About Me

I am a father of two wonderful boys living in Wisconsin, USA.  I was born and am a Roman Catholic, but my faith journey has taken a very circuitous route.  Despite having wonderful parents as role models and the privilege of receiving an outstanding  Jesuit education during my college years, I drifted away from the church during my early adult years.  It was not just that I had increasing concerns about the institutional Church (although that was true), I had serious doubts about the core doctrines of Christianity, beginning with the existence of God.

During these years of exile, which lasted almost 20 years, I focused on my career and worldly success.  My belief system, to the extent I thought about it, varied from agnosticism to a vague Deism (with a dash of Ayn Rand’s objectivism thrown in for good measure).

As I approached middle-age, I had an increasing sense of anxiety.  From an outsider’s perspective, I was living an ideal life:  great job, great wife and children, good health, financial security.  However, internally, I was exceptionally restless.

I went on a spiritual journey, studying the beliefs and practices of five major world religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Buddhism), starting with the most basic questions of: is there a God and if so, what is the nature of God?  This quest has given my tremendous respect for all of the faith traditions, but ironically, I came back to my original Catholic faith, albeit in a much different light.  Key influences in my ultimate journey back home were Jesuit writers and teachers, especially Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and a deeper understanding of Ignatian Spirituality.

Today, I am a proud Roman Catholic.  I try to eschew labels as I consider them divisive.  Hence, you will not hear me say that I am a (fill-in-the-blank) traditional, progressive, orthodox, liberal, conservative Catholic.  I believe that Catholicism is universal, and demands a way of life that is inclusive (both/and, not either/or).  If others were to label me, I would likely be accused of being too conservative for “liberal” Catholics and too liberal for “conservative” Catholics.

My ultimate goal however, is to move beyond labels.  I still have problems with the institutional Church but I believe that Christianity, and especially the Catholic Church with its deep history, traditions and emphasis on reason, offers the best description of the ultimate reality (or as William O’Malley, S.J. describes it, the “least leaky boat”).  I believe that Teilhard de Chardin had the right ideas of staying true to his faith, including his vows of obedience at tremendous personal cost, while pushing the Church to embrace new insights into the nature of God and Christ.

I have created this blog as a vehicle to share my personal journey, promote what the Church is doing for science and highlighting scientific and theological ideas that are consistent with orthodox understanding but also take into account new scientific and other discoveries.

I hope that you will join me on this journey and share your experiences and contribute your ideas.

W. Ockham

103 Responses to About Me

  1. Naphtali says:

    Personal journeys can be the cornerstone for faithful Jesus followers. Sounds like you are one of those. God bless!

  2. Sebastian says:

    Hello William! I look forward to really diving into your blog. Also, thank you for following my blog at Faith1st Ministries I hope it has and will continue to be a major blessing in your life. May God richly bless you as you continue to write and blog. Please continue with us on this journey and remember to have Faith 1st because the “just shall live by his faith.” — Sebastian

  3. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty regarding your faith–I am a born and raised Episcopalian who has washed away from the church as I no longer believe in the direction in which it, the Episcopal church, is now going. I do, and have always, leaned towards my catholic roots, which the Anglican church is so richly based. I will mostly likely, eventually, gravitate that way with more of a sense of purpose…but it too is scared—I have concerns with the Catholic church as well, especially in the wake of the child abuse scandals—but no earthly endeavor is every free of sin, pain and stumbling….I simply keep coming back to St Francis and how God told him to repair His Church, which was falling down—he didn’t tell Francis to leave and create a spinoff church, which I feel so many denominations tend to be…fix what is there–so yes, my Catholic roots are calling me home …..thank you again for sharing….

    • Julie, thank you for your comment. I love the comment from St. Francis and its implications ring true to me. During my journey, it was the rich intellectual, spiritual and artistic heritage of the catholic (small “c” which includes Anglicans and similar spiritual kins to the Roman Catholic Church). N.T. Wright and John Polkinghorne are two of my favorite contemporary Anglican authors and speakers that carry on this tradition.

  4. Pingback: Orthodoxy of Teilhard de Chardin (Part I): Pope Benedict and Spirit of the Liturgy | Teilhard de Chardin

  5. William,
    Will you comment and enlighten me on the following:Putnam and Horn cite the key role of Teilhard de Chardin, a famed Jesuit, in influencing the Vatican’s belief in extraterrestrial life. Chardin wrote:
    … considering what we know now know about the number of “worlds” and their internal evolution, the idea of a single hominized planet in the universe has already become I fact … almost as inconceivable as that of a man who appeared with no generic relationship to the rest of the earth’s animal population. At an average of (at least) one human race per galaxy, that makes a total of millions of human races dotted all over the heavens (p. 288).
    De Chardin’s influence over Catholic theology can be recognized in a homily by Pope Benedict in 2009 that Putnam and Horn cite as key evidence of Vatican’s preparations for the introduction of an extraterrestrial inspired theology:
    The role of the priesthood is to consecrate the world so that it may become a living host, a liturgy: so that the liturgy may not be something alongside the reality of the world, but that the world itself shall become a living host, a liturgy. This is also the great vision of Teilhard de Chardin: in the end we shall achieve a true cosmic liturgy, when the cosmos becomes a living host. (p. 564)
    I must confess I have only recently heard that the Vatican was about to release info pertaining to Scripture that was going to be somewhat of a challenge to the Christian.
    Thank you my friend,
    Robert Robinson:

    • Hi Robert:

      I am not familiar with the writings of Putnam and Horn so I can not comment on them. Based on the limited reviews I have read, their views are pretty far out. They are good at selling books though:-)

      In terms of extraterrestrials and Christianity, it is an interesting subject. Two of my favorite science fiction series deal with these themes. Mary Doria Russell has an outstanding two-book series: “The Sparrow” and “The Children of God” which touches on core issues like the existence of God and the problem of evil. This series is interesting in that it mirrors Russell’s change over time from Catholic to Atheist to Jewish. The other one of my favorite science fiction series that includes deep philosophical themes such as the problem of evil is “The Galactic Milieu” by Julian May. It is interesting to contrast May’s Christian/Teilhardian theology compared Russell’s Atheism to Judaism theology. Russell’s universe includes human interactions with two other sentient beings in Proxima Centauri, the nearest star other than the Sun. May’s Galactic Milieu deals with five other sentient races from differing parts of the Galaxy. Interesting both Russell and May have Jesuits as primary actors (The Jesuits have frequently been accused of conspiracy both within and outside the Catholic Church!).

      On a more formal theological note, I do not believe that Teilhard de Chardin ever addressed his theology to other potential extraterrestrial beings. Teilhard was more focused on what it means to be human and his/her relationship with God and the Universe. Other theologians have written on this subject, but it is not an area I am very familiar with. On my bookshelf, I have a book by Thomas O’Meara “Vast Universe: Extraterrestrials and Christian Revelation” that I hope to read this summer. Based on the table of contents Fr. O’Meara covers a lot of ground, including perspectives from Catholic and Protestant theologians from Origen to the present day. You can find a brief overview of Fr. O’Meara’s thoughts here.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  6. Dear William
    I was searching for Benedict’s quote of Teilhard re the Eucharist being the anticipation of the transformation and divinization of matter and I came upon your website.
    Thank you for sharing your faith journey so simply and honestly.
    I am a religious Sister in my 77th year, retired but still working! As I become less mobile because of health problems I am looking for something to occupy my “free” time, and your
    articles interest me. I hope to continue following your sharing.
    God bless you and your work for Him.
    Yuklin Ng Fan

  7. Thank you for stopping by Lessons by Heart. It is always a pleasure to see a new face. May the Lord richly bless you in your journey. One favorite verse of mine is Jeremiah 29:13 – You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. That verse is the one that drew me back from the world and into the Lord’s loving “arms” once again. He is so good to us, isn’t He?

    In Christ,
    Tami
    \o/
    Praise Jesus!

  8. terrishcj says:

    Thank you, William, for what you wrote here and on my site. I think Teilhard’s quote about “longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.” is exemplified by your words, the comments on your site, and the obvious joy among groups of seekers who have “found” one another. Blessings on your contributions to the Great Work! Terri

  9. cjreinhart says:

    I loved reading your profile and learning more about where you are today. Your perspectives and journey are somewhat similar to mine.
    Thank you for your work and sharing.
    Carolyn

    • Hi Carolyn:

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing. It is nice to meet a kindred spirit. Please continue to share your thoughts, insights and experiences here.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  10. Saw over at Felice you’ll be teaching 6th grade. Next year’ll be my 10th year teaching 6th-grade Catechism. I keep a catechetical blog here: http://platytera.blogspot.com/ You may find something useful there.

  11. ssack1 says:

    Hi William,

    Nice job with this blog!! I am finally finishing a theology dissertation on Teilhard and his influence on the United States during the 1960s and your blog keeps popping up during my intermittent searches online. I am glad you situate it within the Jesuit tradition. It’s also great that Teilhard has been as positive an influence for you as he has for me..what an amazing man, not to mention an amazing life story! And yes, a story with which those of us who love yet struggle with the institutional Church can well appreciate and empathize.

    I look forward to checking in regularly…. blessings, Sue

    • Hi Sue:

      Thank you so much for stopping by. Your dissertation sounds extremely interesting. I agree that Teilhard de Chardin’s story and his thoughts are very compelling. I would sincerely appreciate any corrections, insights or words of wisdom you have with respect to Teilhard de Chardin. I would be especially grateful to see your dissertation or any other publications that you can share or that you believe are particularly helpful.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  12. Hi William,

    I noted your comment on my blogspot about the thoughts of Teilhard dfe Chardin at
    http://www.todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/07/thoughts-of-pierre-teilhard-de-chardin.html

    Indeed, I am updating today the blogspot with excerpts from “The Faith of Teilhard de Chardin” which is a translation of “La Prière du Père Teilhard de Chardin” written by Henri de Lubac, S.J., the great Jesuit made cardinal by Saint John Paul II.

    You and other readers may find other topics of interest on Henri de Lubac here:
    http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2012/06/henri-de-lubac-catholicism.html

    and lectures by one of Teilhard’s followers, the great Henri Boulad, S.J. whom I had the honor of being with in June this year. See them here:
    http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/06/henri-boulad-sj-theosis.html
    and here:
    http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/06/henri-boulad-injustice.html
    and here:
    http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/07/henri-boulad-sj-parables-of-jesus.html
    and my reflections on the thoughts of Henri Boulad, S.J. here
    http://todayquestions.blogspot.ca/2013/06/reflections-of-henri-boulad-sj.html

    It was in 1972 that Henri Boulad, S.J. introduced me and my friends to the thought and cosmic liturgy of Teilhard de Chardin. Pope Benedict XVI did mention Teilhard de Chardin’s theology in a favorable light in 2009.
    See http://tcreek1.jimdo.com/

    • George, thank you so much for stopping by and for these great resources! I am a fan of Cardinal Henri de Lubac, S.J., in large part due to his incorporation of Teilhard de Chardin’s vision into mainstream Catholic sytematic theology. I also very much enjoyed Catholicism by Cardinal de Lubac. I look forward to exploring your blogposts on him.

      I am not familiar with Henri Boulad, S.J. but he sounds like an amazing theologian and person also. I look forward to learning more about him.

      Pope Benedict XVI has frequently mentioned Teilhard’s theology in positive lights over the years. I actually was introduced to Teilhard when I was reading Pope Benedict’s great book Introduction to Christianity. More recently, Pope Benedict XVI devoted the bulk of an entire chapter to Teilhard’s cosmic Eucharistic vision in his book Spirit of the Liturgy, the 2009 Vespers service you referenced and in 2012 in remarks on a conference on the theology of Teilhard de Chardin sponsored by the Vatican.

      Thank you again for stopping by and I look forward to exploring your blog.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  13. Cristina says:

    Thank you for visiting my neck of the woods. I look forward to reading about your journey as well…

    God’s Blessings to you,
    Cristina

  14. opreach says:

    I look forward to reading more of your posts. Any friend of Teilhard is a friend of mine. You have been on quite a journey!

    And thank you for following.

    Peace, Pat

  15. Thank you for this great story of your conversion. As I always say, The church will always be more traditional than the traditionalist, and more modern than the modernist. God bless

    • Thank you for the follow and for the wonderful quote! It is very timely and I am going to find a way to use it for my post tomorrow.

      • Yes my qoute is a spin on a book Archbishop Fulton Sheen said in his book “old errors, new labels” many years prior to Vatican II. His original qoute was “The Church will always be more fundamental than the fundamentalist, and more modern than the modernist”

        I find that when walking the narrow path, we must be careful because on our left we have the modernists and to our right the traditionalists. It can be difficult for those of us trying to keep focused on the true footprints of Jesus on the narrow path and be easily distracted by those on our left and those on our right. Not that I never get distracted or claim to have the truth, I fall from the narrow way everyday and truth is something I am still on a journey towards.

        God bless.
        Stephen

      • Stephen, very wise words. I have incorporated the quote into the post I am working on tomorrow on the Feast of St. Pope Pius X as the quote nicely summarizes the thesis.

      • Thank you, I look forward to your post.

  16. Henry Jekyll says:

    Got here from a reference by Erik over at Anacephalaeosis as a great source for information on the writings of de Chardin. Just wanted to introduce myself as I take a look around.

  17. lljostes says:

    We who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior are all one in the Body of Christ–the true catholic church–no matter what denomination we associate with. Thanks for sharing your journey. Thanks, also, for following “What’s The Good Word?” Blessings!

  18. jjhiii24 says:

    William,

    I was very pleased and grateful to make note of your visit to my blog, and it seems our spiritual journeys have had a number of common experiences along similar paths. I’ve written periodically about Teilhard in my blog, as well as about where science and spirit meet.

    Chardin was a gifted writer and philosopher, but did not enjoy much agreement with the Catholic church in his lifetime. My own father forbid us to read his works when we were growing up, and there are still some who feel his philosophy and written works are in contrast to Catholic philosophy and doctrine. Your inclusion of his work in support of your blog is an affirmation of Chardin’s efficacy in our modern world.

    Thank you so much for your interest in my writing and I’m going to be following yours now.

    Regards…..John H.

    • John, thank you for the follow and for your comment. Teilhard de Chardin is definitely an interesting person, one I believe is well ahead of his time. His writings on the convergence of human consciousness and the world of matter foreshadowed some of the recent developments in technology (e.g. the internet) and scientific discoveries (e.g. Higgs Boson, which I will write about tomorrow). It is unfortunate he was censored by the Catholic Church during his lifetime but it is not without a small bit of irony that his thoughts have become part of mainstream Catholic theology by a Pope (Benedict XVI) who is considered to be ultra-conservative (he is in some respects but he also has a very complex and in many ways forward-thinking theology).

      I very much enjoy your blog and look forward to reading more and sharing your journey.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  19. Hello! I’ve really enjoyed reading what you have to say on your blog. I just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger award. Head over to my neck of the woods to check it out. Congrats and God bless!

  20. Daniela says:

    William, thank you for following my blog. I grew up a Catholic, as well, right here in Wisconsin. I no longer practice, but am very impressed by “our” new Pope. Looking back at my Catholicism, I realize my understanding of the Church and it’s teachings is nominal. I am very interested in the teachings of Ignatius. I don’t know anything about Teilhard de Chardin and am looking forward to learning more about him on your blog.

    • Daniela, thank you for stopping by. You have a wonderful blog! Sustainability, especially in agriculture, is a personal and professional passion of mine. I have worked with the Slow Money movement to help develop financing and marketing structures that help make organic farming more viable (including working with some great Jesuits!).

      My spiritual life is very circuitous. I grew up Catholic but drifted away for ~20 years while I focused on worldly pursuits but recently has some experiences (hesitant to call them mystical but they are impossible to describe unless you experienced them) that led me look at spirituality, especially the five major world religions. Ultimately, I ended up back at Catholicism but in a whole different light. It was like G.K. Chesterton’s analogy of the person who left England to travel around the world, ended up on an island and thought he discovered a new land only to discover that he ended up back where he started but he saw it in a new light. Discovering Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a key turning point for me, both for his ideas synthesizing ancient faith and modern science as well as his personal life story.

      I look forward to following your blog!

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  21. Mr. Ockham, thanks for signing up to follow my blog.

  22. clarefcj says:

    Thanks William…I am looking forward to reading you blogs…You have much to teach me!

    • Thank you for following. We all have a lot to learn from each other. I encourage you to share your thoughts and insights as I look forward to the opportunity to learn from your experiences and wisdom.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  23. Thanks for Liking my post! 🙂

  24. Thanks for linking to my blog. I have been a “prodigal son” for 40 years. When I began to read what Pope Francis had to say I decided that I should come back. It’s early yet, but I feel good about my decision so far. I found your story reassuring and comforting.

    Paco Garriga

    • Thank you for stopping by and for your kind comments. As you know from my site, I was a prodigal son for most of my adult life also. I consider myself a sojourner and I am glad that “rediscovered” the faith of my youth in an adult context. I came back very slowly in large part due to Ignatian Spirituality; your post on the Suscipe prayer is how I found your site.

      You appear to be a talented physician and have done amazing things with your focus on the emotional needs of your patients as soon as their physical needs.

  25. Pingback: My very real letter to you this Advent | Filling my Prayer Closet

  26. Michael says:

    Merry Christmas, you received an award, see http://toloveandtruth.net
    Best wishes from To Love and Truth/Michael

  27. JessicaHof says:

    William – this is just my way of saying how much I enjoy and profit from what you write here:
    http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/sunshine-in-winter/
    xx Jess

  28. mtmazza says:

    You are such an encouragement to me! I thank you for the blessing you are to me as I discover writing for Him.

  29. Thank you for following me at Walking With My Brother.net. I’ve been very blessed and impressed with your blog and look forward to following your work. It’s a shame about the Packers…we were rooting for you ’til the end.

  30. Hi; I nominate you for the
    Very Inspiring Blogger Award

    The announcement is scheduled
    in my queue to post at 3 PM
    today — Eastern USA time.

    There isn’t any complicated
    requirements to accept it.

    Just click here (after 3 PM)

    http://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/very-inspiring-bloggers-award/

    or load the post from
    your reader.

    Thanks for posting an
    inspiring blog.

    ~ Eric

  31. irrevspeckay says:

    “least leaky boat” — I love that term. I understand it’s not yours, but thank you for introducing it to me. I look forward to reading your blog. Thanks for your effort to put it out there.

  32. Hi William, I am so glad I found your blog. except for the financial success part and the fact that I’m female your journey sounds a lot like mine. My reading Teilhard led me to you and reading your writing and following the threads has allowed me to dialogue with the Christian Bible in ways that make sense to me, for the first time. Thank, you Jackie Moorey

  33. Pingback: A Liebster Award | A Pen Full of Vinegar

  34. Amyclae says:

    Hey Will, as you know I have spent time on your blog. I liked what I saw and I like what I see. Naturally, I’ve nominated you for a Liebster Award and would appreciate your acceptance.

    If you’d rather not, do not give it a second thought. It is not terribly serious, but it is a good way for you to link to people you read. Thus providing me with more people to read.

    http://apenfullofvinegar.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/a-liebster-award/

    The rules are reasonably simple. You write 11 facts about yourself. Nominate 11 more people and answer my 11 questions.

  35. JohnW says:

    Another book that makes significant mention of Teilhard is the Pope’s book ‘Eschatology’, written in 1977, which used to be hard to find until he was made Pope, when it was brought back into print. I feel this whole book meditates on Teilhard concepts, but he makes explicit reference to him in a couple of places:

    (p191)

    “The Risen Body: The fundamental insight [regarding the soul’s relationship to matter] to which Thomas Aqunas broke through was given a new twist by Karl Rahner when he noted that in death the soul becomes not acosmic [ie. not outside of the universe] but pancosmic [ie. embedded in the universe]. It is not difficult to connect this up to the ideas formulated by Teilhard de Chardin. The universe, matter, is conditioned by time. It is a process of becoming. This temporality of the universe, which knows being only in the form of becoming, has a certain direction, disclosed in the gradual construction of ‘biosphere’ and ‘noosphere’ from out of physical building blocks which it then proceeds to transcend. Above all, it is a progress to ever more complex unities. This is why it calls for a total complexity: a unity which will embrace all previously existing unities. From the cosmic standpoint, the appearance of each individual spirit in the world of matter is an aspect of this history in which the complexity of matter and spirit is formed. For, significantly enough, the exigence for unity found in matter is fulfilled precisely by the nonmaterial, by spirit. Spirit is not, then, the splintering of unity into a duality. It is that qualitatively new power of unification absolutely necessary to what is disintegrated and disunited if ever it is to be one.

    The ‘Last Day’, the ‘Resurrection of the Flesh’ would then be figures for the completion of this process, a completion which happens only from the outside, through the entry onto the scene of something qualitatively new and different, yet a completion which corresponds to the innermost ‘drift’ of cosmic being. This would mean that the search of being for unity in its own becoming arrives at its goal, a goal which it cannot create from its own resources yet one which it ever strives for. The search reaches the point of integration of all in all, where each thing becomes completely itself precisely by being completely in the other. In such integration, matter belongs to spirit in a wholly new and different way, and spirit is utterly one with matter. The pancosmic existence which death opens up would lead, then, to universal exchange and openness, and so to the overcoming of all alienation. Only where creation realizes such unity can it be true that ‘God is all in all’.

    This is why one must reject the statement that ‘Matter as such cannot be perfected’. Despite all assurances to the contrary, this would imply a division of the creation and to that degree a definitive dualism in which the entire sphere of matter is removed from the goal of creation. It is strange that Christians, who in the Creed confess to the resurrection of the flesh, should in this regard lag behind the Marxist thinkers like Bloch and Marcuse, who certainly do expect from a new world a new condition of matter.

    Although science cannot bring such a new world within our ken, its discourse does nothing to support the static alternative. The world which the scientist observes is the theater of a strange conflict. On the one hand it is a world engaged in self-consumption according to the entropy principle, a world moving towards lukewarm nothingness. On the other hand, it is a world in steady ascent towards ever more complex unities. The question of where this movement, with its dilemma of decay or plenitude, will lead cannot be answered by natural science alone. Fresh evidence is required of a kind that can only come from without.; The Christian message expects at one and the same time both decay – in conformity with the way of the cosmos itself, and plenitude – in the new power coming from without, namely, Christ. ”

    Thought I’d share with you – didn’t see any mentions of this book (correct me if I missed them).

    Thanks,
    John

    • John:

      Thank you so much for the lengthy reply and the references. I was not aware of the book “Eschatology” so I look forward to adding it my reading list. Thank you again.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  36. I have heard about Teilhard de Chardin in Fr. James Martin’s book. I think I hit a jackpot in finding this blog. I want to know more about him though I’m not a Jesuit. Cheers!

    • Br. Jambalaya:

      Thank you for your kind words. I can’t remember exactly when I first heard of Teilhard, but it was around the time I was reading Fr. Martin’s book so it could have been that also. At a minimum, Fr. Martin’s book reinforced by desire to learn more. I an honored that you like it and I look forward to following your blog and your journey also.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  37. Geoff McCaughan says:

    i am trying to make contact with Teilhard scholars in Australia .I have read all his books 30 years ago . That makes me ……

  38. Luc M says:

    Thanks so much for following my blog!

  39. I’ve seen your “like” on my blog, and I arrived on this page, while I was reading your life story it seem to read my life story, It’s strange how life can be similar, I was for 13 years to study at Jesuit Collage, and all you said seems to copy my life…

    Sorry for my bad english language, it’s only scholastic knowing.

    • Thank you for the the kind comments and for stopping by my blog. I am glad to have found your blog and it is always nice to find a kindred spirit that enjoys Teilhard de Chardin. Also, your English is outstanding; far better than my Italian.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  40. Marcus C. Robyns says:

    Greetings! In your introduction, you state that Christianity, with its “emphasis on reason, offers the best description of the ultimate reality.” Would you please explain this statement? What can possibly be reasonable about religious faith? Belief in the supernatural, by definition, is irrational. If god does exist, it would be part of the “natural” order of the Universe, not something that exists separate from reality. In this case, god would be a testable hypothesis and describable through human inquiry. On the other hand, the concept of “faith” requires that the individual suspend his or her ability to think independently and critically — an extremely irrational action and something that asks us to deny the very thing that makes us “human.”

    • Marcus, thank you for comment. I hope to have a substantive response in the next day or two. In the interim, I am wishing you a Merry Christmas and joyous Holiday Season. Peace

    • Marcus:

      Apologies about the delay. I am buried at work but here is a brief response to your comment:


      “Belief in the supernatural, by definition, is irrational.”

      That is quite an assertion without any arguments to back it up. Some of the greatest minds in history, including Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Sir Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, Albert Einstein, Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne would disagree with you on that assertion.

      If god does exist, it would be part of the “natural” order of the Universe, not something that exists separate from reality.
      Definitions of “God” are almost always a problem. The term “God” is used frequently but it is often means very different things by different people. However, one basic definition that all theists subscribe to is that “God” exists outside the four-dimension physical universe. If something exists solely within the four-dimension universe that something is not “God”. I wrote an article earlier this year about the “Atheist” Sunday Assembly. While they profess to be atheists, I argue that with their focus on wonder and good they are worshiping a “god”. It may not be a theistic God but it is certainly not a belief in a reductionist, atheistic, materialistic universe.

      In this case, god would be a testable hypothesis and describable through human inquiry. On the other hand, the concept of “faith” requires that the individual suspend his or her ability to think independently and critically — an extremely irrational action and something that asks us to deny the very thing that makes us “human.”

      I agree that any hypothesis has to stand the test of reason. The question of whether there is a reality beyond the four-dimension Universe we live in is a philosophical question. Your statement of “testable hypothesis” implies the answer without engaging in the philosophical inquiry. The fairest and most logical way is to neither assume that there is a “supernatural” realm of existence nor assume that the material world is all that exists. Both explanations are plausible descriptions of reality and neither explanation can be proven or disproven by scientific inquiry as if there are dimensions of reality beyond our four-dimensional existence, we would not be able to “test” it (e.g. a two-dimensional creature would not be able to directly measure us; see also the movie Interstellar). Science can and should inform the discussion but it is not able to answer these questions which belong to the realm of philosophy.

      There are many arguments for the existence of a Creator using reason, scientific inquiry and human experience: (i) the mathematical order and beautify contained in the physical universe; (ii) the prime mover cosmological argument; (iii) the fact the universe is finely tuned for life; (iv) that fact that humans sometimes if not often act in an altruistic manner in ways contrary to the propagation of the species required by a pure “natural selection” hypothesis; (v) the fact that evolution seems to point to a direction of increasing complexity and consciousness (implying a “Mind” behind the evolutionary process), starting from simple celled organisms to human beings (in contrast to the Second Law of Thermodynamics); (vi) the experiences of feelings such as falling in love or witnessing a sunset that draw us outside ourselves and are not easily reducible to mere biological processes in our brains; (vii) common myths and legends across cultures who have never interacted; and (viii) an evolution of ethics over time and across cultures.

      Of course atheists have arguments that the four-dimensional universe we live in is all that exists and there is no “Creator” behind the universe. It is up to whoever is making the argument: atheists or non-atheists, to prove why their hypothesis is better than the alternatives. I happen to believe that the theistic explanation of existence is more persuasive than the atheistic explanation.

      Thank you again for stopping by and for your comments. I hope you have a Happy New Year.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  41. Marcus C. Robyns says:

    I look forward to your response and happy Winter Solstice!

  42. bography says:

    Hi W (Razor) O

    Thank you for liking my Jewish ex-Catholic Calvinist blog. I’m also looking forward to your reply to Marcus, especially because of your and his great emphasis on the human mind.

    • Thank you so much for stopping by. I am currently reading Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” and found your blog. I appreciate your discussion of Dr. Frankl and the other great information you provide. Thank you for sharing your insights.

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  43. Thank you William for this great blog and your continual support of my own. The struggle to dispel an unquestioning belief in a reductionist, atheistic, materialistic universe, may be more important than we know. Happy New Year, In Him
    James Kelly

  44. Pingback: The Barque of Peter: The least leaky boat? | OneDaring Jew

  45. Michael Snow says:

    Hello, ‘William’,
    Last year during Holy Week you “liked” this post: https://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2014/04/11/holy-week-beware-idle-conjecture/

    Please consider re-blogging it this year. The old saw needs more grace.
    Blessings in our Lord Jesus Christ,
    Michael Snow

  46. willbearak says:

    Interesting, the path you follow, it is good. In our theology (open free thought) gatherings often the discussion center around two themes and quests. Answering these can really bring you to understand your catholic beliefs and faith. 1. WHO IS GOD? (as a Christian and catholic there is only one reply) 2. WHAT DOES JESUS DEMAND OF YOU TO FOLLOW HIM INTO THE KINGDOM? (hint – many were sickened in the stomach and turned away as this was more than they could handle).

  47. bography says:

    Willbearak

    Here is the relevant passage.

    John 6
    53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. 60 Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?”

    61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.”

    66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”

    The following verses are crucial in understanding the passage.

    63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” 65 And He said, “Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.” 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.

    The last thing a person says in a conversation – that is how verbal communication works – has much bearing on understanding reactions. Jesus told them that no one can come to (believe in) Him unless the Father enables them to believe, frees them from their natural state of unbelief that Jesus is the Messiah. That was, if not the only straw, the final straw that made them sick to their stomach and walk with him no more.

    Now if only God had enabled me to notice verse 65 much earlier in my life! But then that’s what God does; he has mercy m whom he wants to have mercy.

    Willbearak, would I be wrong in thinking that verse 65 got swallowed up by the bit about eating flesh.

    • willbearak says:

      Bog: A intense study of covenants and especially blood covenants would amaze you at those that existed back in Greco/Roman times, not to speak of those that the Egyptians and other surrounding societies engaged in: recall Abrahams sacrifice and the old American indian sharing at the wrist. Jesus like Moses spend years in the deserts (probably avoiding the Herodians and Romans) and was well aware of all these cultures and traditions.

  48. Pingback: John 6 and the Eucharist: The deception of perception | OneDaring Jew

  49. willbearak says:

    William: It’s hard to make light of creation with all we know today. God, as in all of history, made mankind His image and likeness, and Jesus was fully human; Being fully human, he was in all ways, no exceptions, just like you and me, with all those great human characteristics. Blood covenants were always actions of what we call primitive civilizations, continuing down today in a lot of societies today, Jesus also gave His followers the same. Yes, Jesus left his society world at His time disappearing and rising into the many fog banks that flow into the Judean hillsides off the Mediterranean sea. Through the centuries the church and churches have tried to give meaning to all this rhetoric, but in fact Jesus told His followers, doubting as they were that He would soon return, whether it was his Roman exile, or rising up his followers always thought and wrote of his immediate, within say 20 years return, we know from historical documents that the Romans often exiled Jews for 20 year periods, but in effect by the mid 50’s and up to and including the late 70’s Jews were driven, due to their up risings, by discontents, rebels, and even terrorists, from the lands of Judea and Palestine. This created a dilemma for Jews that had been exiles as to where they were to be sent to. Documents fro Caligula and Nero tells administrators in England to send them to Spain. A lot of mixed up history, especially early Christian history, is very speculative and left many theologians in later history to systematically use supposed history and deal with this phenomenon of historical recollection as fact and reality when if at most it was speculative theology. In a lot of what if situations, myths and fables became reality. Such as Peter (Jesus’s closest buddy with the exception of the beheaded John) son’s Mark John (about 16) name and being the one Jesus loved, who was a great scribe (recorded early Jesus’s life as Mark and much later as a well knowledgeable philosopher and theologian John recording the meaning, purpose and sensitivity of Jesus’s history). 2000 years of Christian history has left the church and proliferation of Christianity (well over 7 million different Christian sects and faith/beliefs) in so much turmoil and even disbeliefs. The fact that in reality so troubles Christians today is that He, Jesus, is gone and isn’t returning and that is the concrete fact given 2000 years. The scary part is that through history mankind has made all the gods in his (mans) image and likeness in the major mans effort to give meaning to his and her life from creative births to the finality of death. It is in creating and giving HOPE, that this reality of death and meaning of the finality of life, that mankind continues in all the faiths, religions and belief systems, that there is something beyond DEATH. But historians will say in the 8 billion years of earth, 375,000 years of mankind, and 7,500 years of recorded history, the unknown that there is something beyond our lives, is tied up in the reality or lack of that reality that God, came in the very last 2000 years, for an instant in history, to lead all of history to somewhere over the rainbow. The psychologist (latest scientific field) will tell you it is very important for mankind to have a futuristic belief of somewhere over the rainbow, whether it’s from beginnings of chaos, fallen mankind, evil and temptation to a world beyond that is good, directed, perfect, ordered and lacks anything that speaks of or is bad or ugly. But, the reality of all of history is that has not a speck of proof that a world beyond death exists. It is that HOPE that keeps mankind moving toward a point in all of history where mankind becomes knowledgeable and meets up with the Omega Point. Many of the God peoples in past history lead us to that Hope, and Jesus is one who gave his followers the dynamo to move them on, even with the disappointment of his return not happening, into the thousand years that followed Him. Like the founding fathers of America, it’s that shining city on a hill that keeps everyone going, forward and into the future HOPEING in the reality of the all the past HOPES.

  50. Barbara S says:

    Dear William,
    – love the corner stone reminder Teihard’s thinking is. Thank you. – The Kitsch statue of Jesus in the background reminds me of all that made me a reluctant Catholic for 17 important years as an adult. But then some say ‘Once a Catholic, always a Catholic…’ probably not far wrong either. thanks for keeping up your blog and I hope you will accept an invite to mine:
    http://www.solitary4tomorrow.wordpress.com

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