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 8 2013: Part 3. Or 'Entanglement' is next to godliness. You will need to begin doing something helpful for someone without them ever finding out that it was you - perhaps once a week. And here is the kicker, it should be for someone who drives you crazy! Most of us are developed enough to not have enemies, but we all have those people in our lives who make our stomachs knot-up when we see them. We are now practicing what the Divine does 24-7 and never receives the thanks It deserves. If you are really serious about this, there will be times when you'll not be sure what is right for that person. And THIS question is excellent fodder for your walk / talks with the Divine! Don't be afraid of It. It loves you deeply. Don't be afraid to question It, yell at It, curse at It. It can take it and loves the energetic interaction! At a point- of Its choosing It will open up to you AND BLOW YOUR MIND!!!!
    4. Download and install "Gnaural", an open source app.for our 4th concurrent skill - practice. The upper-level OBE excursions to Its realm, involving an ultra-deep meditative state that will open up your senses beyond the physical.

    A caution here is needed. Theoretically; binaural, frequency-follow brain wave entrainment could trigger a seizure in folks with a seizure condition / disorder. I've never heard of it happening, but a physician's consultation for such folks may be a very good idea.
    Also those with a history of heavy, powerful hallucinagen use - such as LSD. This technology could, possibly trigger a 'flashback'. There is anecdotal accounts of this. But, this tech. is 70 years old. I've used it for years with no ill effects.

    This tech. needs to be used in conjuction with other meditative skills that we can discuss in detail later.
    I hope these two windy posts have been helpful.

    Thanks go to Nathan for the curiousity and courage to ask!

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      Apr 8 2013: Hi Jordan,
      I've read your recent posts. It appears that the practices you advocate, while possibly very helpful and useful in some respects, are subjective in nature. The topic question is:

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

      With your suggested practices, one could certainly feel more like a god exists.....or not. I don't perceice it to be "an experiment which can determine whether god exists or not." One person can take a walk in the woods, and convince him/herself that god created everything. Another person can take a walk in the woods, and believe more in the interconnectedness of nature and evolution.
      • Apr 8 2013: Hi Colleen!
        I think the opperative word in our question at hand is the word WE, "can we ...". So, does it need to be a 'we' as a race (corporately), always or 'we' as individuals?
        Our friend Bernard openned up a side question for debate - in relation to us folks who have had profound, life-changing experiences. He noted the almost universal feeling amoung us folks where we will usually say "Don't even try to imagine this experience - you can't! You must have the experience to understand it!" It is THAT far away from our usual, daily, corporate experience as humans.
        The emerging science of consciousness research is in its infancy. There are emminant and respected researchers (from Russell Targ - laser physicist, Sir Roger Penrose - mathematician and quantum physicist, Dr. Dean Radin - PEAR, SRI, ...to Gary Schwartz PhD, Director of Neurology and Clinical Psychology at Yale Medical). But still, interesting experimental data has already begun to appear from numerous research centers. A very short list is available at my site for any looking for a place to start. I think most of the researchers came to this area because they began to hear about this interesting data and were curious about ;
        1. the validity of data concerning consciousness as a separate phenomenon from electreo-chemical brain function And ...
        2. What could the possible underlying process be?
        Us folks who've had these experiences are perhaps more curious than most as to what the underlying processes of consciousness might be.
        Since our buddy Bernard openned the barn door on us folks, it's much too late to now to try to close the barn door and corral us all up again :D ! Even though he may now wish he could :)!
        Very Best Wishes!
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          Apr 8 2013: Jordan,
          How "we" look at the question can be either as a group, or as individuals.

          I am aware of emerging research regarding science of consciousness, and also aware of the researchers......I've been exploring this topic for many years.....so....your point is?

          I don't feel "corraled".....why do you say that? Although your comment is a response to my previous comment, it seems totally unrelated.
      • Apr 8 2013: to answer your question"what makes an experience spiritual" .one of the things that can is ones openness and willingness to accept the idea that we all have a higher power that is us as much as our mind and body and that higher power being connected to everything eternally,(being god. ) to one person everyday all day could feel like a spiritual experience. every second we get to spend here is precious, when its all said and done.
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          Apr 8 2013: Wholeheartedly agree Nathan, that openness and willingness to accept, are important elements. I also totally agree that every second is precious.

          Do you think/feel there has to be a belief in a god to experience open mind and heart, acceptance and gratitude for every moment?
      • Apr 8 2013: as for my perception , its not so much as something ive experienced that was visually different, but more lik lle moments of clarity with epiphanies about connectivity to life, nature and the universe. the more i learn about the wonders of it all the more it streangthens my belief .to me science is gods incomplete,imperfect ongoing bible.
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          Apr 8 2013: Nathan, thanks for responding to my question.....I appreciate that:>)

          I understand what you mean by moments of clarity and connectivity to life, nature and the universe. Do you think/feel one has to believe in a god, or the bible to experience this wonderful feeling?
      • Apr 8 2013: Hi Collen!
        After our buddy Bernard suggested - I believe (?), the side question to our main discussion that dealt with the completely profound nature of the experience of these sort (according to those who have experienced it). Where folks say usually say that it really can't be imagined. Again, you very reasonably presume that exercises I suggested could make a person "feel more like god exists" - your words. This still takes us back to the profound nature of the experience, being personal, experiencial evidence - an individual 'we'. But, beyond our current ability to verbally technically or mathematically discribe. so, 'we' may (at least for a time, until maybe our clunky tech. catches up), may need to rely on some sort of experimental / experiencial consensus.
        That is my point, those that have had this experience (or practice experiencial experimentation in this area), simply can't accept may "feel more like god exists". Consciousness explorers (who are totally differennt from the researchers), believe they are advancing knowledge, even though the tech. is far behind and many folks who have not had this experience assume the experience is "subjective" - again, your word.
        I would suspect that you may feel that I am being dogmatic and even speaking for other folks for whom I have no right to speak for. I'm sorry but, I'm afraid I will need to stand ...er, sit on this point:)
        My comment about our friend Bernard opening the barn door was my sloppy attempt at humor. Bernard, whom I believe (?), opened up this side question, may not (in my mind), have been ready for this can of worms. I'm glad you don't feel corraled! Neither do I! It was again, my sloppy attempt at humor - which obviously needs alot of work!
        MY big question now is this; is Bernard shaking his head in disbelief or regret; or (as I suspect), he is laughing himself silly about now? :D
        Very Best Wishes!
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          Apr 8 2013: Yes Jordan, it does indeed seem like you are speaking for other people....I agree with you on that. Bernard invited me to this conversation, and he didn't say anything about a "side question", so I guess that is something between you guys.

          Yes, I agree...all experiences are personal. You say it is personal, then go on to say..."Consciousness explorers" (you are speaking for lots of other people again?) "believe they are advancing knowledge, even though the tech. is far behind and many folks who have not had this experience assume the experience is "subjective"....."

          Our experiences ARE indeed personal and subjective, and to say that a group of people all experience the same thing, is not very realistic. You seem to be contradicting yourself? I'm simply looking at what you have written, and trying to make sense of it.

          Yes, you are right, you seem to be dogmatic, and speaking for other folks. Stand or sit on that all you want my friend!
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          Apr 8 2013: P.S.
          I get the impression from your comments that you think you are better, above, more enlightened, more intelligent, etc. than other people.
      • Apr 9 2013: Hi Colleen!
        I was beginning to sense that I had offended you. I do want to apologize if I have. You are a very nice person and I regret that I may have hurt your feelings or made you feel uncomfortable in any way. I hope you will believe that this was never my intention.
        I gather you feel that I have been condescending or patronizing toward you. This was never my intention either.
        It's possible that we simply have a personality clash. I will certainly admit to being passionate and unwavering about my experiences and explorations of over 20 years and their implications. And, I will openly admit to a loss of words to express my encouragement for anyone really interested in more than just conversation and speculation.
        But, please don't interpret my strong urging - with beliefs that I must consider myself to be "better", "above", "more enlightened" or "more intellegent" ? :[ I can certainly tell you that I don't feel this way! I readily admit to NOT being the sharpest knife in the drawer! I've got a blown-up of Russell Targ's diagram of 8 dimensional space-time on the wall of my studio for months and months and have read his explanations many times - and I Still can't get it :( .
        With regard to me contradicting myself - could be, but I don't see it, yet.
        So, I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I don't see how I could (at this point), better explain my perspective in these area. But, At least you still consider me to be your "friend" and I still feel the same way toward you as well!
        Still,Very Best Wishes!
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          Apr 9 2013: I do not choose to be offended by you Jordan, nor do I choose to feel uncomfortable. It appears that you are condescending and patronizing to everyone, so I realize it is not personal.

          I perceive differences in thoughts, feelings, ideas, perceptions and beliefs. If that leads to "personality clash" for you, so be it. I do not choose to experience "personality clash" simply because we choose to see things differently.

          Yes, I perceive your "passionate and unwavering" demeanor. I have been exploring this topic for 60+ years, and it is still interesting to listen to other's thoughts, feelings and ideas. For me personally, it is not interesting to have a conversation with a person who is "unwavering"....it is more interesting to me to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and experiences.

          You have explained your perspective just fine, and I agree to disagree:>)
      • Apr 9 2013: to answer ur q. Do you think/feel one has to believe
        in a god, or the bible to experience this wonderful feeling?
        I dont know,I would lean towards no. though i do have a certain percentage of faith in jesus , I dont equate human qualities to god. if you read the intro in the book "sacred magic of angels" by david goddard, that probly represents the closest to my belief.
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          Apr 9 2013: We seem to be on the same page with this Nathan? I think you mentioned in another comment that open mindedness is important? That, to me is an important element...open mind....open heart:>)

          I have explored, researched, studied and practiced various religious and philosophical beliefs for 60+ years, and have experiences NDE/OBEs. With the information I have at this time, I do not believe in a god, and I am open minded. If someone comes up with an experiment which proves there is a god, or proves there is not a god, I will consider that information.

          What we are seeing on this comment thread are expressions of subjective experiences, which in some folk's perception may "prove" there is a god, or no god. Based on the information each person has at any given time, they/we form personal thoughts, feelings, beliefs and opinions about everything.

          As soon as we (humans) form those beliefs that seem to be etched in stone in our mind and heart, often times, the exploration stops. So, in my humble perception and experience I LIKE not knowing.....I LIKE being curious about new information....I LIKE the continual exploration of the life experience, and it seems like you do to?

          "Sacred Magic of Angels" sounds like an interesting book.
          "Angels can fly because they take themselves lightly"
          (Scottish Saying)

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