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: If God does exist, then it is within human consciousness.

    Which is why science could never reach it - let alone define it.
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      Apr 9 2013: Agree. :P
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      Apr 10 2013: What do you mean god would be in human consciousness?

      Also, how did you come to this conclusion?

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        Apr 10 2013: It used to be thought that spiritual feelings were confined to one particular "God spot" in the brain, but has since been refuted by new research, which in a nutshell is saying that a decreased focus on the self coincides with increased feelings of spirituality. This is as a result of studying impairment or malfunction to the right parietal lobe (the centre of 'self'), and Buddhist meditative practices that effectively decrease activity in this region:


        It's more likely therefore, that spiritual feelings are spread across multiple areas of the brain - different areas for different people. Which leads me to think that there is no single experiment that could ever be devised to determine the existence of God as a collective norm in humans.
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          Apr 10 2013: That is interesting Allan. I have read research in the past that indicated an INCREASE in right brain functioning indicates the "God spot", or higher level of spirituality. The information you provide suggests the god spot/spirituality with "decreased right parietal lobe functioning".

          Whatever they come up with for research, I believe that all feelings are spread across multiple areas of the brain.....as you say....different areas for different people. Perhaps different experiences, beliefs and background information also influence....which, of course would embrace the idea of "different areas for different people".:>)

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