I’ve often wondered about atheists use of Occam’s Razor in theological discussion. And particularly as a way of battering anti-scientific theists. It seems to me to be an incredible irony.
Occam’s Razor is expressed in many different ways. It suggests that explanations with fewer numbers of causes, or with causes of lower complexity, are better. It might be said, as Newton did: “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.”, or as Occam himself did: “entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity”.
If you can say anything about “God did it” as an explanation; its that it is pretty darn simple. Certainly the explanation of why human beings are as they are is a darn sight simpler as “Because God made them that way”, or “Because God wanted them to be that way”, than the necessarily scientific explanation of the highly contingent history of biological life and its evolutionary branching.
I’ve heard atheists go on, at this point, to claim that Occam’s razor should apply to new ‘entities’ or new ‘agents’. So an explanation with fewer agents is always to be preferred. But this is crap. Nobody would take seriously an explanation, for a find of pottery, of how natural forces formed the clay in the right shapes, engineered that they were exposed to forest fires, and had the patterns applied to them by a series of insects running across their face. We explain stuff by positing actors, often many of them, when it is the best explanation.
So Occam’s razor might be useful in some technical senses in science (it is better to tie a hypothesis into existing knowns than to build a tall theoretical framework for a new observation). But in theology? No, I’m afraid it is rather a shot in the foot.
There are very good reasons not to accept theological explanations. In particular they are non-predictive. But if you honestly put your faith in Occam’s razor, you should be a theist, as far as I can see.