Re: virus: atheism and agnosticism

Marek Jedlinski (
Mon, 15 Apr 1996 22:09:23 +0200 (MESZ)

On Mon, 15 Apr 1996, ken sartor wrote:

> >In fact, belief is only possible AS LONG AS there is no possibility
> >of knowing. If we could KNOW whether there is a God, we would no
> >longer have to BELIEVE; indeed -- belief would be no longer an option.
> Gee, i don't agree with this definition of belief... in particular
> i think belief comes in when knowledge is uncertain but _not_
> unknowable. Todays uncertainties are tommorrows textbook facts.
> But maybe this is splitting hairs...

No, I think it is important to split hairs here. My point was
that as long as there is a margin of doubt, even an infinitesimal one,
we're dealing with belief, not knowledge (in the ultimate, final,
immoveable , ideal sense). Also, the potential "knowability" (oops,
this is the best I can do without shelling to DOS and loading a
dictionary...) of a fact may have no bearing on the belief.
A scientist may be just on the very verge of confirming his
hypothesis, so he believes it to be true and is within minutes
or years of, but conceptually close to, verification, while for now
his hypothesis is still "uncertain." On the other hand, someone
may choose to believe literally ANYTHING they want; I can believe
that my ex-girlfriend lied to me (practically impossible to verify,
though theoretically perhaps viable) -- OR I can believe that
a V-shaped cloud passed over your house yesterday (a very strange
religion, this -- and an example, I hope, of a belief that that can
never be verified, unless you live in Sahara...)

I think we must split hairs here, if we want any progress. Thank you
for your comment.

Marek Jedlinski

If the Turing test were administered tonight, I'd fail it.