Astronomy

I’ve been studying astronomy for the last few days in preparation for a test I have tonight. Now that I’ve watched all the classes (telecourse via CD), I’m reading through some passages in the book as a refresher and to make sure I have everything right.

I can’t go in-depth on this thought, but I wanted to copy out something I just read.

The idea of looking for a simpler arrangement has become a key element in the scientific method. As early as 1340, the English scholar William of Ockham proposed the famous idea that among competing theories, the best theory is usually the simplest theory–that is, the one with the fewest assumptions or the fewest quantities that have to be combined to make a prediction. We did not discuss this in Chapter 1, and it would be difficult to do so because simplicity is an aesthetic judgment. Are the simplest and most elegant theories always correct? Or is the belief that the universe is simple merely a human conceit?

I have a problem with Occam’s (as it is usually spelled, though perhaps it should be Ockham’s?) Razor, the idea that between two competing theories, all things being equal, the simplest is probably right. I ran into a situation at work today where that definitely wasn’t the case, and I think it belittles our intellect and ability to reach a real conclusion to rely regularly on this assumption: that simplicity = correctness. Still, it’s something to think about.

Question for my readers: If a person holds a belief, and you attack that belief, are you attacking that person, or just their beliefs? Is there a… I don’t know, a scale of importance for beliefs, to the extent that certain beliefs/ideas can be separated from the individual and other ideas cannot?

Is a person their beliefs/ideas/faith, or are they separate enough to ever be discussed objectively?

I begin my own response with the question: Do you honestly think it is possible, as a human being, to hate the sin yet love the sinner?

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