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)

Friday, February 29, 2008

An Open Question to Atheists and Agnostics

If it were theoretically possible for you to change your mind and be convinced that there is a God who created the universe, what would it take for that to happen? I know how I personally used to feel--that I couldn't see any physical evidence and it couldn't be proved scientifically. I also know what it took to convince me. I do know, however, that there are lots of people who are definitely not convinced and I'm curious to know what it would take to change.


Amarendra said...

Hope I am not a distraction, but here is my humble take: WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE GOD, the question becomes irrelevant!

Let us, for a moment, say that there is a Supreme Being called GOD, then:

1. God is omnipresent - in all regions and places, in all people and all religions. So, it is almost OBVIOUS to say, "EVERYTHING IS GOD!" - You and me, the light and the darkness, the oceans and galaxies and so on! GOD - THE SUPREME BEING - IN FULLEST GLORY IS INSIDE US AND RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES! There is no SEPARATE bearded/clean-shaven being!
2. When you see the world as WHOLE, PERFECT and COMPLETE and you are FULLY IN GOD'S BLISS, then THERE IS NO QUESTION OF A "SEPARATE GOD WHO CREATED UNIVERSE". In THAT MOMENT,YOU ARE GOD! Actually, there is NO other Moment - Remember, as Mr. Einstein showed us - TIME is RELATIVE!

Thank You for asking the question!

soulandsubstance said...

Thanks so much for your contribution, Amarendra. I do have a question. You said that God is in all regions, places, people, religions, light, darkness, etc. Does being "in" something mean the same as actually "being" something? If they are the same thing, then how do you explain such opposites as light and darkness, good and evil, and (in a more concrete sense) hate and love? If the world is "whole, perfect, and complete," then how can imperfection coexist with perfection? These are not criticisms--just some thoughts to ponder.....

Amarendra said...

Absolutely fantastic poser from you!

So, here I go again:

1. On "being something" or "being in something": GOD is the FUNDAMENTAL ESSENCE of ALL THINGS! (THAT makes omnipresence and omniscience possible. Once you have omniscience, then is omnipotency far behind?). Also, just like a FINGER is part of the WHOLE BODY, all OPPOSITES (like light AND darkness) make the WHOLE SUPREME BEING.

2. On "how can imperfection coexist with perfection?": Imperfection is in ISOLATION. UNIFY & INTEGRATE to see a WHOLE, PERFECT & COMPLETE WORLD! Instead of seeing which pieces of the puzzle are wrong and imperfect, see HOW EVERYTHING FITS AS A WHOLE!

For instance, the "concrete example hate and love": Love is glorified!!! But, there a MORE glorious reality - ONENESS! Just like "hate" SEPARATES; in a way "I Love You" is also implying SEPARATION!! So, MORE FUNDAMENTAL than Love & Hate is ONENESS. Like the beautiful analogy I read somewhere - we are like sponges floating in water - EACH OF US is the water - ONE THING/SPIRIT, but the water in each sponge thinks it is the sponge (and, hence, separate from other sponges)!

No wonder, science is looking for a UNIFYING THEORY OF EVERYTHING!

Science still has to travel a very long way to discover or prove A FUNDAMENTAL ESSENCE. Science has not yet dealt with obvious SUBTLE "things" around us - the human energy field and THOUGHT WAVES!

Science is still struggling with elementary or fundamental particles - OR when it does not have the answers, it hands over the baton to Quantum Mechanics.

Science does not look like reaching the MOST FUNDAMENTAL ESSENCE yet!

I appreciate your open discussion! You efforts are very sincere and impeccable!

Keep up the Great Work!

soulandsubstance said...

I want to post something that is a bit humorous, but illustrates something I think is an important issue. There is a sign that I saw on a photography dark room once, that said "Keep Door Closed, so the Dark Doesn't Leak Out!" The shear fact that this statement is funny is what is interesting. Dark canNOT leak anywhere, because darkness is the absence of light. Light is something that is real--can be measured, and can travel. If you are into quantum mechanics, you also know that it has properties that are both wave-like and particle-like. Darkness, however, is nothing other than the absence of light. They cannot coexist, because light cancels the darkness. Only if there is a barrier between the light and the darkness will the darkness remain. Some religious doctrines use light as an analogy for God. Using this analogy, sin would be the barrier that prevents the light from reaching the darkness. Hence the need to solve the age-old problem of sin. The only reason I bring this up in this context is to question how God and sin could possibly be unified? Don't they, by their very nature, have to be separate?

Russell Miller said...

1.) Darkness can be considered to be negative light - in that context - the statement actually makes some kind of sense. I remember someone calling a light bulb a "darksucker" - the purpose of which is to suck in the dark, leaving light. It's an interesting way to think about it.

2) To answer your original question, what it would take would be God directly telling me - specifically, directly, and in person - that he/she exists and what he/she expects. Really, not much else will suffice, as I'm not willing to accept the idea of someone else telling me something as a proxy.

Amarendra said...

Appreciate again your sincere inquiry!

1. You say, "The sheer fact". Humbly, I say that at one point of time, "Earth is Flat" was a "sheer fact". Is it so "outrageous" to consider that there could be something MORE fundamental than Darkness & Light, WHICH ENCOMPASSES BOTH? Your abstraction is "They cannot coexist". Another abstraction could be "Light is FILLING-UP the darkness" - INCLUSIVENESS instead of cancellation. The point is that we cannot use current conclusions of science to say that a fact is final!

2. You say "Light is something that is real". Again, could not a more Fundamental Essence be real? At one point of time radio waves were not real (at least as human reality)! I have already spoken about limitations of science! REALITY IS LIKE AN ENDLESS ONION - We Keep peeling the layers with newer instruments - like we discovered radio, television and so on! NOW, even scientists DO NOT SAY THAT THEIR WORD IS FINAL!

3. Sin! A very weak abstraction by humans! God's Glory is Infinite! Dust & Sand & a human "mistake" cannot be barriers! How can there be ANY BARRIER for an Omnipotent Being? When God has ALL THE POWER why would He trap you into barriers?

4. God's Nature! No instruments are available to measure that! ONLY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE!

My apologies for any irreverence I might have shown. The intention is ONLY to frankly express my views.

soulandsubstance said...

Very interesting comments from both of you. To Russell--How would you know if the person or being really IS God? How many people through the centuries have claimed to be God?--A lot, from what I've heard. The Bible says that Jesus said quite plainly to the people he spoke to that he was God and also gave very explicit instructions about what was expected of them. Yet many of the people who heard him did not believe him. Would you have believed him if you were there?

To Amarenda--If God is in us and in front of us, does that mean he is actually part of everyone? Do you suppose he is happy with the state of humanity? Suppose I say that I have experienced God and the power of God--That certainly hasn't made me perfect, in spite of having experienced a perfect God.

To both--Then, of course, there's the issue of the Bible (see another post in this blog: The Bible does talk about sin and light and darkness. It also says quite specifically (with reference to Russell's comment) what God expects of us--Here's one passage which couldn't be any clearer: "He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

Russell Miller said...

Thing is, I don't trust the bible. Not one word of it. Especially when it purports to be God talking. It was - by necessity - written by man, and at that point it loses every single bit of credibility it might have otherwise had. It has some interesting and useful things in it - but more from the perspective of "this is good advice", not "I'd better do it because it's God talking". It also has some unspeakably cruel things in that purportedly God endorsed and/or caused - and they can't be explained away all that easily.

I don't know what form I'd accept that in - but I do know I'd have to be absolutely sure it was God and not some huckster pretending to be him. Sorry, if God wants me to know him, then he can make sure that I know it's him, otherwise he hasn't done his job all that well, has he? I keep thinking back to the movie "network". It all comes back - to me - the idea that if God is omnipotent, all knowing, and all powerful, and if he is interested in me personally - then *he* gets to take the first step, as he has much more evidence of my existence than I of his.

soulandsubstance said...

OK, so if the Bible doesn't do it, in what form would a person (or being) today have to come for you to believe that it IS God? I'm just curious--not critical.

Russell Miller said...

Honestly, I really don't know. I would probably know it if I saw it, though.

Which I most likely never will.

soulandsubstance said...

Thanks for your honesty. I hope you do.

Amarendra said...

Q1. If God is in us and in front of us, does that mean he is actually part of everyone?

My Answer: IMHO, Yes, Whatever is IS God! Omnipresence in TRUEST SENSE!

Q2. Do you suppose he is happy with the state of humanity?

My Answer: Ahh! Isn't saying "GOD is unhappy" limiting Him? If God could be unhappy, then He could be so many other things - frustrated, depressed.....even God Forbid:-)....have mental disorder...My disagreement with you is that you are severely LIMITING GOD! Whereas, GOD is LIMITLESS. If He is not happy, He can easily change things!! So, there never ever can be unhappy state of affairs! He is Omnipotent!

It is a LIMITED view that brings in unhappiness - My invitation to people is to BRING THINGS & PEOPLE TOGETHER - Unify, Integrate....especially, the OPPOSITES...Can we have a value called "Politeness" if "rudeness" did not exist! Similarly, "selflessness" and "selfishness", and so on!

I invite everyone to STEP BACK (really really back) FROM ALL THINGS to see EVERYTHING AS A WHOLE!

Q3. Suppose I say that I have experienced God and the power of God--That certainly hasn't made me perfect, in spite of having experienced a perfect God.

My Answer: I would believe you - you would HAVE experienced GOD. The disagreement is with your temporary interpretations and conclusions. You have temporarily CONCLUDED that you are not perfect. Take time to connect with your GOD experience again. Spend time with Him. Commune with Him. BE with him. Directly ask Him questions! Don't be in a hurry to reach conclusions!

IMHO, Once you have experienced GOD, no questions remain! Then you see GOD & REALITY DIRECTLY - HERE & NOW without any barriers!

Q4. : Bible! Thanks to Russell Miller for answering that question!

SoulandSubstance said...

Amarenda-Those are very interesting comments, from a unique perspective. They do seem quite contrary to what the Bible says, so I was curious to know where the Bible fits into your assessment?

ReddyK -the Atma Jyoti Blog said...

I am happy to have found this blog. Somewhere that people are not afraid to us the "G" word! This is an interesting discussion.

I would only add that it is ultimately in man's nature to seek God. Even the true atheist is often revolting against false concepts of God which do not reverberate with their subconscious inner knowledge.

(Then there are those who are atheists or agnostics because to believe would require a response in their lives, and they are not ready or willing to commit to such change.)

Amarendra said...

Bible's views are contrary to my views?! One could write book(s) on that;-) But, let us attempt some discussion!

So, if there is a contradiction, what could be MISSING? Probably, The OPPOSITE! (Remember my theory of unifying opposites:-))

Some antonyms of "contradiction": corroboration, reconcilement, verification.

When you see a contradiction, it is possible that one or more of above is missing! For example, corroboration (of facts), reconcilement (of views), verification (by experience).

Each thing in our existence provides ONE window to the whole existence. At the most fundamental level it is our EXPERIENCE. Then MIND (and its accompanying logic, analysis, interpretations and conclusions). At intellectual level, we have windows like Religion, Science, and studies like Metaphysics. This reminds me of the
tale of four blind men describing an elephant! NO ONE IS WRONG! NO ONE IS RIGHT! It is just that each description is INCOMPLETE!

The challenge is to merge all windows together! One interesting window is the Bahá'í view. A peep into their "unifying" perspective (a "window"):

Throughout history, God has revealed Himself to humanity through a series of divine Messengers, each of Whom has founded a great religion. The Messengers have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. This succession of divine Teachers reflects a single historic "plan of God" for educating humanity about the Creator and for cultivating the spiritual, intellectual, and moral capacities of the race. The goal has been to develop the innate noble characteristics of every human being, and to prepare the way for an advancing global civilization. []

This is a good example of "stepping back" to see a LARGER VIEW. As we STEP further back for a much larger view, one is in awe of this glorious existence!

Coming back to Bible, the wiki entry ( has a section on "Historic editions". The section ends with:

"However for reasons of tradition, especially the doctrine of the inerrancy of the King James Bible, some modern scholars prefer to use the Textus Receptus for the Greek text, or use the Majority Text which is similar to it but is a critical edition that relies on earlier manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type. Among these
scholars, some argue that the Byzantine tradition contains scribal additions, but these later interpolations preserve the orthodox interpretations of the biblical text—as part of the ***ongoing Christian experience***—and in this sense are authoritative."

The critical words here are ONGOING CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.

My humble assessment of Bible: As a useful piece of the larger jigsaw puzzle, the Bible provides great CLUES for our spiritual journey.

As you found out after reading NT, whichever way you interpret Bible, it has to SYNCHRONIZE with your PERSONAL EXPERIENCE! If you encounter contradiction, it could be that you have not worked out the WHOLE PICTURE.

By the way, why don't you share THE DETAILS you referred to while commenting "What changed my mind was some of the details you don't tend to hear when all you get are Bible stories and snippets". THOSE DETAILS could be USEFUL CLUES FOR ALL OF US!

SoulandSubstance said...

If you are interested in the details that changed my mind about the Bible, I would be happy to share. It's been a grueling few days at work, but after tomorrow, I'm off for several days, so I will start putting together some of those details. I really value the openness of this discussion.

SoulandSubstance said...

Amarenda, I started putting together a post to answer some of the issues you brought up and it became so long and involved that I realized that they should probably be broken up into separate posts, which everyone can comment on individually. It's such a good discussion that I don't think I can do it justice in a single paragraph. be continued...

SoulandSubstance said...

Before I move to the "New Post" arena, I want to make sure that I understand the issues that Amarenda has brought up. I am going to rephrase them as topics (or paradigms, if you will), so please correct me if I am misunderstanding anything.
(1) All opposites are part of a unified whole.
(2) All the great prophets and religious teachers were sent by God and came (a) to educate humanity about God, and (b) to develop every human being's innate noble characteristics and spiritual, intellectual, and moral capacity, in preparation for a globally connected civilization.
(3) The Bible is not the authoritative spiritual guide to God's plan for humanity.

--In addition, I will share some of the "details" I referred to in my previous comment.

SoulandSubstance said...

Amarendra- I just realized that I have been spelling your name incorrectly. My sincere apologies.

Marlo Boux said...

I am so glad you popped over to Joyful Christian Wife and joined my neighborhood. I love what you are doing here - just love it! I will come by here often to see you....oh and I, too, desire to spend a large chunk of time with God too and feel like if that time gets pushed out of my schedule that I am somehow cheating Him. You are not alone on that one :) Marlo

Amarendra said...

This looks very good to me. However, I would put #3 as:

(3) The Bible is a spiritual guide to God's plan for humanity.

An explanation of "changes":

1. On the "NOT": As I said before, Each thing (religion, scripture, person, emotion, and so on)in this universe provides ONE window to the whole existence. On the "understanding" level(mind), that one window is almost always "incomplete". But, on the "experience" level(BEING!), interestingly, anything or any book or any person can lead to GOD EXPERIENCE - GOD is omnipresent! Just Supremely BE to experience the Supreme Being anywhere and anytime! Also, in that sense, the PART becomes the WHOLE (read about the holographic paradigm). So, to many people, simply reading the Bible could be enough and lead to GOD. To many others, simply reading any other scripture could be enough and lead to GOD.

2. On the "authoritative": Even if the Bible (or any other scripture) is an authoritative spiritual guide, each human being interprets and experiences differently. So, in the spiritual sphere, terming anything as "authoritative" leads to confusion (and even mayhem!). The highest authority is personal experience.

3. Once we say, "The Bible is a spiritual guide", then the focus shifts to - HOW can we use it is a spiritual guide? WHICH interpretations can help all of us seeing WHOLENESS and experiencing ONENESS?

Either ways, please feel FREE to rephrase the topics in your own way:-)

Thank You!

SoulandSubstance said...

OK, after some grueling days at work, where I did not even get enough time to sleep, much less to think about blogging, I am about to start the posts that will address these topics, one at a time. The first one is based on Amarendra's belief that "All opposites are part of a unified whole." So..... please go to the new post.

SoulandSubstance said...

The title of the first new post is "Are All Opposites Part of a Unified Whole?"