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 7 2013: paradigm paralysis keeps people from seeing that which is evident.......that there is something that we are a part of that many people intuitively feel and see in many different forms. the underlying theme is consistant.we are more than what we can see we consist of levels o f energy that cant be detected with current devices as well as physical forms which we all agree on,and connection with our higher self is very beneficial.some people connect with it without realising it or possibly even believing in it.
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      Apr 7 2013: Could be, or people might be imagining this cosmic connection and personifying it.
      • Apr 8 2013: unless you had that moment yourself all the explainin in the world wouldnt help change an indiffere attitude.
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          Apr 8 2013: I have had some profound experiences. I'm not indifferent. I just realise that most of the contradictory explanations must be bunk, and all are highly speculative.

          I don't deny there may be gods, afterlife, ghosts etc, but am yet to find compelling evidence, rather than all the subjective contradictory explanations. I'm , but not convinced as by any of the theistic or deist explasnastions. I guess you also reject most supernaturasl explanations.

          I think most religious type experiences are just in our minds, like when we dream, or have imaginary friends as children, or experience differrent brain states similar to when I meditate or are falling asleep or when people take drugs.

          It could all be in our mind. And if it isn't we obviously don't have a reliable way of seperasting fact from fiction. The uncaused cause arguments seem so flawed to me. Everything we understand now, that used to attribute to gods or spirits seem to have natural causes. While many mysteries remain, I prefer to say I don't know rather than put forward another subjective interpretation. No problem with people following a subjective or intuitive path until they assert it as a fact, which I'm happy to debate, or object to if it leads to harm.
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          Apr 8 2013: Seems a bit weak if you need to have a religious experience in order to believe bin some speculative subjective proposition that is just as reliable as all the other conflicting subjective beliefs.

          I suggest the fact is these experiences do not prove a god exists any more than imaginary friends are proof of invisible people.

          I believe many people honestly believe they were abducted by aliens, or saw ghosts, just we havent been able to prove aliens or ghosts exist.
      • Apr 8 2013: re; "I have had some profound experiences."
        I'm sure you've had some, just none spiritual.
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          Apr 8 2013: Nathan, I'm curious. What makes an experience "spiritual" in your perception?
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          Apr 9 2013: How do you know these experiences I class as unexplained or most likely naturally explained are not the same as those you would call spiritual.

          It is very presumptuous of you to jump to this conclusion based on such little data. It may be indicative of a poor critical thinking ability to jump to intuitive conclusions based on insufficient data.

          I've cast out demons, seen ghosts or spirits, talked to god, had an out of body experience etc. Suggest we may just becoming to different conclusions from similar data.

          Perhaps you are stuck in your paradigm and are not open to the possibility you could be completely wrong in your subjective beliefs.
      • Apr 9 2013: thats the thing. I never claim to have the "answer" , only my "answer" and even that answer will morph and change as i grow. what i say is not representative of everyone, as i can only draw from my own life , it is only representative of myself. and for you to use the examples you use doesnt even explain me.if there is one thing that i truly believe ,without empirical data, is that we are mind body and soul.all equal parts and just as important. there is no such thing as "super natural" theres only natural. even the parts that puzzle people, however they may, if its within any realms of this universe its all natural being the nature of our universe. super natural always sounded like a misrepresentation of part of the natural universe.ive never seen a demon, i know someone named angel I sometimes say god when i talk but never had an exchange or a back and forth with god but then again my version of god is probly not what you imagine it to be.
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          Apr 9 2013: I LOVE this Nathan, and I live my life adventure in a similar way....never claiming to have "the answer"....only "my answer" at any given time. I also have the wonderful experience of morphing, changing, learning, growing and evolving with new information all the time:>)

          We are multi- sensory, multi- dimensional humans, with the capacity to explore the life experience on many different levels. I see no point in limiting myself and the possibilities.

          TOTALLY agree...."there is no such thing as "super natural" theres only natural". I believe that what people sometimes call "super natural", are experiences that we may not yet understand on a human level. I agree.."if its within any realms of this universe its all natural being the nature of our universe". YES, YES, YES!!! I never accepted the term "supernatural" either!

          I would give you 100 thumbs up for this comment if I could....unfortunately, I've maxed out for you....sending you a hug and a smile:>)

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