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 21 2013: Obey,you are right. The fact that the oven even exists to allow something to "appear in it" really starts the argument off on the wrong tenet. The greatest of all mysteries is where did "anything" (anything!) come from? Pretty hard to explain. "Practically non existent" doesn't hold up. Somewhere in the deep deep distance, obviously beyond all comprehension but definitely connected to us, a circle was broken. You can't tell me that "something" has always existed. Where did "it" come from? Really, there is a much better argument for nothing to exist. Wouldn't be here to argue on that one. I attribute that circle being broken to GOD. A pretty complex individual. I don't buy Hawking.
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      Apr 22 2013: Hi tim, i was just having some fun with what might have been a metaphor, but then more seriously, there is obviously a categorisation fallacy to compare cakes, with life, or the universe. To imply agency is required for cupcakes, so it must be behind the origin of life or the universe, or snowflakes, or the weather, or the tides, or movement of planets etc is obviously fallacious for this reason.

      I guess there is the physics definition of nothing, and the laypersons, are different.

      I agree something changed. We ended up with what we have now, and it hasnt always been this way.

      Also, apparently the total energy of the universe is zero. 0 > +1 - 1. So nothing or whatever it was changed into some other stuff, that kind of cancels itself out in total.

      What there was before the big bang, what is outside this expanding universe. Does before or outside even make sense. Apparently space is curved. You head off in one direction and end up coming back from behind. Reality is counter intuitive for even the smartest primates, the smartest minds we reasonably know exist, us.

      We have some pretty good scientific ideas about the development of the universe as we see it today, down to the early stages. I guess at some point is gets much harder to work out with confidence, or to a point we may never know or comprehend.

      I guess im comfortable with saying i dont know, and apparently as a species there are things we dont yet know with reasonable confidence. I just find positing a god to fill the gaps has no real explanatory power. Whereas it satisfies others.

      Personally i think we evolved to assume agency, and deal with a cause and effect middle sized reality, and so for some a magical inexplicable agency, one that does not follow the rules of reality seems to plug the gap, without answering anything really.

      Something must have done it, works for many. But i think this just raises another set of questions, and is really an argument from ignorance.

      Is god a something?
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          Apr 24 2013: I agree some god concepts posit a being, person, intelligence, mind, a conscious entity of some sort that is not restricted by the laws of physics, that is not bound by time or space, is not material but can create or manipulate energy and matter at will etc

          It is not part of the reality we can see, measure, test, understand, it is outside reality we can examine with our senses, or science, or

          You need to conceptualise another sort of unreality, for which there is no scientific evidence as far as i can tell, no compelling evidence at all. There are many increasingly vague speculative concepts, which do not meet even basic scepticism or critical thinking in my opinion.

          There could very well be an unreality outside of the reality we know and perceive, but i am yet to hear of any reliable way to consistently know anything about it, or whether it exists at
          all. In the same way there could be many universes we are not aware of. Being able to vaguely conceptualise something is not a good reason to assert it exists as more than an idea in my opinion.

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