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 16 2013: When you observe a complex object or phenomenon you ask, "where did it come from"? There are essentially two answers. One is that a more complex object or phenomenon created it. That works really well for objects you create. I made a pot, but I am more complex than the pot. So the idea the complexity derives from greater complexity leads you to a belief in the ultimate source of complexity, an omniscient and omnipotent deity. Descartes uses this assumption in his "proof" of a god. The second answer is that complexity emerges from numerous simple interactions. You are composed of cells. Both you and the pot you made are composed of molecules which are composed of atoms which are composed of subatomic particles. The Ted website is composed of ones and zeros. Planets and solar systems are created by fundamental forces. Evolution creates complex lifeforms from simpler one. Science tends to show us that complex things are created by interaction of simpler things. Physicists strive to reduce existence to fewer and fewer equations.

    So you take one of two paths. You say science can't answer the real questions, or that science is a sham, or that science is wrong. (I have seen all these statements in these Ted conversations) You then happily believe in a magical, unseen world beyond the bounds of observation (the root of science). You get to feel confident of your importance in the universe as it is most likely made for you and you can be sure of a grand plan.

    You could also take the other path and believe that there is no grand plan or intergalactic super-being to whom you are special. Life and thought and just self sustaining complex chemical reactions. It seems like a more depressing path and forces you to embrace humility and struggle with the meaning of a life that has no real special meaning. I can understand people not choosing this path.

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