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 9 2013: @NathanCook
    I find it very unlikely that all religious beliefs can be completely correct.
    I mean if one religion says : God like mushrooms, and another says he doesn't it seems rather dubious to me.
    Yes you could say at one moment in time he did like mushrooms and then he changed his mind. (That is one way they could all be correct!) Or that people perceived it doing different things with a mushroom. (It eats the mushroom goes "this is yummy" and then another civilization see's him vomit the mushroom, and then assumes God does(n't) like the mushroom)
    There are just too many possibilities if you assume that all religions can be correct. I can accept, as Carl Jung said : that all religions could have certain truths about the human psyche produced by our unconsciousness mind, yet not that they are all right.
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      Apr 9 2013: Bernard,
      Didn't most religions start out with some very basic, similar ideas? Do unto others.....love each other.....we are all one....those kinds of beliefs?

      It seems like they seperated because of specific dogma which was created and added by humans throughout history?

      I believe the basic foundation of most religions is valuable (or "correct"), so I agree with Nathan on that part.
      What you refer to as "too many possibilities" are off-shoots of the original basic ideas, created by humans......yes? I agree that most of the dogma, created by humans is not always beneficial to the whole of humankind.

      I think/feel that with the exploration of whether or not a god exists, people often consider their own personal beliefs and experiences regarding beliefs in a god, which are often based on information they received from their particular religious organization....information which was/is created and reinforced by humans.
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        Apr 9 2013: Hello Colleen Steen (again! :D)
        With regard to your " Do unto others.....love each other.....we are all one....those kinds of beliefs?"
        Obey No1kinobe, created a very good debate about whether the Golden rule was perfect. Which I argued it wasn't (very simply because if you were someone who inflicted pain upon yourself, then by the logic of the golden rule you should be allowed to inflict pain on others. And that from a utilitarian perspective the golden rule may sometime be invalid.).
        I am a strong agnostic concerning God. Because I see no reason to believe or not to believe in any diety.
        Whatever the foundation of religion (as mentioned to before whether it was created by our "theory of mind", "wish fulfillment theory", “artificialism” (as a seen in Piaget’s “theory of cognitive development”), Cognitive Dissonance, a method to reduce anxiety in finding meaning in stress, or wanting norms to increase empathy ect...) then I find that whether or not it is true to be the most true part.
        On this matter of "I believe the basic foundation of most religions is valuable (or "correct")" have you read : Religion for Atheists by Alain de Botton. (Which was a times best seller!)
        Here is his TED Talk on this matter :
        Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0 (Link : http://www.ted.com/talks/alain_de_botton_atheism_2_0.html)
        And if there is a God, I find it highly likely that it is beyond human cognition, or is within each of us. (And probably isn't an external being independant of the human mind).
        Sorry to get quite side-tracked, now where was I? :P
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          Apr 9 2013: Hello again Bernard:>)
          I didn't say the golden rule was perfect....or not. I simply said the concept was often a belief embraced by some religions. I don't really want to debate whether or not the golden rule is valid or invalid. There is a basic understanding of the golden rule, and it seems pretty clear to me. People may debate it however s/he wishes:>)

          I do not like to label myself, and with the information I have at this time, I do not believe in a god. If an experiment is ever designed to prove there is, or is not a god, I am open to that information:>)

          You often get "side-tracked", and I am not surprised by that any more. Perhaps you are not surprised that I tend to stay on topic??? LOL:>)
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        Apr 9 2013: Haha!
        I see I must have misunderstood something. :D
        To be fair, I find there isn't really a good label to describe myself, the closest would be :
        An Strong agnostic Ignostic Pantheist. But even that doesn't really do it justice. (I know what you mean! I don't really like using labels as well! But I do, for some odd reason!)

        "You often get "side-tracked", and I am not surprised by that any more. Perhaps you are not surprised that I tend to stay on topic??? LOL:>)"
        :D I do don't I?
        Have you watched that TED Talk though? (Or read the book?)
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          Apr 10 2013: Aren't labels fun.
          I quite like thinking of the heirachy of labels

          I start with child of this universe and end with all blacks supporter.

          Lots of stuff in the middle

          On this topic agnostic atheist, but also a skeptic tending towards humanism
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          Apr 10 2013: If that label "doesn't really do it justice", Bernard, why do you use it? I accept the label of "EXPLORER":>)

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