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Is Occam's Razor atheistic?

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  • Is Occam's Razor atheistic?

    This may sound like a dumb question, but I am aware of a fairly well known Christian individual who firmly believes that it is. Aside from the fact that it gets its name from a Franciscan friar, it is a standard weapon in WLC's arsenal, paired with the KLA. Is there anybody else out there who feels that it is?
    "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

  • #2
    The only possible way I could conceive of someone thinking Occam's razor is atheistic is that it generally rejects supernatural claims in favor of natural ones.
    -The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine.
    Sir James Jeans

    -This most beautiful system (The Universe) could only proceed from the dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.All variety of created objects which represent order and Life in the Universe could happen only by the willful reasoning of its original Creator, whom I call the Lord God.
    Sir Isaac Newton

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Quantum Weirdness View Post
      The only possible way I could conceive of someone thinking Occam's Razor is atheistic is that it generally rejects supernatural claims in favor of natural ones.
      Occam's razor doesn't have to be either atheistic or pro-natural (meaning pro-materialism). Playing devil's advocate, I can use Occam's Razor to argue that although a materialist's universe (together with the fallibility of the senses) is a very very good explanation of why things aren't how they seem (or why reality is different from experience), I definitely shouldn't complicate the matter by considering material reality to be anything more than a very very good explanation.

      Occam's Razor would allow me to ignore any claims that material reality actually exists, and to say that natural explanations are nothing but natural explanations. (Very very good ones, of course, but having no ontological status above whatever ontological status a good explanation has.)

      This is fun.

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      • #4
        I consider the materialist reality, and natural explanations are excellent, even outstanding, as far as they go, but I am a theist, though a skeptical theist. I play the Devil's advocate big time. I consider the only possible theist argument is from a more universal perspective in harmony with the naturalist perspective. The ancient world views of Judaism, Christianity and Islam fail dramatically and miserably.

        My view is I consider Occam's Razor to be a theist.
        Glendower: I can call spirits from the vasty deep.
        Hotspur: Why, so can I, or so can any man;
        But will they come when you do call for them? Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1, Act III:

        go with the flow the river knows . . .

        Frank

        I do not know, therefore everything is in pencil.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
          This may sound like a dumb question, but I am aware of a fairly well known Christian individual who firmly believes that it is. Aside from the fact that it gets its name from a Franciscan friar, it is a standard weapon in WLC's arsenal, paired with the KLA. Is there anybody else out there who feels that it is?
          How could it be, at least not in the sense intended by Friar William?

          ... Ockham's Razor, in the senses in which it can be found in Ockham himself, never allows us to deny putative entities; at best it allows us to refrain from positing them in the absence of known compelling reasons for doing so. In part, this is because human beings can never be sure they know what is and what is not “beyond necessity”; the necessities are not always clear to us. But even if we did know them, Ockham would still not allow that his Razor allows us to deny entities that are unnecessary. For Ockham, the only truly necessary entity is God; everything else, the whole of creation, is radically contingent through and through. In short, Ockham does not accept the Principle of Sufficient Reason.

          Nevertheless, we do sometimes have sufficient methodological grounds for positively affirming the existence of certain things. Ockham acknowledges three sources for such grounds (three sources of positive knowledge). As he says in Sent. I, dist. 30, q. 1: “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.”...

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ockham/#4.1
          βλέπομεν γὰρ ἄρτι δι᾿ ἐσόπτρου ἐν αἰνίγματι, τότε δὲ πρόσωπον πρὸς πρόσωπον·
          ἄρτι γινώσκω ἐκ μέρους, τότε δὲ ἐπιγνώσομαι καθὼς καὶ ἐπεγνώσθην.

          אָכֵ֕ן אַתָּ֖ה אֵ֣ל מִסְתַּתֵּ֑ר אֱלֹהֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מוֹשִֽׁיעַ׃

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          • #6
            Thanks, robrecht, for the educated perspective.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by David Hayward View Post
              Thanks, robrecht, for the educated perspective.
              Hear, hear. (Or is it here, here?)
              "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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              • #8
                Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                Hear, hear. (Or is it here, here?)
                I see you understand the ramifications of applying the principle of parsimony fully: where else? Elsewhere is explanation; elsewhen likewise.

                One ramification I particularly like is the ability it gives to parody the New Atheist claim that (quoted from Carrier, “Sense and Goodness Without God, P.254 or 255, as quoted in AP's review), “believers deny the existence of hundreds of gods. I just go one god further.”

                One can say, “like you, I apply severe reductionism to the material world. I just go one step further...” and I can thereby dispense with the need for an actually existing material world; on the principle of parsimony I can reduce the material world that extra step from having the ontological status of existing to that of good explanation.

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                • #9
                  Like all good tools, it is amoral, and therefore unaffiliated. If any camp desires to give up the useful tools at their disposal, that is their folly.
                  I'm not here anymore.

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                  • #10
                    "Aside from the fact that it gets its name from a Franciscan friar..."

                    ## Which is relevant how, though ? Its logical status would be the same, whether it came from a Franciscan friar, Plato, William James, Cotton Mather, Charles Finney, the Dalai Lama, Margaret Sanger, Iggy Pop, or Richard Dawkins. If it is a valid intellectual tool, then so it is, regardless of the morality, race, colour, creed, religion, marital status, sex, orientation, politics, employment or lack thereof, eye-colour, hair-colour, culture, or any other detail of its originator.

                    What is atheistic about the "principle of parsimony" (as it is also called) ?
                    Last edited by Rushing Jaws; 03-09-2014, 04:24 AM.

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                    • #11
                      If it were still possible to "Like" posts, I'd give one to Carrikature's. This will have to do.

                      .

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post
                        Hear, hear. (Or is it here, here?)
                        Hear, hear - it comes from 'hear him'.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hear%2C_hear

                        "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot


                        "Forgiveness is the way of love." Gary Chapman

                        My Personal Blog

                        My Novella blog (Current Novella Begins on 7/25/14)

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