William of Ockham, a 14th century English logician and Franciscan friar, has become synonymous with a principle on how to explain any given phenomenon. The explanation, he postulated, is to make as few assumptions as possible and eliminate those that are irrelevant.
Simply put, Ockam's (or Occam's) Razor states that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is usually the correct one. When two theories make the same prediction, opt for the simpler, less complicated theory.
The principle is often used, rightly or wrongly, to debunk conspiracy theories such as UFO encounters or secret society manipulations to take over the world. It is also used in quantum physics and Stephen Hawking employed the principle in "A Brief History of Time" to cut out unobservable features of a theory.
But the concept of simplification may also be applied to religious theory and Bible stories.
Would the significance and importance of Passover and Easter be any less significant without the religious overtones? Would their messages be any less true if the stories were treated as fiction rather than gospel?
The story of Passover relates to the biblical tale of Exodus, when the Israelites fled Egypt following a series of plagues, the last of which was the death of all first born, except those dwelling in homes where the door posts were marked with lambs' blood. The angel of death passed over those homes, the story says.
Easter tells of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Both stories have deep religious significance, arguably representing the raison d'être or reason for being of both religions, Judaism and Christianity.
Without the Exodus there are no Ten Commandments, no Law of Moses, no creation of the ancient state of Israel and no Judaism. Without Judaism there is no concept of messiah for Jesus to fulfill. Without the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, there is no Christianity.
Yet, all that said, the meanings of the two holidays are far more significant in reflecting realities of the human condition than the establishment of any religion or spiritual philosophy.
Passover teaches that slavery and bondage are wrong, that man must be free to follow his own heart and convictions as long as his actions in that regard don't violate the same freedoms shared by others.
This idea was deemed so important that the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia has inscribed on it words from Leviticus 25:10: "Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants thereof."
The significance of Easter as it relates to the mankind in general is even simpler. It is a simple message that each of us must live with hope, hope and faith that no matter how trying times can be, life can be better and that we must seek to live in peace with our neighbors and ourselves. That man can put his past behind and move forward as if reborn.
With the aforementioned holidays recently observed in homes and houses of worship, it is important to remember their messages and to honor them on a daily basis. Even if treated as fiction the stories remain valid.
The Chadds Ford Post wishes all of its readers peace and liberty.