Talk:Agnosticism/Archive 1

Page contents not supported in other languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Among the most famous agnostics (in the original sense) were Voltaire, Huxley, Charles Darwin, and Bertrand Russell."

AFAIK Voltaire was clearly a Deist not an agnostic. Anybody want to debate this before I change it?

I'm not sure whether we should consider the logical positivist attitude that God talk is nonsense as a form of agnosticism. Perhaps it should just have it's own page, or be filed under atheism... I tend to see Ayer described as an atheist far more often than as an agnostic (in fact I'm not sure I've every read a philosophical work which referred to Ayer as an agnostic, but I've not done any research to confirm this).

misc. stuff

This article says agnostics have 50% belief in the existance of god. Then atheist is defined as 0% belief in chance of god. So how would you classify a belief of 0.0001% belief in the existance of god, i.e., basically disbelief but willing to change opinion in light of overwhelming new evidence?

Agnostics think there is no way to obtain evidence of the existence or non existence of God, immortality, etc. They don't 50% believe. They don't 50% disbelieve. They think belief and disbelief are lies or self deception.
I'm not an expert on philosophy, but perhaps we should add several more agnostic types to the list including:
  • Those who cannot say with any particular certainty that god doesn't exist, but that the evidence largely points to this conclusion.
  • Similarly, those who believe god exists, but have room for doubt in their own belief system, perhaps in the existence of other gods.
This brings me onto another point: this article is very Westocentric: what about other religions and agonisticism? --Axon 12:55 Mar 30, 2003 (BST)

Ok. I changed the crap out of this article. I kept all of the earlier version, but in much modified form (see the bulleted list, for example).

I spent considerable time modernizing the 1911 prose and paragraphing, but the article could use much work still.

The scan of the 1911 article appeared truncated. It looked to me like it was cut off in mid sentence, so i'm not sure how much is not represented here.

Arthur 01:07 Mar 30, 2003 (UTC)

I really, really don't like the tone of this article, it needs extensive work, maybe even a rewrite. When I worked on the first paragraphs I didn't know it originated in 1911 Britannica. This is one of the cases I think putting a 100 year old text is a really bad Idea for a contemporary encyclopedia -- Rotem Dan 10:55 31 May 2003 (UTC)

At the moment, this article should be called "Huxley's agnosticism". I am going to cut a lot of the Huxley-related material, most of which is no longer relevant (except in an article about Huxley), in order to allow more new writing. The Anome 11:01 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Good move, Anome. It badly needs a severe prune. Go to it!Tannin

"Huxley's agnosticism was a natural consequence of the intellectual and philosophical conditions of the 1860s, when clerical intolerance was trying to excommunicate scientific discovery because it appeared to clash, with the book of Genesis. But as the theory of evolution was accepted, a new spirit was gradually introduced into Christian theology, which has turned the controversies between religion and science into other channels and removed the temptation to flaunt a disagreement."

This whole paragraph sounds like mumbo-jumbo to me, if anyone can make sense of this please do, or I will probably remove it at some point. -- Rotem Dan 11:26 31 May 2003 (UTC)

It does make senses, but it ain't easy reading. Let me try my hand at a translation:
Once upon a time, there was a great dispute between the religious authorities and the scientists. The clerics aimed to stamp this newfangled science thing out because it was asking far too many difficult questions, and casting doubt on things that the clerics believed were essential parts of any religious faith - and if that meant that a few raggedy-arsed test-tube swishers weren't allowed to get on with the business of discovering dynamite or penicillan, then that was just tough luck on the scientists. The scientists, on the other hand, were intent on expanding knowledge, and if that meant that some of the very important shared beliefs that held the society together and gave it meaning got broken along the way - the virgin birth, for example, or the creation myth - then that was just tough luck on the clerics. The clerics said the no-good scientists should be locked up, or at least shut up, and the scientists said the loud-mouthed clerics should just be ignored and maybe they'd go away after a while. But eventually, the clerics realised that you could have a Theory of Evolution and still believe in God and go to church regularly, and the scientists realised that you could take Holy Communion on Sunday and still swish your test tubes on Monday - so why was everyone arguing? And so from that day on they all lived happily ever after.
Better? Tannin 12:05 31 May 2003 (UTC)

LOL :), sounds a bit more factual but still suffers from the main problem of this article:

First: Atheism, Skepticism, Agnosticism etc. are not beliefs, there is nothing to believe.

Second: I understood the paragraph but I'm calling this nonsense because some gross logical fallacies are presented:

The paragraphs infers that:

  • .."Huxley's agnosticism was a natural consequence of the intellectual ""..
    • "Natural consequence"? need proof for such striking statement.
  • "clerical intolerance was trying to excommunicate scientific discovery "
    • The inanimate group called "clerics" is trying to excommunicate the inanimate "scientific discovery". (e.g. "America" is trying to destroy "France"!)
  • "But as the theory of evolution was accepted", by whom?
  • "a new spirit was gradually introduced into Christian theology"
    • what "spirit" are we talking about? what was introduced?
  • "which has turned the controversies between religion and science into other channels and removed the temptation to flaunt a disagreement"
    • Prove this nonsense. (again inanimate objects "America has a controversy with france!" type) Specific people, I need names: clerks, scientists, politicians etc.

As I'm trying to show, this paragraph has absolutely no logical validity the way it's written right now. I think a proffesional historical treatment is needed to characterize this long-going (and on-going!) controversy between science and religion, and not only for christianity. -- Rotem Dan 12:44 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Yes, and no. As a summary of the history of the relationship between the religious establishment and the scientific establishment (or, perhaps "proto-establishment" might be a better term for C19), it's perfectly valid. Consult any decent history of the background to the Creation "Science" movement, for example; or consider Vatican II - if the Pope himself accepting evolution isn't evidence, I don't know what is. The "new spirit" of Christian theology was a spirit of rationalisim and toleration, as opposed to the dogma and intolerance that characterised the initial reaction to Darwin et al. In short, the paragraph is perfectly valid. But a useful contribution to an entry about agnosticism it ain't. Tannin

Well, I don't understand anything about religion and I, by principle, don't wanna get myself into this loaded creationism vs evolution stuff and other unwanted religious affairs. I will choose to be neutral about this (Rotem steps out silently, leaving the debate for partisans...) :) -- Rotem Dan 13:06 31 May 2003 (UTC)

I wrote this to anon:

Hi anon! Thanks for the corrections of Agnosticism, I was a bit confused when I called that paragraph "nonsense" or "mumbojumbo" :). I meant that it was not factually based and had some non-valid logical inferences that needed more explanation, I understood it was probably factually accurate (in this sense that it refers to real events). -- Rotem Dan 13:39 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Be careful of asserting that "atheism is not a belief". Some view it as a belief. Others do not. People have been debating it for a while now, and a resolution looks unlikely. No doubt the atheism article should have an extensive discussion, if it does not already...

I would certainly state that atheism is a belief, as the position is non-testable/provable and, perforce, an issue of faith. --Dante Alighieri 19:45 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Regarding the intro - this sounds more like a definition of rationalism than agnosticism, I think. Agnosticism seems to me more about saying that "I don't know whether God exists", rather than saying "nobody can ever know whether God exists". Agnostics, in my experience, don't rule out the possibility of discovering evidence for the existence of God - they merely say that as of yet they have discovered no such evidence.

That's not to say that I can think of a better definition! :) Martin 18:39 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Well, I've been extremely bold and put what I understand of "Agnosticism", and my own insights! (Agnosticism and Occam's razor is a completely authored by myself). Note: I am not a philosopher!. Be bold! if any of my nonsense is worth anything, leave it! if not, delete it!

I am doing this as an experiment to see if a wiki can support new insights, interpretations and ideas (it's possible in articles about philosophy, because it's not necessarily in the domain of "original research" which is scientifically limited to empirical evidence).

Wikipedia's policy against presenting original research is not limited to scientific research. We do not use this encyclopedia for developing any form of research, whether in science, philosophy, mathematics, history, music theory, or the like. There is more than enough material extant in the real world that needs to be described; the confusion it would cause to add original (and not professionally peer-reviewed!) material within an encyclopedia would be enormous. That is not to say that your contributions are unwelcome. In fact, I agree with most of what you write. In fact, what you are writing here does not seem to be original research, but is more of a point of view, and not at all out of bounds for Wikipedia. RK 19:33 31 May 2003 (UTC)
I was confused, I just gave some interpretation an issue I thought needed analysis. Not really reasearch. But the fact that it is not based on anything written by anyone else, is what I meant. This makes a person think on wether we actually strictly need to cite sources on wikipedia. If a person is writing NPOV, It's not a fuss if doesn't really mean anything! some people think that, some pepole think this (could be 2 persons). So anyone can put their own insight.
Whether It will stay, and in what way (peer-review) is the real question. Doesn't this sound a bit like an anarchistic intellectual movement? Maybe I'll write an essay about my accumulated nonsense :) --Rotem Dan 19:52 31 May 2003 (UTC)

The basic ground for this is a brand new philosophical idea running through my mind lately. That Wikipedia (and projects alike) can be seen to some degree as some postmodern (whatever that means) intellectual movement. The great thing about it, is that people from all fields (even laymen) can write about other fields (and virtually anything they think they know about), without the fear of being denounced as non-experts, or just cranks. For example, a mathematician can write about philosophy in a way that suits hir rigours attitudes and examination. A philosopher can write about mathematics in hir own philosophical ways. Nobody knows who wrote the text, so everything that makes "sense" stays (for example, if my section about Agnosticism and Occam's razor makes any distance sense of anything, it will be left out (in some way, even if it rewritten). Ignoring the fact that I am don't know 1% about philosophy as other people).

As for the definition, be bold and change it! and the "belief" issue, we should write neutrally about that. There are many who claim atheism is a method and I think it's more logically valid to say it's a "view" or "position" rather than belief. The problem, I think, is that "belief" is an ambiguous term:

Merriam Webster dictionary:

Main Entry: be·lief Pronunciation: b&-'lEf Function: noun Etymology: Middle English beleave, probably alteration of Old English gelEafa, from ge-, associative prefix + lEafa; akin to Old English lyfan Date: 12th century 1 : a state or habit of mind in which trust or confidence is placed in some person or thing 2 : something believed; especially : a tenet or body of tenets held by a group 3 : conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence

I see a "belief" the context when applied to Agnosticism and Atheism, as definition 3 (which is probably not true to say), while other see it is as definition 1.

Have fun! :) -- Rotem Dan 19:24 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Please don't use the word "postmodern" when describing Wikipedia...or anything! So many people use this word to describe so many totally different things, the word itself now has no meaning at all. The word "postmodern", sadly, has little more meaning than the word "KDFXIFZJKH"; it means whatever the heck someone wants it to! Just my own POV. :) RK

OK, yeah, postmodern = mumbojumbo :). As for the definition of Agnosticism: see [1], I think Martin is correct, I gave a broad term probably refering to Rationalism, my mistake. -- Rotem Dan 19:39 31 May 2003 (UTC)

Continental Rationalism is a philosophical creed that human reason is the source of knowledge

Empiricism is the belief in philosophy or psychology that all knowledge is the result of our experiences

The problem I see, that the definition as it is now sounds like an epistemological position but the issue in hand is more a metaphysical one.. I'm really confused, I guess... --Rotem Dan 20:04 31 May 2003 (UTC)


My 2 cents. the opening paragraph is now ungrammatical, confused, and inaccurate. The one, long ago, loosely based on 1911 encyclopedia was a better description of Huxley's original use of the term. It was also a more accurate description of the modern religious and philosophical view.

Forgive me, but what does this mean:

the [terms] were coined to generally describe the philosophical positions regarding metaphysical and theological issues such as God, Immortality, etc. in which questions regarding the existence of these concepts are considered unknowable.

I think it means

the [terms] were coined to describe the philisophical and theological position asserting that the truth of the unexistence or existence of God, immortality, and the like are inherently unknowable.

It is not the questions and concepts that are unknowable. It's the answers!

And why did we lose the essential meaning of Huxley's concern? Huxley had a reason for talking about all of this. Epistemologically, knowability is interesting. But theologically, it's less so. The other half of agnosticism is the practical side. Huxley believed (yes, believed!) that when it comes to what may lie behind phenomena--God, immortality, etc.--there can be no evidence that entitles anyone either to deny or affirm anything.

As it said in the earlier version of article.

I'm going to revert to old opening paragraph improved by some good ideas from new one.


Basic definition of agnosticism

Jack and I have been having a disagreement over on Talk:Atheism about the basicmost definition of agnosticism that appears to have spilled over into this article too (probably most appropriately). He seems to have the position that agnostics "don't know" whether a god or gods exist, whereas I am of the position that agnostics believe that the question of whether a god or gods exist is "unknowable" (correct me if I'm wrong, Jack). He offered a number of links to definitions, namely [2] [3] [4], but as far as I can see they all basically supported my position on the matter. I'm going to revert the first paragraph, please discuss here. Bryan 06:45, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I don't appreciate reverts. The point is clearly ambiguous, with room for both views. perhaps the perfect method of explaining it has yet to be written. please attept to do so, rather than reverting. did you read what I put on your talk page? Stop reverting, start writing quality, factually accurate entries. Jack 07:29, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Since you're the one who first changed the article away from the "unknowable" definition that I've been trying to bring back, perhaps you should be the one to suggest a compromise line that includes both? That's what I brought the issue here to the talk page for. As for your implication that I don't write quality, factually accurate entries, if you feel you must insult me take that to my personal talk page. This page is for discussion of the article. Bryan 07:55, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Quality Factual Articles

for the record, I am not aware of user:Bryan writing anything other than quality, factual articles. I did not mean that suggestion to insinuate anything other than the literal, precisse meaning of "go forth and do good!" and of course, stop reverting me :). I don't see any reason me having made the last edit obligates me to create something other, but I am glad to be part of the process. Anyone can press "revert", but only a good editor can create a better wording ;) Jack 08:08, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Thanks for that note for the record. Also for the record, I never used the "revert" function; I selectively changed back only those lines that I thought were better in the original version. There were other changes you made that I thought were fine and left alone. But since nobody ever mentions the things they leave alone, I understand how my comments may have come across as primarily negative. The curse of text-based Internet conversation, I guess.
Now, as for the better wording, I recognize that when most people in casual conversation say agnostic they do generally mean "someone who isn't sure whether they believe in a god". But that's not the technical definition of agnosticism, and I think it's important to give the technical definition primacy in the introductory paragraph. How about:
The terms agnosticism and agnostic were coined by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869 to describe the philosophical and theological view that the truth of the non-existence or existence of gods, religion, and the like are inherently unknowable. The term has since come to be commononly used to describe those who take a doubtful or noncommittal stance on the non-existence or existence of gods, often intended as an intermediate position between theism and atheism.
In addition to adding the second sentence, I also changed God to small-g gods since agnosticism is more general than just the Judeo-Christian God. How's that? Bryan 08:31, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I like it except for the small g, and maybe a couple subtleties. There is a difference in matters of theology, and agnosticism is not specifically doubtful of every minor diety, but rather the larger, more vital one. I'm going to put it into the text that way. BTW, long term, I don't think its necessary to have mr. huxley mentioned in the initial paragraph. He may have coined the term, but certainly not the concept, and we need to be careful not to in any way over extend his role. Jack 08:55, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
see what you think Jack 09:00, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I was under the impression that big-g God was the name of a specific god, the Abrahamic one, rather than just a generic "biggest god around" god. Ah well, that part's no biggie. The main problem I still have with this intro, though, is that it still says agnostics consider the existence of god to be "unknown" rather than "unknowable." That's a rather significant difference. I'm going to change that one word in the intro and see how that sits. Bryan 15:25, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I corrected a couple of problems. For one, nobody (to my knowledge) has ever doubted the existance (not validity, just the existance) of religions ;). Secondly, we have cut right to the very heart of agnosticism, and found a difference of opinion. It appears you prefer the view that Agnosticism is (at least technically) a view with certainty that some things are unknowable. While I agree that this rather odd POV is possible, and should be mentioned, it is overwhelmingly clear to me (a person who discusses matters of faith on an almost constant basis) that the vast majority of those who call themselves agnostics (and many others as well) hold the simple, common sense view that they don't know. Its really the default answer of a modest person to any question, and with the stakes of God vrs. no God being so high... many people opt out, admitting that they don't have the answer. Heck, I would be willing to admit that an enourmous percentage of everyone has felt this way at one time or another. To insist opon the (IMO) bizarre definition of "unwavering uncertainty" alone, does injustice to the term, and to the inquisitive public. Jack 23:08, 12 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Hm... my initial urge is to continue arguing this point, of course. But on the other hand, the current opening paragraph of the article seems to present both of our views on a fairly even footing now; I suppose that means we're both equally unhappy with the result, which means that a compromise has been reached. I'm willing to let it go at this stage. :) Bryan 00:40, 13 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Logic of Agnosticism section

Well, it looks like I'm going to continue arging after all, considering the definitions presented in this section of the article. Specifically, these conclusions:

2. The (strong) Atheist does not agree with the statement God Exists AND agrees with the statement God does not exist

3. The Agnostic (or weak atheist) does not agree with the statement God Exists AND does not agree with the statement God does not exist

Jack removed the parenthetical comments, which brings the article firmly in line with his personal definition of atheism and agnosticism that I don't believe is correct (except in a colloquial sense, mentioned elsewhere in the article already). An atheist does not have to actively deny the existance of any particular god in order to lack a belief that it exists. Furthermore, this section uses capital-G God throughout, which as per many other arguments (notably Talk:Atheism) is IMO an overly narrow focus on one particular subset of gods. So, here we go again; I'm going to get to work fixing this section up a bit. So much for compromise. Bryan 08:53, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

In fact, as I review this section in more detail now, I think I'm going to need to rewrite the whole thing - it's fundamentally flawed. It is necessary to draw a distinction between belief and knowledge here, that's what agnosticism is all about. Bryan 09:04, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I had nothing to do with writing this section other than removing those innaccuracies in the paranthesis. I added no "G"'s. Your "so much for compromise" statement was in bad taste. Oh, and I agree that this portion of the article is in a sad shape. Jack 09:09, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Sorry about that comment, in that case. I didn't actually think it was your section originally, I intended it to be more of a comment on how I had previously thought I was done with this article. I figured that making these changes would look like I'd agreed to a compromise and then gone back a few days later to revamp everything all over again, which reflects poorly on me rather than on you. Bryan 10:10, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Whatever's good for the wiki. However knowing that I don't agree with the terms "Strong" and "weak" atheism, I do wish you had spent some time discussing things before replacing them. Take a look at the number of google hits for soft atheism [5] and hard [6]. That seems to me to display how highly unconventional this term is, and IMO why you should not have been so rash as to place it here. I think you'd better spend some time thinking about, and discussing this before we end up w dispute headers all over the place. Jack 10:53, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I had to call them something, and those are the terms that are currently in use on the wiki; I recall there was a bunch of debate over which terminology to use over on the atheism article quite a while back and that's what it settled down to (I personally preferred "implicit" atheism vs. "explicit", but my opinion on that matter wasn't particularly strong). If you feel the logic section still needs work, then by all means go for it. Or, if you like, you could go over to the atheism articles and make sure it's mentioned how infrequently those terms are used in common conversation. That alone shouldn't be a reason not to have articles on them, however; Wikipedia has articles on all kinds of highly technical stuff that's only mentioned in highly technical (or in this case philosophical) situations. Bryan 21:50, 18 Jan 2004 (UTC)

My point, my fair friend, if you care to hear it, is that those terms are used ONLY by extremists atheists who are attempting to reduce public comprehension of what atheism is, namely Rejection of God and no other. The only other context I have found them in is the rejection of them by Theists, who see it as a contemptable attempt to swell the ranks of this extrordinarilly small minority by including within it all who have doubt! Who has never had doubt? Who amoung us, at some odd hour, of some odd, troubled year of our lives, has failed to be an agnostic, if even for a moment? Does this make us atheist!?! I'll have you know, I was a tutor of logic in my early years of college, and I can see what the conclusion of this "soft" atheism is. And its not 2.44% ;) Jack 03:18, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Firstly, you may want to read that Rejection of God link and consider what labelling atheists as "Amalekites" implies. You'll note that it is completely focused on the Jewish God (which atheism is not), and it is very far from a neutral stance on the subject; the Bible calls for the extermination of the Amalekites. Secondly, I'm not sure what you mean by "Who amoung us, at some odd hour, of some odd, troubled year of our lives, has failed to be an agnostic, if even for a moment? Does this make us atheist!?!" It's not like atheists are lurking around waiting for that one moment of doubt where they can jump out of the bushes and slap their label on people who are otherwise dedicated theists, if that's what you're suggesting. There are various different types of disbelief one can have in gods, and describing those distinctions is not a "contemptable attempt to swell the ranks of this extrordinarilly small minority", it's simply describing the distinctions between the subgroups that are present within it. Some atheists reject the Abrahamic God outright, or reject other specific gods outright, but others simply don't believe in him (or any others). There are shades of gray you don't seem to be seeing. Bryan 06:42, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I wrote a good deal of what is in the Amalek article. You better believe I've read it a few dozen times. Unlike this article, that one has quite a few citations ;). And that gets right to the heart of the problem here. The Atheists arn't hiding behind bushes, but rather attempting to create misleading terms, originating from poor sources. I see these "shades of grey", and I see them as being mislabeled, misplaced, and misused to misinform the reader ;) I assume that is not your intent, but changing the definition of atheism in that way not only ignores the will of the public in how choose to label their own faith (or lack thereof), but is simply factually incorrect. "soft" atheism is a lie, and a trecherous one at that. Agnostics and atheists and everyoner undecided are not one under the label of Adeist or "soft atheism" or any other such bunk. Jack 07:12, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Didn't check the article history. I now see that you also created the "Rejection of God" redirect to Amalek, too. Does that mean you're deliberately and explicitly labelling atheists as "Amalekites", rather than the reference being a result of some sort of oversight? This strikes me as being more than merely inaccurate and POV, but also rather offensive and worrisome. By disregarding shades of gray and declaring that people must either accept the existance of God or reject the existance of God you're committing a logical fallacy, too. IMO of course - but if you want to try changing the atheism articles, go ahead. I suspect the consensus that will ultimately develop will be less black-and-white than your description above. Consider that people can choose the position of soft atheism or agnosticism based on lengthy soul-searching, not just out of some sort of "indecision." Bryan 07:45, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I ignore no shades of grey, I object to what I see as mislabeling of them. Clearly there are millions of shades of faith, not only some dicotomy. You misunderstand me and misrepresent my stance. Jack 08:04, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Logic of agnosticism: Formal argument

It is always interesting to see how an argument is treated after publication on Wiki.

I had quite intentionally left the second-order predicate (now inserted as 'belief' by Bryan) somewhat ambiguous. I did this for the sake of brevity, and also because I think it makes the argument easier to understand. The argument is useful in countering naïve arguments to the effect that agnosticism is nothing but watered-down (weak) atheism or theism, because it demonstrates that the position is logically distinct from both.

Consider the general form of the argument, letting p be some proposition, and G be some second-order predicate:

There are four possibilities: G(p); G(~p); ~G(p); ~G(~p)

Adding a conjunction gives four possible combinations:

  1. G(p) . ~G(~p)
  2. G(~p) . ~G(p)
  3. ~G(p) . ~G(~p)
  4. G(p) . G(~p)

The point of the argument is to show that for any suitable second-order predicate, there are four, not two, possible attitudes.

Substitute god exists for p, and believes that for G, and you have the argument as presented by Bryan. (4) implies G(p.~p), and so can be dismissed. (3) implies ~G(p.~p), which is consistent, and clearly represents a coherent possibility between theism and atheism.

But substitute knows that for G, and one derives an analogous argument. The agnostic claims no knowledge of the existence or non-existence of god. Bryan’s concern to show agnosticism’s independence was better served by the previous rendition of the argument than by his version.

As was said in the original version, it is not necessary to draw a distinction between belief and knowledge for the sake of this argument, since the conclusion drawn is the same for each. Again, the argument shows that the agnostic position is logically distinct from theism and atheism.

I would recommend removing Bryan’s addition of I believe that… from the argument, and returning to the original agrees with the statement…, which covers both knowledge and belief, and which I had used advisedly.

If returning to the original is unacceptable, I would suggest removing the argument altogether, since as it stands, it has no real purpose within the article.

Banno 20:52, 19 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I'm not terribly wedded to the current version, but the original seemed to present a different conclusion as to the definition of agnosticism than the one I've been seeing elsewhere. I could be wrong in the specifics - I didn't intend to totally revamp the logic section when I first started editing it, so I wasn't really prepared for it - but I suspect that whatever the case agnosticism and "weak" atheism are not equivalent (I mentioned a link in Talk:Atheism, for example, about how Immanuel Kant was an agnostic theist [7]). Perhaps if the section doesn't mesh well here, it might fit in over on the atheism article? Or even the theism one? It seems to be a good way of summarizing the various broad categories of belief, whatever the details. Bryan 02:06, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)
Thanks, Banno; I find your edit to be much more constructive. :) Bryan 01:45, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)
The version you've been seeing elsewhere is of such low quality that I've been forced to place an accuracy dispute on the atheism page. Please wait until the issue is resolved there before bringing that mess here. Take a look at some impartial outside sources and encyclopedias please. And Banno, I'd personally prefer if you did revert to your original version. To be honest I am strongly in favor of that Jack 02:51, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

I’m not inclined to just revert the edits. It appears that Bryan sincerely missed the point of the argument, so it is also apparent that the argument needs to be written more clearly. I don't wish to include the formal statement given above. Not sure what to do with it, really - unless Bryan wants to revert. Perhaps better minds might help, when they have finished counting how many atheists there are in the world… Banno 09:33, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Theres no telling ;). But one things for sure, great or small, there sure do make a fuss! Jack 13:24, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Neither Banno nor I want to revert that section, but you've done so anyway. Furthermore, you've gone and sprinkled capital-G Gods throughout the article again - this has been argued with you again and again. I don't have time to fix everything manually, so I'm going to just revert all your changes right now and if you want to extend the edit war from the Atheism article here too then so be it. Bryan 16:15, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)
How long can he put his POV and capital-G gods everywhere before he is considered a troll? He knows what happens when he does that and yet still does seemingly just to get a rise out of people. MikeCapone 16:22, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)
I don't know, I've never butted heads with someone like this on an article before. He's given me an entry over at Wikipedia:Conflicts between users#User:Bryan Derksen (did one for Lord Kenneth too), so presumably lots of people will be noticing what's going on here soon and some sort of consensus will be reached. Bryan 01:45, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Take a look at ANY impartial, academic source, might be a good start, or try google?) and you will see the use of the capitalized letter "G". your removing it appears to me to be for the provocative nature of excluding the "God" woshipped by so many people. Jack 01:50, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

And your adding it excludes the gods worshipped by even more people. Reverting again, nothing new here. Bryan 07:05, 21 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Problem Solved

behold the logic of agnosticism article I reinserted. Its a clear factual improvement, even if the form and method of presenting the information might need tweaking. Neither of you guys can comprehend someone believeing "God exists AND God does not exist"? Jack 14:30, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Problem definitely not solved, and you can't just declare it to be so. I don't have time to go over this right now, but at this point I consider you to be a strongly biased editor with a clear agenda, and everything you do here is suspect. Later this evening I'm going to go over all your changes and I'm sure I'll be making plenty of changes of my own to them. If anyone else is following this talk: but not talk:Atheism, take a look over there at some of the stuff Jack considered to be an example of an "unbiased" encyclopedia article that Wikipedia should strive for - [8] in particular. Bryan 16:07, 20 Jan 2004 (UTC)