Occam’s Razor, it’s not really about simple.

Occam’s Razor is a scientific idea which is often misrepresented and misapplied as, all else being equal, the simplest explanation is the better explanation.

The problem with applying Occam’s Razor like this (apart from that it’s incorrect) can be seen with Elizier Yudkowsky’s example, “what sounds simpler, “God did a miracle,” or “a supernatural entity temporarily suspended the laws of nature.”?” Simple isn’t that easy to objectively define in many cases. So Occam’s razor normally has to do with removing assumptions, or trying to find the best hypothesis by examining the number of assumptions in competing hypothesis.

In the first case, one would examine an hypothesis, and conclude that certain basic assumptions are necessary in order to advance the ideas, but if assumptions are removed, then a more valuable picture may emerge. Assumptions can then be removed one at a time, and the theory examined and/or adjusted for validity.

In the second case, one would look at competing theories, examine assumptions, and their necessity, and come to a conclusion as to which theory is based on the use of less assumptions. Obviously in this case, the evidence should be examined to see if one of the theories far surpasses the other with regard to evidence, if this is the case, then using Occam’s razor as a toll to discern wouldn’t be necessary.

You could test our own beliefs by removing the assumptions, and clarifying how that may affect what you believe, or what changes you should make. I personally believe that this is a good tool for interpreting the Bible, as, if it is the word of God, we wouldn’t want to add unnecessary assumptions which would result in adding our own opinions to that message.


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