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 3 2013: What you request is simply impossible, God is by definition: all mighty (omnipotent), in order for God to be omnipotent, it must know all (omniscient) and in order to be omniscient it must be omnipresent. Now, regardless of if your definition of omnipresent includes time or not, the fact that God is omnipresent implies necessarily that its nature and substance cannot be separated from the rest of the universe, which means that you cannot sample, count or in any (human or superhuman) way measure anything related to God. If you cannot sample, count or in any way measure something, then that something is outside the reach of science. Which leads you to the unavoidable conclusion that any "evidence" in favor or against the existence of God is necessarily FALSE!!
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      Apr 3 2013: So with your definition of "GOD" the Ancient Greek Gods aren't Gods?
      Because the Greek Gods weren't "omnipotent" and "omniscient" because they could be tricked.
      Yes that is why I am a strong agnostic. (With regard to any evidence if favour or against the existence of God...)
      Also hate to go on, but would be nice if you could define "existence" as well.
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      Apr 7 2013: This is just your definition. It is not the only definition.

      Its a philosophical definition, that tells us very little. Just some vague terms. Does it care if humans exist?

      What does it mean to be all powerful. Why not very powerful.

      If it knows everything then it knows the future? So it knows its future decisions, it has no choice.

      If it is everywhere it must have come into existence when space came into existence?

      Does it intervene in the universe, or deist. Is it good or evil
      Why this partial definition? Why does this have more merit than others .
      Its completely speculative and untestable.
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      Apr 7 2013: Also nothing testable.

      In fact it could have willed itself into non existence a billion years ago.

      No reasons to assume any relevance to humans.

      We can also conclude it has not made any decent attempts at showing us it exists
      • Apr 7 2013: nothing were capable of testing ..if its responsible for the universe then its very relevant any conclusion made is on an assumption that ,had it made attempts, you would see them. your presuming god be obvious the way you would be but there's plenty of people that would say its right in front of our faces . just a different viewpoint never claiming to be the"answer".
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          Apr 7 2013: Yes I have heard the evidence for yahweh, or Allah is the world around us.

          Its not a very convincing argument, would you agree. Technically an argument from ignorance.

          Sure a god may have made subtle contact with humans. So subtle and open to interpretation we can not be sure they are anything more than conflicting subjective interpretations of natural brain states.

          I suggest if there is a god or goddesses, then it is so remote or unintelligible, we seem to know very little about it or what it thinks about humans. We don't even know it exists, let alone its nature. So if it exists it might as well not for all practical purposes. There could be a billion little gods sitting on my computer or in every atom.

          We just have a lot of speculative interpretations, culturally shaped, of psychological experiences, perhaps imaginary ffriendss, and arguments from ignorance often with special pleading. And maybe one god view is correct or there could be gods so different from all human concepts.

          The point is no one seems to know anything reliably about gods. Who of all the conflicting views has it right?
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          Apr 8 2013: George didn't say it was a universe creator.

          What we have is a human concept of a god that can not be tested or proven.

          We don't know if it exists or existed in the past.

          We don't know what it wants, whether it intervenes in human affairs.

          Sure it could exist, and not bothered to reveal itself in an obvious way. It might not even care if humans exist.

          We just dont know and have no reliable way to find out if it does exist and whether it wants anything from humans. It is probably no more relevant than every other untestable speculative iteration of a creator god.

          This god existing is no different from this god not existing as far as we can tell.
      • Apr 7 2013: you want a group consensus when its a personal endeavor. find your higher power.
      • Apr 8 2013: he didnt say that he wasnt either and my creator differs from the biblical. im part of the SBNR crowd and even they vary from subject to subject.
      • Apr 8 2013: I think hes saying he is the universe.

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