This article discusses arguments for God in relation to the use of Occam’s Razor.
It has been argued that God is an extremely complex concept, and a superfluous one on top of naturalism. By Occam’s Razor, the logic goes, we should to prefer to ignore the God hypothesis.
I have discussed in the past some reasons that Christianity and the concept of God do not fall for Occam’s Razor, but I will give 2 new points today.
1 – God and Christianity Explain More than Naturalism
This is true in many ways, but what I am specifically referencing here is the historical resurrection of the historical person of Jesus. Naturalism fundamentally cannot explain the resurrection and it makes no attempt to.
We may debate the reality of the resurrection, and I think there is very good evidence for it, but I will not cover that in this article. Check this page for a variety of material on that subject.
If God, Christianity, Naturalism and Materialism are all used to explain cosmological origin, then we may prefer the simple one by the informal use of Occam’s Razor. However, once we introduce the facts of history as a simultaneous thing to be explained alongside cosmological origins we must take one of the following four routes:
- Claim Naturalism doesn’t seek to explain the resurrection and therefore does not compete with Christianity, preserving both explanations.
- Claim Naturalism doesn’t seek to explain the resurrection and therefore it is cut by Occam’s Razor, because Christianity explains more about reality with a similar level of complexity.
- Claim Naturalism does show that the resurrection didn’t happen, which creates an empirical problem for Naturalism.
- Claim Naturalism does show that the resurrection didn’t happen using a modified form of Naturalism to account for the empirical fact of the resurrection, but this explanation would require increased complexity and therefore be less preferred due to Occam’s Razor.
2 – The concept of God is Not Complex
Another reason God is not subject to Occam’s Razor is because Occam’s Razor prefers simplicity and God, or at least the knowable portion of God, is a less complex concept than Naturalism.
In fact, Aquinas argued that God is Divinely Simple, or Infinitely Simple, in that he is the only non-contingent or non-composite thing. God is the only thing which does not depend on anything else. He is the shortest chain of explanation for everything, because everything ultimately goes back to him.
Scientists constantly straw men the religious as mental incompetents. While I disagree that the point is true, their own point implies that God is a simple concept.
In fact, I would argue that God is simultaneously an infinitely simple and infinitely complex concept and entity. Doesn’t make sense? Doesn’t have to. Isn’t that simple?
Conclusion – You don’t get to have it both ways, we do.
Finally, I would point out that God and Christianity are remarkable in their ability to be expressed either as simple or complex ideas. I would argue that being complexity-scalable implies that proponents of God and Christianity get to have it both ways. We can argue for rich information and rigor at the complex end, but we can also argue for simplicity at the other.
It’s a bit reminiscent of Chess. Easy to begin, very hard to master.
Naturalism, on the other hand, seems to be complexity-rigid at an intermediate level. In it’s least complex form it is still moderately complex, yet in its most complicated form it is highly underdeveloped compared to the complex forms of religion. It’s even self-stunting in the face of a distaste for religious and philosophical questions.
I think the situation between God and Naturalism is much like the wider situation between philosophy and science, at least in terms of complexity. Philosophy both under-girds and supersedes science in terms of complexity. Similarly, God can be expressed simply or can be too complex for our comprehension. On the other hand, nothing can be too complex for our comprehension and also be science, as science is built on observation and induction. Neither is science terribly elementary nor properly basic.