Note on the Dawkins Scale and De Facto Certainty

To my knowledge, Dawkins describes himself as a 6 (or, more specifically, a 6.9--see Bill Maher interview) on principle. A scientist must remain open to evidence. Whereas theists can say as an article of faith that they are 100% certain that there is a god, scientists will as a matter of principle avoid phrasing things in terms of absolute certainties. Karl Popper described the history of science as the history of "conjectures and refutations."  Scientific knowledge is not held dogmatically.  This is because science is self-revising.  Scientific hypotheses are subject to revision when new data come in.  The position of absolute certainty is the bread and butter of the religious faithful.  Religious 'facts' are based on faith, and faith requires no empirical justification. Science however requires evidence; a claim is accepted as true to the extent that there is evidence for it.  The possibility exists however that new evidence could require that we revise or even throw out previously accepted hypotheses and theories.  From a scientist's point of view, 100% certainty in all scientific claims is untenable.  100% certainty would require some amount of faith. That having been said, we can be 99.99999% or sufficiently certain about the truth values of certain propositions, e.g., the Earth is round, or the arrow of time is moving in the direction of increased entropy, etc. And one may even say that if there is an absolute lack of evidence that something exists, one can be sufficiently certain that it does not exist. Consider the situation of entering an empty room with no discernible table, but a man tells you there is a table and that you can not disprove the existence of the table. You check the room thoroughly and come to the conclusion that either your sensory apparatus is seriously impaired, or the man's claim is false. Unfortunately, in the case of the universe, we are not dealing with a small, empty room. We can not discern all that is in the cosmos. But I will say that the idea of a 'personal creator' that feels passion of any kind is rather ridiculous, and this should be apparent to anyone who gives it a moment of serious thought.

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