I've just returned from Attending the Melbourne Atheists society (home.vicnet.net.au/~atheist), I was intrigued to see what the topics of conversation might be, and tonight was the turn of agnosticism, hard work for the speaker, preaching to the (un)converted as it were. The first thing that struck me aside from the wonky OHPís and prevalence of socks and sandals, was the age of the audience; does Atheism hold the same appeal to the elderly as religion? Does the steadfast belief in Science and practicalism hold the same appeal as faith in the older echelons of society?

As far as I could ascertain from the talk being an agnostic is being open minded about supernatural entities and the superiority of Science, whereas Atheists discount supernatural entities altogether, although the lengthy discussion that ensued after the talk gave the impression that perhaps the definitions are not as clear cut as that, and as usual with these things a battle of semantics raged. It reminded me of a passage (as many things do) from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy were the philosophers of a particular planet build a machine to tell them the answer to "Life, the universe and everything", when they get an unexpected answer it is made clear to them that they never really knew what the question was. If everyone has a differing opinion on what Atheism and Agnosticism mean then how can you have a balanced discussion on it? It's these sorts of arguments and discrepancies that have plagued the spiritual community for many years. If retaining an open mind on the origins of the world is Agnosticism, then I guess that's what I am, I wouldn't discount anyone's beliefs if I couldn't wholeheartedly disproved them myself. My final question is this, if we take Atheism as a negative, slightly pessimistic belief in nothing beyond the material world, and Agnosticism as a more optimistic, non-dismissive way of life, would Atheists still refuse to believe in a 'God' or a supernatural entity if it were proved without a shadow of a doubt by science that one existed?