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: Philosophers have developed several classic proofs for the existence of God:

    1. God is the greatest concept we can imagine, and since it is "greater" to exist than to not exist, God must exist.
    2. Someone must have set this whole universe into motion
    3. Some people proclaim to have experienced God themselves, so he must exist

    Only the third type I list here is I think amenable to scientific experimentation. Rick Stassman, MD, performed government sanctioned experiments with test subjects on the drug DMT - experiences with "God" are reported on such drugs. Also, the now banned infamous TED talk given by Graham Hancock mentions the naturally brewed version of this drug several times.

    But it does not take a drug, as seemingly similar states of mind may be evoked or provoked under other situations, such as: A near death experience, intense prayer or meditation, or rhythmic drumming, chanting and dancing such as you might see at a Haitian dance.

    Numerous times, willing subjects have had their brains scanned while communing with God, whatever that means to them, and we have identified a part of the brain that consistently lights up when people are in such a state. Some call this the "god part of the brain".

    If you experienced god while under the influence of such a drug, would that suffice as sufficient evidence? Or is such an experience only valid while not under the influence of any drug?

    It seems the story of the Jews exodus from Egypt as retold on Passover is all about God proving his existence. First he has to send all those biological weapons of mass destruction down like locusts and boils, then he sets about murdering innocent Egyptian children, then finally the Pharaoh lets the Jews go. What's it take for a god to be taken seriously around here?
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      Apr 2 2013: I don't think the psychology of "God" gives more "evidence" for any side.
      Am willing to be corrected, but you could argue : "God put the psychology into us for us to understand and connect with him" or you could just say : "God is just an cognitive illusion generated by our brains".
      And both are equally probable and valid statements in my opinion.
      There is no way to prove or disprove either of them, unless there is way to test them.
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      Apr 7 2013: 1 circular reasoning.
      2 why not something rather than someone. Argument from ignorance.
      3 they may be experiencing something but this is not proof of god, maybe incorrect interpretation.

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