Hopefully we are emerging from an era of fantasy explanations for real phenomena. The authors certainly have to face a community of therapists who are obsessionally committed to explanations for disease and for therapy unsupported by a scrap of evidence except for their claimed therapeutic success.
Patrick David Wall
Save your explanations, I got some questions for you first and you'd better answer them!' [slurred Hellian.] 'With what?' [Banaschar] sneered. 'Explanations?' 'No. Answers. There's a difference-' 'Really? How? What difference?' 'Explanations are what people use when they need to lie. Y'can always tell those, 'cause those don't explain nothing and then they look at you like they just cleared things up when really they did the opposite and they know it and you know it and they know you know and you know they know that you know and they know you and you know them and maybe you go out for a pitcher later but who picks up the tab? That's what I want to know.' 'Right, and answers?' 'Answers is what I get when I ask questions. Answers is when you got no choice. I ask, you tell. I ask again, you tell some more. Then I break your fingers, 'cause I don't like what you're telling me, because those answers don't explain nothing!
I want to see the world without explaining away its mystery by calling things wicked, righteous, sinful, and good. I want to erase in myself the easy explanations, the always mendacious explanations about why things happen the way they do, and in this way, come to know the mystery of being-not by any approximation in thought, but by being. I want to be and not be ashamed of being.
In evolution, as in all areas of science, our knowledge is incomplete. But the entire success of the scientific enterprise has depended on an insistence that these gaps be filled by natural explanations, logically derived from confirmable evidence. Because "intelligent design" theories are based on supernatural explanations, they can have nothing to do with science.
I flicked my eyes over to Steve again and saw him straighten. He would need a diversion just to start. "Explanations?" I bellowed. "Explanations? There's your explanation... there!" I stabbed a finger dramatically towards the far corner of the room. Pathetic, really. I mean, talk about the oldest trick in the book. But it's a good book, and the trick would have been cut from subsequent editions if it didn't sometimes work.
The widest cause of secularization may be the steady change of thinking so that there is the expectation that reason and a consideration of cause and effect will help with explanations. Supernatural power began to be removed from explanations of the process of life or society in the seventeenth century, and although there may be a nod towards astrology or the crossed finger today, superstition is not seriously used in decision making... Scientific thinking, which similarly developed in the seventeenth century, has been influential in bringing this change. We now see that tornadoes and earthquakes have rational explanations in terms of climatology and seismology rather than as divine punishments. Most people when deciding whether to take a new job, embark on a divorce, or simply plan a holiday will not seek divine guidance, but rather discuss with themselves or others the issues of cause and effect.
Alternative explanations are always welcome in science, if they are better and explain more. Alternative explanations that explain nothing are not welcome... Note how science changed those beliefs when new data became available. Religions stick to the same ancient beliefs regardless of the data.
Victor J. Stenger
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.
Many scholars forget, it seems to me, that our enjoyment of the great works of literature depends more upon the depth of our sympathy than upon our understanding. The trouble is that very few of their laborious explanations stick in the memory. The mind drops them as a branch drops its overripe fruit... Again and again I ask impatiently, "Why concern myself with these explanations and hypotheses?" They fly hither and thither in my thought like blind birds beating the air with ineffectual wings. I do not mean to object to a thorough knowledge of the famous works we read. I object only to the interminable comments and bewildering criticisms that teach but one thing: there are as many opinions as there are men.