Ockham's Razor and Christianity and why I have been scarce

I don't know if anyone has missed me, but I have become scarce around here as John, myself and the rest of the team at Skeptic Blogs have been setting up shop and getting things moving. I have migrated my old blog and revamped it over at SBs: A Tippling Philosopher. On the blog, I have guest posts from Andreas Schueler, Cody Rudisill and Aaron Adair, and accept other decent pieces from anyone else willing to contribute good sound writing to the cause.

Come join in the fun. Here is a piece I posted the other day, which I have embellished a little. Also, I hope to still contribute the odd piece here as time permits - I just thought I'd let you know what was going on.

Ockham's Razor and Christianity:

Here is a definition of Ockham’s Razor:

Ockham's Razor: the principle that entities should not be multiplied needlessly; the simplest of two competing theories is to be preferred.

This can often be a very useful principle in comparing competing theories which seek to explain the same phenomena. I will like to apply this theory to everything we know and see whether Christianity or atheistic naturalism is a more attractive explanatory model.

Let us look at issues which are a problem for Christianity. Christianity has a job in explaining:

1) logically and coherently the triune Godmanspirit of Christianity so it makes good sense.

2) all the pain and suffering in the world

3) the contradictions in the bible

4) how there are 32,000 denominations of Christianity

5) how faith is an accident of birth, geographically and socially

6) away evolution

7) why Ezekiel was made to eat dung by an all-loving God

8) why the same God had a bet with Satan over the suffering of job

9) why prayer, in being tested, has come up negative, if anything

10) heaven

11) hell

12) how free will and no suffering exist in heaven but not on earth

13) why 42 children were mauled on behest of an all-loving God for merely calling someone ‘baldhead’

14) why the two infancy narratives for the birth of Jesus contradict eachother and have no historical pedigree

15) what happened to all the people who existed before the bible

16) the soul

17) why the soul and eternal judgement are so important to Christianity and yet barely feature in the OT

18) whether parts of the bible are symbolical or literal

19) how one tells whether a claim is historic or literal

20) how we are expected to believe so fully in Jesus and yet have far less evidence than the apostles who themselves struggled to believe first hand (doubting Thomas etc)

21) how God could kill, directly or indirectly, all those people in the OT

22) how Noah’s flood could have happened against all known science

23) how 8 people could look after the world’s biggest zoo

24) how much of the bible seems to have been gleaned off pre-existing narratives from the cultures around

25) how God can cause the universe and time since causality requires time

26) how, since God is perfect in every possible way, this must be the best possible world since he chose to actualise this one

27) why all animals don’t photosynthesise thus not requiring the death of other animals to merely survive

28) how the Gospels can be accurate and report so much important speech and yet none of the authors were eyewitnesses or knew Jesus

29) how God could knowingly allow the Bible to be used to countenance slavery for 2000 years

30) how God can sit back and allow the earth to be overpopulated and ravaged by environmental issues

So on and so forth. Now I wrote 501 of these for my book The Little Book of Unholy Questions. ALL of those questions needed answering in some way. Now, I’m not so interested in whether there are answers per se. The fact is, the difficult QUESTIONS EXIST. These all NEED answering in some way for Christianity to be coherent.

And yet, with the shit-happens model of the atheistic universe, and its idea that the Bible is made up, means that EVERY SINGLE ONE of these questions dissolves into nothing. Sheer irrelevancy.

Now, if we superimpose Ockham’s Razor onto this situation, the naturalistic model isn’t just the winner. It is the winner by a country mile. By a universal light year.

Really, what better, more elegantly, more simplistically and above all, more plausibly explains all these phenomena, explains this here universe?

Due to there being some argument over the usage of Ockham's Razor, let me be a little clearer. As Sagan says, a definition can be (as lifted from the link):

Occam's Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

Of course, the problem here is what defines equally well. The fact that one has to develop ad hoc (since they are not derived from direct evidence) explanations from logical possiblities and contrivances is problematic. Also, there is the potential here for circularity, since the success of explaining the data (well) is possibly partly dependent on whether it is simple or not. Essentially, the universe and everything in it is explained by Christianity. But this explanation brings up further entities and issues that themselves need explanation so that to posit Christianity as an explanation of the data (universe) presents us with a regress of explanations which themselves need explaining (501 issues, some of which I have listed above). This multiplication of entities is exactly the sort of thing that William of Ockham sought to escape from.

Here are some of the unnecessary entities posited as explanatory mechanisms by Christianity, that themselves require explaining, thus multiplying the entities:

God (with three layers needing explaining:
The Father
The Son
The Holy Spirit)

the Soul
The Bible as historical explanation given contradictions with other historical sources
Supernaturalism, as a mechanism, and explaining how it interacts with natural kinds (interactionism)
And so on.

So 2 theories set out to explain a data set (the universe and everything in it). Also remember that Christianity is hugely more problematic than 'just God', since the entities are multiplied greatly.