Now Materialists Are Trying to Turn Occam’s Razor On Its Head
|November 28, 2008||Posted by Barry Arrington under Intelligent Design|
Give me a break will ya. In their feverish efforts to prop up the teetering materialist paradigm, to justify the unjustifiable, our materialist friends have now resorted to saying, essentially, black is white. In a recent post a commenter turns Occam’s Razor on its head when he states:
It is a common misconception among ID supporters that scientists deliberately defy Occam’s Razor and pursue multiverse theories simply because they are uncomfortable with the idea of a designer. This is false.
The commenter cites physicist Aurélien Barrau in support. In this article Barrau states:
In any case, it is important to underline that the multiverse is not a hypothesis invented to answer a specific question. It is simply a consequence of a theory usually built for another purpose. Interestingly, this consequence also solves many complexity and naturalness problems. In most cases, it even seems that the existence of many worlds is closer to Ockham’s razor (the principle of simplicity) than the ad hoc assumptions that would have to be added to models to avoid the existence of other universes.
The sheer presumption, the overweening fatuity, of these statements (both the commenter’s and Barrau’s) beggars belief. One must conclude that either they simply have no idea what Occam’s Razor means or they are deliberately trying to distort its meaning to support their conclusion. I suspect the latter.
So, to set things straight, we will discuss first, what the Razor means, and secondly how it applies to the multiverse.
What Does Occam’s Razor Say?
William of Ockham (or, commonly, “Occam”) was a Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher from the village of Ockham in Surrey, England who lived from the late 1200’s to the mid-1300’s. Today, he is best remembered for Occam’s Razor. Ockham’s formulation of the Razor, like all learned texts of the time, was expressed in Latin. He stated: “entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem.” This is usually translated: “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”
What Does Occam’s Razor Mean?
Occam’s Razor is anothe way of statig the “principle of parsimony.” Britannica Concise Encyclopedia states that Occam’s Razor is:
A rule in science and philosophy stating that entities should not be multiplied needlessly. This rule is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known. Also called law of parsimony.
Karl Popper argued that a preference for a simpler theory over a complex theory, other things being equal, is justified by his falsifiability criterion, because a simpler theory applies to more empirical cases and therefore is more “testable” and may be falsified more easily.
If Multiverse Theory Violates the Razor, Does that Mean it is False?
We concede at the outset that should we conclude multiverse theory violates the Razor that would not, in itself, be the death knell for the theory. Occam’s Razor is not a scientific theory itself. It is a heuristic maxim. Thus, a theory could violate the Razor and still be true.
Nevertheless, the Razor has stood the test of time, and remains useful. A theory that violates the Razor has less standing than a theory that does not. That is the very reason our commenter and Barrau have tried so hard to fit multiverse theory within the confines of the Razor, which, as we shall see, is like trying to fit Andre the Giant’s foot into a ballerina’s slipper. No matter how you stretch it, it ain’t gonna fit.
Does Multiverse Theory Violate the Razor?
Of course it does. Let’s go back to the original formulation of the Razor: “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.”
The multiverse theory posits that there are an infinite number of universes, and we just happen to live in one where the conditions for the existance of life are just right. In other words, if there are an infinite number of universes, every condition that is not logically impossible will somewhere be instantiated.
Thus, multiverse theory clearly violates the Razor. because it does not keep entities to an absolute minimum. Indeed, by definition, the multiverse theory multiplies entities to an infinite degree! This is why our commenter’s and Barrau’s statements are so staggering. Far from meeting the conditions of the Razor, multiverse theory is the exact opposite of a theory that would meet the conditions of the Razor. In other words, if multiverse theory, which posits the existence of infinite entities, does not violate the Razor, no theory does.