The Dawkins’ Scale can be found in ‘The God Delusion’, a highly recommended book for any religious folk with a seed of doubt.
The scale is also for atheists looking to brush up on arguments and counterarguments, should they ever feel inclined to do battle on the intellectual landscape.
I don’t agree with number 7.
Atheism deals with belief, Agnosticism with knowledge. In my understanding, 7 Strong Atheist: should read – “I am 100% certain I don’t believe in god.”
You see no epiphany on the horizon that’s going to give you pause to reconsider any particular god as your preferred and thus ‘True’, but we remain in the domain of belief, which does not necessitate you to commit one way or another to any prospect, no matter how patently absurd.
Humpty Dumpty Sat on the Wall…
The argument can therefore be made that a person is sitting on the fence, and should choose sides, but from the perspective of a belief, by definition can’t claim to know one way or the other, otherwise you wouldn’t need to believe it’s true, you would say you know it’s true.
Once you make the assertion that you know it’s true, you’re bound with the duty of proving your statement. There’s no need to claim you know that Humpty Dumpty does not exist, you can be content to likening it to a whole spectrum of absurd possibilities, and give a window for comedy.
Even if String Theory proves correct, and there are virtually so many Universes out there, that anything we can imagine to exist most assuredly does somewhere, it would leave our particular Universe with an incredibly low statistical chance of hosting any given god from our scriptures. 10 to the 500th to 1 as a statistic, it would seem.
Dawkins’ Scale and Labels
If you engage a theist in debate and you clearly articulate the difference between a lack of belief and an assertion of knowledge, then it dampens their approach to focus on how you cannot prove there is no god, so the claim of their personal god existing is as valid as not believing.
That’s where labels – Atheist, Theist – any word that falls in between, can be conversation stoppers, or perverse an otherwise civil discourse and a free exchange of ideas.
If you approach a theist and tell them you’re an adamant atheist and you try and make them feel stupid, and insult them, they are going to box you into a preconception that is not going to give you the ability to penetrate their defenses with any argument thereafter.
If the person you’re speaking to can’t label you – or to the extent they are unable to completely label you – then they’ll be more open to a discussion. Once they get to know you and learn you’re atheist – or whatever you are or are not – they will be less likely to dismiss you out of hand.
Of course you can still make strong arguments against their ideas, but presented in a more interested, engaged discourse… as hard as that might seem at times.
However, an intellectually honest atheist will hold the door open to the consideration of a belief or idea no matter how improbable, though that is not to say the atheist needs to take the proposition seriously.
Holding the door open to the possibility there is a pot of gold at the end of every rainbow that forms on some distant planet in a far away galaxy does not mean that you need to devote any time exploring the notion.
I don’t understand quantum theory – it’s said if you think you do, you don’t, so it’s futile to claim otherwise I suppose – but I know ‘whacky’ things happen there that don’t on the scale of existence our senses perceive.
We know the visible spectrum of light is severely limited to us. Radio waves, microwaves, electromagnetic waves, and on we go, are surrounding us like a soup. But we can’t sense them directly with our everyday tools of awareness and know it for what it is. If any can with any precision, they’re few.
There’s entanglement, particles being able to exist in any one spot, or all spots simultaneously at once, at any given time, and of course the old experiment showing a particle can be a wave, or a particle.
The idea that you can fold tiny dimensions at the string level in 10 to the 500th power gives credence to the notion that anything that can be imagined has, had, and will have again, played out countless times and with countless slight variations countless more.
In such a Multi-Verse your favorite god might exist. I don’t know. But the chances of it being in this particular Universe, well… I just can’t be convinced.
On the Dawkins’ scale I’d have to go with a 6, though in my interpretation as outlined above, I’d be a 7 on the Dawkins’ Scale.
Where do you see yourself fitting into on the Dawkins’ Scale, if at all?
The below video is an interview on the ‘God Delusion by Richard Dawkins’ recommended reading, with the Canadian talk show host George Stroumboulopoulos.