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 26 2013: While science tries to explain the invisible through the visible, there is no room for God/Spirit /Consciousness in the dictionary of science, it has no proof either.
    But now with modern physics once we grasp the full implication of the quantum message we can never again naively believe that the world 'out there' is more real than the world ' in here' .
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      Apr 27 2013: Hi Natasha, while I am open to the possibility of things deserving the name gods or goddesses, i disagree that the cosmic and quantum understanding we have developed points to there being gods or goddesses.

      For me it shows how counter intuitive, complex and amazing life and the universe is.

      I remember a high school class where one student slapped the desk saying he couldn't accept it was 99.9999999999% empty space.

      There could be ghosts, nature spirits, faerie, gods, or beings not imagined. Just nothing that confirms they exist.

      I can partially see the attraction or intuitive connection between some aspects of our scientific understanding, and god concepts, cosmic consciousness, and mysterious connections, but suggest often a fair bit of extrapolation is involved beyond what we have reasonably confirmed is probably correct.

      Understanding there are invisible forces like gravity doesn't mean there are invisible agencies, such that have been assumed for everything from disease to floods and lightening.
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        Apr 28 2013: Its the mind that makes "gods" real just like the table that is sitting in front of you. Does your knowing that it is 99.999999999% empty make it less real to you or more real or does it hold its original value? The question you should really ask your self is what am I actually seeing? And then there was light
      • Apr 29 2013: Hi, Obey !
        That student is who we are, we can't accept the fact that the desk is 99.9999999999% empty space. Why ? Because we all have a strong collective belief in totally the opposite : the desk is solid.
        Our belief makes it solid, our collective mind expectation creates matter/ the world as we know it.
        For how long will we entertain the idea of external God ?
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          Apr 29 2013: Hi again,

          My take is we evolved to eat and avoid and mate with medium sized, medium speed things.

          So our senses have evolved to perceive lions and fruit and other humans.

          Not individual atoms, not distant planetoids.

          Suggest it is a mix of sense perception, belief, and focus.

          We know about atoms, bacteria, the minature world. SSometimes we focus on it, say when working with a microscope. But driving home we focus on the medium sized objects, especially the buses.

          I expect external god concepts will be around for a while, I don't personally believe in one. I guess there are many other god concepts, god in us, everywhere, in quantum fields. Maybe the external god willed itself into oblivion a billion years ago.
      • Apr 29 2013: I think the main problem is that vexed ' objective VS subjective' business.
        Objectivity is the illusion of a subject, hardly anything more. Multiply it to the number of agents /subjects currently ' working' in the field , add the time aspect:15 billion years ( ? ) I don't know. And what we'll get is a self fulfilling prophecy, mass hallucination... collective dream, what have you. We call it ' objective reality ' , fine !
        We swallow the fact of 99.9999999999% empty space, the quanta fluctuation from the state of existence to non existence 3 bl.times per second ( on average it doesnt' exist and resides in indeterminate zone) ... the result of a double slit experiment ( consciousness , the 'eye' of the observer is required to collapse the wave function and push a particle into existence )....we swallow all these and many other facts without altering our attitude !
        Amazing !
        We still think that quantum world is standing apart from our ' human' physical world, but if you accept this division , you have a logical philosophical, experiential mess in your hands ! The nature is fractal all over the genre, ' as above so below ' .
        To question the doctrine of objectivity is a right place to start in the search for a higher dimension, call it God or whatever the name . I think it prefers to be unnamed, but to communicate the idea we need a symbol and we have it.

        Have a nice day !

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