26 July, 2005

Occam's Razor

Entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.
No more things should be presumed to exist than are absolutely necessary.

For the second time in less than a fortnight I've had people come door-to-door inquiring if I was all right for spirituality, or perhaps I could do with a couple of pints of christianity every other day?

I don't mind these chaps, at least they believe in something enough to get out there and do something. Do something as in politely enquire if I'm interested, as opposed to strapping on an exploding vest.

I usually give them a couple of minutes, underscored with a brusque no-nonsense glint in the eye that says "you've got two minutes fella - sell it to me" rather in the style of one of those hard hitting captain of industry types off the telly. I'd like to think it's natural politeness, but let's face it I like a little debate, and I'll take it where I can.

I was intrigued that the second visitor (the first was a lovely little carribean lady, who asked a couple of questions then bid me good day with a smile) countered my scientific doubt with the idea of "Intelligent Design". I'd read about some schools in the states wanting to teach this as the acceptable face of creationism. Very basically the argument is - rather like coming across a pocket watch in the desert, some things in the universe are too complex and wonderful to be the product of chance ergo they point to the existence of a higher power.

It's a pretty poor argument as far as I'm concerned. But when you get people who really want to believe in something a certain amount of philosophical rigour gets left behind.
Whenever I think of Occam's Razor I ponder on how religious types and conspiracy theorists ought to emply it a bit more. It basically means the simplest explanation is the most likely: - if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, the chances are it's a duck dude.

These are the kind of people who hear the sound of neighing and immediately think "Aha! Zebras"

5 Step to the white courtesy phone:

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And what about the aliens?
Where do they come into it?

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