Adding more axis to the Dawkins spectrum

I just came across the Spectrum of theistic possibility, also known as the Dawkins spectrum due to Richard Dawkins popularizing the spectrum in his book The God Delusion. According to Dawkins, the spectrum has seven milestones of range in which one may often find their ideas regarding (a)theism:

  1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: “I do not believe, I know.”
  2. De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. “I don’t know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there.”
  3. Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. “I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.”
  4. Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. “God’s existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.”
  5. Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. “I do not know whether God exists but I’m inclined to be skeptical.”
  6. De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. “I don’t 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.”

But after reading about the political compass, which expands the range of one’s political ideals to a wider map than the political spectrum, I realized that the Dawkins spectrum could also use a similar expansion of range for placing one’s ideas about (non-)belief, spirituality, ethics and so on.

Potentially, there are quite a few axis to add to the Dawkins spectrum:

  • From Accommodationism to rejection – regarding the question of whether it would be better to work alongside religious persons/forces for the uplift of society with or without a critique of religious ideologies;
  • State involvement with religion –  Ranging from full separation of religion and state to outright institutionalization of religion in state affairs.
  • Trust of scientific advances – Ranging from full trust of modern science to outright distrust and hostility.
  • Social integration – Ranging from proactive integration of diversely-traited groups of people (women, ethnicities, LGBT) into society to hostility against integration and related “liberal” policies.
  • General supernatural encounters – Ranging from personal accounts of certain events in one’s life as being of a supernatural nature to dismissing similar phenomena as being of a natural or psychological origin.

These questions very often come up in a lot of the atheist/freethought blogs which I’ve read over the years (especially Hemant Mehta’s The Friendly Atheist), and they come up repeatedly. The replies from commenters in these blogs reveal a lot about their individual perceptions regarding the role of religious-motivated institutions in society (and secular alternatives/analogues). So I think expanding the spectrum to a Dawkins compass would allow people to reveal more about their belief systems.


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