Dawkins scale

Dawkins scale

In religion, Dawkins scale is a semi-popular tool used by people (and particularly scientists), among themselves, to quantify belief in the existence of god, in a numerical way (1-10). One's Dawkins number (1-12) is thus a numerical way to represent a person's religious outlook. [1]

The original Dawkins scale, shown below (or pictured adjacent), was first presented in the popular 2006 book The God Delusion by English evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, who used a 7-point Likert scale, assigning 1 to strong belief in god and 7 to strong disbelief in god.

The fact that 1-7 range does not adequately capture all points of view is evidenced by the votes of 8 in the 2009 Yahoo Answers query on the question. [7] The scale was extended to the 10-point range by American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims in 2009, in response to various email conversations with scientists on the question of whether or not objection to thermodynamic application to human existence was religiously-based or not. Thims thereafter began to query other scientists as to their stance on the matter, some opinions of which are shown below, and also to list known and or estimate Dawkins numbers in Hmolpedia biographies, signified by "DN:#", e.g. Paul Dirac (DN=7), meaning that, based on published views on the hypothesis of god, he was Dawkins # 7 atheist.

The following is the extended 10-point Dawkins scale, showing the original 7-point range, with the inclusion of numbers in the 8-10 range; though, to note, some have responded with numbers in the 0 to negative range, as well as 11+ range:

Belief in the Existence of God

1Strong theist. 100 percent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung (IQ=160), ‘I do not believe, I know.’DN1
2Very high probability but short of 100 percent. De facto theist. ‘I cannot know for certain, but strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.’DN2
3Higher than 50 percent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. ‘I am very certain, but I am inclined to believe in God.’DN3
4Exactly 50 percent. Completely impartial agnostic. ‘God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.’DN4
5Lower than 50 percent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. ‘’I don’t know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.’DN5
6Very 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.’DN6
7Strong atheist. ‘I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung ‘knows’ there is one.’DN7

Beyond atheism (110% sure there is no God): "Do not prefer to be associated with term ‘a-theist’ to the same extent that I do not prefer to be associated with the term ‘a-fairyist’ in the sense that I am an adherent to a disbelief in tooth fairies"; Pierre Laplace (IQ=190), who in 1802 commented to Napoleon that he has "no need of that hypothesis", might well fall in this range. DN8
vertical barBeyond 110% sure there is no God
(well read in comparative religion and mythology)

9Somewhere between "beyond atheism" ...

10 Consider the entire discussion to be something akin to a flat earth theory debate; albeit a topic that irritatively seems to rear its head, recurrently, in modern scientific discussions concerning human activity. A human being is molecule, whose synthesis, movements, and future are governed by scientific laws. God is a defunct theory of olden days, used to reconcile questions that were then unanswerable; whose current following or belief, for 72 percent of the world’s populous (religions), is nothing but reformulated Egyptian mythology, centered around the 5,000 BC story of the birth of the sun god Ra out of the land mound Nun. Goetheanist
vertical barVery "hardened" scientist range
No God
No Spirituality (spirits/supernatural forces)
Yes Morality (physical chemistry based)

Dawkins comments, in his 2006 book, as to his own position on the scale, that he is in the 6 to 7 range: [1]

“I count myself in category 6, but leaning towards 7. I am agnostic only to the extent that I am agnostic about fairies at the bottom of the garden.”

In 2008, American science humanist writer Christopher Sisk created a set of 14 images (7 for light backgrounds and 7 for dark) of the Dawkins scale, shown above, that people can download and put on their blog to show where he or she stands on the scale. [5] Dawkins considers himself to be “in category 6” along with most of the atheists he knows. When queried as to Einstein’s position on the scale, Sisk reasons that Einstein would have fallen at level 6, based on several of Einstein’s quotes, e.g. that “he does not believe in a personal God”, that he considers “the word of God to be nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses”, and that he considers the Bible to be a collection of childish primitive legends.
Dawkins scale
A 2011 Dawkins scale made by Tumblr user Jon Webb, a high school student who defines himself as an intelligent Christian and on the scale comments: “Practically I’m a 1. Logically I’m a 2. The existence of God cannever be proven100% true, but I live like it is because I am 100% convinced that it is true.” [11]

The range of level 10 was added on by American chemical engineer Libb Thims in a 2009 discussion with Irish nanophysicist Philip Moriarty, who when queried by Thims as to his possible underlying religious motives, regarding his objections to human chemistry and human thermodynamics, commented:

“I am what Richard Dawkins would classify as a level 6 ‘agnostic’ - agnostic in the sense that although I cannot prove that there is or isn't a god, there are an infinite number of possibilities I can't definitively disprove.”

Thims commented back, after reading the Dawkins scale (something he had never heard of before): [2]

“In the Dawkins scheme, I would be level 10, but I don’t like the word atheist (I like the word scientist better). I've read over 50 books on religion (currently practiced, and active (about 18 main varieties), mythology, Egyptology, etc., and I know very clearly as to the background of most of the 10,000+ gods to have come and gone as well as the active ones. In the future, I might do some modern clarification videos on these topics (e.g. is there a god, what happens when you die, good vs evil, etc.), but I am somewhat hesitant, as these get very emotional for many.”

The professor than commented back:

“There is no ‘level 10’ in the Dawkins scheme. I was brought up in a very devout Catholic family and ‘kicked against’ religion from the age of nine (when I began to ask questions about the ludicrous concept of transubstantiation in Catholicism). You may therefore understand my irritation at the inference that my arguments are religiously driven. Please try not to throw around accusations of that type in the future when there is no evidence to support them.”

In 2010, Georgi Gladyshev, a Russian physical chemist, commented to Thims on this scale: [3]

“I believe, like you, I am closer to the 10 point range.”

On 21 April 2010, South African chemical physicist Adriaan de Lange commented to Thims that:

“As for the Dawkins scale and your modification of it, I probably belong to level 1. But I have to qualify it. Since my 1982-83 discovery, I have become extremely skeptical on how other believers model their knowledge of god. They use metaphors from many walks of life coming from the public knowledge of others. Thus they suppress their own personal knowledge. Because of this, you will probably have to place me in level 10 (your scale). Like St Paul writes, that which we see is but an image in a mirror, not the real thing.”

In Aug 2010, English biologist Mark Janes commented on the scale to Thims: [8]

“Regarding the Dawkins scale I cannot easily place myself because I don't believe in a super natural entity that designed and created the universe so I would be a strict 7. However my theory that there is a natural arrow of time driving increasing order in the universe to a point where life becomes God like or my appropriately very stable (Iron instability arrow of time). I do, however, still believe in the long term effect of the 2nd law. So in terms of the classical definition I am a strict 7. However I do think people are entitled to their belief as long as they are peaceful and respect others belief so perhaps that drops me to a < 6. It's very interesting, thanks for showing this to me. I used to be a strong 10 for fifteen years, but the effect of belief on human evolution and its production of scientific logic gave it some limited justification. I am actually an atheist. My philosophy on God is as described by yourself a response to free energy, so called islands of negative entropy and a 'future' evolutionary level of human consciousness not some unsupportable metaphysical entity.”

To exemplify that this topic rears its head in origin of life discussions, Gladyshev includes a two-page discussion on the role of divine initiation in his chapter on the evolution of living systems, in which he builds his theory “without the concept of God”, instead putting his "belief in "the general laws and exact theories created by Rudolf Clausius, Willard Gibbs, and other classics of modern science.” [4]
Entropy Demystified (god)
Excerpt on God and heat death from Israeli physical chemist Arieh Ben-Naim's 2007 book Entropy Demystified (indicative of DN: 5-6); a published view that seems, however, seems to conflict with a 2011 email query (adjacent) in which he considers himself to be a Dawkins number 11-12 or higher. [9]

In his 2007 book Entropy Demystified, Israeli physical chemist Arieh Ben-Naim commented devoted a short section to heat death and god (pictured adjacent) in which he argued, supposedly in a joking manner, that since the Genesis story states that in the beginning there the universe was created from chaos, that this contradicts the big bang theory of the universe starting from a low entropy or ordered initial state. [9] When queried about this section in 2011 and his views on god in relation to the Dawkins scale, Ben-Naim stated: [10]

“I looked at the SCALE. I do not fit there, perhaps you should add me at number 11 or 12 or higher.... When I was a boy I used to say that ‘I don't believe in god.’ Later, I realized that even that statement is not correct. Now, if someone asks me ‘Do you believe in god?’ I say I don't understand the question, and I ask: ‘What is god?’ I really do not know what people are talking about when they say ‘GOD’.”

And on the underlying motive for adding the adjacent god section to his 2007 book, he stated:

“What you have written in the site about me is totally wrong. I never discussed anything about god. I did mention the Bible but that was as a kind of joke, that everyone who read it understood the jock. And besides the whole paragraph had nothing to do with the main content of the book. I recommend you to read the entire book.”

People who give evasive answers to the existence of god question, like Ben-Naim, and who write ontic opening books, like Ben-Naim, tend to harbor some hidden or closeted belief, that may tend to emerge into one's last decade, i.e. so-called "Kauffman slide" phenomenon, named after Stuart Kauffman, who went from 1995 self-proclaimed "humanist atheist" (Ѻ) to 2008 sneak god in via ontic openings writer.

The utility of the scale is that it often works to clear up the matter of what exactly a person is objecting to when it comes to applying chemistry and physics to the modeling of human behavior. If a person is strongly religious and an adherent to a realistic interpretation of a religious text as being factual, the person will often tend to object to what science has to say on an overlapping topic, solely on the basis that it conflicts with scripture, or what the person considers to be the ‘word of god’ and thus unquestionable. When, conversely, a person’s religious convictions or ulterior motivations remain hidden, it becomes difficult to see from where the emotional reaction concerning the objection to theory stems?

One example is German writer Christoph Wieland’s 1810 letter (which he suggested should be burned after it is read) to his close friend German philologist and archeologist Karl Böttiger stating that German polymath Johann Goethe’s 1809 treatise on human chemical affinities is nonsense: "To all rational readers, the use of the chemical theory [in Elective Affinities] is nonsense and childish fooling around." [6] One is quite puzzled by this statement, on first pass, in that Goethe’s presentation is very accurate? The puzzlement disappears, however, after one reads that Wieland considered Geothe’s book to be a "truly horrible work", objecting solely based on the radicalness of its Christianity.

A more recent example includes American physical chemist John Wojcik’s 2006 Rossini debate response letter, to the Journal of Chemical Education, in objection to American chemical thermodynamicist Frederick Rossini 1971 conception of using chemical thermodynamics to develop a type of political thermodynamics, wherein Wojcik comments with emotional aggressiveness that “worst of all, there is the danger that chemical thermodynamics will have ascribed to it a power that it simply does not have, namely, the power to ‘explain’ the human condition. There may be a sense in which chemistry is the ‘Central Science’. This is certainly not it.” On first pass, knowing that Rossini’s postulate if quite accurate and applicable, one is quite puzzled by Wokcik’s objection? After digging into his background, however, the issue becomes resolved when we find out that he is a professor of physical chemistry at the Catholic-based Villanova University, Pennsylvania. In other words, Wokcik's reaction to this type of application stems from the fact that he is a Catholic.

1. Dawkins, Richard. (2006). The God Delusion (scale: spectrum of belief, pg. 73). Houghton Mifflin Harcout.
2. YouTube messaging (Sep 07 2009): P.M. to Libb Thims: “Re. YouTube message - there is no ‘Level 10’ in the Dawkins scheme. I was brought up in a very devout Catholic family and ‘kicked against’ religion from the age of nine (when I began to ask questions about the ludicrous concept of transubstantiation in Catholicism). You may therefore understand my irritation at the inference that my arguments are religiously driven. Please try not to throw around accusations of that type in the future when there is no evidence to support them.”
3. Email communicate from Georgi Gladyshev to Libb Thims on 22 Mar 2010.
4. Gladyshev, Georgi. (1997). Thermodynamic Theory of the Evolution of Living Beings (section: 1.3: The Origin of Life and the Role of Divine Initiation, pgs. 7-8). Nova Science Publishers.
5. Sisk, Christopher. (2008). “Dawkins Belief Scale Images”, ChristopherSisk.com.
6. Sisk, Christopher. (2008). “I’m a Six on the Dawkins Scale”, ChristopherSisk.com. May 13.
The fact that 1-7 range does not adequately capture all points of view is evidenced by the votes of 8 in the 2009 Yahoo Answers query on the question. [6]
7. What are you on the Richard Dawkins belief scale? (2009) – Yahoo Answers.
8. Email communications to Libb Thims from Mark James (09 and 11 Aug 2010)
9. Ben-Naim, Arieh. (2007). Entropy Demystified: the Second Law of Thermodynamics Reduced to Plain Common Sense (pg. 215). World Scientific Publishing Co.
10. Email communicate from Ben-Naim to Libb Thims (10 Jan 2011).
11. The Dawkins scale (2011) – Intelligent Christianity, Tumblr.com.

Further reading
● Alexis, Jones E. (2007). In the Name of Education (famous scientists on god, pg. 233). Xulon Press.

External links
Spectrum of theistic probability – Wikipedia.
● Stephens, Mitchell. (2006). “Dawkins belief scale”, Oct 22, FutureOfTheBook.org.
Where are you and the Richard Dawkin’s Belief Scale? (2008) – ZuneBoards.com.
Where do you fall on the Richard Dawkin’s Belief Scale? (2009) – MeetUp.com.
What are you and the Dawkins scale? (2010) – QuarterToThree.com.

TDics icon ns

More pages