Item description for When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist by Chet Raymo...
Overview In what he describes as a "late-life credo," renowned science writer Chet Raymo narrates his half-century journey from the traditional Catholicism of his youth to his present perspective as a "Catholic agnostic." As a scientist, Raymo holds to the skepticism that accepts only verifable answers, but as a "religious naturalist," he never ceases his pursuit of "the beautiful and terrible mystery that soaks creation." Raymo assembles a stunning array of scientists, philosophers, mystics, and poets who help him discover "glimmers of the Absolute in every particular." Whether exploring the connection of the human body to the stars or the meaning of prayer of the heart, these challenging reflections will cause believers and agnostics alike to pause and pay attention.
Publishers Description This is a potpourri of sociology and theology dictated by a certain level of morality required by Catholicism. The author discusses the work of many philosophers, scientists and theologians about the impact of faith, prayers, and religious practices. In the fifth chapter titled The Sea into which all rivers flow he presents an interesting discussion as to whether the nature of God is veiled as most scientists believe, or Goethe who suggested that God has no veils and nature has no mystery. To support this controversial view he discusses the radical and feminist views of Meera Nanda who radicalizes ancient Indus culture and Hindu philosophy to present a liberal humanistic approach. If Hinduism is an extremist's faith, how would she categorize Islamic faith and Islamic laws? The author correctly notes in the Sixth chapter on Ockham's razor that righteousness and belief in false prophets lead to culture wars, jihad, crusades, and mass killings. The author is a physicist and a philosopher, but his work in this book does very little service to these two disciplines which offers consensus knowledge of the world in a rational and methodical way. Advances in quantum cosmology, particle physics and molecular biology have revolutionized human thought and brings science and philosophy closer than ever. Although God does not directly figure in any equations, formula or living cell but his presence is felt figuratively.
Citations And Professional Reviews When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist by Chet Raymo has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
LJ Best Books of Year - 12/01/2008 page 64
Library Journal - 10/01/2008 page 52
LJ Best Books of Year - 12/15/2008 page 65
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More About Chet Raymo
Chet Raymo is the author of The Soul of the Night and Honey from the Rock. He is a professor of physics and astronomy at Stonehill College in North Easton, Massachusetts.
Chet Raymo currently resides in North Easton, in the state of Massachusetts.
Reviews - What do customers think about When God Is Gone, Everything Is Holy: The Making of a Religious Naturalist?
Comforting, but not convincing Nov 19, 2009
Yes, it's beeautifully written, and in many ways it's reassuring to see thoughtful, positive reflections on science from people who consider themselves religious. So this might be comforting to religious minds who are open to scientific thinking, discovery, and understanding. It's probably a great book to give to religious friends and relatives who seem uneasy about creationism, etc., and anyone who feels they are spiritual (and regard that as somehow distinct from religious).
But that's also the problem, to me: this is a contemporary religious apologetic. And if you're a committed rationalist who doesn't accept that beauty must be rooted in some kind of ultimately ineffable mystery in order to be perceived, this book will be tiresome.
I'm Not Smart Enough to Read this Book Sep 8, 2009
The middle of the road rating on this book is not a reflection on the author, who is obviously an incredibly smart and thoughtful man and a very interesting writer, but on the fact that I am very obviously not the target audience for this book and am honestly not sure how this book would rate when compared to others written in a smiliar vein.
That said, this is the heaviest 150 page book I've ever opened. By page 24 my list of people and words to double check on included Gerard Manly Hopkins, Columbanas, John Scotus Eriugena, Meister Eckhart, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Julian of Norwich, Nicholas of Cusa, Giordano Bruno, Heraclitus, pantheism, panentheism, scotean sacramental Incarnation and Jansenism and I was overwhelmed by the depth to which Raymo has considered his religious and scientific beliefs. If you know any of these, or are that type of contemplative thinker, this might be the book for you.
In all fairness, although the book opened quite intimidatingly, by chapter four I was getting at least the gist of the author's point. Each chapter builds on those before it giving the book a cohesiveness however they also stand alone in a broad sense as each one brings to the front an aspect of the science vs. religion controversy that adds to the difficulties we have as humans, and biological creatures, in marrying the two. Raymo's point, overall, seems to be that he is willing to give both credence and to take the best of both to create a whole new world order of religious naturalism.
I have to say that to some extent, I think I am on board.
Just for arguments sake, I'd again like to share with you a bit of the writing style. This sentence occurs fairly late in the book (after I thought I'd figured out how to get through without a dictionary and Wikipedia by my side). It doesn't matter what the documents are but for clarity's sake Raymo is referring to Pascendi Dominici Gregis and Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists (yeah, I never heard of 'em either).
"The oppressive influence of these documents, together with the stultifying doctrine of papal infallibility promulgated in 1870, rendered serious discussion of the intrinsic conflict of science and Catholic faith-based cosmology mute throughout the twentieth century."
If you get this on the first read, this is DEFINITELY the book for you.
Also to Raymo's credit (and so that I don't sound like an utter and totally un-introspective idiot) When God is Gone Everything is Holy has had me thinking quite a bit and as a jumping off point for me, it will pave the way for further research into the ideas he has presented.
If you are at all interested in modern thinking about the dichotomies of our daily literal lives and our inner spiritual ones, give this book a look - just don't expect it to be light reading.
Loving What Is Aug 21, 2009
This man writes beautifully. When he says "it is when we listen to what is that we hear the voice of God" I am reminded of Byron Katie's wonderfully practical approach to happiness...Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life
We each experience the mystery in our own way.
Diana Daffner Author, Tantric Sex for Busy Couples: How to Deepen Your Passion in Just Ten Minutes a Day
Not what I had hoped for Aug 20, 2009
As someone who grew up in a Liturgical Church (Missouri Synod Lutheran), became agnostic right after my confirmation then converted to evangelical funtimentalism (all at a young age) and later to an atheist, I was hoping for a book that I could identify with. When one searches for spiritual truth (especially in one's youth) you are bound to make mistakes and try one thing and then another. I thought I might read about the struggles of someone much like myself. Not so much.
Although the author is extremely eloquent and writes beautifully, I had a hard time finishing this book. Maybe it was over my head but I see no need to keep mystifying our understanding (or lack of understanding) of nature and science. Not knowing is O-K, we won't ever know all of the secrets to the universe. We are too finite and short lived to deduce the origins of life, the universe and everything (thank you Douglas Adams). There has always been things that we have not understood so we made up stories and later belief systems to help us to deal with the unknown. As we discovered the truth about these subjects (weather, astronomy, diseases, etc.) what we found never pointed us to a god. It was always a logical, understandable, science-based priciple. Why do we think that answer to the things that we don't currently understand will be any different? We God is gone we don't need holy.
Beautifully written, but flawed Aug 10, 2009
Chet Raymo's "When God is Gone, Everything is Holy" is a beautifully written meditation on faith and its relationship to the science that undergirds our lives and is Raymo's personal passion. Raymo feels conflicted between his Catholic upbringing and the rational science he participates in as a career, eventually reconciling the two in a faith/belief system that rejects a so-called "personal God" but recognizes a divine spirit in all things, following on the Catholic sacramental tradition he holds dear. I appreciated much of what Raymo had to say--his meditations on the divine qualities in all things, for example, and his exaltation of agnosticism, how we must all be willing to say "I don't know" if we are to be honest--but I do not understand some of what he is saying. How can he truly be agnostic if he rejects God automatically as an irrational idea? While he rightly points out that both scientists and religious people need to moderate their positions, I think that, despite all of his eloquence, Raymo isn't as balanced or compassionate as he portrays himself.