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: A number of you have used the sins of man in the name of God. Again, I have tried to separate the God that formed the universe with the God of Faith that most people attest. They may be one and the same, that is an individual choice of belief.
    But, that is an interesting point. I have heard mentioned by a noted theologist that more sin has been committed in the name of God than for any other reason. I have given this some thought. Let us say that I am a person who has some motive to take property or inflict pain on someone else, but I need help. I can go to my neighbors and tell them that I want to do bad things to this other person for my personal gain and I need their help. I probably not get a great response.

    But, if my neighbors are people of faith and I say that God came to me and told me to gather them and smite this other person, I got a mob to do my bidding. History tells us that in the past, if I was wearing the garb of religion, it was even easier to rally the faithful.

    Now, is this a problem of the God of the faithful? Is this a sin of the faithful? Or is this a sin as some theologist say. a multiple sin to God, to the faithful, to the victim. I like the idea as that old Italian guy said about levels of hell.

    But, there is no test about Hell, about Heaven, about the belief of the faithful. And as it has been roundly pointed out to me, a test for the "God" who created the universe.

    So, Bernie, we are at that point were we have had a good shot at it and fell short on your question. It was fun while it lasted.
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      Apr 29 2013: Mike,

      You raise a point that I've never heard before, I'm curious , you say that there is a God that formed the universe and a God of faith that most people attest.

      Please do expand on this no-faith required God, that according to you created the universe.

      Thank you, Mike

      -"No hell bellow us, above us only sky..."
      -J Lennon Imagine

      PS we should open another debate to keep the conversation going... What say you?

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        Apr 30 2013: Carlos,
        There is a God of faith held by billions of people. There are varying beliefs and concepts and worships held for the God of Faith. I believe that the God of Faith is truth as there is truth in faith. Every believer holds his faith in God as he may. I also believe that there is a God" that created the universe from the big bang with all the evolutionary forces that has come to be in the universe.today. I use the term God as I don't know any other word that better describes the creator of the universe. It is the same God as those of faith believe? Most believers will say yes. It is for each of us to answer that question.
    • Apr 29 2013: Right... so your God is not any God which is described by a religion.
      He just started the big bang and started to enjoy the show?

      How is that any different than "The universe just happened". Aka why do you need a God to provide a reason for our existence?
      You said that "otherwise it doesn't make any sense" in which case I'd ask why does it have to make sense?
      I can rephrase this question in many ways... but in each way I cannot see any difference between your idea of a God and my idea of physics other than that yours is planned and mine is natural.
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        Apr 29 2013: OK, You say natural and I say God. (Again, I use the word God as I have no other name for it)
        Natural as you imply it all was an accidental big bang and things just happened and low and behold there is a universe and we have living beings and creatures and stars and galaxies and all.
        I say it was someone or thing, smarter then me put all this together in the big bang and when it went off all the information, be it in the form of mathematics as some have said or in some unknown manner, it all came together as planned to form the universe and all that is in it. So, did it happen by accident per your point or did it happen per my point. Neither of us can prove either point. What I will say is my position is the way to bet.

        PS I know that I am right about a Creator... as he had a sense of humor. He created man didn't He!
        • Apr 30 2013: Mike, I've made one comment about a year ago, miles down below LOL and I'm amazed how well you have kept up the good works. Congrats!

          At some point I have opened up my mind to the concept of a higher power and have never felt it didn't work. But then, I'm a Swedenborgian and, to me, that means making sense. There is nothing in the Bible that does not make sense, if understood spiritually.

          This includes the Creation Story, the fact that we have been created in His image and likeness. How we, as human beings, all go from 'Egypt' to 'Canaan,' if we want to.

          Well, one more day to go :) and it is the humor that keeps us going.
        • Apr 30 2013: Apparently something in you "needs a reason" for things to happen and you "need an understanding of why" it happens. I don't have these feelings so I don't need such a God.

          My personal bet is on science ;)

          p.s. no at best he created a single cell organism which could self replicate. Mankind just came around due to natural selection. We are not special compared to other animals except that our ability to survive comes from a logical understanding and being able to communicate this to eachter.
      • May 1 2013: Hi Richard,
        "Apparently something in you "needs a reason" for things to happen and you "need an understanding of why" it happens. I don't have these feelings.."
        You don't have these feelings?????? Of course you do, and you ask Science.

        You also don't see any difference between humans and animals because you do not look beyond the body. Our bodies are indeed sometimes so similar that we can use the organs of animals. It is all made of the same stuff. It is the spiritual side that makes us completely different. We can believe truths for the sake of truths, and do good for the sake of good.
        • May 1 2013: I am perfectly fine accepting that we don't have an answer for every question (yet). That doesn't mean that I am not interrested in the answers it just means that I am fine with the idea that 'I do not know'.

          I also don't really ask science.... science just describes reality in a way which is objective and seems to be (in pretty much all cases) consistent with how I percieve the world. Which is why I know that at least for me science makes a lot of sense.

          And because science makes a lot of sense and science can't really make a distinction between animals in terms of how the physical processes work etc. it seems to be a huge arrogant idea to think that we are somehow different from them.
          If you want to call that spiritual then go ahaid :)
      • May 1 2013: Yes Richard, science makes a lot of sense, but only in our physical environment. And don't get me wrong, I have nothing against science. It really has made this life so much easier in so many ways.

        But science maintains we are out body and I believe we are more, even to the point that we have a purpose. You have 100% freedom to look at things the way you do, including to see yourself as an animal.

        Any chance you are going to be the pet of an animal? Would it be too arrogant to not even consider that?
        All the best in your efforts.

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