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 27 2013: Thanks Obey,

    I agree with your views.

    You know, it seems universal an feature of mankind (minus a few exceptions), that religious thought is part of our internal psyche in an attempt to find order in nature. And that same feature spins of and gives birth to Science , a more evolved mechanism to manage reality in an attempt to find order in nature.

    SIR TOBY: Does not our lives consist of the four elements?
    SIR ANDREW: Faith, so they say; but I think it rather consists of eating and drinking.
    SIR TOBY: Thou'rt a scholar; let us therefore eat and drink.
    Shakespeare (Twelfth Night,1601 II iii)

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      Apr 27 2013: Your right! :)
      Read :

      - "We are programmed to believe in a god" By Jesse Bering for the Guardian :

      - "Is God an Accident?" By Paul Bloom for the Atlantic :
      Both atheists, who delve into the "Psychology of "God(s)" / Religion".

      The only real controversy is whether religion is an actual evolutionary mechanism (e.g it helped us survive by encouraging pro-social behaviours and stopped us from cheating when we easily could have). Or whether it is a by-product of other evolutionary mechanisms. (E.G just like "music" is.)

      However a great quote from Justin L. Barrett, a Christian psychologist who is an expert in the field of "The cognitive science of religion" (and has written many books about it!) response, about the existence of God :

      "Christian theology teaches that people were crafted by God to be in a loving relationship with him and other people, Why wouldn't God, then, design us in such a way as to find belief in divinity quite natural?” Having a scientific explanation for mental phenomena does not mean we should stop believing in them. “Suppose science produces a convincing account for why I think my wife loves me — should I then stop believing that she does?"

      Which is an interesting in debate in itself, considering many animals can not believe in a God (or it is thought) due to them lacking the cognitive capabilities of us (Specifically not having as a good of "Theory of mind" as us!). And that humans below the age of two can't believe in a God(s) either, so I don't know what theological implications this has!

      Here is the link to a really interesting debate between Paul Bloom and Justin L. Barrett, about "Why people believe in God(s)", while they agree on the facts :

      Kind regards,
      Bernard. :-)

      P.S : Hope this helped!
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        Apr 29 2013: Regarding humans evolving to assume agency and being predisposed to gods being consistent with the idea of a Christian god. Sure it is in some ways.

        We can invent god concepts that create humans the way we are.
        God made us so we breathe air
        So we eat
        So we reproduce sexually
        So we are always in tension between instincts and reason
        So we like sports
        Are bad drivers
        Like fatty foods
        Don't like brussel sprouts
        So we can talk, farm, build, write etc
        So we can sing its praises and bow down and worship it and wear silly clothes.
        Yes, that wasn't hard was it.

        On the tendency to god belief.....seemed god choose not to make all of us strongly enough inclined this way. Maybe stuffed up with the atheists.

        If God is connected to any specific dogma, it also made us so we believe in all sorts of contradictory beliefs.

        If there is just one creator god, and not a committee, it didn't make it specific enough to be monotheistic.

        Actually this god might be responsible for a universe with suffering naturally, or by its human creations.

        God is responsible for creating humans that sacrifice animals and other humans, that rape, murder, and get dementia, myopia etc.

        I suggest a natural universe, evolution, science provide better explanations based on evidence.

        This is just another unverifiable aspect to god concepts that are designed to explain anything you want, but in such a way that there is no evidence or explanation of the mechanism of how a god did it.

        I suggest space dogs seeded human on earth to give them shelter, feed them, and pick up their poop.

        Or it could have been some aliens that like to watch human reality TV. They waited a few billion years for us to evolve and develop the technology.

        There is just as much evidence for these two scenarios as a god waiting 13 billion years for us to evolve to worship it and get it wrong most often. I guess that's why it made the universe so big, so it had something else to look at while waiting.

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