Re: ID and Scientific Utility

Don N Page (don@Phys.UAlberta.CA)
Fri, 26 Sep 97 10:04:01 -0600

George Murphy responded to my posting yesterday that advocated the
principle of simplicity by noting, "OK, but the problem comes in deciding what
is "simplest" from a theistic standpoint. Unless we are very careful to stay
close to revelation, the simplicity we ascribe to God will be what we judge

simplest. This has had baneful effects on western trinitarian thought

for centuries because of course the Trinity doesn't seem "simple".

"& with God's interaction with the world - it would have been

"simplest" for God to be on Pharoah's side instead of choosing a rag-tag

bunch of Hebrew slaves."

I agree that it is very difficult to decide what is "simplest." When I
wrote that "the principle of simplicity [is] trying to find the simplest
hypotheses consistent with ... presuppositions that also fit the observational
and experimental data," of course I mean that the hypotheses should be
consistent with data such as the Bible. The Christian viewpoint (or at least
the usual orthodox, conservative, or evangelical Christian viewpoint) would
then be that the hypothesis that the Bible is God's word is the simplest (or at
least one of the simplest) explaining the Bible and other observations about
the world (e.g., extra-Biblical observations, ranging from archaeological
evidence to the witness of the Holy Spirit within oneself).

However, as the discussions in illustrate, even under
tha assumption that the hypothesis of the Bible as God's word is the simplest
consistent with the total data, there is still room for a lot of debate as to
what are the simplest hypotheses for how God may have done other things not
recorded in scientifically explicit detail in the Bible, such as how He made
life in a form that is consistent with the biological observations of present
science. The principle of simplicity is not explicitly invoked very often, but
I believe it underlies almost all considerations of what is plausible to
believe, from theology to science. Thus I just want to bring it out into the
open and ask how it is being used by ID supporters, for example.

Don Page

Science reveals the intelligibility of the universe (i.e., the fact that much
of it is simple enough to be understood by humans).
The Bible reveals the Intelligence behind the universe.
(Is the fact that we can understand much of the universe because (1) it is much
simpler than it might have been, and (2) because we were created in the image
of the Intelligence Who created the universe?
Is this a partial answer to Einstein's conundrum, "The most incomprehensible
thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible"?)