It has been awhile since I last broached this topic. But in these days of turbulence and super chaotic news cycles, a softball is a nice distraction.
So here goes. The Dawkins Scale.
Despite having heard this scale referred to in the past, I don’t recall ever seeing it nor looking it up (oddly enough). But I happened upon it late last night on Twitter, so I took a look.
Most vocal atheists tend to place themselves at a 6. Some militants go as far as 7, but most generally know that is as idiotic a conclusion (given the evidence available) as a 1 or a 2.
I used to be a 6, back in my days of being a loud and proud Atheist. But aside from that point in life, I can not really place myself anywhere. Which is interesting for a chart that is supposed to be a default rule of thumb for all of the above. Not that it is surprising.
Let’s start with me today. After I quit trying on new labels after leaving the Agnostic Atheist one behind a few years ago, I started to look at the topic differently. I used to (like many) feel it important to make my answer to the ultimate question known (mine being “No”). But I realized in time that for me anyway, the energy expended on the topic was WAY out of sync with its true importance in my life. The god question has no bearing on my life whatsoever, so it needs no attention.
I also realized that my cookie cutter answers to the question (the Agnostic Atheist stance) were redundant to my true sentiment. I don’t know suited me just fine.
No, not Maybe. Many Atheists like to strawman this position by using Maybe to try and force people to pick a side. But it doesn’t work on this cookie.
I didn’t give some ambiguous answer with an obvious lean such as Maybe or Probably Not. I said I don’t know.
Now, switching to my childhood and teenage years previous to Atheism.
Church was never a priority for my household. I can’t really use words like certainty to describe my position on a deity throughout this time because they don’t really fit. Certainty seems to entail a that I had considered the concept (or at very least, the topic was brought up at some point in my presence). But that isn’t the case. It was just something that sat in the background recesses of my mind and consciousness. A bit like the blue sky or the green leaves of summer. It was just there.
The 9th grade came along and changed that a bit. One could say that a deity went from a background concept to being fairly prominent, though not in the way that most would expect. I didn’t have a come to Jesus moment. Rather, trials in life (to borrow from the theists) made me hate God. Initially, for all He (I was young) was allowed to happen to me. But then later for all that He was allowing to happen to people around the world.
Fortunately for me (looking back), I had very little church influence in my life. Had I been part of a church, I may well have reasoned these trials away as just a part of God’s plan. But I was alone in my struggle. Which allowed my God hatred to transition into an acknowledgment of a void, as opposed to full-blown theism. A Christian to be precise (since I don’t live in Saudi Arabia).
Now, looking at the Dawkins scale, I am not sure that I can place myself in it either pre OR post Agnostic Atheist.
When I was young, I didn’t give it enough thought to really consider myself within ANY of the so-called theistic options, yet also was not what they call Pure Agnostic. When I decided to Hate God (presumably the Christian one I was familiar with), I suppose that could be seen as a one or a 2.
And then there is now. We come back to number 4, Pure Agnostic. This position on the chart being “both the existence and non-existence conclusions are equally plausible”. While it would be the closest entry point of which I could shoehorn myself into this graph, it still doesn’t fit.
I personally do not give either conclusion equal weight or probability of being correct. When I say that I do not know, I am not kidding. The topic is unimportant and impossible to analyze at this point (and possibly always will be), so I just accepted that and walked away in pretty much every way possible. Rather than focus on unknowable metaphysical problems, I try and focus on the physical.
I don’t fit the Dawkins scale. I don’t have a problem with that either, being that the whole thing is silly. It makes me question how exactly Dawkins came up with the dichotomy. If the child me is mostly outside of its confines, I have to think that there has to a cohort that he overlooked.
Indeed, I know that Dawkins and other Nu-atheists tend to not take criticisms from the Philosophy realm seriously. It shows in how rigid a doctrine that the once ambiguous Atheism has become in the hands of a generation following the 4 Horseman. Atheist or Theist . . . can’t get much more inflexible than that.
Either way, even aside from that well-deserved jab at modern Atheist culture (Atheism First! is a phrase that Trump helped me cook up), I still wonder how the I don’t Know people got overlooked. Unless it is the typical arrogant “They don’t know what they are talking about, but WE will educate them!” atheist attitude. Being Richard Dawkins, it wouldn’t surprise me.
Well, I suppose that is all folks.
If you ever looked at this chart and thought “I’m not sure . . .”, no need to feel bad. Because it is dumb and extremely narrowly focused for the highly ambiguous cohort that it is supposed to be helping sort out.