"Agnostics are merely closet atheists. Why, you might just as well be agnostic about the existence of a large purple teapot orbiting Uranus. Lots of love. Dicky Dawkins."
Now, I'm agnostic about the existence of "dark matter", I'm agnostic about the existence of free will, I'm agnostic about human-induced global warming and I'm also agnostic about the existence of the Higgs Boson. I'm also (for the record) agnostic about fairies, unicorns, leprechauns, trolls and purple teapots whizzing around Uranus.
So. Fucking. What?
A literal translation of the word "agnostic" might be expressed as "no knowledge" or "without knowledge". This is integral and central to pure agnosticism, or at least to my understanding and application of it. It's merely a recognition of the fact that, at present, there may well be no meaningful and conclusive knowledge or evidences available to us with which to prove or disprove some things. We might obtain such knowledge tomorrow, or the knowledge may even already exist but hasn't been recognised or applied correctly yet. But unless and until you can show me some hard evidences then I'm afraid that all of your so-called "proofs" are in point of fact merely opinions and "beliefs" ... and I'll remain agnostic thank-you very much. So, I'm agnostic about the existence of a higher being and I'm also agnostic about the existence of extra-terrestrial teapots. Big deal!
Another thing about purple teapots. I really don't give a damn if there is one mindlessly circling Uranus. So what? It's of practically no benefit to me to know if there's one there or not. Does it contain loose tea, or teabags? Does it even have any tea in it at all? How big might it be? Do I give a shit? No. I don't. Much the same goes for fairies, trolls, unicorns and Santa Claus. However, I am most profoundly interested in the possible existence of "God", whatever it may (or may not) be. Does it exist? Is it aware of us? Does it have some purpose, some aim? Do I give a shit? Yes, actually I do. So, we can see that it's quite reasonable and possible to be agnostic about stupid things like purple teapots or ghosts and at the same time be agnostic about important things like the nature of free will or the possible existence of some higher being. The difference lies in whether you actually give a shit about getting an answer or not.
And for another thing ... I have absolutely NO reason to believe that there's a flying teapot out there doing it's thing. I can, however, think of quite a few perfectly reasonable things that may lead me to ask if there's a God or not. Whether there fucking is one or not is irrelevant! I think I'll leave that little argument right there as it plainly speaks for itself.
So ... I repeat, I don't care whether it's about the tooth fairy, the Higgs boson or the Almighty himself. If you have no hard evidence to back up a claim then it's deceitful, closed minded and ultimately downright dangerous to claim that science can provide an unequivocal "answer". Here's a quote from a scientist who I consider to be infinitely more worthy of the respect that Dawkins could only dream of demanding:
"When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
Arthur C Clarke.
I hope I've gone some way here to exposing just one of Dicky's straw-man-isms for what it actually is. Questionable. Hollow. Full of piss and wind. Churlishly subjective ...
... and very, very unscientific.
EDIT - 18.06.09 - It has been pointed out to me that the Teapot quote should actually be attributed to Bertrand Russell. Fair enough. However, it's still true to say that Dicky uses and endorses this spurious argument (at least when looked at scientifically) extensively in his "book" so it makes little to no real difference to the point I'm making.
This bits going to sting. It has also been pointed out to me that in my zeal to reveal Dicky's strawman argumentation, I may have committed the very same crime myself. Although I do point out that Dicky rates himself as a 6 (later he said in an interview 6.9) on Dicky Dawkins' Scale of Atheism, I may have not been very fair or specific (I was right, that stings like fuck). My point remains however that the teapot analogy only stands up within the context of belief systems. It is NOT a scientific refutation of the possible existence of a higher being in any way shape or form (stinging a bit less now =P). I consider my moral obligation to fairness and honesty now discharged. *still smarting just a bit*