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, February 6, 2008

Exploring Faith vs. Indoctrination

Harold, in an earlier post, you mentioned being concerned about children who are indoctrinated with a certain belief system at a young age. It seems that children start out accepting all the social and religious beliefs of "The Family," without question--the family's "paradigm," if you will. That would be part of being a child. However, at some point, all normal children start to question the paradigm in which they have grown up. It goes both ways. There are plenty of stories of children raised in households with atheist parents, and who grow up to be devout Christians. There are also many stories of children raised by parents with a strong Christian faith, but who walk completely away from Christianity. Think of some of the recent news stories about Americans who converted to the radical-Muslim faith of Al Quaida.

This issue brings up brings up the question of Faith vs. Indoctrination. By definition, indoctrination is "teaching someone to accept doctrines uncritically." [WordNet® 3.0, © 2006 by Princeton University].

Faith, in the context of religion, is defined as "-1-Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing; or -2-Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence." [The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth EditionCopyright © 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved].

At face value, these concepts would seem almost synonymous. However, most Christians I know question their faith many times over the course of a life-time, and with every challenge, their faith ends up stronger than it was before. Now, I have personal knowledge of how and why this happens in the life of a Christian. What I don't know is how it happens with other religions, and I am very interested in finding out. I will do a little research on it myself, and I hope that some others reading this blog, who adhere to other faiths, will give us some insight.


Harold said...

I would say that there are a lot of religions, like Christianity, that act in a developmental nature with a person and their faith.

Christianity has a level of determinism where the God figure is claimed to be omniscient. At the same time, the value of faith is based on a system of free will.

Any rite of passage or personal experience (especially a near-death experience) that's strong enough to impact our psyche will reaffirm the faith of an ardent believer. They may feel a radiating sense of well-being and belonging. This is healthy for our psychological development.

Extreme sport enthusiasts can feel more alive and think that they were somehow predetermined to live through the event.

There are many religions that operate like this. Religions are built to sustain a faith during our personal journeys.

Some Christians adopt other concept-religions, like reincarnation and astrology, into their beliefs.

Other cultures have used various rituals as rites of passage to develop their people and graduate an individual from one level to the next.

Most Christian services prepare the congregation for worship by taking them to a trance-like state with musical rhythms and group singing. Believers raise their hands high in expectation of a pleasant feeling of well-being.

Other religions have different rituals and different ways of entering a trance state, but the objective is usually the same.

soulandsubstance said...

I would assume that it is difficult to believe that true (as in, valid) affirmations of faith are hard to believe unless one has had the affirmation himself. This is a bit like trying to explain colors to someone who is color-blind. Another analogy is maybe closer to home, if you happen to have a dog. Try to explain, to someone who doesn't know dogs, that your dog is communicating with you when he (she, in my case) is looking into your eyes. It certainly can't be proven scientifically. In fact, there are some psychologists who think that all this thought that dogs have feelings is just anthropomorphism. You can see the paradigms in what you say and what a believer who has faith would say:

(1) Your implication (Please correct me if I am misstating it.): that all affirmations of faith are just just psychological responses to events and feelings.

(2) The stance of a believer: that there is true spiritual communication between himself and the Spirit of God, seen either in the circumstances of his life (i.e., what the average person might pass off as "coincidence") or in a powerful sense of internal "knowledge"--You know that you "know."

These paradigms, unfortunately, appear to be unresolvable, because unless one believes that there is a basis for faith, it is impossible to accept that basis. I will say this, though--When I was in my twenties (actually, even into my thirties), I believed exactly the way you do. Please don't think that I am denigrating what you say, because you clearly have a brilliant mind and have read a lot on these subjects. All I mean is that life sometimes hands you things that throw your paradigms on their heads. I think it is healthy, occasionally, to put our mind in neutral for a brief time, and reconsider our paradigms.