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: Hi Renee'
    I was just dragged over here, kicking and screaming all the way, by that rascal Bernard! Well, maybe not screaming. Nice to meet you!
    Actually, the experiments are beginning to be done. If you're able to do a little fun, light reading - I would suggest "The After-Life Experiments", by Gary Schwartz.,2002. Schwartz is a credible researcher. He got his PhD in Clinical Psychology and Neurology from Harvard and was Director of Clinical Psychology and Neurology at Yale Medical. His experiments are related to the subject of this group, at least in a secondary way I think.
    The interesting part for me (aside from his interesting data), is how his peers reacted. In the beginning he got lots of critiques on flaws they saw in his procedures. Eventually he had produced a really tight set of double-blind protocols that could no longer be criticized.
    Then the really interesting reactions began. Many of his peers began to 'say wow, this is really interesting - stay with it we're intrigued'. While others began to accuse him of fraud and deception! So, here we have a highly credentialed and respected researcher (with much already peer reviewed and published work) being accused of deception. For his findings? Looks a little like freudian projection to me.
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      Apr 2 2013: Haha :p
      You done it again!
      You need to press "reply" (top right corner of repsonse) and then press submit, after you have written the message, if you want them to get the notification and respond! Very important. :)
      Just to say you seem like a very positive intellectual. (If you don't mind me asking, what do you "do"?) :P
      You can always delete comments, or edit them.
      Or you can do @Jordan Burrill at the beginning of your comments! (Not obviously your name, but the person you want to sent the message to, I think!)
      • Apr 2 2013: Hi Berard,
        I think I've managed to confuse both of us - Hey! another super power! Cool!
        Sometimes I press "submit" on a contribution and then I see more of my creative typos, etc. (I'm a bit dyslexic - I don't want to brag over my amazing number of super powers)! I then try to "edit" my "creativity" by hitting the red "edit" which makes my goofy contribution 'editable'. I am able to usually edit my over-creativity, but when I try to re-"Submit" my corrected contribution, It often doen't return to a posted format. I admit it, computers just don't like me! Another super power?

        I'm a professional sculptor and a practicing occultist. You can read about my 'tails of daring and adventure' at TrueAscensionLLC.com . Which is, like me - a work in process! It (my site), will maybe help explain my continued effort to be relaxed and hopefully encouraging to folks. (Yes it IS true God does have a sense of humor and I am the proof :D!) My belief system / model of reality is organic and based on my personal experiences. I've had experience with religion / ideology (blind faith). These are what make people defensive / offensive. They are usually accepted - built for security or comfort reasons. So, people feel the need to defend it. I have little to feel protective about in this because I work continually at introspection when dealing with cognitive-disonance. I am looking for 'reality'. I'd rather accept the discomfort of ambiguity than to feel good, but defensive. So, I have no robot in the fight. Whew ... I'm betting you're now sorry you asked! :D.
        Best Wishes,
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          Apr 2 2013: :)
          I will make sure I check out your site.
          I don't know why but Cognitive Dissonance seems like the most know, yet most misunderstood psychological effect out there. (Not saying that you don't understand it!)
          Have you read a book called "Mistakes were made but not by me", really good book explains "Cognitive Dissonance" in quite a lot of detail.
          For me reality is basically uncertainty, and what I perceive (Consciously).
          In the way everything has a degree of uncertainness to it from my own perspective, due to the fact that nothing is really "certain" and is just "most probable", for instance we base all discoveries on the past, and expect consistency yet we don't know whether the laws of physics will suddenly change. (As Einstein said, roughly on these lines : The universe doesn't have to be as it is, and it doesn't really. Not sure why it is, maybe it just is...)
          Got a bit side tracked there. :)
          I mean I'm an agnostic about solipsism, yet out of process of elimination, view it as incredibly unlikely, but still call myself an agnostic for I see no way to prove that I exist (and aren't just a produce of someone imagination) or that other people exist. Yet have decided that I am going to live my life as if the external world exists, no matter what! (SORRY! I got so side tracked didn't I! :P)

          EDIT : I am reading your blog now! And was just wondering, do you believe in a form of "Pantheism"?
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      Apr 7 2013: Not sure why an afterlife implies any gods or goddesses.
      • Apr 7 2013: Hi bud!
        A very good question! After you have had a chance to read and reflect on it, I think the answer to this question (and perhaps some others), may present itself to you. In the mean time, I'm reminded of an old saying; 'birds of a feather ... '.
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          Apr 7 2013: I'm just pointing out even if humans are conscious in some way after brain death, after the body is completely decomposed, this could happen without any gods or goddess.

          Perhaps the Buddhists are right and we reincarnate with or without the help of gods.

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