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Discussion 1 to Ask the Patriarch 108
Occam's Razor

by Maarten van den Driest

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Occam's Razor is a handy but also a rather sharp instrument, we could take care wielding it. ;-)

Kaye's example of the shape of the world is a rather good one, however it doesn't matter what the majority of all people believe.

Anyone claiming the world is flat would have to explain a whole lot of strange things: ships appearing top-to-bottom from the sea, the fact that there doesn't seem to be a boundary, and so on.

All these problems can be explained away by imaginative mechanisms that could in theory be true but they could also be explained very elegantly by just assuming the world is a globe. Occam's Razor would therefore be in favour of the globe-shape.

Religion is something else. The most simple solution for basically everything that ever happened is: God did it.

However, that doesn't mean Occam's Razor would point to religion. The trick here is that claiming God's responsibility for everything really explains nothing at all and even generates some more questions. (Who/what/where/why/how is God, to begin with.) 'God did it' is not an explanation because it is functionally equivalent to 'it just happened that way' or 'because I say so'.

Your friend may have very good reasons to hold on to her faith and we must respect her in that but she cannot claim support in logic.