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)

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Attributes of the God You Serve

Every religion has certain character traits that they attribute to the deity or deities they worship. Even the gods of Greek mythology had distinct character traits. Recognizing these and being able to communicate them is crucial to our understanding of the beliefs of others and even of ourselves. As part of this section, I will be going to Bloggers of various faiths to ask them to describe what they believe are the core character attributes of their God (or gods), along with the name or denomination of their religion. Again, the purpose is to understand, not to convert one another, so we need to be as respectful as possible, even if we disagree.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Effective Communication Requires Understanding Another's Paradigm:

If you have ever watched the Beverly Hillbillies, during its original run or recently on TV Land, you know that the main reason it is funny is that the "hillbilly" Clampetts continue to live in a different culture (paradigm) from the modern world of Beverly Hills. Something similar happens when a person of one culture, religion, or political pursuasion tries to discuss strongly held beliefs with a person who believes differently. Each is immersed in a paradigm so strong than even simple words mean one thing in one paradigm and something entirely different in another. Take a simple, non-religious example: Two people are discussing the fact that a friend's dog has just been diagnosed with cancer. Finances are not a hardship, so we can remove monetary concerns from the equation. One person considers a dog to be a dear member of the family. The other views a dog as a likable, but replaceable possession. Their friend has been assured that the cancer can be completely cured with surgery, but that the surgery will cost $3,000. The person who view dogs as members of the family thinks that the friend should go ahead with the surgery, as long as post-operative pain can be adequately controlled. The other friend thinks that it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money on something that can be replaced for a fraction of the cost of surgery. The friend that you think is right will depend, in large part, on how you yourself think of dogs. No amount of argument, using points consistent with the paradigm in which the person is living, will do anything to convince the person on the other side, whose paradigm of beliefs is very different. Unless one intellectually and emotionally steps into the paradigm of the other person, it will be almost impossible to communicate meaningfully about the issues involved.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Are All Opposites Part of a Unified Whole?

This discussion began on the Post & Comments under "An Open Question to Atheists and Agnostics). Amarendra ( had started a discussion about his opinion that all things that appear opposite or contradictory are, in fact, part of a unified whole. He said this, in that section: "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, all opposites (like light and darkness) make the whole supreme being."

In one sense, those statements are a lot like a particular passage in the Bible, where the apostle Paul uses the human body as an analogy for the "body" of Christian believers all over the world.
14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? 18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” 22 In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. 23 And the parts we regard as less honorable are those we clothe with the greatest care. So we carefully protect those parts that should not be seen, 24 while the more honorable parts do not require this special care. So God has put the body together such that extra honor and care are given to those parts that have less dignity. 25 This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. 26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad. [1 Corinthians 12:14-26 (NLT)]

There appears to be a significant difference, however, between saying that apparent opposites are part of a unified whole, and saying that God is included in (but never outside) that "whole." If one isn't careful to make a distinction (and perhaps Amarendra doesn't intend to make one), it sounds as if all of humanity is IN God and is EQUAL TO God. Even if there is disagreement on how literally one should interpret the Bible, all Judeo-Christian denominations agree that, although God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, He is also far superior to even the most "perfect" human being. The Bible indicates that God can exist without humanity--in fact, He did exist without humanity for eons. Humanity, however, could not have come into existence without God. (Let's leave out, for the present, whether anyone agrees or disagrees with the Bible itself. It is still The Book upon which all Judeo-Christian religions are based: Judaism being based on the Old Testament, and Christianity on both Old and New Testaments.) Here is a scripture passages (from the Bible) that illustrates my point.
(1) 1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. [John 1:1-5 (NLT)]--Note that the author is using the "Word" to mean Jesus in his pre-incarnation state (i.e., before Jesus came to earth as the Messiah).

What this seems to bring us to is the deeper question of who (or what) is God? Is God a force or power? Is God essentially the human soul in a perfect form? Or is God a spiritual being who is separate and distinct from the human race, but can influence the human spirit and the universe itself in profound ways?