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 17 2013: Well can science ever prove or disprove the paranormal or ETs. No, because by what means can you really do so let alone replicate the experiment and collect evidence. God is a conception in peoples head and most people of all religions believe "God" represents a force that transcends human thought. So if God is beyond us how can we measure Him/Her. If just one anomaly was found that could be a good start. For instance if one hominoid fossil date back before the Cambryan than that would be puzzling! Every bit of credible evidence supports what some call the "Materialistic" world view of science. However if a single irrefutable piece of data contradicted the existing paradigm than that would be the beginning of discovery toward a new dimension of reality which may be God or closer to him. I doubt that will happen but you never know...
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      • Apr 17 2013: i feel you. The CIA was doing remote viewing studies for awhile, and i wish the results where published. Im not against the possibility of metaphysics but im skeptical of not only when there are claims but the method of the analysis. Micheal Shermmer of skeptic magazine says "before we jump to the conclusion something is out of this world we must make sure its not of this world." A scientific claims has to be both verifiable and falsifiable. A sound conclusion cannot come before sound analysis and all avenues exhausted. Im actually intrigued by the paranormal and am willing to believe if the right evidence was there or i personally had an experience. I worry too, that claims of metaphysics may threat the scientific process. There are people who choose to except bad science when it fits there view while simultaneously discarding oceans of established data formulating the existing scientific notion of reality.
        • Apr 17 2013: Hi Keith!
          I understand your concerns, but strong statistical evidence really does deserve to be looked at. In fact, most all of the reaerchers became interested in this area - not because of personal experience (such as you and I). But, because they learned of the solid evidence. They wanted to test the evidence for themselves. And then they began the endeavor (the classical scientific process), of trying to find the process that allows for this phenomenon to produce the statistical weight it has. An example is Sir Roger Penrose, an eminent mathematician and physicist at Oxford. He (as well as the other highly credentialed researchers I cited), deserve to be seriously considered.
          May I ask you to at least read "Proof of ESP" by Targ first, and then we have common ground to work with.

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