As I’ve been writing, it seems to me that it’s a good idea to explain a “tool” I’ll be using at certain points to describe degrees of theistic belief, or lack thereof.
In his book “The God Delusion” (which I highly recommend), Richard Dawkins lays out a 7-point scale that defines degrees of agnosticism, from 100% belief to 100% non-belief. In this case, I’m going to cut-and-paste a slightly easier to understand version adapted by Christopher Sisk on his web site.
- Strong Theist: I do not question the existence of God, I KNOW he exists.
- De-facto Theist: I cannot know for certain but I strongly believe in God and I live my life on the assumption that he is there.
- Weak Theist: I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.
- Pure Agnostic: God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.
- Weak Atheist: I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.
- De-facto Atheist: I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable and I live my life under the assumption that he is not there.
- Strong Atheist: I am 100% sure that there is no God.
I consider myself to be a 6: De-facto Atheist. Dawkins himself claims to be 6-7. Personally, I think 7 is just being unreasonable, at least right now. It’s true that there’s no proof that God exists, but there’s also no proof that God doesn’t exist, and unfortunately there never will be, because it’s impossible to prove that something doesn’t exist (if something doesn’t exist, it can’t exactly leave evidence of its nonexistence). And, a #1 is just insane. Those people are delusional.
Anyway, I’ll be referring to this scale in future posts, because it’s a lot easier to just point to a number on a chart and say “that one” than try to define a degree of belief in relation to other degrees of belief