Aug 24, 1997 00:40 AM
by Richard Taylor
> But if another interpretation matches the physical evidence,
> while another contradicts the physical evidence, shouldn't we use
> Occam's Razor, and use the one that matches the physical evidence
> until proven otherwise?
I hope you will not read my reply as impertinent, because I am
very much enjoying our give-and-take, and Wesley Amerman's
comments, and I feel this kind of sincere exchange of different
understandings is healthy and even fun.
That said, I have never felt, from the first day I learned of it,
the magical persuasion of Occam's Razor. I see people from here
to Tibet quote it as if it were self-evident. For those whose
history of science is shaky, this scientist Occam in the late
middle ages suggested that when solving puzzles in physical
nature one should always postulate the fewest hypothetical causes
necessary to explain the phenomenon. Why postulate that hundreds
of angels drag the planets in orbit around the Sun, when simple
gravity will explain it?
Why I find this utterly uncompelling and not at all self-evident
is that I have no reason to believe that Nature always takes what
looks to US as the simplest, most direct route. I fully believe
that there are THOUSANDS of variables and forces and laws that
we, as yet, have NO KNOWLEDGE of, so I see no reason to prohibit
ourselves from investigating hundreds of competing theories.
When scientists last century were trying to figure out how the
Sun emits heat and light, Occam's razor suggested to them to
postulate as few unknowns as possible, and so they decided the
Sun was combusting with oxygen, literally "on fire." After the
discovery of atomic forces, Occam's razor suggested not to look
for any theories besides fusion of hydrogen into helium. Still
however the Sun exhibits characteristics that are not explained
by simple fusion reactions. So how many theories will we go
through, how many hypoethical entities (forces) must we propose
to solve the riddle of the Sun?
While Occam's Razor was effective in eliminating the useless
theological encumbrances of the middle ages, with angels imagined
responsible for every physical act, or special dispensations of
God, Occam's Razor is no guarantee, or even a productive guide,
in getting finally the RIGHT answer. If there is one at all.
> Why do you say, "of course the PINEAL GLAND"? That implies that
> there is such compelling evidence that there is no question.
> What is this compelling evidence?
You misunderstand. I was directly quoting HPB in the S.D. and
she wrote "of course the pineal gland." I have no idea, outside
of HPB, where the third eye might have gone or what gland it may
or may not have become. I find HPB's suggestion interesting but
by no means self-evident.
> > SD II pg. 333-4: "Thus the Fourth Race Atlanteans were developed
> > from a nucleus of Northern Lemurian Third Race Men, centered,
> > roughly speaking, toward a point of land in what is now the
> > mid-Atlantic Ocean."
> But is she talking about bodies, or monads? The physical evidence
> points to the latter, and against the former. So what is gained
> by ignoring the physical evidence?
HPB states frequently in the S.D. that monads do not "develop."
They are perfect from the beginning, and merely move as witnesses
through various forms. I see no reason to even suspect that HPB
is talking about monads in the passage, when from context we can
see it is about the development of RACES. Monads do not grow,
change, or develop in HPB's writing--although the FORMS they
As for the physical evidence for Darwinian, neo-Darwinian,
punctuated equilibrium, or another other theory of evolution
based on the fossil record, I highly recommend (as a start) the
following non-Theosophical books which demonstrate the highly
volatile and shaky ground upon which interpretation of the
"physical evidence" rests:
Michael Denton, EVOLUTION: A THEORY IN CRISIS
Philip E. Johnson, DARWIN ON TRIAL
Rupert Sheldrake, about 5 different books
Michael Cremo, FORBIDDEN ARCHEOLOGY: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF THE
None of the above are HPB apologists, all are working
independently. Denton is a well-respected bio-chemist at a major
university and has no "spiritual" evolutionary theory to offer--
he merely shows in the most compelling terms, systematically, how
the fossil record, the genetic evidence, and the
molecular-biological evidence all militate against evolutionary
theory as it now stands. Truly, this field is in crisis and what
happens in the next 20 years I think only an Adept could fortell.
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