“Occam’s Razor does not shave people.”
— Harold Torger Vedeler, “Science Fiction, the Bible, and the Narrative Method,” paper read at the EABS and International SBL meeting in Vienna, July 2014, Science Fiction and the Bible group.
I was delighted to have the chance to attend one of the sessions on the Bible and science fiction at the SBL/EABS conference in Vienna. All three papers in that session were interesting, and Frauke Uhlenbruch’s paper about Douglas Rushkoff’s graphic novel series Testament
has made me eager to read them. But the quote above seemed to have a relevance far beyond the subject of the presentation, which was about the similarities and differences between scientific and narrative approaches, both of which are ways that human minds make the seemingly infinite complexity of reality manageable. Occam’s Razor applies poorly to history, for instance, since human beings as individuals and collectively regularly fail to follow the simplest course. Hence the quote.