William of Ockham

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William of Ockham (~1285–1349) was a Franciscan friar best remembered for the heuristic maxim that translates as "entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). Occam's razor (or Ockham's razor) holds that one should always accept as most-likely the most economical explanation that accounts for all the facts. However, Occam's razor is not to be interpreted as suggesting that the simplest or most easily discovered mechanism is explanatory. (Semiotician Umberto Eco alludes to William of Ockham in his protagonist in "The Name of the Rose".)

For primitive man, a God of the Gaps strategy invented an oversimplified explanation of phenomena ranging from weather to illness. However, much to the chagrin of creationists, we now know that natural laws provide more accurate, though more complex, explanations for observed phenomena. In this reverse of Occam's razor–let's call it Shaving Miracles–such oversimplified, miraculous explanations for physical phenomena do not provide any explanation at all.

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