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: Can that which is created prove scientifically whether or not the creator exists?

    You have stated the first dilemma; how do you define God? There are numerous religions that all have their own definition of God. Some can be correlated with science and some cannot. A day and night of Brahma can easily fit in with the big-bang theory. A male deity as it is defined by the Catholic Church presents issues. However, a male deity is controversial with biblical interpretation, so that hurdle has to be overcome. This is a philosophical problem. You have to establish what God is and what God isn't. Since this debate has been going on for centuries, you will have to narrow down the parameters that all can agree with. Have fun.

    The second dilemma is that you are comparing apples to oranges. The whole idea of God arose in the age of mythology. Mythology uses personifications to represent abstract ideas in human terms. Trying to prove that the character is real is a lesson in futility. It isn't the character that is real, it is what the character is alluding to.
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      Apr 10 2013: Hello Roy Bourque! :)
      My question to you would be :
      What is the metaphor of 'God' alluding to? (in your opinion that is!)
      Thanks Bernard!
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        Apr 10 2013: Bernard,
        While meditating on God, I had an experience that opened my understanding. Information was streaming in seemingly telepathically, but the gist of it was this;
        If you want to know who or what the creator is, look at what is doing the creating, for the two are one and the same. I became aware that everything in nature could be broken down to a common denominator. What the ancients called God was this very common denominator.
        Eleven years later in a nuclear physics class, I learned what the common denominator was; quantum energy fields. They are everywhere. They are invisible. They are the alpha and the omega. They are the same for all that exists. Different configurations create different properties, but the fundamental is always the same.
        Once you make this connection, misconceptions begin to reveal themselves;
        God has no sexual gender. It transcends all forms.
        God has no specific location, its power fills the universe.
        All that exists is the manifestation of that power.
        Science is the examination of that manifestation. Science sees things different from religion because it uses left brain analytical rather than right brain associative functions.
        Good and evil are subsets of cause and effect. All is relative.

        The Catholic Church divorced itself from science after its attack on Galileo. It drove a wedge between the two. Since then, people have been pushed to making a choice between science and religion. The result is that rather than coming together to find common ground, they are focusing on what is different. The fundamentalists are the worst offenders because they refuse to accept that religion is built on metaphors, allegories, and myths that have deeper meaning.

        Science is completely reconcilable to what God is. It is at total odds to what most people think God is
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          Apr 10 2013: Agree.
          I can remember when I watched a Oxford professor of philosophy (lucky me!) come to give us a talk about God and science at my school. And he claimed there shouldn't be any divorce between science and religion, and it is partly Richard Dawkins fault, with his battle against the creationists.
          I honestly have no problem with the religious people I have experienced, and their usually quite nice people who genially try to practice what they preach! So yeah.
          Thanks Bernard. :D
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          Apr 11 2013: Hi Roy, do you think god has a mind?
        • Apr 11 2013: Hi Roy!
          I think many physicists would agree (at least privately)!
          The spiritual / mystical inclination has a strong current (as it is down-played by devotees of 'Scientism' and old-fashioned materialistic modernism).
          This current runs from Coppernicus, Keppler, Newton, Pascal, Einstien, Bohm ... and into our contemporaries, such as Penrose.
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        Apr 10 2013: Bernard,
        I read Richard Dawkins book "The God Delusion" so I could know how he thinks. I was actually quite surprised because it wasn't the bible bashing book I expected it to be.

        His problem with creationists is that they not only interpret Genesis literally, but they want to teach it in schools in lieu of evolution. I have to side with him on this issue. I never saw Genesis as literal and have no problem accepting evolution as a creative process. The only difference between Mr. Dawkins and myself regarding this issue is that Mr. Dawkins sees no intelligence acting in upward causation, whereas I do.

        The second issue is that Mr. Dawkins does not see any continuation of life. Although I might disagree with how other religious people see it, I believe that life continues on in some fashion or other, be it reincarnation or spiritual beings. We know that matter and energy are conserved. We don't know about consciousness. But we know very little about consciousness, so with the information I have read about near death experience, astral projection, the akashic records, and my own spiritual experiences, I feel optimistic that this is not some open and shut life existence. We are connected in ways that we don't yet understand.

        I once asked the question; how is it possible for every electron in the universe to be exactly alike (the same being true for protons and neutrons), being that they are scattered all over the universe seemingly connected by nothing. The answer I received is; don't you dare ask that question. But it is a valid question and it has certain implications. Although I don't believe it is possible to know the answer, I believe that we are all part of a greater whole. Our individualism is what sets us apart from the whole, but we can never be separated from the whole.
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          Apr 10 2013: Interesting!
          I find that with the continuation of life, there is no evidence to suggest my life (or soul) is finite (there is a promised 'after-life' or that i just cease to exist) that life (or soul) is infinite (in the way of reincarnation). So I remain, strictly. Strong agnostic about there being an after life, or for that matter there being a 'God'. :)
          Unless there is some good logical (with true premises) that suggest one of them is true.

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