There is a debate going on regarding Richard Dawkins' scale of belief. In The God Delusion, Dawkins formulated a 7-point belief scale from 1 (total belief) to 7 (total non-belief).
1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."
2. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. "I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there."
3. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."
4. Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. "God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable."
5. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. "I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical."
6. Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. "I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."
7. Strong atheist. "I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung 'knows' there is one."
Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as "1", no thinking atheist would consider themselves "7", as atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind. Dawkins considers himself to be a '6'.
The statement that "No thinking atheist would consider themselves a 7" is a rather extreme position and has been the source of much debate.
What if I were to tell you that I had a big white rabbit that talked to me and granted wishes? Would you say the burden of proof was on me to prove that I had a big, invisible, talking, magical, white rabbit or you to prove that I didn't? Where would you fall on Dawkins' scale of disbelief regarding my big white rabbit? Would you say that you were a 6 because you could not prove conclusively that there was no big white rabbit or would the absurdity of my claim be all the proof you needed to go from 99% certainty regarding big white rabbits to 100% absolute certainty that such silliness could not and does not exist? Would you allow for the possibility that some new evidence may arise at some point in the future validating my belief in large, magical, white rabbits or would you find it nearly impossible to keep an open mind about such idiocy? Is the existence of the biblical deity any less absurd then my big white rabbit?
An omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, silent, invisible deity that listens to the whispered prayers of 6 billion people at once yet allows 20,000 children a day to die of preventable illnesses and hunger? Isn't this just as nonsensical as magical invisible bunnies? And don't we just say that we believe such a thing might be possible to appear more open minded then we actually are? In reality, are not the majority of atheists no more open minded to the possibility of the biblical deity then we are to talking, invisible, white rabbits? And those who are open to the idea are so because of latent hope, fear, and or guilt left over from their early indoctrination not due to any logical or rational considerations. They are open minded because they once shared the same delusions as theists and vestiges of that delusion still remain.
On talking, invisible, white rabbits I am a non-believer 100%. Now, how would you feel if I did believe in a 6foot, invisible, talking, white rabbit that granted wishes? Would you respect my belief? Would you feel obligated to respect my belief in the big white rabbit? How would you feel if I taught my children to believe in it too? How would you feel if I taught your kids to believe in the big white rabbit, if the gospel of the big white rabbit was taught in schools and the hypothesis that the universe was authored by white rabbits was lent the same validity as the big bang theory? How would you feel if most of the songs played on the radio, the shows and movies on TV and in the theater, all celebrated the belief in the big, white, rabbit. How about if your employment options, community relations, cultural and familial bonds, political aspirations, even your choices in love and marriage were all limited because you didn't believe in the big white rabbit? What about if your kids were bullied in school for not believing? What if every politician trumpeted their belief in the big, white, rabbit, as a reason to vote for them and questioned the moral judgement of anyone who did not share their belief in talking invisible bunnies? Would you still find this belief harmless and think it should be respected? What if wars were being fought over who has the best understanding of the big white rabbits thoughts and deeds? What if people had been tortured and executed for not believing in this invisible rabbit? What if this was still occurring around the globe today? Would you still think this belief was something that should be treated with respect? Would it make a difference if some people were moved to acts of altruism because of their belief in the white rabbit? Would that change your opinion of it? Would that make it any less ridiculous and threatening? Any more worthy of our respect?
Now, what if someone were to tell you that no thinking person would consider themselves a 7 in regards to the existence of magical, invisible, talking, white rabbits? Would you not think this statement absurd? In the cold, sterile, environment of the laboratory, such strict logic is necessary (though even then, not always possible.) In the real world, it is nearly impossible. No one would say that no thinking person would be 100% certain of the non-existence of vampires and gargoyles or that no thinking person would be 100% certain of the non-existence of Daffy Duck or Superman or Mickey Mouse or Godzilla. The idea of such a thing would confound our imagination. We would find it impossible to even contemplate.
Try now to open yourself to the possibility that I have a 6foot, invisible, talking, white rabbit who grants me wishes. Can you do it? No? Then why the fuck would anyone think that I could force myself to entertain the possibility that the universe was created by an invisible, omniscient, omnibenevolent deity that allows all manner of atrocities to befall the beings he professes to love, who is intimately concerned with the sexual habits of his creations, who sentences them to eternal hell for not believing in him when he chooses to remain hidden, and who created a paradise for his creations but yet chose to put them here on earth to suffer rather than letting them live in paradise? Sorry, Mr. Dawkins, but this brotha is a 7.