My interest in Richard Dawkins has long been kind of on-again, off-again. Don't get me wrong, I think he's brilliant, and most of his ideas about religion and its value (or lack thereof) are quite sensible. However, he sometimes strikes me as a bit naive about religion, at least as it is practiced by many people in everyday life. In other words, in interviews I've seen, he adopts an attitude of being completely unable to understand how any sensible person can believe in a god, any more than they can believe in fairies or an invisible pink unicorn (those are examples I've heard Dawkins himself mention). I always think, "Well, c'mon, he must have known intelligent religious people in his life...people he respected, but with whom he strongly disagrees." But I've been reading about his "Scale of Theistic Probability," which makes me think he understands gradations of belief much better than he sometimes lets on. The scale (as Wikipedia presents it) is as follows:
Dawkins has said in interviews that he is a 6 on this scale, or perhaps closer to a 6.9. These days I find myself somewhere in the vicinity of a 6 as well, although I can tell you that, over the past decade or so, I've gone back and forth between 2 and 6 a lot. (Today, for some reason, I feel like I'm closer to a 5. Don't ask me why...)
Apparently, an American chemical engineer named Libb Thims expanded the scale out to a 10-point version, as he believed that the 7-point version didn't adequately describe all the gradations of belief. The problem with the Thims version is that he only adds descriptions above the 7 level: 8 is "beyond atheism," 9 is "beyond 110% sure there is no God," and 10 is "Goetheanist," which apparently refers to someone who simply doesn't understand the point of debate. Levels 8, 9, and 10 seem to me to be different ways of stating the same thing: "I have no need of that hypothesis" essentially means the person is so sure (110%, whatever that means), that they think the debate is meaningless. Therefore, Thims's 8, 9 and 10 are useless. So I think Dawkins's scale with 7 points will do just fine.