Pantheism and Ockham’s Razor

When viewed under the lens of Ockham’s Razor, pantheism appears to rise above its competitors. Ockham’s Razor favors the explanation that makes the least number of assumptions while accommodating all relevant data.

In a previous article we presented a logical summary for a proof of God:

Argument Summary
  • Humans are composed of elementary particles or fields of “energy”.
  • Human mental states result from these field interactions.
  • Every complex physical property results from the shaping of simpler forms of that property in a system’s interacting subsystems.
  • It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality works dramatically differently from physicality.
  • It is therefore irrational to assume that a property like mentality would magically arise from nowhere when fields interact.
  • Therefore fields have simple mentality.
  • Field interactions shape this mental state making it more complex.
  • The more and sophisticated the interactions, the more complex the states.
  • The Universe is composed only of interacting fields.
  • Therefore the Universe must have some kind of mental life.
  • Ergo God.

Now this argument contains a couple of assumptions relating to panpsychism. 1) mental states don’t simply spring out of non-mental stuff; 2) mental properties arise the same way as physical properties.

These are all extremely reasonable assumptions. Physical phenomena don’t spring out of non-physical stuff so why would we entertain that mental phenomena could spring out of non-mental stuff? There is no justification whatsoever that we should treat mental phenomena completely differently than physical phenomena in that regard. In other words, we can’t plead that mentality is a special case with respect to physicality. We can’t engage in special pleading.

But pantheism’s chief competitor, materialism, does make two truly outlandish assumptions: 1) mental states spring out of non-mental stuff by some unknown unjustifiable process; 2) mental properties arise in a completely different way than physical properties. These are monumental assumptions. Since they require some as yet unknown mechanism, they are in fact supernatural assumptions.

Something is supernatural if it transcends the laws of nature. Materialism’s assumption that the mental strongly emerges from the physical seems to meet that definition. There is not a single solitary concrete example of the strong emergence of anything. So strong emergence goes against everything we know about the laws of nature. Strong emergence is in fact supernatural.

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