be optimistic about "beneficient progress". Most technologies, including medicine, arise from military or economic competition, and great conflicts continue to loom in terms of use of the planet's resources. Such philosophical/spiritual speculations in which we are engaged here may be no more than a mental luxury of "Westerners" who "forget" they utilise twenty five times per capita of resources than the poorest countries.

In the light of the above, Dawkins (et al) may ultimately make more sense than some of us might care to admit.