I wasn’t going to do this again for a while. Comment on something on Dembski’s blog. Their standard is so lame. But I had to contradict this one as it represents a common misinterpretation of Occam’s Razor.
“In science, parsimony is preference for the least complex explanation for an observation. This is generally regarded as good when judging hypotheses. Occam’s razor also states the ‘principle of parsimony.’” See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parsimony
In the post below (”Multiverse of the Gaps”), I point to a recent paper in which a Darwinist attempts to get around the extremely small probability (less than 1 in 10 raised to the negative 1,018) of life emerging by chance by invoking an infinite “multiverse.”
The question for the class today is which is the most parsimonious hypothesis: One designer or infinite universes?
Answer: the multiverse is the more parsimonious. The mistake he’s making is in thinking that parsimony means the “least complex” or simplest explanation. Of course it doesn’t. If it meant choose the simplest explanation then Occam would always choose “Goddidit”. Because, what is simpler that “Goddidit”? No. Occam’s Razor means, don’t make stuff up. Or if you have to, make up as little as possible.
Suppose I have a cat. One night, I leave out a saucer of milk, and in the morning the milk has gone. No one saw who or what drank the milk. Lets say there are two possibilities:
1. The cat drank it
2. The milk fairy drank it
Occam tells us to reject option 2. This is because option 2 requires us to invent an unnecessary entity - the milk fairy. It is an invention because we have no evidence that the milk fairy exists. And it is unnecessary because there is a plausible explanation that does not require a milk fairy - the cat.
Note also that strictly speaking, both solutions are equally simple. The cat hypothesis is only simpler in that you haven't had to invent a new, unnecessary entity. Occam says that if you insist it could be the milk fairy, you have invented an unnecessary entity. And why would you do that?
So the answer to the original question is – it depends if there is any evidence for God, and if there is any evidence for the multiverse.
I haven’t seen any convincing evidence for God. Of course, the whole “extremely small probability” baloney is itself supposed to be the evidence for God – so we can’t include that or we’d be assuming the conclusion. It’s been debunked anyway. I’ll draw a blank on the evidence for God, then.
While I don’t think there is any hard evidence yet for the multiverse, I believe it is predicted by some of the math in string theory, and that the multiverse makes some predictions that may soon be testable. Astrophysicist Victor Stenger states:
No new hypothesis is needed to consider multiple universes. In fact, it takes an added hypothesis to rule them out-- a super law of nature that says only one universe can exist. But we know of no such law, so we would violate Occam's razor to insist on only one universe.
We know this universe exists. Why should there be no others? On the other hand, we don’t know God exists. While we currently can’t be sure, it seems to me that God is the milk fairy in my analogy. Just because I think that one of several million cats drank the milk, that doesn’t mean that it is more parsimonious to insist the milk fairy drank it.