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The Concept of Ockham’s Razor

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In this paper I will explain the concept of Ockham’s Razor, followed by an example. Then I will go through the three theistic arguments of Anslem and Aquinas, and explain two of the arguments; to see if it works with Razor’s argument or not. And lastly I will reflect on Palmer’s claim.

Ockham’s Razor can be used as an effective tool in the approval or disapproval in the existence of God. According to Razor’s principle, a simplest explanation is best. Or in the other words, greater the number of complex assumptions more unclear would be the explanation. The three arguments discuss in the chapter 5 are purely based on logical explanations and they conclude at “God exists” in one way or another. As Razor’s principles is to avoid complex assumptions that are avoided in all those arguments so Ockham’s Razor can be applied as an effective for analyzing these three proofs of God’s existence. Ockham’s Razor is a philosophical principle which states that “what can be done with fewer is done in vain with more”.

It was opposed by William of Ockham in 14th century. To put it in similar words, he says fewer things should be used a phenomenon. according to him we should use simplest of the methods available with minimum assumptions as assumptions lead to complex questioning which is against the Razor principle. Similarly, if we have two elaborations for a particular process we should go with the simpler one. We can extrapolate a situation to a certain limit because if the entities would be multiplied more than necessary, they would regulate Ockham’s Razor. He basically wanted to say simpler is better. “Do not multiply entities beyond necessity”.

I believe that Kepler’s theory as a successful application of Ockham’s Razor. Kepler’s theory is the modification of Copernicus Theory. Copernicus theory proposed that planets revolve around the sun in circular motion. After further experimentation and analysis, it was evident that planetary motion is elliptical in nature. Now we came across certain other similar theories but more complicated ones. For example, on hypothesis is that planetary bodies revolve around the sun in elliptical orbit and this motion is due to force between the planets and the sun. this force decreases as the square of distance. The second hypothesis is also presenting the same idea but it says that the planetary motion is in elliptical form, motion is due to force between planets and sun, force decreases as the square of distance and the generator of this force is someone unseen able.

Now both the hypothesis is giving the same information but the second one demands the further investigation of the complex unseen able force. Ockham’s Razor would reject the second one because the force is already explained by the relative motions of planets and the sun. There is no need of extra brain stirring for the irrelevant idea of invisible force. Summing it up, Kepler’s Theory is simpler without assumptions and is showing the victory of Razor’s principle. Let us have a look at the three theistic arguments, the ontological argument, by Anselm, proposed “that than nothing greater can be thought/conceived”. The next argument is the cosmological argument by Thomas Aquinas, he proposed “that the universe evolved from an origin and every evidence can lead back to that origin, existence of a unique being”. And the third argument is called the teleological, also by Thomas Aquinas, he proposed that “presence of an intelligent designer and creator of the cosmos”.

I would take the cosmological argument and teleogical argument to check whether razor work against for them. Both of these arguments state the presence of one entity as God either in the form of single origin or intelligent designer. According to me, Razors principle is neither against them nor in the favor. Ockham’s Razor does not prove the existence of one God. It simply refrains us to think about others in the absence of any evidence. Here are the objections to the Ontological argument. According to Hume, Anselm claims were without evidence, Hume says for a thing to be accepted true, it should yield some concrete evidence which can be tested further and may result it in approval or disapproval of the claim. Anselm’s claim of “God exists” cannot be trusted without proof.

Kant’s objection was that Kant said that Anselm had given no defining features of the God. The mere idea that “God exists” does not tell us more about its presence in any way. It does not tell us what god is like. Here are the objections posed to the Cosmological argument. Hume says there is no evidence to believe that there is a reason behind every happening. There is no causative agent of God defined by Anselm. And if the universe has a cause then it means God is not infinite. Here are the objections posed to the teleological argument. Hume objected the validity of the analogy. He also put forth the idea of order in nature which was missing in the argument. Hume questions the very notion of idea. Application of Razor may or may not yield simpler explanation because it does not hinder to prove new hypothesis based on evidences rather it just tells us to choose simpler one whenever necessary, and yes God is actually a simpler answer in many instances.

The proof of God so important because they wanted to justify their own beliefs. They wanted to think that what they are doing or believing is right in all aspects. Secondly sometimes people do not accept the presence of God in all aspects. They only accept God when it fits them or when they have no other logical explanation to the matter. Moreover, in medieval time, they took the proof of God seriously because they wanted to understand; and to understand they must believe first and the south out the proof. “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this, I also believe that unless I believed, I should not understand”.

My analogy is the sun rises in the east we know that it is done by God but we prove it because no human can do it. Nor any man made machine is capable of doing this. Although we believe in God but we still use proof to satisfy our senses and to convince others to justify our statements. Yes, proofs are the right way to describe these three arguments as proofs open up new horizons of broader perspective and understanding.

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