Why The Surprise?

In The God Delusion (pages 50-1 in my 2006 copy), Richard Dawkins defines a spectrum of beliefs concerning the existence of God. He illustrates his spectrum with 7 categories. Category 1 is “Strong theist” (it’s not belief, it’s knowledge) while category 7 is “Strong atheism” (like category 1 it’s not belief, it’s knowledge). Dawkins tells us that his own views fall in the upper range of category 6, “Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist.” He says, “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.”
This has been Dawkins’ very consistent position. So it should not surprise anyone, including Sir Anthony Kenny, that Dawkins would say that the probability of God not existing 6.9 out of seven. While being quite aware of some of Dawkins’ views as expressed in The God Delusion, Kenny seems surprised at Dawkins’ “agnosticism.” No one should be. There are very few nonbelievers, and even few nonbelievers who reflect on the matter, that would put themselves in category 7. Category 7 is just as irrational as is category 1.
See the video clip of part of the discussion at The Telegraph website.
For news reports to run headlines like “Most Famous Atheist Hedges On God” and “World’s most notorious atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is in fact agnostic” is no more responsible than it is surprising. News outlets seldom do their homework and if they do, they always like the sensation spin better than the mundane facts.