PARADIGM

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. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradigm

Statement of Purpose

The purpose of this blog is four-fold:
(1)
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.

12 comments:

Bert J said...

It seems to me that this ties into your recent post of opposites being part of the whole very nicely. We tend to think of attributes as "This" or "That", non-inclusively. I'd like to talk about immanence and transcendence for a moment with this in mind. In the Christian paradigm, God is greater than this universe (and as you pointed out, God indeed existed prior to us and this universe), and therefore, it is argued that God is transcendent of the universe, being outside of his own creation. Yet at the same time, we believe that God affects us on a personal level - whether as a guide to the historical movements of Israel throughout the Old Testament, or as a personal deity that answers prayers, metes out justice, et.al. on a supremely one-on-one basis, and therefore acts as a very immanent God.
Yet which is it? Is God sitting outside of this universe? Or does God walk and work amongst us? Are we his mirror image, and in what way are we thus divine?
We can only conceive of God through examples we can perceive, much as we perceive the hand of an unmet artist through their brushstroke, color usage, and subject. As man explores this universe, his paradigms are forced to confront newer and truer realities. We find that there are basic particles of nature that are "wavicles", both point particles and waves of probabilities at the same time. The Heisenberg uncertainty principle even goes so far as to say that we can only know certain aspects of these particles, and the more familiar we become with one aspect, we necessarily become less familiar with others (velocity and position).
It seems to me this too is true of God. I tend to go the Berkeley route (Bishop George, not Hippytown) of Spiritual Idealism, in which that we are, to put it simply, all part of God's thoughts. We are, using this analogy, both separate from God and intrinsically part of God. God is both completely immanent and completely transcendent. As an individualized thought in the mind of God, we are our own, self contained object apart and separate from one another, and God is the Transcendent Mind that considers us . Yet at the same time, the thoughts are a part of the Greater Mind, all as part of the greater whole that existed before and will always exist after the thought has long run it's individual course. It has a life of it's own, yet is completely subject to the will of the mind. It is wholly a "particle" in it's individuality, yet a wave in the ocean of God's thought, inseparable from the ocean that is the universe and the divine creation. As we consider the thought in and of itself, we lose the familiarity with the mind as a whole, and as we consider ourselves as indeed a part of God, we lose the familiarity of the individual's actual placement in the scheme.
These analogies are of course, imperfect, as we cannot possibly conceive of anything greater than or even outside of our universe. Our understanding of God will always be as flawed as the possibility that a single thought could conceive of the breadth of the mind that considers it. Yet if we realize the irreconcilable dualities of existence, we also realize in humble awe the majesty of God, completely transcendent and beyond our comprehension, yet completely active within us and our every movement.

Bert Johnson
samsherpa.blogspot.com

FishHawk said...

Hang in there. This is for you: http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2008/03/perseverance-award.html

SoulandSubstance said...

Many of the main-stream Christian denominations, and perhaps even most of the churches that call themselves "nondenominational" Christian, view God in a much more personal way. The Bible itself gives a number of descriptions of the character (or personal traits) of God. Some character attributes that are usually considered "key" to the Christian faith are: merciful, truthful, faithful, holy, righteous (just/fair), wise, loving, patient, peaceful (peace-loving), perfect, and unchangeable. This link has a very complete list of these attributes, along with Bible references, where the related scripture verses can be found: http://www.1way2god.net/charofgod.html.

(Note: Here is a link that allows you to look up Bible verses, key words, or topics. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/)

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

Hi guys. Thanks to S&S for inviting members of the Buddhist discussion group on blogcatalog.com to join in this conversation. The question, I am afraid, isn't a good fit for Buddhism since there is no creator/supreme being who is served, submitted to, or worshiped, as is the case in the Abrahamic religions. However, I reproduce below a reply I just posted to an article on the online newspaper "The Conservative Voice," which makes certain claims about the Buddha and the founders of other non-Christian religions. The content may be directly or indirectly pertinent to the question being dealt with here. Let me know if this is the case after reading the following :)

(the article can be found at:
http://www.theconservativevoice.com/forum/read.html?id=13524#comments )
-----------------
Dear Darren,

Thanks for the article, it provides an opportunity to open an important discussion about the comparative approach to studying religions. I have been faced with this particular issue at several points in my life, both academically and personally. As a student of religious studies, one becomes aware of intriguing overlaps on the one hand, and seemingly irreconcilable divergences on the other. The divergences are particularly pronounced when it comes to the claims the founders of the world's great religions make about themselves and the teachings they promulgate: in light of the claims made by all the other religious leaders, it would appear that someone must be lying! I don't have a neat solution to this problem. If anything, I am about to make it more messy. But in the process, I hope to take the discussion further.
I am writing primarily to address a number of inaccuracies in the description of Buddhism given in your article. I do so not to stymie the discussion; as you will see, correcting these problems actually makes the inquiry a bit more interesting.
You mention that the Buddha never thought he was perfect. However, it will be seen that various forms of perfection, mental and spiritual, are part of the path to Buddhist enlightenment, particularly on the path which the Buddha followed to Buddhahood. This path to Buddhahood involves 10 specific perfections (paramis in Pali, paramitas in Sanskrit) in which the Buddha perfects within himself such attributes as generosity, virtue, patience, and determination. In the scriptures of various Buddhist denominations, the Buddha is seen as having spent eons over countless lives arduously perfecting theses attributes.
The ultimate perfection claimed by the Buddha will become more clear in a discussion of nirvana. I'm afraid that you fall prey to a longstanding misreading of nirvana, one of a number of misconstruals which date back to the early history of Buddhist Studies in the West. However, it is vital to the present discussion that a more accurate description be introduced. Nirvana is not a meditative state or a loss of consciousness. Nirvana, in one sense, is a state achieved after the roots of greed, hatred, and ignorance are utterly and completely uprooted within a person. The process of achieving this state, which could rightly be called perfection, does indeed involve various types of meditation. The word "trance" was an older, and rather unfortunate, rendering of the Pali jhana (Sanskrit dhyana) which refers to levels of meditation in which the mind becomes progressively refined and concentrated. These meditative levels, while steps leading to nirvana on which certain purifications are accomplished, are not to be confused with nirvana itself.
Lastly, on the issue of authority, the kind of authority claimed by the Buddha is quite in line with the first-hand knowledge described in you example of knowing about the color of your couch. The Buddhist canon is authoritative for Buddhists because it is the Word of the Buddha, who directly perceived the nature of reality having utterly purified his mind of moral defilements like tanha (craving/desire). Since he was able to reach perfection, anyone who follows the path he points out may likewise do so. In fact, he made the claim that anyone who achieves, ever achieved, or ever will achieve moral perfection, would be doing so by the very path he taught.

You can see from the above description how for Buddhists the Buddha occupies at the same time the role of a venerable exemplar of virtue and piety, analogous to Catholic and Orthodox Christian views of saints, and also a salvific role as the teacher who reveals the path which forever ends the suffering caused by various kinds of sinful inclinations rooted in human nature.

Thus, we are left with the same problem which we are faced with when dealing comparatively with the figure of Christ in Christianity. Either the Buddha was who he says he was, and really did destroy all moral faults within himself, or the foundation of the Buddhist faith would be severely compromised.

In religious studies, we don't often cross over into these territories. Either scholars assume that religious founders are who they say they are for the purposes of gaining an inside view of how the machinery of a given religious system of thought works, or else they (implicitly or explicitly) assume everyone is lying and study the history of how religious teachings have come into being and evolved due to various stimuli and pressures (political, economic, etc.). I suppose some scholars would state that we are not theologians, and therefore we shouldn't have to bother with determining the truth of religious leaders' claims; that's none of our business. But, for religious adherents themselves, the matter is completely different. As I said earlier, I have no easy answers. But I am glad to see the issue brought up.

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

Oops, sorry, the article can be found here:
http://www.theconservativevoice.com/articles/article.html?id=31428

Amarendra said...

On your interest in "reconciling divergent viewpoints in science and religion", here is a post on work being done by Michael Heller, a Polish Roman Catholic priest:

{link}

http://racket-free.blogspot.com/2008/03/prize-for-uniting-science-and-religion.html

SoulandSubstance said...

Thank you all for your contributions. I went to the original article cited by Lotus in the Hills and found it a fascinating discussion of Darren Meade's intellectual discovery of the nature of Jesus Christ. (http://www.theconservativevoice.com/articles/article.html?id=31428)

I also went to the site given by Amarendra and copy a portion of it here:

Various processes in the universe can be displayed as a succession of states in such a way that the preceding state is a cause of the succeeding one… (and) there is always a dynamical law prescribing how one state should generate another state. But dynamical laws are expressed in the form of mathematical equations, and if we ask about the cause of the universe we should ask about a cause of mathematical laws. By doing so we are back in the Great Blueprint of God's thinking the universe, the question on ultimate causality…: "Why is there something rather than nothing?" When asking this question, we are not asking about a cause like all other causes. We are asking about the root of all possible causes....Heller's selection as the 2008 Templeton Prize Laureate will launch a broad, online discussion of the question, "Does the Universe need to have a cause?” at its website www.templeton.org. (http://racket-free.blogspot.com/2008/03/prize-for-uniting-science-and-religion.html)

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

"a fascinating discussion of Darren Meade's intellectual discovery of the nature of Jesus Christ."

It's his ideas about the nature of other religious founders that are problematic...

SoulandSubstance said...

... which brings me to something I have been meaning to start: summaries of those religious founders. I would be happy to get some input from people (like you, Lotus_in_the_Hills) who are more educated about these founders than I am. Even so, I'm going to start.

SoulandSubstance said...

I just posted what I hope is a Muslim view of Muhammed the prophet, taken from http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/fundamentals/prophet/lifeofprophet.html.

From this same article, I include here what the author says about the attributes of God (Allah).
"As regards the attributes of God, Islam adopts here as in other things too, the law of golden mean. It avoids on the one hand, the view of God which divests the divine being of every attribute and rejects, on the other, the view which likens him to things material. The Quran says, On the one hand, there is nothing which is like him, on the other , it affirms that he is Seeing, Hearing, Knowing. He is the King who is without a stain of fault or deficiency, the mighty ship of His power floats upon the ocean of justice and equity. He is the Beneficent, the Merciful. He is the Guardian over all. Islam does not stop with this positive statement. It adds further which is its most special characteristic, the negative aspects of problem. There is also no one else who is guardian over everything. He is the meander of every breakage, and no one else is the meander of any breakage. He is the restorer of every loss and no one else is the restorer of any loss what-so-over. There is no God but one God, above any need, the maker of bodies, creator of souls, the Lord of the day of judgment, and in short, in the words of Quran, to him belong all excellent qualities."

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

Ok, I'll reply to the newest post then. This is actually quite relevant to the comments bert j made to this post, so I'll reference it in my reply to the Muslim views of Allah.

Darren's Blog said...

Hello Everyone,

Back in April, it seems one of my articles on Christ Jesus came of interest to some within this blog.

It also seems some feel I may have been unfair in my understanding of Buddha and others.

That being said, I am here if you have any questions you may wish to ask directly.

Love & Gratitude,
Darren Meade