„We consider it a good principle to explain the phenomena by the simplest hypothesis possible.“

—  Ptolemeu, Attributed in The Science of Conjecture : Evidence and Probability before Pascal (2001) by James Franklin, Ch, 9, p. 241 <!-- The Johns Hopkins University Press -->
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„In whatever manner God created the world, it would always have been regular and in a certain general order. God, however, has chosen the most perfect, that is to say, the one which is at the same time the simplest in hypothesis and the richest in phenomena.“

—  Gottfried Leibniz German mathematician and philosopher 1646 - 1716
Discours de métaphysique (1686); Leibniz famously tried to show that ours is the best of all possible worlds (see also Monadologie (53 & 54) below and compare Maimonides from Guide for the Perplexed (c. 1190), "Whatever is formed of matter receives the most perfect form possible in that species of matter.") These attempts were mercilessly parodied in Voltaire's Candide. Quotations from Voltaire's novel are often mistakenly attributed to Leibniz. Other statements by Leibniz upon the subject include these: S'il n'y avait pas le meilleur (optimum) parmi tous les mondes possibles, Dieu n'en aurait produit aucun. If there were no best among all possible worlds, God would not have created one. Théodicée (1710)ː I. 8 I do not believe that a world without evil, preferable in order to ours, is possible; otherwise it would have been preferred. It is necessary to believe that the mixture of evil has produced the greatest possible good: otherwise the evil would not have been permitted. The combination of all the tendencies to the good has produced the best; but as there are goods that are incompatible together, this combination and this result can introduce the destruction of some good, and as a result some evil. Letter to Bourguet (late 1712)], as translated in The Shorter Leibniz Texts (2006) http://books.google.com/books?id=oFoCY3xJ8nkC&dq edited by Lloyd H. Strickland, p. 208

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„Did they explain any of the phenomena of nature?“

—  Robert G. Ingersoll Union United States Army officer 1833 - 1899
Context: Did Christ or any of his apostles add to the sum of useful knowledge? Did they say one word in favor of any science, of any art? Did they teach their fellow-men how to make a living, how to overcome the obstructions of nature, how to prevent sickness—how to protect themselves from pain, from famine, from misery and rags? Did they explain any of the phenomena of nature? Any of the facts that affect the life of man? Did they say anything in favor of investigation—of study—of thought? Did they teach the gospel of self-reliance, of industry—of honest effort? Can any farmer, mechanic, or scientist find in the New Testament one useful fact? Is there anything in the sacred book that can help the geologist, the astronomer, the biologist, the physician, the inventor—the manufacturer of any useful thing?

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„I am less desirous to explain phenomena than to establish their existence.“

—  Adolphe Quetelet Belgian astronomer, mathematician, statistician and sociologist 1796 - 1874
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„We must never forget that it is principles, not phenomena, — laws not insulated independent facts, — which are the objects of inquiry to the natural philosopher.“

—  John Herschel English mathematician, astronomer, chemist and photographer 1792 - 1871
Context: We must never forget that it is principles, not phenomena, — laws not insulated independent facts, — which are the objects of inquiry to the natural philosopher. As truth is single, and consistent with itself, a principle may be as completely and as plainly elucidated by the most familiar and simple fact, as by the most imposing and uncommon phenomenon. The colours which glitter on a soapbubble are the immediate consequence of a principle the most important, from the variety of phenomena it explains, and the most beautiful, from its simplicity and compendious neatness, in the whole science of optics. If the nature of periodical colours can be made intelligible by the contemplation of such a trivial object, from that moment it becomes a noble instrument in the eye of correct judgment; and to blow a large, regular, and durable soap-bubble may become the serious and praise-worthy endeavour of a sage, while children stand round and scoff, or children of a larger growth hold up their hands in astonishment at such waste of time and trouble. To the natural philosopher there is no natural object unimportant or trifling. From the least of nature's works he may learn the greatest lessons. The fall of an apple to the ground may raise his thoughts to the laws which govern the revolutions of the planets in their orbits; or the situation of a pebble may afford him evidence of the state of the globe he inhabits, myriads of ages ago, before his species became its denizens. And this, is, in fact, one of the great sources of delight which the study of natural science imparts to its votaries. A mind which has once imbibed a taste for scientific inquiry, and has learnt the habit of applying its principles readily to the cases which occur, has within itself an inexhaustible source of pure and exciting contemplations. One would think that Shakspeare had such a mind in view when he describes a contemplative man as finding

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„Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace say that the opposite hypothesis, which assumes that every species is capable of varying indefinitely from its original type, is not a whit more arbitrary, and has this manifest claim to be preferred, that it will account for a multitude of phenomena which the ordinary theory is incapable of explaining.“

—  Charles Lyell British lawyer and geologist 1797 - 1875
Context: Every naturalist admits that there is a general tendency in animals and plants to vary; but it is usually taken for granted, though we have no means of proving the assumption to be true, that there are certain limits beyond which each species cannot pass under any circumstances, or in any number of generations. Mr. Darwin and Mr. Wallace say that the opposite hypothesis, which assumes that every species is capable of varying indefinitely from its original type, is not a whit more arbitrary, and has this manifest claim to be preferred, that it will account for a multitude of phenomena which the ordinary theory is incapable of explaining. Ch.21, p. 411