Richard Dawkins in The God Delusion posits a spectrum of belief (in God). On one end of the spectrum are those who completely believe in God and on the other end there are those who are 100% sure there is no Supreme Being, with various options in between. Dawkins – perhaps a bit surprisingly -- does not consider himself or most of his fellow atheists to generally be on the latter end of the spectrum; instead, he considers them very close to it. They aren’t willing to say there isn’t a God; just that the possibility is so ridiculously low, that one may as well de facto operate as if He does not exist. Similar as to how one cannot say for certain that there are no fairies at the bottom of wells (after all, how do you KNOW there aren’t?), one cannot say he has empirically falsified the concept of a Supreme Being; still, the possibilities of both are so ridiculously low, one might as well operate with the general concept that they both do not exist. Dawkins calls this worldview “de facto atheism.”
I don’t view myself as particularly wise, but I must admit that I see a difference between fairies at the bottom of wells and God. We still don’t know how everything started. Whatever we find, the question will always be, “Well, where did that come from?” Even if we say that the cosmic forces which caused the creation of the world were always there, it’s pretty amazing that said forces created an ever-replenishing universe. Is it possible that such a universe could exist without something that is beyond our comprehension? Dawkins says to avoid the urge the universe thrusts upon us to see a builder, a creator -- as Avraham did in the Midrash – and say, “This is all the result of natural, materialistic, reproduction.” I’m not so sure. That’s why I can’t identify with atheism per se.
The answer to the question of if there is a plausible chance of there being a Divine though, is not to the point of religion. No, one needs to understand that there are two questions which need to be asked in order to properly explore the validity of religion. 1) Is it the most logical explanation that such a universe could exist without something that is beyond our comprehension? 2) Is it the most logical explanation that this metaphysical being interacted with us and revealed the truth?
[Tomorrow: "RE Climategate"]
[Minor update: Messed up the concept, Dawkins actually uses fairies in gardens, not wells]