TED Conversations

Bernard White

TEDCRED 20+

This conversation is closed.

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!)

Share:

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),
Bernard.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Apr 7 2013: Thank you for the invitation you wrote on another discussion thread Bernard

    "http://www.ted.com/conversations/17451/can_we_ever_design_an_experime.html
    Many thanks.
    I would be very interested in your opinion, and input in this subject Colleen Steen. "

    I have popped into this discussion a couple times and read some of the comments.......

    Your question asks..."Can we ever design an experiment which can determine whether God exist or not?"

    I honestly cannot predict what the future holds for us, so I cannot even speculate as to the possibility of designing an experiment which can determine if there is a god or not. At this point in my evolution, it is beyond my comprehension. It seems that anything that is said about this topic is imagination, speculation, presumption, assumption, etc.
    • thumb
      Apr 7 2013: To be honest with you : I agree.
      I don't think we will ever know...
      • thumb
        Apr 10 2013: Dear Bernard,
        I do not perceive your comment as agreement with my comment.....just to clarify:>)

        I said..."At this point in my evolution, it is beyond my comprehension. It seems that anything that is said about this topic is imagination, speculation, presumption, assumption, etc."

        "At this point", seems different than "I don't think we will ever know".
    • Apr 7 2013: through your years on earth youve never had that moment?
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: What "moment" are you refering to Nathan?

        The topic question is:
        "Can we ever design an experiment which can determine whether God exist or not?"
        • Apr 7 2013: so you believe we are Mind and Body with no soul?
        • Apr 7 2013: Hi Again Colleen!
          Oops, I forgot to mention what I think(?), Nathan may be getting at, an experiencial epiphany - such as experienced by early Existentialist, Blaise Pascal. Carl Jung or Neuro-surgeon, Eban Alexander.
          Am I correct Nathan?
          My wife and I are now going on a nice walk on this beautiful afternoon!
          Cheers to all!
          Jordan
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Nathan,
        I believe the body, including the brain/mind is powered by energy. If you choose to call that energy "soul" that is your choice.
        • Apr 7 2013: it is indeed energy, not testable with current devices. what lead you to believe that? intuition? thats what i meant about that moment . unless you mean something different when you say energy.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Actually Nathan, I think it is scientifically proven that energy moves through the body, including the brain.

        That is what I experienced with a NDE/OBE
        • Apr 7 2013: you mean electricity?
        • Apr 7 2013: Hi Colleen!
          I'm afraid it's true ... I'm baaack :) So, you've experienced a NDE/OBE? Interesting! I'm getting the feeling that this experience is simply too personal to share for you?
          I began having spontaneous OBEs when young. I was told it was a bad thing and that I could become possessed by a demon if I continued to allow this to happen. So, I suppressed it, only to realize later that good ol' St. Paul talked about those (I believe including himself), were who able to visit the 'Third Heaven". This was the beginning stage for my distain for religion, theology(human interpretations), etc. and my letting-go process of previous, unproven (blind faith), security-based models of 'reality' and my reliance on personal, experiencial evidence to slowly build a model closer to 'reality'. Because it is more based on my personal experience and I am taking complete responsibility for it (not always easy or fun), I am much more at pease with where I am and feel no need to defend it to anyone.
          Cheers!
          Jordan
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Nathan....not just electricity. Based on your other comments, you are apparently aware of different kinds of energy....different levels and frequencies of energy, energy in the universe that we are a part of. There may be energies that are not yet discovered by humans.
        • Apr 7 2013: so you do believe that we are mind body and soul?which would be a sort of faith. since we cant confirm visually.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Nathan,
        There is evidence that we are mind and body....that is confirmed.....yes? It is also confirmed that energy moves through our body/mind/brain...yes?

        My personal belief is that the energy that powers the body is the same as what some people refer to as soul or spirit.
        • Apr 7 2013: is the energy that is confirmed to run through our body the fact that we use electrical impulses for all our physical workings. do you believe this energy is eternal? .....then again all things are eternal in the sence that atoms dont just dissapear. they are recycled indefinitely.....I think.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: I agree with you Nathan....energy does not just disappear. I believe energy, including the energy that powers the body, is recycled.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Hey Jordan.....welcome back....hope you had a nice walk with your wife:>)

        Yes....NDE/OBE...23 years ago after a near fatal head/brain injury....horse back riding accident....I guest lectured at the university for years about it, and have mentioned it here on TED several times.

        Glad you are at peace:>)
    • Apr 7 2013: so you dont believe in the soul part of us?
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: I'm afraid to say.
        I have am confused what people mean by "soul", I find the idea of the "soul" a bit too problematic, just like the after-life. But I can't really "know". (Yet I don't find the concept of a "God" odd. :P)
        EDIT : Just unlikely. (Depending on your definition!)
        • thumb
          Apr 7 2013: hi Bernard, maybe it would help to think bubbles in soda, the gas in the bubbles were created by a force into the liquid and are temporarily separate from their source, yet they are the same as their source. soul is individual "spirit" like we are individual gods of one source god. when you separate the whole, the parts need names, eh? this make sense?
        • Apr 7 2013: or just knowing that there are levels and frequencies of energy, existance that comprises the universe that we are most definitely a part of so the idea of a soul is not really far fetched at all.
        • Apr 7 2013: read about entanglement.read about dark matter. play " what ifs" ask people smarter, people less inteligent,ponder, conclude, take it back.....repeat.
        • thumb
          Apr 8 2013: Oh glen, I don't think you understand carbonation of soda.
          The carbon dioxide is different to the liquid water etc. Its dissolved in the liquid under pressure.

          Your metaphor might be more useful if you were talking about boiling water and bubbles of steam.

          I suggest our mind or consciousness etc are most likely emergent properties of our brains. There could be more to it, but this seems speculative as evidenced by all the conflicting spiritual and religious interpretations.

          NDE may reflect the self continuing after death, but equally they could be hallucinations. Even our dreams are amazing brain experiences that feel real. But they happen all the time and most of us don't read too much into them.
        • thumb
          Apr 8 2013: Bernard, Glenn, Nathan, and Obey,
          How does it feel to think that the words "soul" and "spirit" may have been created to try to describe the energy that moves through the body/mind? Could that which is called "consciousness", and subconscious also be energy? It could still be "emergent properties of our brains" Obey, because we have energy moving through the brain. I agree that religious interpretations cause quite a bit of conflicting, confusing information, thoughts and feelings.

          Science has now proven that energy moves through the body/mind, and I think it has been known by some folks for a very long time.....even back to ancient times.

          For me Obey, the NDE does not reflect the "self continuing after death", because that suggests that I might be the same "self", which is not what I experienced.

          In my perception and experience, hallucinations and dreams are also energy. I believe energy moves through the body/mind and is a carrier for lots of information in many different forms, which are all interconnected.

          When we try to seperate the different forms...soul...spirit....conscious...subconscious...dreams...hallucinations....etc. etc., it may become confusing.

          When we recognize the interconnectedness, it feels more simple....in my humble perception. Energy connects everything......everyone.....energy powers everything in our world as we know it...... and beyond:>)
        • thumb
          Apr 9 2013: Thanks for the clarification colleen.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: How's the homework going Nathan?

        Regarding your comment....I cannot get my response closer....sorry....

        "i really am curious as to what your take is on the idea of an essence that comprise us as humans that is not currently detectable.i.e soul,energy,mana , dark matter..... whether u know it or not i look up to u,through ur answer won't change my outlook I'm jus curious."

        I did NOT know you looked up to me, and I am honored....thank you for that feedback...I appreciate it:>)

        I'm not sure if this addresses your curiosity, and it's really nothing earth shattering....

        I believe the body is matter (I don't think that is a secret), and the material body is powered by energy, which can be called soul, spirit, etc.
        • Apr 7 2013: homework was going but I'm easily distracted but myemail allert chime. i agree somewhat but i didn't seeif they believed in a soul though they did say existance precedes essence but i don't know what there definition of existance is,but i will read further.thanks
    • Apr 7 2013: Hi Coleen!
      Nice to meet you! I'm not quite so doubtful as my buddy Bernard seems to be. I think the emerging science of consciousness research, much more advanced technology, new paradigms of thought - from experimental work, new experimental protocols AND time ... may give folks new insights and direction for this question. At least for those interested. Whew! ... sounds a little like a cake recipe!
      Cheers!
      Jordan
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Hi Jordan!
        Nice to meet you too:>)

        I agree....with the emerging science of consciousness research and more advanced technology, we usually find answers to questions, which often lead to even more questions! So, yes...we put all the information together and blend.....see what kind of cake we come up with! LOL:>)
        Cheers!
        • thumb
          Apr 7 2013: I wonder what that cake tastes like.
          Yummy (Hopefully?) :-)
        • Apr 7 2013: i really am curious as to what your take is on the idea of an essence that comprise us as humans that is not currently detectable.i.e soul,energy,mana , dark matter..... whether u know it or not i look up to u,through ur answer won't change my outlook I'm jus curious.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Jordan,
        Regarding your comment...I cannot get a response any closer.

        "Hi Again Colleen!
        Oops, I forgot to mention what I think(?), Nathan may be getting at, an experiencial epiphany - such as experienced by early Existentialist, Blaise Pascal. Carl Jung or Neuro-surgeon, Eban Alexander.
        Am I correct Nathan?
        My wife and I are now going on a nice walk on this beautiful afternoon!
        Cheers to all!
        Jordan"

        That is what I suspected, and I thought I would let Nathan clarify his question:>)
        • Apr 7 2013: you just gave me some home work to do..I gotta go now guys...ill be back..toodles.
      • thumb
        Apr 7 2013: Sorry. If you don't mind me asking :
        (I am getting confused with all this information! :D)
        Your not a theist are you? (Or a Deist.) Sorry my memory isn't the best in the world. (Kinda bad for exams!)
        • Apr 7 2013: Ha Ha Buddy!
          I know the feeling about memory ...
          HELP! HELP! My wife is physically dragging me out the door for our promised walk on this beautiful new england day!
          I WILL get back to you a little later today!
          Cheers!
          Jordan

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.