definition: par•a•digm (pār'ə-dīm', -dĭm')

3. A set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is four-fold:
to recognize that every person functions within a basic paradigm, which affects how all information is processed;
(2) to understand the paradigms of others;
(3) to discuss, in particular, paradigms which are related to science, religion, and philosophy.

(4) to reveal the paradigm shifts in my own life, a process that has completely changed the direction and purpose of my existence.

The purpose of this blog is NOT to convince anyone that their paradigms or beliefs are correct or incorrect. I am hoping for an honest dialog, but the discussions must remain respectful of others, even if there is profound disagreement. If any comments are not respectful, they will be removed.
(Revised 1/13/09)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Does Embracing Science HAVE to Mean Embracing Evolution?

OR... Does believing the Bible HAVE to mean embracing a literal Creation?

Christians almost come to blows when they discuss these issues. The vast majority of scientists believe that the evidence for evolution of all species, including man's, is so overwhelming that anyone who questions it is either completely ignorant or totally brainwashed. Included in the evidence for evolution is evidence that the earth is much, much older than a literal reading of Genesis would lead one to believe.

There is more than one school of thought:

(1) ... that the exact description of Creation explained in Genesis is true, including each biblical "day" meaning a 24-hour day and Adam and Eve being the created progenitors of the entire human race. More information on this school of thought can be found at "Answers in Genesis," whose web site is A similar organization is the "Institute for Creation Research" whose site is

(2) Another, mostly literal interpretation of the Creation Story varies from the above interpretation only in thinking that each of the seven "days" of Genesis was actually much longer than a 24-hour day. Evidence for this interpretation is taken from the Bible itself:

2 Peter 3:8: "But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day." This approach is a lot more acceptable to scientists, except for the order in which the species types were created. The Bible states that on the fifth day, God created the sea creatures and the birds and that the rest of the animal species, including man, were created on day six. The scientific evidence indicates that birds came after the other land dwellers.

(3) Christians who subscribe to the theory of Evolution but still believe the Bible reconcile these beliefs by interpreting the Bible in one of two ways: either that the Bible's account of creation was meant to be allegorical or symbolic, or that the author of Genesis, being human, made up this part as he was trying to make sense of the revelations God had already shown him. Either stance gives varying degrees of credence to the belief that God could have influenced the process of evolution itself.

(4) Then there is the completely non-religious approach--at least, the non-Judaeo-Christian approach--to evolution: that everything occured by chance and that evolution of different species occured by survival of the fittest. Any objections based on mathematical improbability are countered by the argument that different atmospheric conditions on ancient earth allowed for rapid mutation of genetic material and that the earth appears to be billions of years old, plenty of time for virtually any improbability to occur.

What about those who say "I don't believe this 'Born Again' stuff!"?

When I was young, my family went every Sunday to a big-city Presbyterian church and, I must admit, I don't ever remember hearing the term "born again" there. My family was part of the academic science community and I followed right along, going to college and graduate school and then entering a science profession. As soon as I left home, I stopped going to church completely. To my knowledge, I never saw a miracle, or anything even faintly miraculous. I was taught evolution as a fact of science, not a theory. My day-to-day experience was completely explainable by science and not at all explainable by God. By college, I had at least heard of the
term "born again" but I usually heard it in the same sentence that might include "Jesus Freak." Born-again Christians were a strange lot who had clearly gone off the deep end. Back then, I didn't know enough about them to think they were hypocritical, but I probably would have, if it were today. My point in telling this story is to illustrate how a typical, educated, science-oriented American thinks. The idea of a spiritual rebirth is just not rational.

In order to accept the concept of being "born again," a Christian has to have a fairly literal approach to the teachings of the Bible. Many people who identify themselves as Christians believe that, although there are certainly some historical facts in the Bible, the Bible is primarily symbolic and should not be taken literally.

For example, here is what one person wrote, during a recent book discussion: "The vast majority of Christians worldwide of the various denominations understand that the Bible is allegorical rather than literal. When you lump Jesus in with ghosts, Zeus, and goblins, are you trying to say he did not exist at all? You are incorrect. Did he do everything attributed to him in the Bible? Probably not.... And 'rational' people have an open mind as to what did or did not happen."
[Posted by Ron Gross, on:]

There is also a rather large school of thought among both Christians and non-Christians that the Bible was not directly influenced or inspired by God, but rather is a creation of the thoughts of men, who are fallible, regardless of how spiritual or well-meaning they may be. Reknowned atheist Emmett F. Fields carried on a two-day, moderated debate with a fundamentalist Christian minister about whether the Bible is the inspired word of God. The text of his dissenting viewpoint is presented on the following web page: . In this debate, he states why he thinks the myth of God was developed as a form of self preservation by ancient cultures:
"And yet, while wisdom seeks and searches in vain for a trace of God, ignorance found God. Or, at least, believes it has found God, Ignorance not only found God, but has direct information as to what God said and did, what God wants, what God thinks, what God likes, and what God hates.
"The ignorance that found God has nothing to do with religious believers today. God, or the illusion of God, was found long ago; in the childhood of the human race. Ignorance found God long before mankind found science; even before the wheel was invented, or fire was captured and made a friend of man. In that barren, cold, dangerous world stood our remote ancestors. Humanity was in its infancy, struggling to understand the forces of nature, to escape its enemies, to feed itself, and to reproduce its kind. The human mind was emerging from the darkness of animal instincts into the beginnings of reason. Its only thought: Survival!"
He states that the Bible is contradictory and that even Christians cannot agree on its interpretation:
"Personally, I believe it is asking too much of us to believe that God would write, or inspire, a book that mankind could not agree upon. A book that has caused endless wars, persecutions, torture, bigotry and hatred. A book that is so unintelligible that not only do "non-believers" reject it, but those who believe it to be the true word of God cannot agree upon its interpretation. There are hundreds of different Christian sects in the United States alone, and that does not include the countless thousands of private individuals who have their own, personal, interpretations of the Bible.
"The very fact of this debate, or any debate about the Bible, is irrefutable proof that the Bible cannot be 'the word of God.'"

Emmet Fields also wrote a paper on what he called an "Affirmative View" of Atheism, presented on this web page: .

Christians who disagree with Emmett Fields' negative view of the Bible assert that he has not read it with an open mind--that the conclusions he draws are not at all the same conclusions that most Christian theologians draw, even reading the very same passages.

I think the real debate boils down to two very different paradigms: God either exists or He doesn't. If one thinks God does exist, then His actions and Spirit are manifest everywhere. If one thinks that He doesn't, then no amount of evidence will convince him otherwise. Even the Bible confirms this dichotomy:
"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." Hebrews 11:6 (New International Version)

In short, in order to see evidence, the faith has to come first, which is ludicrous to a non-believer who can't conceive of having faith withOUT evidence.

Friday, January 25, 2008

What about being "Born Again" ?

The phrase "born again Christian" is frequently either misunderstood or downright despised by people outside evangelical Christian culture. I would like to present both points of view. This post will present one side; the next post will present another.

First of all, it is important to realize what this term "born again" means, in a biblical sense. The Bible teaches that new birth in Christ involves 4 specific things:

  1. A person acknowledges and confesses to God that he is a sinner;
  2. That person prays for Jesus to come into his life;
  3. He accepts the pardon for sin that Jesus paid by giving His life;
  4. After this, the person is considered to be "born again," because, at that moment, the Holy Spirit is said to come to live in and along side him.

Theologically and doctrinally, it is a little more complex than that, but one main point is, that once someeon has been "born again," all sins--past, present, and future--have been atoned for. That does not mean that the consequences have been eliminated--only the penalty. A second important point is, that the Holy Spirit begins to exert considerable influence on the day-to-day life of the new believer: certain compulsions may be eliminated; new talents and interests may be discovered; a keen awareness of God's presence begins; and a new desire to please God is usually awakened.

Here are some key Bible passages about being born again:

  • "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." John 1:12,13 [NKJV]

  • "Nicodemus said to Him, 'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?' Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. ' " John 3:4-6 [NKJV]

  • "Then Peter said to them, 'Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.' "Acts 2:38 [NKJV]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Key Paradigm: the viewpoint of God-as-myth.

Before I bring up the God-as-myth concept, I want to give another example of the incredible power of any sort of paradigm. Back in the 1400's, Europeans thought the earth was flat. All of their scientific evidence, in addition to their day-to-day experience, supported this notion. When real, scientific evidence was presented that disproved this notion and explained quite clearly how the earth was round and orbited around the sun, the entire culture was thrown into upheaval. The people who continued to live in the paradigm of a flat earth simply could not take in the new evidence, although we now know it to be true. In modern times, we are so convinced of the truth of the solar system's structure that when we hear about groups like the "Flat Earth Society" (see, we tend to think they are nuts.

The only reason I bring this up, is that, when a person is totally ensconced in a paradigm, it takes a lot more than the usual evidence to convince him to step into a new paradigm. There are several paradigms that have been discussed, to date, on this blog. The one that Wala just explained is that God (or any divine being) is nothing more than a myth that helps people psychologically--to explain mysterious events and to give them comfort. (Wala, if I stated your position incorrectly, please forgive me, and tell me what it was that you meant.) The paradigm at the other end of the religious spectrum is that God is real and that He is all-knowing, all-powerful, sees the end from the beginning, and is present everywhere at once. To someone living in this paradigm, it would not seem at all unusual for God to intervene in anyone's life. Obiously there is no way to prove, scientifically, that the "believers" are correct. On the other hand, there is no way to disprove them. Neither is there any way to prove, scientifically, thet the "non-believers" are either correct or incorrect. It is an interesting dilemma.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Call for a Presidential Debate on Science and Technology

"Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for a public debate in which the U.S. presidential candidates share their views on the issues of The Environment, Health and Medicine, and Science and Technology Policy."

I found this web site and thought that it was important to pass on the information. I, for one, would like to hear the presidential candidates talk about their views on various issues in science and technology, which are surely very important topics for the 21st century. Here is more of what they have to say:


"As you watched the scores of U.S. Presidential debates, did you ever wonder why there has been no debate devoted to policy surrounding what may be the most important social issue of our time: Science and Technology?

"We did and we want to make sure it happens.

"Science Debate 2008 is a grassroots initiative spearheaded by a growing number of scientists and other concerned citizens. The signatories to our "Call for a Presidential Debate on Science & Technology" include Nobel laureates and other leading scientists, presidents of universities, congresspersons of both major political parties, business leaders, religious leaders, former presidential science advisors, the editors of America's major science journals, writers, and the current and several past presidents of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, among many others.

"We have noticed that science and technology lie at the center of a very large number of the policy issues facing our nation and the world - issues that profoundly affect our national and economic security as science and technology continue to transform our lives. No matter one's political stripe, these issues pose important pragmatic policy challenges.

"We believe these scientific and technological policy challenges can bring out the best in the entrepreneurial American spirit. America can be a leader in finding cures for our worst diseases, inventing the best alternative energy sources, and graduating the most scientifically literate children in the world - or we can concede these economic and humanitarian benefits to other countries.

"We believe a debate on these issues would be the ideal opportunity for America and the candidates to explore our national priorities on the issues, and it is hard to imagine any candidate not wishing to be involved in such an occasion.

"Please join us and make Science Debate 2008 a reality."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Paradigm of Science

The apparent success of scientific inquiry has led many to assume that all things are ultimately provable. According to this line of reasoning, anything with substance (or mass) should be measurable and, if something is without substance, at least its effects should be measurable and predictable. I know this because I was raised in an academic science household, trained as a scientist, and work in a medical field. I viewed anything of the spiritual world with great skepticism, because it was not part of my experience or the experience of anyone I knew.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Separation of Church and State: How separate?

Rather than put labels on groups, I am going to call one Group A and one, B. People in Group A think that it is wrong to bring any mention of religion into government. People in Group B think that, because religion directs their sense of right and wrong, it is impossible to separate religion from the moral directives that form the basis for legislation. A Group B person in government might say that he cannot separate himself from his faith, so faith has to influence his governmental decisions. However, a Group A person in government would probably say that leaders should uphold what the people democratically decide, regardless of whether they believe it personally or not. A Group B person thinks that the First Ammendment says only that government cannot restrict the practice of one's religion, nor set up a "state religion." However, it makes no prohibition in the other direction: on religion influencing government. A Group A person thinks that the influence should not go in either direction--government should not influence religion and religion should not influence government. Comments, anyone?.........

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Just starting.....

This blog is currently in the preparation phase. If you are here and are curious about what I am planning to do, please leave your screen name and I will keep you informed as it progresses. Thank you for visiting.