Do we prevent somebody being hurt by superstition or faith by rejecting and challenging those things? 

Is it mistaken to support organised religion in membership or donations?

If people do good because they are human, not because God prompts them then is it right to risk giving God any credit when they alone own their good?

 


OCCAM'S RAZOR - PRINCIPLE OF PARSIMONY - ULTIMATE WEAPON AGAINST MAGICAL AND SUPERNATURAL CLAIMS

When there are two or more competing explanations of the evidence, accept the explanation that is the simplest for the simplest one is most likely to be true and reject any inadequate ones. NOTE: This is Occam's Razor. It is essential if one wants to be sane or stay sane. Life would be worse than Hell if we keep inventing explanations for things instead of seeking out the simplest explanation.
 
It is said that Occam's Razor can only work if you stick with natural explanations if you hold that the Razor has no relevance except in the physical world. Once you bring in the supernatural it becomes useless. That is true if you are open to both natural and supernatural or paranormal as well. To find the simplest interpretation means you have to disbelieve in the possibility that some simple paranormal or supernatural explanation is involved. You have a complex pile of evidence about a murder. The simplest explanation for the evidence is that person Z did it. If you bring in the paranormal then you could say any of the millions of entities in the spirit world could have possessed him and forced his hand. Or maybe they took the knife from him and killed the person. Thus the simplest natural explanation is ruined and left with no force. If Z knows you are willing to believe in such entities without evidence or just because he says they took the knife he will take advantage of you.
 
To use the Razor, you have to be closed to the supernatural or paranormal because if the latter exists then both natural and supernatural/paranormal work together. The Razor is a method not a doctrine. We have no choice but to accept it. Thus it is unfair to accuse its supporters of bias against the supernatural or paranormal.
 
Believers in the supernatural and paranormal strongly object to trying to explain reports of such events by finding the simplest natural explanation. They say that if you try to explain a non-natural event as a natural one you only distort the truth. But the Razor does not say you must use a natural explanation in the face of a clearly supernatural occurrence! That would be dishonest! It says you wait to see if any more evidence will appear or simply say you don't know what the explanation is.
 
Is the answer to use the Razor separately for natural matters and supernatural? Why the separation?
 
What if you think you can use the Razor in regard to claimed supernatural or paranormal events? Suppose a spate of apparitions took place in Ireland of the Virgin Mary. What happens if you look for the simplest paranormal explanation? You could say it is not a medical hallucination but a paranormal one. That is simpler than holding that Mary rose from the dead and has been in Heaven for centuries and comes down to visit people. That is too many magical assumptions when one would do. The apparition whether it is Mary or not is deceiving for anything that calls you away from making do with the simplest explanation has something to hide and does not respect your reason.
 
And we have seen in the introduction that the miracle and the paranormal is not the same thing. They are radically different. If a miracle happened, you would not be able to say it is one and have to settle for saying it is paranormal and only seems to be a miracle.
 
Occam's Razor urges you when you have a number of natural possibilities to explain something you pick the simplest of them. Believers in religion and the paranormal say that it is not relevant to religion or to the supernatural/paranormal. They argue that we only experience, not test, the paranormal world and don't know it that well. We just know its there but don't know how it works. For all we know, maybe salt has psychic powers and if there is enough of it in a house that house will never get haunted by a ghost or by an apparition of the Virgin Mary.
 
Their objection actually means, "If anybody says they saw or experienced something supernatural then you have to believe them. Natural standards don't apply. Don't do tests to see how many people lie about such experiences. The tests contradict the fact that natural ways of working things out don't apply." The objection then is advocating great danger and madness. Occam's Razor is about promoting a method that is best to protect people from lies and chaos and error. Therefore it DOES apply to the supernatural. If a drug cures a chest infection, most people will agree that it did. Some might say that the drug does not work for everybody but only for those who are in tune with some kind of supernatural energy that is activated by the drug. Natural explanations must be preferred. If we deny that then we have nothing to say to the weirdo who goes, "The drug does not work at all. There are invisible forces and energies that help some people that take it."
 
The believers put the magical outside the reach of the Razor for they fear the Razor. But the Razor seeks to ensure that you are well grounded in this world and tries to protect you from wrong ideas about it. The believers oppose the Razor for they do not want to keep you safe. The reality is, the Razor says natural explanations come first and the believers don't like that. They don't want you choosing a natural explanation for the supernatural or paranormal. The supernatural or paranormal can never matter like the natural does for unlike them the natural can be tested.
 
Paranormal believers say that "Another problem is that what is simple to one person is not simple to another. It's relative. Sceptics lie that their natural explanations are necessarily simpler than the supernatural or paranormal explanations."
 
The simplest explanation is not necessarily the correct one. But Occam's Razor does not tell us that we will get the correct answer. It gives us a method for increasing our chances of getting the right one. It tells us what the most rational assumption is under the circumstances.
 
Paranormal believers say, "Sceptics think that when people testify to the paranormal, the simplest explanation is that they are conspiring and lying."
 
But whether you believe in the paranormal or not, the fact remains that it IS an explanation. It is not necessarily the only explanation or the biggest. Only the evidence can measure.
 
Once you discard the Razor, the potential for error becomes very great. People can apply the principle wrongly but the principle in itself is flawless. Even if the principle could make you err, not having it would make you err more!