If other people do not understand our behavior-so what? Their request that we must only do what they understand is an attempt to dictate to us. If this is being "asocial" or "irrational" in their eyes, so be it. Mostly they resent our freedom and our courage to be ourselves. We owe nobody an explanation or an accounting, as long as our acts do not hurt or infringe on them. How many lives have been ruined by this need to "explain," which usually implies that the explanation be "understood," i.e. approved. Let your deeds be judged, and from your deeds, your real intentions, but know that a free person owes an explanation only to himself-to his reason and his conscience-and to the few who may have a justified claim for explanation.
[Theory is] an explanation that has been confirmed to such a degree, by observation and experiment, that knowledgeable experts accept it as fact. That's what scientists mean when they talk about a theory: not a dreamy and unreliable speculation, but an explanatory statement that fits the evidence. They embrace such an explanation confidently but provisionally - taking it as their best available view of reality, at least unil some severely conflicting data or some better explanation might come along.
Since we think we understand when we know the explanation, and there are four types of explanation (one, what it is to be a thing; one, that if certain things hold it is necessary that this does; another, what initiated the change; and fourth, the aim), all these are proved through the middle term.
I am not a Pessimist. Indeed I am not sure that I quite know what Pessimism really means. All I do know is that life cannot be understood without much charity, it cannot be lived without much charity. It is love, and not German philosophy, that is the true explanation of this world, whatever may be the explanation of the next.
There's no obvious reason to assume that the very same rare properties that allow for our existence would also provide the best overall setting to make discoveries about the world around us. We don't think this is merely coincidental. It cries out for another explanation, an explanation that... points to purpose and intelligent design in the cosmos.
God is not an alternative to science as an explanation, he is not to be understood merely as a God of the gaps, he is the ground of all explanation: it is his existence which gives rise to the very possibility of explanation, scientific or otherwise. It is important to stress this because influential authors such as Richard Dawkins will insist on conceiving of God as an explanatory alternative to science - an idea that is nowhere to be found in theological reflection of any depth. Dawkins is therefore tilting at a windmill - dismissing a concept of God that no serious thinker believes in anyway. Such activity is not necessarily to be regarded as a mark of intellectual sophistication.
John C. Lennox
Man, by his very nature, tends to give himself an explanation of the world into which he is born. And this is what distinguishes him from the other species. Every individual, even the least intelligent, the lowest of outcasts, from childhood on gives himself some explanation of the world. And with it he manages to live. And without it, he would sink into madness.
The explanation of types of structure in classes - as resulting from the will of the Deity, to create animals on certain plans - is no explanation. It has not the character of a physical law and is therefore utterly useless. It foretells nothing because we know nothing of the will of the Deity, how it acts and whether constant or inconstant like that of man.
We have this desire for everything to be explained to us. But if you go through your daily actions, very little ends up having a written-down explanation for why things happen, or why people do specific things. So it made sense to me to reflect the human condition that not every action has an explanation. We act, and then later maybe come to an understanding about it, or maybe not.
I don't think God is an explanation at all. It's simply redescribing the problem. We are trying to understand how we have got a complicated world, and we have an explanation in terms of a slightly simpler world, and we explain that in terms of a slightly simpler world and it all hangs together down to an ultimately simple world. Now, God is not an explanation of that kind. God himself cannot be simple if he has power to do all the things he is supposed to do.
Any philosophic explanation of Quality is going to be both false and true precisely because it is a philosophic explanation. The process of philosophic explanation is an analytic process, a process of breaking something down into subjects and predicates. What I mean (and everybody else means) by the word 'quality' cannot be broken down into subjects and predicates. This is not because Quality is so mysterious but because Quality is so simple, immediate and direct.
Robert M. Pirsig
Someone once said that if you sat a million monkeys at a million typewriters for a million years, one of them would eventually type out all of Hamlet by chance. But when we find the text of Hamlet, we don't wonder whether it came from chance and monkeys. Why then does the atheist use that incredibly improbable explanation for the universe? Clearly, because it is his only chance of remaining an atheist. At this point we need a psychological explanation of the atheist rather than a logical explanation of the universe.
And I will add this point of merely personal experience of humanity: when men have a real explanation they explain it, eagerly and copiously and in common speech, as Huxley freely gave it when he thought he had it. When they have no explanation to offer, they give short dignified replies, disdainful of the ignorance of the multitude.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
There are unidentified flying objects. That is, there are a hard core of cases-perhaps 20 to 30 percent in different studies-for which there is no explanation. We can only imagine what purpose lies behind the activities of these quiet, harmlessly cruising objects that time and again approach the Earth. The most likely explanation, it seems to me, is that they are simply watching what we are up to
In fact, books are still being published by the lunatic fringe with the same explanation. In case this book should be read by some fundamentalist searching for straws to prop up his prejudices, let me state categorically that all my experience (such as it is) has led me to an unqualified acceptance of evolution by natural selection as a sufficient explanation for what I have seen in the fossil record.
D. V. Ager
If you wanted to show a mirror to people that says, 'You've been drunk on money,' they're not going to want to see it. But if you reflected that mirror on another time they'd be willing to. People will need an explanation of where we are and where we've been, and 'The Great Gatsby' can provide that explanation.
If I die very young, hear this: I was never anything but a kid playing. I was a heathen like the sun and the water, I had the universal religion only people don't have. I was happy because I didn't ask for anything at all, Or tried to find anything, And I didn't find any more explanation Than the word explanation having no meaning at all.
The Universe was a damned silly place at best... but the least likely explanation for its existence was the no-explanation of random chance, the conceit that some abstract somethings "just happened" to be some atoms that "just happened" to get together in configurations which "just happened" to look like consistent laws and then some of these configurations "just happened" to possess self-awareness and that two such "just happened" to be the Man from Mars and the other a bald-headed old coot with Jubal himself inside. No, Jubal would not buy the "just happened" theory, popular as it was with men who called themselves scientists. Random chance was not a sufficient explanation of the Universe-in fact, random chance was not sufficient to explain random chance; the pot could not hold itself.
Robert A. Heinlein
When confronted with a demand that the universe have a cause, infidels have usually pointed out that God was not much of an explanation. This is true enough, but not really a positive argument. After mechanistic explanation became popular, infidels liked to restrict causality to the chain of causes in an eternal material universe, pointing out that no supernatural cause was then necessary. Plausible, but still rather defensive. Today's skeptic can do better. In all likelihood, the universe is uncaused. It is random. It just is.
I declare and I challenge all mankind to contradict my declaration, that no man can give any account of the order of Freemasonry, of its origin, of its history, of its object, nor any explanation of its mysteries and symbols, which does not leave the mind in total uncertainty on all these points. Every man is entitled therefore, to give any explanation of the symbols and a system of the doctrine that he can render palatable.
Our daily life is mostly, made of cases in which we lose money and/or time and/or energy and/or appetite, cheerfulness and good health because of the improbable action of some preposterous creature who has nothing to gain and indeed gains nothing from causing us embarrassment, difficulties or harm. Nobody knows, understands or can possibly explain why that preposterous creature does what he does. In fact there is no explanation - or better there is only one explanation: the person in question is stupid.
Carlo M. Cipolla
Since my moral system rests on my accepted version of the facts, he who denies my moral judgments or my version of the facts, is to me perverse, alien, dangerous. How shall I account for him? The opponent has always to be explained, and the last explanation that we ever look for is that he sees a different set of facts. Such an explanation we avoid, because it saps the very foundation of our own assurance that we have seen life steadily and seen it whole.
Science offers us an explanation of how complexity (the difficult) arose out of simplicity (the easy). The hypothesis of God offers no worthwhile explanation for anything, for it simply postulates what we are trying to explain. It postulates the difficult to explain, and leaves it at that.
The argument from design is ultimately an appeal to miraculous causes, i.e., causes that do not, and cannot, occur in the natural course of events. This is why an explanation via design is not a legitimate alternative to scientific and other naturalistic modes of explanation. To refer to a miraculous cause is to refer to something that is inherently unknowable, and this sanctuary of ignorance explains nothing at all. However much it may soothe the imagination of the ignorant, it does nothing to satisfy the understanding of a rational person.
George H. Smith
Except in a very few matches, usually with world-class performers, there is a point in every match (and in some cases it's right at the beginning) when the loser decides he's going to lose. And after that, everything he does will be aimed at providing an explanation of why he will have lost. He may throw himself at the ball (so he will be able to say he's done his best against a superior opponent). He may dispute calls (so he will be able to say he's been robbed). He may swear at himself and throw his racket (so he can say it was apparent all along he wasn't in top form). His energies go not into winning but into producing an explanation, an excuse, a justification for losing.
C. Terry Warner
It is the place of science only to observe... To seek cause where it may be found, but to realize that there are many things in the world for which no cause shall be found; not because it does not exist, but because we know too little to find it. It is not the place of science to insist on explanation - but only to observe, in hopes that the explanation will manifest itself.
Magic?' Kate snorted. 'There's no such thing. Is there?' 'Magic?' Barnabas shrugged. 'Why not? Magic is cool.' 'But there has to be a rational explanation.' 'Oh there is, ' Barnabas led her our of the cave and back to the shore. 'But a rational explanation is rather complex. We're dealing with a psycho-temporal entity manifesting through a critical mass of its sentient shell... um. Magic sounds more fun.
The more the media peddled fear, the more the people lost the ability to believe in one another. For every new ill that befell them, the media created an explanation, and the explanation always had a face and a name. The people came to fear even their closest neighbors. At the level of the individual, the community, and the nation, people sought signs of others' ill intentions; and everywhere they looked, they found them, for this is what looking does.
An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn't a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one. I can't help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.
Now it seems to me that love of some kind is the only possible explanation of the extraordinary amount of suffering that there is in the world. I cannot conceive of any other explanation. I am convinced that there is no other, and that if the world has indeed, as I have said, been built of sorrow, it has been built by the hands of love, because in no other way could the soul of man, for whom the world was made, reach the full stature of its perfection. Pleasure for the beautiful body, but pain for the beautiful soul.
But I have contrived an explanation which has every advantage; is inviting to christians of every communion; gradually frees them from all religious prejudices; cultivates the social virtues; and animates them by a great, a feasable, a speedy prospect of universal happiness, in a state of liberty and moral equality, freed from the obstacles which subordination, rank, and riches, continually throw in our way. My explanation is accurate and complete, my means are effectual, and irresistable. Our secret association works in a way that nothing can withstand, and man shall soon be free and happy.
It is a view of God that compensates every thing else, and enables the soul to rest in His bosom. How, when the child in the night screams with terror, hearing sounds that it knows not of, is that child comforted and put to rest? Is it by a philosophical explanation that the sounds were made by the rats in the partition? Is it by imparting entomological knowledge? No; it is by the mother taking the child in her lap, and singing sweetly to it, and rocking it. And the child thinks nothing of the explanation, but only of the mother.
Henry Ward Beecher
The scientific method is the ultimate elegant explanation. It is the ultimate foundation for anything worthy of the name "explanation". It makes no sense to talk about explanations without having a process for deciding which are right and which are wrong, and in a broad sense that is what the scientific method is about. All of the other wonderful explanations celebrated here owe their origin and credibility to the process by which they are verified-the scientific method.
Every morning brings us news of the globe, and yet we are poor in noteworthy stories. This is because no event comes to us without being already shot through with explanation. In other words, by now almost nothing that happens benefits storytelling; almost everything benefits information. Actually, it is half the art of storytelling to keep a story free from explanation as one reproduces it... The most extraordinary things, marvelous things, are related with the greatest accuracy, but the psychological connection of the event is not forced on the reader. It is left up to him to interpret things the way he understands them, and thus the narrative achieves an amplitude that information lacks.
If complex organisms demand an explanation, so does a complex designer. And it's no solution to raise the theologian's plea that God (or the Intelligent Designer) is simply immune to the normal demands of scientific explanation. To do so would be to shoot yourself in the foot. You cannot have it both ways. Either ID belongs in the science classroom, in which case it must submit to the discipline required of a scientific hypothesis. Or it does not, in which case, get it out of the science classroom and send it back to church, where it belongs.
That's our cue to depart." "They know something " I pointed out. "I know something too. I know we're going to attract a lot of unwanted attention if they keep screaming. And then we have to make up some ridiculous explanation about how we heard screaming through the vents in our rooms and we followed the sound back to the basement and we found these girls lying on the ground and pretending to be tied up by invisible rope because they're practicing for the regional mime championships." I blinked at her. "Is that explanation more or less believable than we woke up because two girls who are actually evil magicians tripped a magical alarm wired to a door in the basement we aren't supposed to know about " Scout paused for a minute then nodded. "Point made.
I don't accept the currently fashionable assertion that any view is automatically as worthy of respect as any equal and opposite view. My view is that the moon is made of rock. If someone says to me 'Well, you haven't been there, have you? You haven't seen it for yourself, so my view that it is made of Norwegian Beaver Cheese is equally valid' - then I can't even be bothered to argue. There is such a thing as the burden of proof, and in the case of god, as in the case of the composition of the moon, this has shifted radically. God used to be the best explanation we'd got, and we've now got vastly better ones. God is no longer an explanation of anything, but has instead become something that would itself need an insurmountable amount of explaining. So I don't think that being convinced that there is no god is as irrational or arrogant a point of view as belief that there is. I don't think the matter calls for even-handedness at all.