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#1 mike_nc

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 02:50 PM

i noticed on one of the guideline pages that use of occam's razor in support of a position can be considered a warning sign of evo-babble. does this principle have any appropriate and meaningful uses in questions of origins?

#2 Guest_George R_*

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Posted 28 August 2006 - 12:07 PM

I don't intend to entertain a debate about forum rules, but explaining them is a valid topic.

My short summary: Occam's Razor is itself valid when properly used.

Occam's Razor is frequently misused as a rhetorical diversionary tactic to make the opponent's objections go away.

There is a correlation between misuse of Occam's razor and people who have no facts.



USE AND MISUSE - WHEN TO APPLY OCCAM'S RAZOR

Applying Occam's Razor to select among competing equally credible plausible explanations ... is correct ... once you have established that all such competing explanations are actually in concert with the accepted facts and logic and with the claimed scope of explanatory power ... that use is quite valid.

Bear in mind that Occam's Razor is NOT a law of logic nor does it have any scientific proof behind it. It is a rule of thumb ... an aesthetic choice (and often results in simpler mathematics) that reduces the multiplicity of factors that one needs to consider.

It is also seen (sometimes rightly) as an eliminator of extraneous (hence muddled or false) causative factors in an explanation. In this popularly applied sense it may be also right... if applied at the correct stage of exploring alternate explanations....

It should NOT be used to eliminate alternatives on the spurious grounds that the seemingly simple is inherently the best one .. without examining its merits.

The simplest may be over-simplistic ...or plain weak / incorrect as well as simple.

Yet here we should be careful to see whether

1) Occam's Razor is actually selecting equally plausible explanations already examined for their explanatory power and alignment with facts and reason, or

2) we are simply using Occam's razor prematurly before the competing explanations have been explored

Rhetorical use of #2 is designed to eliminate consideration of challenges or faults hence to avoid finding that explanations are NOT equal in facts, in logic, in scope hence in credibility.

It is usually misused by those who do not intend to put any alternatives on the table, but simply to demolish the alternative BEFORE both sides are examined. (i.e. closed minded)


WHY EVO-BABBLERS PICK IT UP AS A CLUB


"Evo-babblers" assert that creationism (which requires God - an unexplained entity) is less likely to be true than evolution (which purportedly requires no unexplained entities).

This seems to clinch the argument ... and is not doubt quite pleasing to the advocate.




WHY THIS IS FLAWED LOGIC

The reason that this is babbling is simple: here is in fact a metaphysical argument prematurely applied in the exploration stage ... disguised as a scientific argument properly applied at the alternative selection stage.

In other words: "Shut Up - I win. My explanation is simpler hence obviously more likely and that's all there is to it. I am smarter and in command because I have Occam on my side. No need to prove anything. No neeed to answer challenges. No need to consider alternatives."

Now that's babbling! Claiming that a clinching argument that trumps reason and diverts discussion since those with more complex ideas are obviously boobs not worth answering.

In fact,. those who state the argument this way in fact have already ruled out the alternative before they apply Occam's razor, as will be seen by their timing.

The key: ... Occam's Razor can be misused as an all-purpose show-stopper (or never-ending detour) to any and all discussion on evolution - without defending a single challenge made to of mud-to-man evolution on any scientific basis.

In other words ... ignore any stated weakness in one's position and merely assert on metaphysical grounds that one's position trumps another.

BTW ... In my life I have seen proponents of both side of many arguments make the mistake of prematurely applying Occam's Razor.



BUT WAIT ... THERE's MORE NONSENSE AFOOT

Lets look again at that statement:

"Creationism (which requires God - an unexplained entity) is less likely to be true than evolution (which purportedly requires no unexplained entities)."

As a metaphysical argument the evolutionist's "noGod/scientific" use of Occam's Razor is not a clinching argument ... because its point and its defects are definitely debatable:

- its application to the Evolution side is arbitrary - Creationists can invoke Occam's razor too - on the plausible grounds that one creator God is a simpler explanation than multiple speculative and unprovable just-so stories about origins...

- it is presented ambiguously as if it uses the grounds for Occam's razor as a scientist selecting from equally plausible explanations

- "less likely to be true" based on no examination of the facts is no claim at all

- it rakes away at "unexplained entities" in a critique of selecting explanations - an obvious logical flaw buried in verbiage - more correctly such entities are unproven since once proven they will not need further explanation

- who says that the scientific approach has no equivalent to unexplained entities:

a) Foundational unexplained entities: reason, logic, observation,
scientific method ... these entities, however useful,
are not explained by science

b ) Core unexplained entities: Gravity, matter, energy
These are definitional only in a way that science reserves the right to
redefine them - or explain them away
Phlogiston and aether were once similarly deemed core entities.

c) Modern overlay of more unproven entities - e.g. multiverses,
extra-terrestrial life origins,
billions of links between bacteria and known multicellular life,
readiness of matter to become spontaneous life

- Who says that an adequate explanation for all the phenomena of the real world can be presented without invoking some factors outside an arbitrarily-closed circle




Some sources:

Neutral site:
Occam's razor - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_Razor

Creationist-bashing site:
Fundies say the darndest things!
http://www.fstdt.com...ts.asp?id=13444

#3 Guest_CrisW_*

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 11:31 AM

- who says that the scientific approach has no equivalent to unexplained entities:

      a) Foundational unexplained entities: reason, logic, observation,
          scientific method ... these entities, however useful,
          are not explained by science

      b ) Core unexplained entities: Gravity, matter, energy
              These are definitional only in a way that science reserves the right to
              redefine them - or explain them away
              Phlogiston and aether were once similarly deemed core entities.

  c) Modern overlay of more unproven entities - e.g. multiverses,
          extra-terrestrial life origins,
          billions of  links between bacteria and known multicellular life,
          readiness of matter to become spontaneous life

View Post


Logic is a result of order, if things follow a pattern then the reasoning can be tested. If God can make a square a circle, then there is no point in debating him. There's no point in even taking experimental results as fact then!

Gravity, matter and energy are for the most part explained by Quantum Physics, the Standard Model, and General and Special Relativity. If I'm honest, I've never heard of the Christian Science alternatives to those theories.

Multiverses are an extension of particle/wave duality and the Sum Over Histories approach in Quantum Mechanics. Some of the experiments to prove this can be done in your own home.

Panspermia is a theory, much less tested than the Theory of Evolution. DNA obeys its chemical function regardless of who is there to witness it. Just because you are mostly water and carbon doesn't mean thats all you are!

#4 chance

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 02:32 PM

Nicely argued George R , Occam's razor is not a argument in it’s own right.

One thing missing from your post IMO would be to include some examples of these false arguments, (the ‘fstdt’ was only a cut and paste from this site), as the argument

"Evo-babblers" assert that creationism (which requires God - an unexplained entity) is less likely to be true than evolution (which purportedly requires no unexplained entities).

is like a summary of a general position, not someone’s actual argument.

#5 mike_nc

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:07 PM

George,

first, thanks for your detailed response. i appreciate the time, thought, and effort you've given this question. thanks also to CrisW and chance for your replies.

on your observations of occam's razor, i see what you're saying and i have to say i agree. in situations when my own desires are not a factor, i find that following that principle seems to be a great guide. however, in situations where i allow my biases to affect me, the Razor can prevent my ability to reason properly.

this line of thinking has led me to question whether some improved logical tool is needed; some more formal standard of logic, definition, evidence, and proof that the various positions can all agree on.

as it is now, in this and other arenas of discussion on this topic, it is very rare that i hear an argument from any side that is not easily deflected by the opposite camp.

from the purely rationalist point of view, it is illogical to base any action or principle on the bible as a whole, only because there seem to be very few practices, laws, decisions, or actions that could not be justified by either a contextual or literal interpretation of a selected passage. CrisW put it well with his observation that 'If God can make a square a circle, then there is no point in debating him.' the bible is the textual foundation of christianity, and from the full-materialist point of view, the idea that a work claimed to be the word of an all-knowing god may be interpreted, in even one case, in ways that do not perfectly and exactly seem to match the surrounding verses, chapters, books, and testaments, excludes it from serious consideration in the search for objective Truth.

christianity offers complete and reasonable explanations for the apparent inconsistencies, but the explanations themselves are based again on interpretations of the text, long-ago and poorly documented events, past supernatural phenomenon, and personal concepts like faith and redemption, none of which can be measured, repeated, or tested.

when every conceivable concept can be supported by a theory, materialists feel, then it is no theory at all. objective facts are sometimes looked at as puzzle pieces; materialists want to make them fit the puzzle of a theory, but adding factual puzzle pieces to biblical christianity in a search for truth isn't seen as valid not because the pieces don't fit, but because they very nearly all seem to fit perfectly, in any position, in any direction, if you pick the right verse to explain it. any fact that doesn't find sponsorship in at least a verse or two still doesn't need to contradict the belief; there is always the fall-back that god, in his infinite wisdom, doesn't intend for us to know everything. from the strictly materialist viewpoint any biblical passage, and any position built on a passage, can be quickly countered and overcome because of this infinite flexibility.

adopting the point of view of a creationist as sincerely as possible (i am an atheist and evolutionist, but i think i can do an adequate opposition for the purpose of my question to you), one can see a similar logical loop in the theory of evolution. the christian viewpoint is forced to absorb criticism over the idea that god and the bible aren't scientifically testable, but that criticism can be returned in pointing out that species-to-species evolution hasn't been directly observed in any live organisms. the evolutionary answer to this, that large scale changes take large-scale time periods, conveniently places that crucial aspect of the theory as far out of range of objective tests in our lifetimes as proving that god did in fact appear to moses.

evolutionary theory, just like christianity, then supports itself by sub-theories, propped up by interpreting fossil evidence but always grounded in the fundamentally untestable foundation that evolution took billions of years and hundreds of millions of generations driven by the endless diversity of environments on planet earth, and what couldn't theoretically have resulted from that? it is hard to conceive of a fossil that couldn't be fit into the evolutionary puzzle, just like it is hard to imagine anything that one bible verse or another wouldn't explain.

when pushed for more current and observable proof, evolutionits retreat to the recent discoveries in genetics and the inferences that can be made by interpreting them, but just as the bible appears to be a poor starting point to the materialist, to a creationist an organism's genes must at best seem to be a dim, fuzzy reflection of the creator's true design and no place to begin looking for truth, especially when we have god's own word at our fingertips.

so, all this to say, how can any side gain real traction in the minds of those holding opposing positions, using occam's razor or any other logical techique? within their own beliefs, all sides seem satisfied in every debate that their position was clearly the winner and that their opponent simply refused to accept proper logic and admit defeat. however no side seems able to reliably and systematically discredit the foundations of the opposing positions in the place that matters most; the opponents own mind, logic, opinions, and beliefs.

is there even one common definition of a logical method to win a clear victory on any point that all sides can agree to be bound by?

mike

#6 Guest_George R_*

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:26 PM

This topic is Occam's Razor as a forum rule.


I too would like to explore logical tools and methods in a separate constructive thread on this topic.

Anyone can start it.

#7 mike_nc

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:43 PM

This topic is Occam's Razor as a forum rule.
I too would like to explore logical tools and methods in a constructive thread on this topic.

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oh, i apologize, i am not new to the Internet but i am quite new to forums. should you start the thread, or should i?

#8 Guest_George R_*

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 05:59 PM

No apology necessary .. I enjoyed your post.

I hope I didnt sound harsh .. but you know how words seem "louder" when posted on the net.

Just start it up.

#9 Guest_George R_*

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Posted 29 August 2006 - 06:12 PM

chance

Thanks for the kind kudo ... I hope you are enjoying a peaceful and interesting summer.

yes ... This is one post that I had to examine many sources and do a lot of my own thinking about past experience before posting. I actually LIKE Occam's razor as a logic tool and am a real fan.

You are right, I learn mainly by example and some samples are a good idea. I will take that as a suggestion.

BTW I did not make up the argument example I used. It's too good (bad) to be untrue.

The sample argument I used was an actual argument posted on the creationist- bashing site that I reference at the bottom of my post.

It is not exactly word for word because I added the word "purportedly", but it is used as an argument on that site.

Context for their argument was in an attack on our forum rule, specifically miocking the site and Fred Williams its host:

6) Quick to invoke Occam's Razor. A solid 85% probability you have an evo-babbler in your midst.

Translation: "Evo-babblers" point out, quite reasonably, that creationism (which requires one unexplained entity) is less likely to be true than evolution (which requires zero unexplained entities).


Thanks

#10 Origen

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Posted 03 October 2006 - 02:48 PM

I use Occam's Razer all the time in analysis; not to mention Bill O'reilly's No Spin Zone! Shaving away all the ad hoc assumptions in a position is what Occam's Razer accomplishes. It is widely used by several Creationist today and is very useful in dismantling the assumptions made by evolutionists, who otherwise would not want to admit those ad hoc assumption.

#11 Origen

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Posted 04 October 2006 - 12:23 PM

With Occam's Razer I get a close shave every shave :P

#12 Ron

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 11:09 AM

i noticed on one of the guideline pages that use of occam's razor in support of a position can be considered a warning sign of evo-babble.  does this principle have any appropriate and meaningful uses in questions of origins?

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You are referring to:

6) Quick to invoke Occam's Razor and declare victory. A solid 75% probability you have an evo-babbler in your midst.


At: http://www.evolution..._alert_page.htm

And no, Occam's Razor is not frowned upon; the misuse of it is.


Nicely argued George R , Occam's razor is not a argument in it’s own right.

View Post

Indeed… Occam's razor is a tool. And as a tool it can be used both “correctly”, and “incorrectly”.

One thing missing from your post IMO would be to include some examples of these false arguments, (the ‘fstdt’ was only a cut and paste from this site), as the argument  is like a summary of a general position, not someone’s actual argument.

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I agree, examples should be given when using tools like Occam's razor. For example:

Abiogenesis “life from non-life”… Atheistic evolutionists archetypally have the belief that life came from a single self-replicating protocell which in turn originally came into existence through spontaneous chemical reactions.

Creationists believe that God created our first ancestors and all other life on earth.

The problem for “atheistic evolutionists” is, scientists have never observed abiogenesis happening in nature, nor have they been able to create a life-form through controlled experiments. In fact, all experiments attempting to resemble anyting like the Earth's early conditions have failed to produce even the most basic of proteins like RNA, DNA (etc…) that all known life forms possess.

All the evidence we have suggests that life comes from life (the Law of Biogenesis). There is absolutely NO evidence of life coming from non-life (abiogenesis).

It appears therefore; according to the law of parsimony (lex parsimoniae) that intelligent design is a far more reasonable and simple explanation for the origin of life, than the atheistic evolutionary hypothesis of abiogenesis. Why, because the Law of Parsimony (or Occam's Razor) state’s "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" which when translated is: "plurality should not be posited without necessity." And to posit life from non-life requires endless equivocations when directly questioned and facts requested! In other words, the atheist must explain from an illogical and unscientific stance (life from non-life) all the while preserving the philosophical assumption that all life comes from non-life! Which is as circuitous argument as a line on a Mobius Strip (i.e. never ending).

#13 WalterK

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:24 AM

All the evidence we have suggests that life comes from life (the Law of Biogenesis). There is absolutely NO evidence of life coming from non-life (abiogenesis).

It appears therefore; according to the law of parsimony (lex parsimoniae) that intelligent design is a far more reasonable and simple explanation for the origin of life, than the atheistic evolutionary hypothesis of abiogenesis.

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The law of parsimony would favour the abiogenesis hypothesis over the intelligent design hypothesis. Abiognesis is held to require the necessary components, a fluid environment and energy (all of which we know can exist) coming together in the right circumstances. Intelligent design would either require some superior extra-terrestrials or an unobservable supernatural entity neither of which we have evidence for.

#14 Ron

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 08:06 PM

All the evidence we have suggests that life comes from life (the Law of Biogenesis). There is absolutely NO evidence of life coming from non-life (abiogenesis).

It appears therefore; according to the law of parsimony (lex parsimoniae) that intelligent design is a far more reasonable and simple explanation for the origin of life, than the atheistic evolutionary hypothesis of abiogenesis.

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The law of parsimony would favour the abiogenesis hypothesis over the intelligent design hypothesis. Abiognesis is held to require the necessary components, a fluid environment and energy (all of which we know can exist) coming together in the right circumstances. Intelligent design would either require some superior extra-terrestrials or an unobservable supernatural entity neither of which we have evidence for.


Actually "Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate" in no way supports the abiogenesis supposition! Abiogenesis demands materialistic AND naturalistic “life from non-life”, but this fails because there has never been a shred of evidence for life from non-life. This means the hypothesis of abiogenesis totally fails on the empirical scientific level. We can extend this out-and-out, and say logically/rationally “from nothing, nothing comes”, because there is absolutely NO empirical evidence of anything coming from nothing; therefore from non-life, there is only non-life! This leaves us with the conclusion that abiogenesis fails logically as well!

Now, as to the claim above “Abiogenesis is held to require the necessary components, a fluid environment and energy (all of which we know can exist) coming together in the right circumstances.” is based solely upon assumption and faith. And it is pasted together with the phrases “we know CAN exist”, and “coming together in the RIGHT circumstances” (he forgot to add materialistically and naturalistically so as not to infer design of any kind). As you can clearly see, the assumption made is totally bereft of empirical scientific evidence.

Now, absolutely ALL available empirical evidence we have ever had, provides that life springs fourth from life… Period! Absolutely ALL available empirical evidence we have ever had provides that “Everything” that has had or is having a beginning “had a beginner”! Therefore the simplest, most succinct (or parsimonious) answer (see Occam's razor) to the question of origins is that life can only come from life!

Occam's Razor/ The Law of Parsimony/ the Law of Succinctness/ The Principle of Simplicity never claimed to break the argument down to the logically absurd! This law submits “the more perfect a nature is the fewer means it requires for its operation." In other words, don’t add more to the explanation than it needs, to be explained.

All life comes from life, not from nothing!

#15 Ron

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Posted 02 November 2011 - 06:48 AM

- who says that the scientific approach has no equivalent to unexplained entities:

a) Foundational unexplained entities: reason, logic, observation,
scientific method ... these entities, however useful,
are not explained by science

b ) Core unexplained entities: Gravity, matter, energy
These are definitional only in a way that science reserves the right to
redefine them - or explain them away
Phlogiston and aether were once similarly deemed core entities.

c) Modern overlay of more unproven entities - e.g. multiverses,
extra-terrestrial life origins,
billions of links between bacteria and known multicellular life,
readiness of matter to become spontaneous life

View Post

Logic is a result of order, if things follow a pattern then the reasoning can be tested. If God can make a square a circle, then there is no point in debating him. There's no point in even taking experimental results as fact then!


Logic IS INDEED a result of order, as is REASONING if done properly (i.e. LOGICALLY and ORDERED). But there is no evidence anywhere that a LOGICAL God would even consider making a squared circle. In fact, the fallacious proposition that a LOGICAL God would create a “squared circle” is as incongruous and absurd a proposition as attempting to say “if God were all powerful and all knowing, He could create a stone so heavy that He couldn’t lift it”. As inane as this atheist’s argument is, it does have merit. And that merit is that the atheist has no better argument against God, than to butcher logic as a tactic to disprove God. And what is even more humorous is that the atheist NOW claim that they don’t try to DISPROVE God, but rather that they don’t see evidence FOR God. Therefore the atheist has now become an agnostic by definition…

Further, you hear “Materialistic Atheist” evolutionists claim that “Evolution did this”, or “Nature did” that; even rendering the words to be personal pronouns by reverently capitalizing the first letter in each word. Then they’ll argue that God cannot do this or that, while they claim Evolution and Nature CAN do this or that, and not even see the hypocrisy in their statements. SO here is by response to the illogical statement of “ChrisW” above: Provide for us, using empirical science, how “Evolution” or “Nature” created “something from nothing” or “life from non-life”. Because if you cannot, there's no point in even taking your explanations of experimental results as facts then!

Gravity, matter and energy are for the most part explained by Quantum Physics, the Standard Model, and General and Special Relativity. If I'm honest, I've never heard of the Christian Science alternatives to those theories.


The above is incorrect, the scientists using Quantum Physics ATTEMPT to explain Gravity, matter and energy! They have barely scratched the surface of explaining Gravity, matter and energy!!! And, here’s the thing to remember: Gravity, matter and energy have been here a long-long time prior to these feeble attempts of scientists using the model of Quantum Physics. So to attempt to say “Gravity, matter and energy are for the most part explained” is a gross misunderstanding.

Further, there is no such thing as “Christian science”, or “Atheistic science” or “Agnostic science”… There is only “science”, and people of varying world-views that study and practice science. So, you have done nothing more than create a straw-man with such a silly notion.


Multiverses are an extension of particle/wave duality and the Sum Over Histories approach in Quantum Mechanics. Some of the experiments to prove this can be done in your own home.


Multiverses are nothing more than an hypothesis, regardless of your attempts to give them empirical status. If you want to prove me wrong, back up your assertions with empirical evidence of said “Multiverses”…


Panspermia is a theory, much less tested than the Theory of Evolution. DNA obeys its chemical function regardless of who is there to witness it. Just because you are mostly water and carbon doesn't mean thats all you are!


Once again, “Panspermia” is nothing more than a hypothesis. As I said before; back up your assertions with empirical evidence of said “Panspermia”…

What is exceedingly humorous with all of your evolutionary argumentation is that they ALL fail the “litmus test” of your first paragraph!

#16 Ron

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 10:21 AM

I was just reading back through this thread, and was getting a kick out of the misuse of the Law of Parsimony by Walter K, and the textual and historical misinterpretations of the Bible by Mike_NC... These are easily refuted, but did they get it?

#17 de_skudd

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:34 AM

i noticed on one of the guideline pages that use of occam's razor in support of a position can be considered a warning sign of evo-babble. does this principle have any appropriate and meaningful uses in questions of origins?



AS has been pointed out previously, arguing forum rules is a no-no! But I’m not sure that you were doing it in the opening post above. Although it gives the impression that you were. You may have been better off simply saying “Does Occam’s razor support evolution OR the design argument?”. And you can always have the moderator team edit the text to reflect your intent.

Now, to the point of the “what Occam’s razor supports”? Or does Occam’s razor have any appropriate and meaningful uses in questions of origins? The best answer is; if used properly, the answer is yes!

The problem is as follows: Most Marco-evolutionists misuse ‘Occam’s Razor’ in fallacious attempts to make it support their arguments. But these arguments, when closely scrutinized, fail as ‘wanting’ on the logic they are attempting to use! The usually fail to use other logical principles (or laws) in support of their misuse of ‘Occam’s Razor’. For example, the atheistic evolutionist will argue against the existence of God on the grounds that God is an unnecessary hypothesis. Yet when questioned “Where did matter and/or energy come from; they attempt to answer “matter/energy is eternal” this then begs the question “is the universe eternal then?”. But the universe is running down in accordance with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and sooner or later will reach heat death—when everything will most likely be at the same temperature (i.e. a few degrees above absolute zero). If the universe was eternal, heat death would have happened a long, long time ago, but it hasn’t.


Therefore the universe is not eternal; it had to have a beginning.

But this begs further logical questions that totally pull apart at the fabric of the atheist’s argument! If the universe had a beginning, it LOGICALLY follows that it had a beginner that BEGAN it (see Causality) because ANYTHING that had a beginning MUST have had a beginner (i.e. Non-B > B )!

When the law of causality is applied to the origin of the universe, something interesting happens. It leads to a First Cause, which is generally called God. Consider the following:

1- Whatever has a beginning is caused.
2- The universe had a beginning.
3- Therefore, the universe is caused.

Digging further into this logical line of argumentation only further exposes the atheistic misunderstanding (or misuse) of logic in general, and more specifically the law of parsimony.
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#18 de_skudd

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 07:41 AM

The law of parsimony would favour the abiogenesis hypothesis over the intelligent design hypothesis. Abiognesis is held to require the necessary components, a fluid environment and energy (all of which we know can exist) coming together in the right circumstances. Intelligent design would either require some superior extra-terrestrials or an unobservable supernatural entity neither of which we have evidence for.



The Principle of Causality. And the Principle of Contingency BOTH defeat the abiogenesis hypothesis by asking From WHERE (or WHO) did abiogenesis proceed? Occam's Razor in no way helps abiogenesis, because the basis of abiogenesis begs the question I posited above.




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