On the 23rd February 2012 Professor Richard Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams debated at Oxford University on the topic “Human Beings & Ultimate Origin”. During this debate Professor Dawkins admitted (paraphrasing) “he was not 100% certain god does not exist” (at 1:11:40) and the reaction from the theistic community has been extraordinary. The exposé currently sprawling over the internet like a mould scores the title ”Richard Dawkins, Famous Atheist, Not Entirely Sure God Doesn’t Exist”, or “Richard Dawkins Reveals He Is Agnostic”
Of course this revelation is neither surprising nor newsworthy, but that does not prevent the desperate faithful from jamming their god into the 0.1 hole left open by Professor Dawkins. “Ah ha!” they exclaim, “You don’t know something! THAT’s where my god resides.”
In his book “The God Delusion” Professor Dawkins proposes a sliding scale of belief ranging from 1 to 7. Those at one end of the scale are absolutely certain a god exists – they know this to be a irrefutable fact, while those on the other end are equally convinced a god absolutely does not exist. Since the later requires proving a negative (demonstrating something certainly does not exist), Dawkins places himself at 6.9 on this scale. In order words, he is almost certain a god does not exist but there may be a small chance he is wrong. Admitting this is intellectually honest; perhaps this honesty is what is so shocking to believers who are unaccustomed to such things?
“What matters is not whether God is disprovable (he isn’t) but whether his existence is probable. That is another matter. Some undisprovable things are sensibly judged far less probable than other undisprovable things. There is no reason to regard God as immune from consideration along the spectrum of probabilities. And there is certainly no reason to suppose that, just because God can be neither proved nor disproved, his probability of existence is 50 per cent.”Richard Dawkins, page 54, The God Delusion.
Evidence for gods may be hidden in parts of the universe we have not yet visited, or crevasses of knowledge not yet explored by the individual. And this is the crucial point; things which are real can be demonstrated to be so. Once evidence in favour of germs, atoms, electricity, radioactive decay, or evolution has been revealed it is very difficult not to believe these things are real.
While science may not always have a full, complete, and perfect understanding of new phenomenon the first time around, we are free to revise, update our understanding of of the universe really is based on the evidence presented. The remainder of proposed notions remain possible but unsupported, but to pretend that these are on equal footing with demonstrably real phenomenon is the height of dishonesty.
The simple fact is there seems to be zero evidence a god exists, let alone the gods described in any of the holy books on offer. This shifts the probabilities far from the naive 50/50 many people attach to agnosticism, and place the existence gods on equal footing with dragons, unicorns, fairies, gremlins, ghouls, and ghosts. While I cannot say with absolute certainty that none of these things exist, I see no credible evidence suggesting they do; so why believe?