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 29 2013: First of all you cant disprove the theory of the existence of a higher entity just because it cant be proved. You have to have basic proofs and facts that say. yes there is no god. as far as i have read in my humble opinion, god can not be dis proved because science has not given even a single evidence for that notion to be further investigated.
    Throughout history, things which were previously dis proven were proved later on and proved theories were dis proven.Even in this day and age, most of the major theories are still theories because they have not been proved in the ultimate sense of proof.
    Ultimately, science is assumptions which in the course of time, became proven theories, and even god is a theory which may or may not be proved through science. Science can't prove everything. It can show us the way maybe.
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      Apr 29 2013: Salman,

      You are stating that absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, now I see a misunderstanding of evidence and empirical science. Absence of evidence certainly is no proof of absence -- there aren't any empirical proofs in the mathematical sense -- but it is evidence of absence. That is, it does not falsify absence, and in fact gives reason to suspect absence. Just how good evidence of absence it is depends on how hard evidence of presence was sought. If we try really really hard to find evidence of life on Mars, using every technique we can think of, and yet we fail to do so, this is strong evidence that there is no life on Mars. If I say that that I can't find any elephants in my room is overwhelming evidence that there are none (at least in my room)because they ought to be easy to find. Now notice that I state evidence not proof.(100% certainty, maybe i miss the elephant on the ceiling fan). Absence of reports of elephants is evidence of something, because of the meaning of the word evidence.
      Plus he who argues to the positive existence of God also carries the burden of presenting evidence for his (her)assertion.
      I think you have the term 'theory" confused with a guess(educated hunches in science lingo are hypothesis) A theory (science context) does not imply uncertainty, instead is a coherent group of general propositions to explain phenomena.In the other hand theories like the Aether were replaced for better explanations via experimentation, imagination and lots, lots of hard work. No absolute proofs (sorry).
      God is not a theory, or a hypothesis is an article of faith.

      -"If the facts don't fit the theory,
      change the facts"

      • Apr 29 2013: All i am saying is we assume that either there is a god, supreme being, etc or we assume that there is no god. On god, science up until now does not have the capability to deliver basic presumptive theories which can be turned into unquestionable facts.
        What you call facts are essentially assumptions that are either proven to be facts or proven to be false.
        Theories are not guesses. i know that. It is these assumptions that eventually give rise to theories.
        I understood this when someone told me that you cant have faith in god, but you can have a belief in the assumption that there is a god which grows into faith as the belief gets stronger.
        And I strongly believe that no single human being is capable of grasping the whole reality of god' presence or absence intellectually or through modern scientific method.
        Theory = Speculation, Contemplation,Rational type of abstract or generalized thinking. and empirically proven or falsified behavior of NATURE in CERTAIN conditions.
        WE assume that the god that creates creation is not part of the created. Hence scientific phenomena can be applied to something which is part of nature, but what if something is separate, free from or above nature, can the same laws be applied?

        For the layman, you can't grasp something which is not in your reach.

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