TED Conversations

Bernard White


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Can we ever design an experiment which can determine whether God exists?

I just find it hard to believe when people say : "There is no evidence for God". Yes there isn't because we can't design an experiment to prove or disprove this hypothesis.
However a very important thing, Which I devoted a whole TED Debate to (Here is the link to that debate : http://www.ted.com/conversations/17001/can_god_be_defined_or_in_othe.html), is that to work out whether the hypothesis is true we must first define what we mean by "God" (and "existence" for that matter), which I have found doesn't prove to be very successful. Otherwise we can't advance into going to making experiment for this hypothesis.
In science (I believe) theories can only be disproved and never proved to be "certain", so in this sense everybody has to be an agnostic about God, unless some genius in the TED community can come up with an experiment.
While another problem remains that we base all data we have on experimental data we have gained from the past, and expect the future to be consistent.

So in this sense I am a strong agnostic / Ignostic because God hasn't really been defined (and only has subjective definitions) and that I can't genially think of an experiment to determine whether God exist of not. So yes in the literal sense there is no "evidence" but that's only because no experiment have been done.
(Also there remains the slight problem with the fact that there is a degree of uncertainness in everything, and that no matter how logical and rational a hypothesis may seem it can always be proved false, or untrue)

My final point would be I see no correlation with an absence of evidence, and an evidence of absence! (This is very important)

And of-course, I apologize for repeating myself (if I have done so!) and my awful spelling and grammar.
Just so I say now, so I get no confusion, this is just an honest enquiry as to whether it can be done! (Not trying to reduce "God" in any way!)


Closing Statement from Bernard White

I'm slightly worreid I won't do a good job of this summary but here I go :

I must first say this :
I implore everybody to look at my "new" God debate :
What does the theological implications do the "Psychology" and "Neuroscience" (and possibly biology) of religion/ "God(s)" have?
Link : http://www.ted.com/conversations/18226/what_does_the_theological_impl.html

This has been a wonderful debate with lots of interesting idea's. However I view, with the majority consensus, (and please correct me if I have got this wrong) that there isn't a experiment which can (dis)prove the existence of "God(s)".
I would just like to congratulate everybody for their amazing contributions to the conversation. It has given me a lot to ponder.
Kind regards (to all),

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    Apr 2 2013: What a lovely question.

    The word "experiment" is more aligned with "science" and implies an open mind with respect to the subject of inquiry along with peer reviewed, repeatable experiments. I think the word "god" is more aligned with religion and implies a more axiomatic "belief" often due to direct experience of various sorts. Seeing "The 10 Commandments" this past Easter weekend reminded me that when Moses asked God who he was, he answered "I am that I am" (or some say "I will be what I will be"). It's neat to see the way you unite these two opposed worlds in one question.

    I suspect each of us could have our own burning bush moment, that would convince us of the reality of God's existence independent of any experiment. Would we then use experiments to validate our belief? Not all of us have had that burning bush moment, but I think it's possible for everyone. And even if you have that moment, you may choose to interpret that as not-God. For example, Mathew Alper makes an excellent argument in his book the God Part of the Brain that there is a part of our brain that has evolved to feel God, for evolutionary advantage.

    It is the nature of an experiment that others can reproduce your results on their own, by repeating your experiment.

    It's an interesting question so just wanted to post my first thoughts while I stew on another response...
    • Apr 2 2013: Now I know where he got his slogan! Lol. Crazy sailor man that Popeye is!
    • Apr 2 2013: So, ultimately, science is a uniting force for humans? Even if machine could confirm there would probably still be non believers. Maybe that part of the brain is nature's experiment letting us know there is more. The universe is imperfectly perfect so logically God should be as well....... Dam...... Humans and all life inteligent enough to ask the question, are the hands of God. We can't think of God as a single entity the way we think of an individual. It's more like nature and all the levels of "being" that most people can't see. That be some machine, of this plane of existence but could see beyond it. "dark"matter, if it could be considered matter is a very interesting find. Can't wait till they find out more. Are the photos of bent light conclusive evidence of dark matter? Sorry to stray but it's all your fault! LOL...... Interesting comment.

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