Today I had a conversation in which Richard Dawkins, famous and or infamous atheist, came up and I am pretty sure I surprised my friend with my respect for Dawkins. Many Christians assume that folks like Dawkins--who actually have come to their conclusions out of reasonable method, noble passions, and quite often out of observance of the violence of perhaps most religion--should be approached with a level of cynicism and even disdain so much to the point that they are surprised and caught off guard when they come across a Christian who obviously disagrees fundamentally with Dawkins but can still respect his reason and his brilliance. It's important to start off with respect as we enter into dialogue, otherwise there will be no dialogue to be had. We must start with what we have in common and move forward from there. We must find ways to respect and honor those who think differently from us rather than simply approach them and their arguments with sarcasm and disdain.
For me, people like Dawkins are easier to deal with than many Christians in that though he disagrees with me about religion in general, we actually share in the fact that violence and oppression caused by Christianity and or other religions deeply unsettles us and is ultimately unacceptable to us. I don't know if I've read or heard enough of Dawkins to actually say this but I think the large majority of his critiques of Christianity are not so much based on pure logic as they are spawned from the observation and anger towards great injustices caused by religion(s). In that, I can share many of his critiques and can actually admire him in many ways.
Posted below is a good example of healthy dialogue between atheists and Christians. Below are the first two parts of the 15 part interview of Dawkins and theologian Alister McGrath with a link to the last 13parts. It's quite interesting. Check it out.
Part 3 (This link will play them all one after another)