Wikipedia:WikiProject Religion/2011 meeting

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This page is being created as a location at which editors interested in religion, mythology and philosophy related content in wikipedia can gather together and possibly pool ideas on how to develop the relevant content. This first page is more or less intended as a discussion forum; with luck there will be a second page used upon the end of the discussion (which I figure might be for roughly one month) on what if anything to do to act upon ideas reached here. Please feel free to add additional proposals as well as comments on those already included.

So, a few ideas to get the ball rolling BTW, please sign all your comments. All those which aren't currently signed were added by me at the beginning of the page.:

General topics[edit]

New information?[edit]

Do any of you think that there is comparatively new information which has received, to your thinking, inadequate inclusion? FWIW, I found the following new encyclopediac sources for 2010. They might include some information which might help support such changes.

  • 1,000 Sacred Places: The World's Most Extraordinary Places, by Christoph Engels, 2010, Ullman
  • The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, ed. John J. Collins & Daniel C. Harlow, 2010, Eerdmans
  • Encyclopedia of the Bible and Its Reception, ed. Hans-Joseph Klauck & others, 2010, De Graugher
  • Historical Dictionary of Jesus, by Daniel J. Harrington, 2010, Scarecrow
  • The History of Continental Philosophy, ed. Alan D. Schrift, 2010, University of Chicago
  • Milestone Documents of World Religions, ed. David M. Fahey, 2010, Salwm
  • Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside, by Brad Steiger, 2010, Visible Ink
  • Religion and Violence: An Encyclopedia of Faith and Conflict from Antiquity to the Present,
  • Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices, 2nd ed., ed. J. Gordon Melton & Martin Baumann, 2010, ABC-Clio
  • The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, 3rd. ed., by J. Gordon Melton, 2010, Visible Ink
  • Encyclopedia of Religion in America edited by Charles H Lippy and Peter W Williams.

Problematic topics?[edit]

Are there any particularly contentious or problematic topics out there which you believe would welcome the input of other editors who would perhaps more clearly not have extant biases? I imagine, in several such discussions, many parties have questioned the neutrality of the other currently involved parties already, and that the involvement of additional editors might be welcome.

Images of Muhammad[edit]

I think the entire area of images of Muhammad needs some attention. I believe it's a long time since there were organised attempts to make us remove such images from the encyclopedia, so it's really time to make sure we are not alienating roughly 20% of the world population because of reactance. Of course they should not be removed altogether. For some articles it makes sense to have an image of Muhammad or two, and for Depictions of Muhammad it makes sense to have a lot. But while it makes sense for the Jesus article to have lots of images of Jesus that demonstrate how he was depicted by his followers over the centuries, all of the Muhammad images in the Muhammad article are either from non-Muslimic sources or represent a very minor aspect of Islamic culture ("[D]epictions of Muhammad were never numerous in any community or era throughout Islamic history, appearing almost entirely in the private medium of the Persian miniature book illustration, and those of other Islamic cultures." [1] The Jesus article looks like the inside of a Catholic church. That's fine. The Muhammad article also looks like the inside of a Catholic church. That's not OK. If anything, it should look like the inside of a mosque. In both cases the images do not contribute to understanding the historical person. In the first case they contribute to understanding the iconography of Jesus; in the second case they mislead about the iconography of Muhammad. I hope that among editors specifically interested in religion there is some basic understanding that we need to show a minimal level of respect to Muslims if we expect them to contribute to this project. Otherwise we are not just alienating those who object to the images, but also those who see, as is obvious to me and must be obvious to them, that most of the images are there out of spite rather than for legitimate reasons. Any ideas what can be done? Do similar problems exist with other religions? Hans Adler 17:50, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

WP:PROFANE does give the guidance that such images should be necessary to the article. I think it is an uphill struggle to argue for exclusion on the basis that such images would be offensive to a subset of Wiki readers (and the degree of offensiveness does vary even among Muslim sects). I think a case could be made to drop many (though likely not all) such images on the basis that most aren't necessary to the article. I wonder if MOS:COLLAPSE could be amended to allow potentially offensive images to be rolled up? • Astynax talk 19:34, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Thats been proposed several times over, it never get any where. I think its a valid avenue of middle ground but not a viable one. The Resident Anthropologist (talk)•(contribs) 23:43, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Yes, based on past experience with other types of offensive images I think collapsing is the option least likely to succeed when talking about a concrete problem. This only causes side discussions that lead nowhere and so make it more likely that the status quo wins. Hans Adler 18:00, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I agree with Astynax when he said "I think it is an uphill struggle to argue for exclusion on the basis that such images would be offensive to a subset of Wiki readers (and the degree of offensiveness does vary even among Muslim sects).". There are images that individual religions find offence all the time on Wikipedia. For one quick example Garment.jpg has been found "offensive" to member of the Latter day saint movement and nominated for deletion twice and its removal from articles has been “dissues” numerous times, but the consensus has always been the Wikipedia is Wikipedia is not censored so the image is kepted and still used. WP:PROFANE does give the guidance that "offensive" images "should not be included unless they are treated in an encyclopedic manner", it is very easy to see that these image are "treated in an encyclopedic manner". They are not being included just to "offend" Muslims, they are included to give an encyclopedic view of Muhammad. Therefore a blanket exclusion of Muhammad images is allowing one group to superseded Wikipedia is not censored just because it finds the image offensive, which is wrong per WP policy. --ARTEST4ECHO (talk/contribs) 13:43, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
No. In the same way that File:Garment.jpg is encyclopedic on Temple garment but not on Latter day saint movement, images of Muhammad are encyclopedic on Depictions of Muhammad but much less so on Muhammad. Hans Adler 14:01, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
True File:Garment.jpg would not be encyclopedic on Latter day saint movement, but that because LDS Temple Garments isn't the focus of the article. Your argument that Muhammad photos are not encyclopedic on Muhammad would be the same as saying File:Joseph Smith, Jr. portrait owned by Joseph Smith III.jpg is not encyclopedic on Joseph Smith, Jr.. This is untrue, since Joseph Smith, Jr. is the focus of the image and the article therefore its use is encyclopedic. This applies to Depictions of Muhammad on Muhammad also. --ARTEST4ECHO (talk/contribs) 14:06, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Speaking strictly as someone who knows very little about this subject, I myself am not particularly sure about how encyclopedic images of Muhammad are specifically for the biography article. One, I am not at all certain how accurate they are generally thought to be - if they are, like many Caucasian images of Jesus, almost certainly very much unlike the original, they might not qualify for inclusion on that basis. If the images are also infrequently used in connection with the subject by the group which most frequently discussed him, the Muslims, the strength of the connection of the image and the subject might be weak. Having said that, if there is at least one image which is generally regarded as being at least probably somewhat accurate in its depiction of Muhammad, I could see that image being included in the main biography article. John Carter (talk) 21:00, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
This is precisely my position. Unfortunately there seems to be an alliance between fans of ornamental images (who are a rather strong faction in most cases anyway) and those who want the images because they are offensive. So the current line at that article is nowhere near this reasonable one. I doubt that such an image exists, but if it did it would not play a role in the discussion because it's not on that intellectual level. Hans Adler 23:02, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Religious conversion[edit]

I think one of our more contentious and problematic topics is probably this one. I have noted that there are several editors who consider the various Lists of converts problematic. If we were to be able to find some good sources on what has, at least recently, spurred people to convert from one religion or denomination to another, we might be able to create, for instance, an article on Roman Catholicism and conversion, which might discuss the number of people who have in recent years converted to or from Roman Catholicism and what reasons they gave for their conversion. I acknowledge that there may not be a great deal of independent reliable information on the subject, but if there is, developing the non-list content would probably be very helpful. John Carter (talk) 19:27, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

The articles on proselytism, religious conversion, and evangelism among others fall into this area. We might want to look into how to organize/reorganize and avoid overlap.--Erp (talk) 01:43, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Minor areas[edit]

User:John Carter invited me at my talk page to note any problems in my view. I've been looking on and off at various religion pages since joining Wikipedia, most seem pretty balanced. I've only come across a couple, imho, of problem areas:

Origen/Gregory/Universalist history[edit]

I don't think this is a big issue now. There was a genuine confusion in a lot of 19th C sources about the views of Origen and Gregory and the views of the 19th Century American Universalist Church, such that even mainstream encyclopedias picked it up. I think I've been through most of those pages and weeded out attributions of universal reconciliation type beliefs to pre-1700 individuals and groups which aren't sourced, or where modern scholarship now knows otherwise.

ANE Religion[edit]

As above, use of Bibliobazaar reprints, out of copyright (= out of date) sources seems a problem in some of the more ethusiastic areas - e.g. Yahweh is full of fizz and Yahweh (Canaanite deity) is an obvious Fork/AfD based on wishful 1920s thinking.

Early Christianity[edit]

This seems mainly okay, just that "Messianic" content of one sort or another seems to outweigh SBL type contributions/sources on some pages. Authentic Gospel of Matthew (survived several AfD by sockpuppetry) seems to be a resilient source of fantasy/spam sending out content into more mainstream topics since 2006. I can't think of anything else offhand. It's mainly okay (that's only one person's view).In ictu oculi (talk) 21:59, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Neverending disputes[edit]

Some of you may be aware of the seemingly constant discussion of the amount of weight to give the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church article. Personally, I think that, unless specific actions to change it are taken, it is only likely to continue. That may or may not be a good thing, though. Do the rest of you think that having such seemingly endless discussions which only result in, basically, continued ongoing discussion are a net gain to the project, or perhaps detrimental to the project, or are you neutral about it?

I'm not sure exactly how I feel about the never ending discussions. I see that there are both benefits and disadvantages. For example, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems to be one of those articles which easily descends into disputes over whether Wikipedia should define Mormonism as a Christian religion. The people who are arguing never seem to come to any kind of agreement, and the dispute just dies out after a while only to be reignited later on by an editor changing the definition once again. Ltwin (talk) 16:02, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Those discussions will continue, because of the Catholic Church's shameful 'cover-up' actions did occur. GoodDay (talk) 17:11, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
No disagreement with the last point, by any means. I'm primarily thinking, using that as only the example most people would be familiar with, about how there have been discussions about the amount of weight and space to give that topic in the main article on the Catholic Church for some time now, and that the discussion seems to start over again almost every time a new source on the topic is produced. The "Are Mormons Christian?" argument is another one. I suppose there might be discussion about the recent break-up of the Anglicans over homosexual ordination etc., which might be of the same kind. But, yeah, I guess I am thinking of those news stories which frequently reappear and which seem to, every time, spark renewal of discussion. Particularly for articles or topics with a long history, regarding highly emotionally-packed topics, there does seem to be some sort of problem. John Carter (talk) 17:54, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I hate to be a pessimist, but I doubt that unless some kind of Arbitration Committee ruling or other "official" Wikipedia ruling happens I doubt that either of these "constant discussion" will ever be stopped, and that might not even do it. Simply put, both sides of these arguments are extremely passionate, and when that is the case, there is always going to be "constant discussion" on those topics. My personal opinion is that "the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church article" are fine the way they are, and that Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a "Christian religion", since it claims to "believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ", which is the definition of “Christian”, however, my opinion and two dollars might not even by a cup of coffee anymore. My point is, I doubt that anything we say here is going to change this.--ARTEST4ECHO (talk/contribs) 13:59, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
Wasn't actually thinking of trying to "stop" them in any way. Certainly, there would be very good reason for such discussion to continue if, for instance, we had clear evidence that one of the popes was actively, covertly, and possibly unethically trying to suppress information for nefarious purposes. About the only thing I as an individual really was thinking about was, maybe, something along the lines of having broad-based discussion on the topic, possibly through RfC, on a somewhat regular basis to discuss if the existing content regarding such matters was acceptable, and, maybe, some sort of template added to the "edit box" when an editor is editing indicating that the content on this particular matter has been extensively discussed as of (last discussion), and that, barring new significant evidence which would in the eyes of most be more than sufficient cause to change the relevant content, maybe it would be best to take the proposals to the talk page for inclusion in the next regularly scheduled broad-based discussion. Maybe have some sort of specific section on the article talk page which isn't archived between discussions, and, as an example, have an RfC on the specific phrasing of the specific subject of dispute perhaps once every six months, which would be the time to suggest any changes in phrasing of the older disputed material. And, of course, if there would be significant new developments in the area, those would be considered separately. John Carter (talk) 17:16, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

Best relevant reference works[edit]

I as an individual think that some of the most reliable sources for content in general are some of the most highly regarded reference works on the subject, and the specific sources they discuss or include in their bibliographies. Some may disagree, but even many of them would say that such encyclopedic sources are useful. If we were to create some sort of list of such very good reference works relevant to the subject of religion, mythology and philosophy, which would you include and why?

  • regarding 3) I believe we could safely include encyclopedias of religion and philosophy as part of the mix. Academic sources in the fields of Sociology, Sociology of Religion, Psychiatry, Psychology, Religious History and History could also be referenced. I do think that there are many times when we will need to seek out that there is a consensus in the scholarship with regard to controversial new claims to avoid WP:UNDUE. In some areas of history, religion and other fields where there is little/no new source material, a temptation has long existed for scholars to make their name by promoting novel speculative thesis that don't pan out in the long-run. For little-known groups, older established references are often better than popular works unless there is some backup support from existing scholarship and/or sources. We need also to be aware that some religions do sponsor their own scholars and publications, and be careful of asking for independent backup references when those are the only source for statements depicting anything other than what the group says about itself. What I find even more worrying is when I come across perfectly good citations which have been misused and misrepresented to support a statement that is either editor synthesis or to back up a statement from a weak source. • Astynax talk 09:09, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
The Catholic Church, among others, is one of the leaders in sponsoring academics who tend to agree with them. All of the staff of the schools called "Catholic University of (X)" are, after all, directly under the Pope and can be fired by him at will. I'm not sure that each and every publication of a university affiliated with a given church or entity should be counted as among the sponsored works, but in some cases they are, and, sometimes, more obviously than others. John Carter (talk) 21:31, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Eh, A majority of those propaganda pieces tend get recognized for what they are and are often noted as such in reviews or just dont get cited and fall into obscurity. A substantial shift has occurred in North America Religious Studies Academia as substantial majority of scholars are at Secular Universities and colleges. The expansion of Sociological, Historical, Anthropological, and Psychological studies of religion tend to be to excellent resources for critical analysis of religions. Its also important to differentiate popular Religion books commonly found in bookstores from the Academic Variety. Also its not blanket situation too ISKCON Communications Journal has published some really hard hitting critical peices on their movement and sexual abuse within it. The Resident Anthropologist (talk)•(contribs) 01:12, 6 April 2011 (UTC)


This is the beginnings of a list of the various relevant reference sources which have been counted among the best by various outside sources, such as Booklist and the American Libraries Association. These sources all met a variety of criteria, including accessibility and breadth of subject area, and were deemed very good sources for small and medium sized libraries to use. John Carter (talk) 15:39, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

  • Ecyclopedia of Environmental Ethics and Philosophy, ed by Baird Callicott & Robert Frodeman, Macmillan, 2008
  • The Grove Encyclopedia of Islamic Art and Architecture, ed. Jonathan M. Bloom & Sheila S. Blair, Oxford, 2009
  • Oxford Biblical Studies Online, Oxford, 2009,
  • Encyclopedia Judaica, ed. Fred Solkin & Michael Berenbaum
  • The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales, ed. Donald Haase
  • Oxford Islamic Studies Online
  • Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, ed. Stephen R. Norwood & Eunice J. Pollack
  • Encyclopedia of Holidays and Celebrations: A Country-by-Country Guide, Ed. Matthew Dennis, Facts on File
  • Windows on the Universe
  • The Crusades: An Encyclopedia, ed. Alan V. Murray, ABC-Clio
  • Encyclopedia of Women and Religion in North America, ed. Rosemary Skinner Keller and Rosemary Radford Reuther, Facts on File
  • The Qur'an: An Encyclopedia, ed. Oliver Leamon, Routledge
  • Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project
  • Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd ed., ed. Donald M. Borchert, Gale
  • The Greenwood Encyclopdia of World Folklore and Folklife, ed. William M. Clements, Greenwood
  • World Folklore and Folklife,
  • Antisemitism, ed. Richard S. Levy, ABC-Clio
  • Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., ed. Lindsay Jones, Thomson Gale
  • Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Ethics, ed. Carl Mitcham, Thomson Gale
  • Bioethics for Students, Macmillan, 1999
  • Gods, Goddesses, and Mythology, Marshall Cavendish, 2005
  • The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, 2nd. ed., 2004
  • Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Macmillan, 1995
  • The Oxford Dictionary of the Renaissance, by Gordon Campbell, Oxford, 2003
  • Encyclopedia of the Enlightenment, ed. Alan Charles Kors, Oxford
  • Index Islamicus Online,
  • New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd ed., ed. Bernard L. Malthaler
  • Religion and American Cultures: An Encyclopedia of Traditions, Diversity, and Popular Expressions, ABC-Clio
  • Encyclopedia Mythica,
  • The New Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. Geoffrey Wigoder & Others, NYU, 2002
  • Eerdman's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. David Noel Freedman, Eerdmans
  • New Historical Atlas of Religion in America, Red. ed., Oxford
  • Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
  • The Papacy: An Encyclopedia, ed. Philippe Levillan, Routledge
  • Contemporary American Religion, ed. Wade Clark Roof, Macmillan, 1999
  • Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. Jacob Neusner and others, Continuum, 1999
  • Encyclopedia of Monasticism, ed. William M. Johnston, Fitzroy Dearborn, 1999
  • Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, ed. Jack Zipes, Oxford, 2000
  • World Encyclopedia of Christmas, ed. Gerry Bowler, McClelland and Stewart
  • Encyclopedia of Aesthetics, ed. Michael Kelly, Oxford, 1998
  • Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed. Edward Craig, Routledge, 1998
  • The Encyclopedia of American Catholic History, ed. Michael Glazier and Thomas J. Shelley, Liturgical Press, 1998
  • Encyclopedia of Women and World Religion, ed. Serinity Young, Macmillan, 1998
  • Encyclopdia of Folklore and Literature, ed. Mary Ellen Brown & Bruce A. Rosenberg, ABC-Clio, 1998
  • Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Beliefs, Customs, Tales, Music, and Art, ed. Thomas Green, ABC-Clio, 1997
  • The Cambridge Companion to the Bible, ed. Howard Clark Kee and others, Cambridge, 1997
  • Encyclopedia of Sacred Places, ed. Norbert C. Brockman, ABC-Clio, 1997
  • Encyclopedia of Applied Ethics, ed. Ruth Chadwick, Academic
  • Encyclopedia of Classical Philosophy, ed. Donald J. Zeyl, Greenwood
  • American Folklore: An Encyclopedia, ed. Jan Harold Brunvant, Garland, 1996
  • Dictionary of Saints: A Concise Guide to Patron Saints, by Annette Sandoval, Dutton, 1996
  • The Encyclopedia of American Religious History, ed. Edward L. Queen and others, Facts on File
  • Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature, ed. Mary Ellen Snodgrass, ABC-Clio, 1995
  • The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. John L. Esposito, Oxford, 1995
  • The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, ed. Robert Audi, Cambridge, 1995
  • The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Hibderich, Oxford, 1995
  • Encyclopedia of Bioethics, rev. ed., ed. Warren T. Reich, Macmillan, 1995
  • The Astrology Encyclopedia, ed. James R. Lewis, Gale, 1994
  • Encyclopedia of Traditional Epics, ed Guida M. Jackson, ABC-Clio, 1994
  • The Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts, 1300-1990s, ed. Jane Davidson Reid, Oxford, 1993
  • Encyclopedia of African American Religions, ed. Larry G. Murphy, J. Gordon Melton, and Gary L. Ward, Garland, 1993
  • Oxford Companion to the Bible, ed. Bruce M. Metzger and Michael D. Coogan, Oxford, 1993
  • Roget's Thesaurus of the Bible, by A. Colin Day, HarperCollins, 1992
  • Guide to the Gods: A Dictionary of the Functions and Aspects of Deities, by Marjorie Leach, ABC-Clio, 1992
  • The Anchor Bible Dictionary, ed. David Noel Freedman, DOubleday, 1992
  • The Encyclopedia of Ghosts, 1992
  • New Age Encyclopedia, ed. J. Gordon Melton, Jerome Clark, & Aidan A. Kelly, Gale, 1990
  • The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft, ed. Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Facts on File, 1989
  • Dictionary of Christianity in America: A Comprehensive Resource on the Religious Impulse That Shaped a Continent, ed. David G. Reid, InterVarsity, 1990
  • The Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. Geoffrey Wigoder, Macmillan, 1989
  • Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, ed. Warren E. Mills, Mercer, 1990
  • Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought - Original Essays on Critical Concepts, Movements, and Beliefs, ed. Arthur A. Cohen & Paul Mendes-Floh, Scribner, 1987
  • Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience, Studies of Traditions and Movements, ed. Charles H. Lippy & Peter W. Williams, Scribner, 1988
  • The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, by Anthony S> Mercatante, Facts on File, 1988
  • A Guide to Folktales in the English Language, Based on the Aarne-Thompson Classification System, by D. L. Ashliman, Greenwoord, 1987
  • The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, by Pierre Grimal, trans. A. R. Maxwell-Hyslop, Blackwell, 1988
  • The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, Macmillan, 1987
  • Mythical and Fabulous Creatures: A Source Book and Research Guide, by Malcolm South, Greenwood, 1987
  • The Folklore of American Holidays, ed. Hennig Cohen and Tristan Potter Coffin, Gale, 1987
  • The Donning International Encyclopedia Psychic Dictionary, by June G. Bletzer, Donning, 1986
  • The Encyclopedia of Unbelief, ed. Gordon Stein, Prometheus, 1985
  • Harper's Bible Dictionary, ed. Paul G. Achtemeier, Harper & ROw, 1985
  • The Oxford Dictionary of Popes, by J. N. D. Kelly, Oxford, 1986
  • Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kettel and Gerhard Friedrich, Eerdmans, 1985
  • The Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, ed. James P. Childress and John Macquarrie, Westminster, 1985
  • World Book's Celebrataions and Rituals Around the World, World Book, 2003
  • How to Be a Perfect Stranger, ed. Arthur J. Magiola, Jewish Lights
  • Encyclopedia of Muslim-American History, ed. Edward E. Curtis, Facts on File, 2010

Please feel free to add other particularly valuable reference resources not included above below.

  • The Brethren Encyclopedia - This specific source was individually mentioned in one of the articles on the lists, and said to be not included in the list only on the basis of its narrowness of focus. That being the case, it may well be, for those who can get ahold of it, the best reference source for its topic. John Carter (talk) 17:33, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
  • The Coptic Encyclopedia - The best and I think only recent attempt of encyclopedic coverage of the Coptic Church and related subjects

Inadequately discussed developments?[edit]

Are there any particular developments in the field of religion, mythology or philosophy recently which you think have received inadequate coverage here, and, if so, what are they? This would include any newer books or articles which include information which is directly relevant and important across several articles, as well as any particular dramatic changes in existing beliefs or creation of new churches, denominations, or belief systems.

One possibility is the New Perspectives on Paul and how it might impact the other material relevant to early Christianity. John Carter (talk) 16:37, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

Any experts out there?[edit]

Are there any of you out there who might qualify as "experts" on some of our topics, who might be able to address some of the problems currently needing expert attention? If yes, would it be useful to perhaps have a centralized list of such experts, which might make it easier to perhaps acquire "expert" attention to articles requesting same? If yes, are there any ways you would like to see us be able to verify that those individuals we would want to perhaps consider experts actually are experts. I remind everyone of the Essjay controversy, where one editor's statements about himself and his credentials were later found to be, sadly, almost completely false. I very much think it would be in all of our interests to ensure such does not repeat itself.

As shown in the Essjay controversey, it's impossible to truly know if an editor is an expert. GoodDay (talk) 17:12, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Actually, in at least some cases it might be possible to have, for instance, a letter on letterhead sent to the Wikimedia office from, let's say, the head of department at a university, verifying that he has seen one of his professors or other staff log in with a given account and that there is no reason to believe the account login info is shared. Even then, I agree, it would be impossible not to be certain that there may not be some chicanery involved, but, ultimately, I agree it is impossible to be absolutely certain about pretty much anything in reality.
However, if such could be done, it might also help recruit a few such individuals as editors, and that might be helpful. And, yeah, some sort of official communication to OTRS about the identity of an editor would, maybe, be considered sufficient. John Carter (talk) 15:50, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Aside from verification, scholars/experts are not immune from agenda-pushing, being swept up by novel conjectures, and the other afflictions besetting mere mortals (just a caveat to bear in mind). That said, anything that encourages more participants with expertise in religious subjects would be very welcome. I'm not discouraging recruiting such people at all. It is just that policy applies across the board, and we don't want to even hint that policy is different for so-called experts of any stripe. I see one main benefit of attracting participation as coming from the added variety of resources that some working in specific fields may have at their disposal, and not from any expertise or credentials per se—in that sense, verifying credentials becomes moot. Perhaps people involved in doing journal and thesis board reviews in the field of religion would have more aptitude for contributing under Wiki's NPoV and other policies. • Astynax talk 19:24, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Believe me, I know about POV pushing academics. I was involved in the indefinite ban of one, who the one time I dealt with him evidently thought our articles should serve as a form of advertisement for his books. Luckily, if the individual has declared his or her identity to WP:OTRS or similar, it would, I think, make it probably less likely that they would engage in such efforts, because they would know that, basically, someone could point out their apparent COI, and possibly lead to their indefinite ban, as happened in the case I mentioned above. John Carter (talk) 16:22, 22 April 2011 (UTC)

Topics poorly covered in reliable sources[edit]

There are at least a few religion, mythology, and philosophy topics which, apparently, few of us have been readily able to find relevant information. This includes in particular some of the newer and smaller religious groups. I have seen multiple reference works which deal with the general subject of reference works in general which have sections indicating what material is not currently covered by such works. I think we are at this point significant enough to perhaps do the same. So, in theory, if we were to send out letters to some of the academic journals indicating what topics we would most like to see specific content about, either in journals or books, what would they be? Also, if you know of independent reliable sources about these subjects which might be useful about which others might not be aware, please feel free to indicate as much.

  • A few examples that come to mind to me:


  • a) Eritrean Orthodox Church - it has apparently been subject to some oppression in its rather brief history, and has already gone through several leaders, but I can find little content on it or them. Material on the history of the group, any changes it might have made in the earlier Ethiopian Orthodox Church practices or beliefs, and biographical material on the heads of the church to date would be very welcome. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • b) neo-Ebionites - There are apparently quite a few groups which claim to be continuations/restorations of the original Ebionites, including at least the Ebionite Jewish Community, Keith Akers and his followers, and the Spiritual Ebionites, but so far as I have seen there are not sufficient reliable sources between them to be notable enough for even one article. Information on their beliefs, practices, and history, individually or collectively, particularly any potential overlap (if one or more are schisms from others, for instance) would be useful. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • c) Syriac Orthodox Church - an old, established, historically significant church, which has received, rather surprisingly to me, apparently even less attention in recent years than the Eritrean Orthodox Church above. I think a historical dictiionary on the topic is both well-earned, and given the group's historical importance, at least probably salable. It would also probably have significant information about the recent history of the church, which is rearely mentioned in recent sources, making the possibility of updating the content problematic. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • d) Meqabyan - for a group of books considered to be Biblical canon by a major established church, we do have a comparatively weak article on them. Granted, Lulu (a vanity press) only recently provided an English translation of them, the first I know of, so it clearly has received little attention in the English language, but with the translation it might now be easier to provide content on the books. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • e) Biblical inerrancy - There seem to be a large number of people, perhaps in multiple religious traditions, who adhere to this belief, but I am myself aware of comparatively few academic works of any kind which deal with the subject at any length. There do seem to be several perhaps unique theories which are given broad acceptance in this community, like Imhotep being the patriarch Joseph, but I don't know of any independent sources which discuss them to any degree that would be useful for us. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • f) Two by Twos - A small Christian group which has been noted for its secretive and perhaps distrustful attitude. As a result, they seem to neither release much information nor have much contact with the press, sometimes indicating that they do so to avoid giving their "enemies" material. Personally, that strikes me as harmful to them and counterproductive, but, hey, that might just be me. Anyway, I think recent independent scholarly works of some kind would be a definite benefit. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • g) Eastern Catholic churches - These groups tend to get relatively little discussion in Catholic sources, and even less from others. However, given the size of the parent entity, and the number of related institutions which might buy a historical dictionary on the groups, I think there is a serious potential market for at least one such historical dictionary, and, maybe, separate ones for the Maronite and Melkite churches, which are among the larger and older of the Eastern Catholic groups. John Carter (talk) 14:45, 9 April 2011 (UTC)
  • h) Circumcellions – The article is based on the most sensationalist (non-reliable) sources. According to the reliable sources that I have seen, practically everything said in the article is wildly exaggerated anti-Donatist propaganda taken at face value. Hans Adler 17:58, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
  • i) Art Bulla and his church - Some more details on either his life story, his teachings, or his church would certainly be welcome. John Carter (talk) 16:13, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
  • j) James the Just - This individual, about whom little is known with any certainty, has in recent years been involved in several speculative works and events, like the James Ossuary and The Jesus Dynasty. At this point, it is rather difficult to say how much impact these new developments might have had on the academic community's views of James. Some sort of piece, book or article, discussing the various ideas recently put forward, and going into some detail regarding how views on him might have changed recently, would be very welcome. John Carter (talk) 16:13, 10 April 2011 (UTC)


  • a) Ayyavazhi - I am aware of less than ten books and articles that deal with this subject at all, and two of them are reviews of a movie of the same title. Certainly we could use additional resources which discuss the subject. Some sort of general overview, including information on the group's history, beliefs, and so on would be very welcome. John Carter (talk) 19:39, 14 April 2011 (UTC)


  • I have found that many articles in Buddhist mythology, cosmology, philosophy, etc., are built overwhelmingly on primary sources (sutras, commentaries) rather than secondary ones, often including many too-lengthy block quotations and a noticeable bias toward either a Mahayana or Theravada perspective. These are often difficult subjects to write about, of course, and I think it's good that the articles exist, but they could use more attention from more editors familiar with scholarly rather than religious literature. /ninly(talk) 16:48, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
This is probably true, probably, at least in part, because of the comparatively few readily accessible English language sources on the subject. I note that there is at least one well-thought-of "Encyclopedia of Buddhism" out there, and it might be useful for these purposes. And, like with Jainism below, I wonder if there might be any interest in some sort of AID for this broad area. Maybe, as an example, getting a few people to commit to developing a single topic (like one article and relevant subarticles - Buddhist mythology or specific schools of philosophy might be examples) at roughly the same time in the near future, like the next year, might be a way to proceed. Maybe. John Carter (talk) 16:49, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Something to watch out for in (Tibetan) Buddhism articles: They do have some internal conflicts that translate as POV. They seem to have a tendency to go out of each other's way, so that where two groups disagree about something, articles about representatives of the respective groups will blatantly contradict each other, along with some form of armistice on any overlapping articles causing the problem to stay under the radar. Hans Adler 23:20, 16 April 2011 (UTC)


In general most of the Jain topics are poorly covered because editors having a background and interest in Jainism are very few...infact none. Hardly any new articles have come up on Jainism and there is only one Featured Article on Jainism. Specifically the following topics require more work in Jainism:

  • Jain literature and texts
  • Biographies of Jain saints and leaders
  • Contribution of Jainism to Indian culture and literature.

--Indian Chronicles (talk) 04:18, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

I think one thing that might be useful in this regard is perhaps finding some readily available sources on the subject which can be used. However, I agree that there are several, comparatively smaller and/or often less contentious, groups which have comparatively poor relevant content. Also, for what it's worth, a lot of the FA content of many religion projects doesn't necessarily have that much to do with the religion per se. I think a lot of the high-quality (GA, A, FA) Jewish and Christian content is biographies of individuals who have notably been adherents of those faiths, but have been best recognized for other matters and have had their articles promoted to the level they are at by other groups, like MILHIST, for example. Philosophy might have many similar problems. One way I can think to address such might be to have some sort of mythology/philosophy/religion specific WP:AID, with, maybe, a given article or small group of articles as the primary collaboration point for, let's say, a month. This might be a useful way to improve content on Jainism, Thelema, some Neopagan or New Age groups, now defunct religions, and native faiths of some areas. John Carter (talk) 16:26, 6 April 2011 (UTC)


  • Freemasonry - Some years ago, I think it was Gordon Melton who indicated in one of his books that an independent academic discussion of the religious philosophy and thinking of the Freemasons would be very welcome. To the best of my knowledge, there hasn't yet been such a source produced. John Carter (talk) 16:19, 1 April 2011 (UTC)
  • Occult beliefs in popular culture - This will sound weird. However, I have been active in the comics-related content around here at times, and do once in a while read to "keep up" with that material. I have recently read the collected editions of the crossover event Darkest Night. In the past few days, when going through an encyclopedia of the occult, I saw how several of the points of the Darkest Night stroy, including the "emotional spectrum", the power of "will", and at least a few other matters prominent in that story are also prominently discussed in connection to the occult. The subject of religious/parapsychological beliefs and their discussion in popular culture, like comics, and probably also TV and movies, has probably been discussed at some point, perhaps in Parabola, but I don't know myself if it specifically dealt with these more recent developments, or this particular medium in general. John Carter (talk) 15:28, 16 April 2011 (UTC)

Which journals to take the requests to?[edit]

As I indicated above, I'm basically thinking that we would send out letters to journals indicating that we would welcome seeing content regarding the matters mentioned above. Which journals do you all think would be the best journals to send such letters to? I'm guessing, for instance, Nova Religio might be one of the best choices for subjects which relate to NRMs, like, for instance, the Two-by-Twos and the neo-Ebionites. Which other journals do the rest of you think would be the best places to send articles on the other topics? John Carter (talk) 17:16, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

I wonder if the people at INFORM and CESNUR would be willing to offer input or air an appeal at their conferences? SSSR ICSA and ASR also publish journals.

Poorly developed topics?[edit]

Are there any particular subjects within the general field of religion, mythology and/or philosophy, including suites of articles on specific religious traditions, texts, etc., which seem to you to be comparatively underdeveloped or weak? If so, would there be any editors who would be willing to help develop that content, even if it is not one that is of particular interest to them personally?

Possible collaborative efforts?[edit]

Would there be any interest in perhaps beginning some sort of collaboration effort to help improve specific articles or subjects? Personally, it seems to me that the articles which might most benefit from such collaboration would be the main articles on specific topics, as such articles would help make it clearer what material should be included in direct "descendant" articles and what articles should be counted as such.

Guidelines for long running disputes?[edit]

Is there a possibility of putting together some sort of guidelines to help settle long-running edit warring? Some projects seem to quickly and effectively deal with such situations (topics impacted by nationalism, for instance). I know that I have given up in frustration on improving a few articles where edit warriors challenge anything that doesn't fit their world-view. Demanding references only produces citations from their religious group's website(s), or they just plow ahead with inserting unreferenced or misreferenced statements. Others only pop up on talk and review pages to push an agenda. These editors are clever enough to avoid 3RR and similar violations, but still drag down the process and prevent progress. Adhering to policy and editing according to the references can be valuable, but when others continue to promote their personal beliefs, it would be good to have some guideline in place to reference, rather than rehashing and restating policy to such editors (who tend towards dismissiveness to statements of policy on talk pages) in every article in which this situation occurs. • Astynax talk 09:09, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

First, I think that there would probably best be some degree of consensus that such longstanding conflicts are detrimental to the project. ArbCom can be called in for any clear editor misconduct, but, in some cases, like the amount of weight for the sex scandals in the Catholic Church article, there are sources from all sides which can be seen as supporting a position. But, if there is consensus from these pages that such extended disputes are counterproductive, then, maybe, we might be able to find some sort of consensus about what to do. If, of course, there is support for such. Also, of course, the best way to improve any article, whether it be subject to edit-warring or not, is to make it an article of such quality that so many have helped improve that further edit-warring would be negatively received by a number of editors.
And it might work best to place comments directly after the questions, to allow threaded discussion and, if required, maybe breaking the discussions into subpages. But all input is welcome. Like I said elsewhere, I figure to move this "live" around the 1st of April, with notices in the Signpost and RFCs filed, and maybe comments on appropriate project talk pages, to get the most input, and threaded discussion might make the discussion easier to follow. John Carter (talk) 21:31, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
I think a project worth perusing would be to set up a standard WP:MOSREL so standard expectations across all religion articles. I think Jayen466's NRM MOS, Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Latter Day Saints) and Wikipedia:Manual of Style (Islam-related articles) are good starting points to create a Project wide MOS for Religion articles. The is WP:MOSREL could include proper application of WP:NPOVR and such. The Resident Anthropologist (talk)•(contribs) 16:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
I like it. • Astynax talk 19:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
For issues with good sources supporting the views of multiple sides, then policy demands that well-sourced opposing views that be noted. In some articles, the back and forth is so extensive that it needs to be spun into a sub-article, which is fine so long as it doesn't become a PoV fork trying to hide the issue's existence. In the case of a sexual scandal, that may be worth a mention in an article about a religion, but would become WP:Undue for most religions if it occupied a very large percentage of the article on that faith. My concern is also about the morass which develops when fanatical (I can't think of a better word) proponents/opponents insist on pushing PoV using unsourced (personal outlook or experience), mis-sourced (citing sources that do not back up the claim), synthetic (drawing a conclusion the author of the source has not made) and/or self-referenced (relying entirely on material published by the religious group that is the subject of the article) backup. There are policies already in place to handle most of this, but they are scattered all over the place. I'd like to see them gathered in one guideline that could be referenced each time these situations develop. It is wearying to have to go through the same process of pointing out the same policies, for the same reasons, sometimes to the same editors, every time this occurs. It has frustrated enough good editors into dropping-out that I do see it as a problem. I'm not advocating reworking policy, just collecting the policies that we use over and over to address the various problems/snags encountered in moving religious articles forward. • Astynax talk 19:21, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
The problem is we make very little distinction between sourcing. We often contradictory evidence from different fronts. Theological Journals are used to counter Archeological evidence which is extreme example but it happens. More common is for people like Bob Larson whose theological credentials are fine is used in Eastern Religion or Muslim articles as becuase they are WP:RS and its hoot and holla ussually ANI RSN and NPOV thread to get it fixed. If we can come up with guideline that directly gives that type stuff we can cut that shit down substantially. That why are section is so stagnate. Reasonable people dont have the time to argue with some of the absolute fanatics who attack any one who tries to be neutral. Jayen466's NRM MOS is great example of cutting through the shit to get to the meat of issues. The Resident Anthropologist (talk)•(contribs) 20:05, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Good points above, particularly regarding NRMs. Falun Gong is a wonderful example of how different sources produce different sides of an argument. FG and its supporters say one thing, the Chinese government says another, and there are few if any sources really independent of both which can be used to decide such matters. I think the same guideline might be applied to ancient and very weakly understood subjects, like say Etruscan religion, and maybe some other groups, like (maybe, I don't know) some religions of Africa and other areas where there might be difficulties, particularly with potential "restorationist" movements which might in some cases, by some people, be seen as being at best tangentially related to the poorly-known original. John Carter (talk) 16:43, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Re. weakly understood subjects: I think something needs to be underlined regarding misuse of even RS. It is too tempting for many/most editors to take something an author "suggests" rather than "says". Best references note the difference between what is known and what is speculated, and so should articles here without veering into a synthesis that something is known but which can only be a speculation based on currently available evidence. • Astynax talk 20:57, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
I personally think that the way to address opposing reliable sources from differing disciplines (or in the case of Falun Gong, different worldviews) would be to include the different views in a balanced way. In many cases, disagreements between disciplines usually concern what the narrow scope of each can tell us, rather than deep dispute. Using the figure of Abraham as an example, theological sources would be fine to back statements on how Abraham relates to matters of faith; sociological sources best explain how stories regarding Abraham are/were used to underpin group dynamics and social relationships; archaeology best explains when and where physical evidence relating to Abraham has been found and why (or why not); historians best put Abraham into wider narratives which note the impacts on main historical streams (Judaism, Islam, etc.). There are debates where speculations from all these sources converge and sometimes clash and over-reach (e.g., "Did an Abraham exist?"), but these types of debates are just what they are (unresolved and often unresolvable) and should not be given undue focus in most articles. For Falun Gong, the government of China views the group in terms of a political and sociological threat. That should be noted and official sources could be carefully cited for that—materials sponsored by the government of China is certainly RS for its own position. For the belief system, a view that was not involved in that dispute should be used as the basis. The "careful" part is where trouble arises, as partisans tend to think they are being "careful" when they are actually pushing PoV and relying on PoV references. Even PoV references can be useful for many non-disputed items. When PoV references are used to back controversial statements (i.e., controversial in that there are opposing published views), there needs to be backup from sources outside the partisan dispute. I'm sure this could be more clearly stated than my meandering thoughts here, however. • Astynax talk 20:57, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Part of the problem, at least with FG, is that the beliefs themselves have to a degree received comparatively little independent attention. The beliefs are based on the books, and the books are themselves points of contention, at least regarding allegations of absurdity. The books include information on how the spirits of animals are said to want to and be able to possess humans, ETs are said to play a leading role in the recent human technological boom because reliance on technology will help corrupt us and take us away from the better, purer, simpler life, etc. So, yeah, even in the matters of the content of the basic texts there is a serious discrepancy between the "safer" and less controversial statements of the FG and its sympathizers and the less sympathetic opponents, who also, understandably, tend to overplay the less conventional aspects of FG. John Carter (talk) 14:52, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Topical article improvement and other drives?[edit]

As some of you might know from membership in other projects, they sometimes have member drives to improve articles, reduce the number of articles with quality tags of one sort or another, assessment, etc. I myself think that several of the projects in the fields of this discussion may not have the number of experienced editors required for some of these drives to be successful. What would the rest of you think of, perhaps, persuing such efforts in an accross-the-board topical manner, perhaps in addition to any active or temporarily suspended such collaborative efforts of individual projects in the field? John Carter (talk) 17:18, 30 March 2011 (UTC)

Subject specific discussions[edit]

Religious texts and interpretation of same[edit]

Some of the more important articles we have which are right now are often of comparatively poor quality are articles about some of the major religious and philosophical treatises. Taking the Bible as an example, there are several types of Jews, Christians, Muslims, Bahai, and maybe others as well, which might in many cases have their own specific views on, for instance, the interpretation of texts. I tend to doubt that the relevant articles are likely to ever be particularly good without such material from the more major interpretative groups. However, I am far less than an expert on any of the non-Christian faith traditions, and not that much of one of all the larger Christian traditions. But, it might be worth knowing what particular types of interpretation, or, maybe better yet, specific Biblical or other commentaries might be among the most frequently used by the various relevant groups, so as to know which to try to include. Any ideas? John Carter (talk) 15:17, 1 April 2011 (UTC)

Outreach to Scholars[edit]

I am getting ready to suggest to WMF a outreach program (like the Public Policy Initiative) at American Academy of Religion's 2011 meeting. (three blocks from WMF headquarters in San Francisco) I am planning to attend the meeting to present a paper, is any one here from San Francisco Bay Area or already going to AAR already who might be interested in helping that? Or have any comment in General?


Magnificent idea. I wish I were in the SF area, instead of basically half a continent away, but I would definitely be more than willing to provide any assistance to such school groups as I could. John Carter (talk) 16:29, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Disappointingly WMF seems not be following up The Resident Anthropologist (talk)•(contribs) 00:37, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
Unfortunately, I can see why they might think that this might not be the most immediate option of this type. But we most certainly can do what we can to individually encourage involvement of school groups. John Carter (talk) 15:25, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

"Core" religion articles[edit]

One possible weakness we might have is determining which article is, effectively, the "central" article for some material. This may not be as insignificant as it might sound to some. As an example, I could put forward as an option the comparatively uncertainty about where the majority of the historic content relating to Abraham of the Bible should be put. Should it be in an article related to Judaism, Abrahamic Faith, or maybe the article on early Middle Eastern religions. This could be addressed if we maybe followed the model of the Biography, Christianity, and Novels projects, which have created a separate "core" importance grade. Having an additional grade for religious content might be useful in general anyway. The one possible objection is that some religions might find that their specific main article isn't included and feel neglected on that basis. Maybe a starting point would be the articles included in the first version of WP:1.0]. Anyway, any opinions? John Carter (talk) 16:55, 8 April 2011 (UTC)

I agree. Some of the religion encyclopedia's do have a hierarchy in which the information is presented (e.g., Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions). Refining sub-projects and sub-categories (and merging redundant and inactive) might encourage some similar logical presenttion (and we'd need a guideline to explain it). I think related to this is that some subjects (especially with regard to individual religions) are very disorganized and not well-consolidated into a structure of main and sub articles, and too many of what are potentially (or actually) PoV forks. Things occasionally get sorted out for some articles and sub-projects, but then drift with new edits, articles, categories and projects. It is difficult to wrap my brain around, but with more opinions, suggestions and discussion, perhaps something would crystalize. • Astynax talk 19:43, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
I also note, that, as per policies and guidelines, we are not supposed to repeat information in multiple articles, but have only one major discussion in one article and statements in others which only summarize that content and, generally, link to it. That would seem to indicate that something of this sort is more or less something we should be pursuing. John Carter (talk) 15:09, 13 April 2011 (UTC)
So far, I think I've seen something along the lines of at least a thousand dictionary/encyclopedia type sources in the general subject area of religion/mythology/philosophy. One possible starting point for organizational purposes might be to check to see what the entries in these works are for individual faiths or traditions, and, maybe, based on them and the amount of material in the individual entries, maybe arrange the relevant "Outline of" article, such as Outline of Jainism, into a more clear topic/subtopic format. The problem, of course, is that we are talking about something like 1000 such reference works. There might be some trouble in finding people to go over the content of these individual books.
P. S. I will try to review the various general religion reference sources and see which particular subjects they give the greatest weight to, and/or, if they have something like "outline" formats, which are regarded as the more "central" articles. It might take a while to review all the comparatively recent sources of that type, though. John Carter (talk) 15:27, 6 May 2011 (UTC)

Question regarding individual topics which are notable for different subjects by different sources and how to deal with same[edit]

The above is as long as it is because I am not particularly aware of a shorter way to phrase it. Basically, the question is about such topics as Albertus Magnus. He is primarily notable for being a scientist/philosopher and a Christian religious figure, maybe. He is also however noted for being involved in such legends as having created an early robot which Thomas Aquinas destroyed when he saw it and considered it heretical, and other related topics in the field of alchemy and the occult. The question is, as it were, how to deal with articles which are notable for different subjects or topics which may, in some cases, be seen as mutually contradictory or significantly disagree with each other. Particularly in regards to topics of some age, which might be prominent in multiple different traditions, this might be a bit of a question. I think I've seen about 1,000 encyclopedic like sources on religion and philosophy being discussed in journals and such. John Carter (talk) 16:07, 13 April 2011 (UTC)

Would it be the secondary and tertiary sources which are contradictory (e.g., historical accounts vs. scientific narratives vs. occult belief systems)? • Astynax talk 03:00, 20 May 2011 (UTC)
Probably tertiary, although there are at least a few cases where at least one secondary source (like, for instance, about religious history) say that the beliefs of New Age/NRM/occult groups are not supported by the historical evidence. (I'm thinking particularly hear of some of the Mormon claims of the "Jewishness" of early Americans, and the Raelian belief in the existence of green and purple skinned people on other planets and earlier on earth, although there are others as well). John Carter (talk) 17:14, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, I think I now see the issue. That can be a particular problem where a religion underwrites academic "research" to bolster claims otherwise based only in theology. • Astynax talk 21:01, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
I think this situation would also be covered by WP:FRINGE, and should be dealt with in a similar fashion. If the published material represents a significant view among adherents (whether directly published by them or by others), then the article can briefly (to avoid giving it undue weight) mention it, so long as the viewpoint is 1) attributed to a source(s), AND 2) the context is clearly specified that this is a minority view advocated and/or sponsored by members of the religious group. There should be no confusion to a reader that particular, faith-based points have been established by and are widely supported in the scholarly community (religious studies, historical, etc.) outside the circle of the particular religious group. Some claims of religious groups do have wide support, so this shouldn't be used to dismiss out-of-hand everything a religion upholds, but it will be easy to support generally accepted material with references from sources other than those sponsored by the religious group being described. • Astynax talk 16:32, 31 May 2011 (UTC)
I'll also note that fringe claims about religious groups can also come from speculative theories that pop up within the "academic" community. Those also can be carefully mentioned in the same way to avoid giving readers the impression that a minority viewpoint represents a consensus view. • Astynax talk 16:39, 31 May 2011 (UTC)

New "Rate this page" function?[edit]

I've been noticing the "Rate this page" poll now appearing at the bottom of many pages (e.g., see Followers of Christ). I'm sure this makes the site more "interactive" for visitors, but I wonder if it this opens another avenue for edit warriors to deface otherwise well-researched articles on religious and other controversial topics? I find this type of polling useless on sites like Google, and wonder whether there is some positive that I'm missing. • Astynax talk 01:56, 29 May 2011 (UTC)

There is apparently something the WF thinks is positive about the use of such, but do wonder whether there could be serious possibility of misusing it in wikipedia, particularly by people who have a particular "axe to grind" regarding a given article. I would welcome the input of any and all others regarding whether, maybe, we might, in some way, institute either an "opt-out" option for some more contentious articles (like current controversies) or, maybe, find some sort of way to perhaps offer some degree of page protection to contentious articles rated in this way. John Carter (talk) 17:18, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
Aside from the potential problem with malicious ratings, I also could not find out how these ratings would be kept up-to-date as improvements were made. I can see stub articles and articles undergoing an edit war getting a lot of justifiably poor ratings, which would be inherited even once improvements were made. When I saw the box, my first reaction was: "How is this possibly going to help me evaluate what I just read?", and my second reaction was: "Oh no, yet another way for PoV-pushers to make solid information look questionable." Maybe there is a well-reasoned basis behind this effort, however. • Astynax talk 20:47, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
MILHIST has a banner which assesses articles in a more thorough way than we do, and I think that assessments of that sort might have been to a degree involved in the development of this template, which does similar things on the article page itself. Your point regarding changes to the article after the introduction of the template is a good one, and I don't know myself how to take such things in account, unless the template was itself either regularly updated or updated after significant changes to the content. Personally, I might only use them in articles of B or C class, and, maybe, particularly in articles which might have had significant developments recently. Also, it could, I suppose, form as a form of peer review if the template material were added by an uninvolved editor, and, maybe, if the template were able to indicate on what basis the opinions expressed were made. If, for instance, an article on a Roman Catholic theologian, maybe Augustine, were reviewed on the basis of a just-published highly regarded book on the subject, it would very definitely be useful to be able to indicate that in the template, and, maybe, even have that data in some way reflected in the visible template. I am myself less than clear as to how or whether that would be practical, however. John Carter (talk) 21:14, 2 June 2011 (UTC)