All Things Being Equal

…Is an oxymoronic thought…

William OckhamNot everything is equal to each other. If it were, then the logic Apples to Oranges would work. We know that it will NEVER work, even though they are each called a “fruit” – they are uniquely different from each other and the twain shall never meet!

The simplest response to choosing one option over another does not gives us the correction solution!

This premise of choice is often called Occam’s (or Ockham) Razor. Many use it to slice arguments down to the simplest solution of choice. It is often summarized as, “All things being equal, the simplest solution must be the correct choice.”

It’s not a new way of looking at arguments and can be dated all the way back to Aristotle.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) writes in his Posterior Analytics, “we may assume the superiority ceteris paribus [all things being equal] of the demonstration which derives from fewer postulates or hypotheses.” (Wikipedia)

But Ockham’s work has been much analyzed, critiqued, and restated since his death in 1347. First, consider who he actually was: “an English Franciscan friar and theologian, an influential medieval philosopher”. Second, most of his writing is focused on religious subject:

Indeed, Ockham’s contribution seems to be to restrict the operation of this principle in matters pertaining to miracles and God’s power: so, in the Eucharist, a plurality of miracles is possible, simply because it pleases God. (via Wikeipedia)

His references seem to be related to theological topics alone, at least in my realm of study, but many have taken his concepts to apply to other areas of study, including science, problem resolution, and directions for life choices.

We often chose the “path of least resistance”, or the way that causes the less obligation. We want to whittle down the choices to some simple sliver that makes us feel comfortable about direction. Flip the coin and let “luck” choose for us. My favorite is the write out the Pro & Con list to help make correct choices.

There are many random ways of charting options, but selecting the final option is still troublesome.

In fact, I use a version of this when driving: “All things being equal, if we are going the same direction and speed, I would just as soon be at the head of the line.”

We live in a time of complicated actions and belief systems. Not only have we changed from where we once were, we are not yet to the end of what we are going to become. Generational, cultural, science, technological, and even religious thought, has changed. What was once the norm is no longer accepted. What was once abnormal is now accepted as normal. It seems our entire world has flipped!

For many of life’s woe’s, this is a welcome and acceptable change. In other areas, too many still struggle with the consequences of the flip. Many of the “flips” pushes against ones belief system, one’s normal life and forces everyone to make difficult choices.

Tiddly WinksLife is constantly placing us in situations of choice. Every news cycle gives us choices to believing one side or another. Every law pushes us to once side of life over another. Our tiddly wink is flipped at the signage of law, or change of society

A long time ago I made a choice to believe a certain direction. A Godly choice. I was willing to follow Joshua’s command of choice that I can go one way or the other. Which way do you want to choose? Can you allow Occam’s Razor to point you correctly?

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods, for it is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.”  (Joshua 24:15-18 ESV)