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  • The Paradigm Effect

    I've mentioned several times in various posts that there's an obstacle having to do with overcoming a person's paradigm when attempting to have a substantive and productive conversation or respectful debate. I realized that I hadn't really spent a lot of time putting my thoughts into words and so I thought I'd start a thread on the topic and see if anyone has some interesting thoughts on the issue.

    First of all we should start by defining what a paradigm is. A paradigm is a set of assumptions that we use, mostly unconsciously, to filter information of a given topic. They are quite useful, indispensable really. Without them we'd be forced to think through every idea every time it came up. This would of course make communication very cumbersome if not impossible. But how do you know that your paradigm is right? It's a rather difficult question to answer because your paradigm will tend to filter out any answer to that question that conflicts with the paradigm itself and you won't know its happened. This phenomenon is referred to as the Paradigm Effect.
    The phrase "Paradigm Effect" was coined by Joel Barker; the actual theory was found by Thomas Khun.
    This Theory states that what goes against one's paradigm (their world view, what they know to be true) will be nearly impossible for them to see. For example if someone was to quickly flip through a pack of cards that contained a black 5 of hearts, you would probably see it as a 5 of spades or clubs because your paradigm is that black cards are clubs and spades and red cards are hearts and diamonds. Someone who has never seen a deck of cards would see the black 5 of hearts for what it truly was because they had no expectations, or previous paradigms. - source

    Another phrase used to describe this psychological phenomenon is "Paradigm Paralysis". This is generally used to describe a situation in which important decisions are made (or more often not made) in ignorance even though the needed information is right under the decision maker's nose but is made invisible by their paradigm. "We've never done it that way before and its worked just fine!" is the mantra of the man suffering from paradigm paralysis.

    I am convinced that the primary reason why very little progress is ever made toward convincing people of anything, not just here at TOL but anywhere, is because of the paradigm effect. Discussions very seldom reach to the level of paradigm analysis because almost no one is willing to question their paradigm. And when someone's paradigm is challenged the response is almost always to ignore the challenge and to deflect to another topic. This is especially true when its a religious or theological paradigm that is being challenged. Most people are simply not willing to touch their theological paradigm at all. It costs way too much.

    People have invested their lives into the construction of their theological paradigm. A person inherits their theological paradigm from whoever raises them initially, even if that paradigm is an atheistic one, but typically, by the age of twenty a person has either made that paradigm their own or they've rejected it in favor of another. In either case, they've set out on a particular road that takes little effort to stay on but a very great deal of effort to get off of. Much more effort than most are even capable of, never mind willing to exert. It never even occurs to most people to ask whether or not the road they're on is the right one and most of the people who do think to ask such a question have no idea how to answer it. Those who do ask and manage to get an answer typically only accept the answer they happen to get reaffirms their theological paradigm. It is the rarest of men who both discover that their lives are on the wrong path and who are willing to discard the faith of their youth and to embark down unfamiliar theological paths in search for the objective truth.

    In this thread, I'd like to explore different paradigm level ideas. You might find it rather difficult to discern which ideas are at paradigm level and which are not, I know I do! But that's sort of the point of this thread. To try to tease out the foundational ideas from the theological noise. I'll kick that process off by offering three good examples of what I think are clearly a paradigm level theological concepts.

    1. Does God exist?

    Obviously paradigm level stuff.

    2. The attributes of God: Quality vs. Quantity

    This concept of God's qualitative attributes vs. His quantitative attributes where clearly presented and brilliantly argued by Bob Enyart in a Battle Royale X. Calvinists try to suggest that they give no preference to any of God's attributes over any others but they do and so does everyone else. It turns out that you are forced to and the fact that you are forced to choose is what makes this a paradigm level concept because a decision here effects almost everything that comes after.

    3. Why was Paul made an apostle?

    This is a question very few Christians ever think to ask but that all Christians answer whether directly or implicitly and the answer to the question has gigantic influence over the whole rest of your Christian philosophy. In fact, nearly every theological debate you can name hinges on the answer to this question. Everything from whether water baptism is need for salvation to whether one can loose their salvation or what foods you are allowed eat all hinge on how you answer the question, “Why Paul?”. I therefore consider it to be a paradigm level concept.


    Okay, so there's three idea ideas, what are some more? Also, if you have any ideas about how to objectively analyze one's theological paradigm, I'd be very interested in reading that as well.

    By the way, let's try our best not to debate the ideas here just let's try to figure out which ideas are at the paradigm level and which are not.

    Resting in Him,
    Clete
    Last edited by Clete; August 5th, 2015, 06:23 AM.
    sigpic
    "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

  • #2
    I hate that word paradigm
    but
    I will play along

    how many significant paradigms do we have here?

    I will try to name them

    mad
    calvinist
    catholic
    protestant
    non-trins

    saying you are christian is not really telling at all

    so who at tol are properly identified?

    catholics and protestants

    that's it
    it is very hard to identify all the others
    and
    that makes it hard to understand what they are saying
    so
    this is where you start
    start identifying yourselves
    a voice crying in the wilderness :chrysost:

    Comment


    • #3
      My religious "paradigm" has been shifted several times in my life. I was born into a "Protestant" family, but I have always been a bit idealistic, and have always found myself questioning what I am presented with by the world. So maybe I am one of the "rare" persons you mention. But I really don't know that they are so rare as you suggest. People become Christian and non-Christian all the time, so there is one paradigm for your thread: Christian. I am constantly told on internet forums that I am not a "Christian" because I don't accept the Nicene Creed as a statement of faith or because I believe I can be like Christ, etc.
      Another way to talk about paradigms is interpretive "boxes." I pose because of the very nature of language and words which "mean things," we all tend to put things into categories in order to remember them that way. So we have labels for people which we try to sort everyone we run across into each label.

      I feel the very nature of God resists being put into a box, or labelled with "a trinity" for example. I try to let God tell me who He is rather than vice versa.

      Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.

      TOL Threads:
      l l
      l

      The Torah and the NT:
      l l l

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RevTestament View Post
        I am constantly told on internet forums that I am not a "Christian" because I don't accept the Nicene Creed as a statement of faith or because I believe I can be like Christ, etc.
        what is the best way to describe you

        mormon?
        or
        christian?
        a voice crying in the wilderness :chrysost:

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by chrysostom View Post
          I hate that word paradigm
          but
          I will play along

          how many significant paradigms do we have here?

          I will try to name them

          mad
          calvinist
          catholic
          protestant
          non-trins

          saying you are christian is not really telling at all

          so who at tol are properly identified?

          catholics and protestants

          that's it
          it is very hard to identify all the others
          and
          that makes it hard to understand what they are saying
          so
          this is where you start
          start identifying yourselves
          I appreciate you playing along but are you sure those are paradigms?

          I suppose in one sense they are but what I've got in mind has to do with the ideas that form the building block of things like Calvinism or Catholicism etc. It's the ideas that cause a Catholic not to get the point when a protestant (of any stripe) speaks about grace, for example. Its what causes words to have different meanings in the ears of a Calvinist than they have in anyone else's.

          Resting in Him,
          Clete
          sigpic
          "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by RevTestament View Post
            My religious "paradigm" has been shifted several times in my life. I was born into a "Protestant" family, but I have always been a bit idealistic, and have always found myself questioning what I am presented with by the world. So maybe I am one of the "rare" persons you mention. But I really don't know that they are so rare as you suggest. People become Christian and non-Christian all the time, so there is one paradigm for your thread: Christian. I am constantly told on internet forums that I am not a "Christian" because I don't accept the Nicene Creed as a statement of faith or because I believe I can be like Christ, etc.
            Another way to talk about paradigms is interpretive "boxes." I pose because of the very nature of language and words which "mean things," we all tend to put things into categories in order to remember them that way. So we have labels for people which we try to sort everyone we run across into each label.

            I feel the very nature of God resists being put into a box, or labelled with "a trinity" for example. I try to let God tell me who He is rather than vice versa.

            Acts 17:29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.
            By what standard do you judge the paradigm you have now and conclude that it is superior to the ones of your youth?

            And on a side note...

            Is God righteous?
            Or would saying so be to put God in a box in your view?

            Resting in Him,
            Clete
            sigpic
            "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

            Comment


            • #7
              do you want to talk about this?

              Originally posted by Clete View Post

              I am convinced that the primary reason why very little progress is every made toward convincing people of anything,
              or waste a lot of time talking about what a paradigm is?

              Originally posted by Clete View Post
              I appreciate you playing along but are you sure those are paradigms?
              a voice crying in the wilderness :chrysost:

              Comment


              • #8
                Clete,

                This is probably one of the most important post that could be made. How one believes the word of God, many times, is mainly what they were taught in church when they were children.

                Ten years ago, my son went to a conference where they spent a week just praying and speaking about God and their beliefs. From that conference he came back a different man with a different perspective about God and the church. Shorty afterwards he ask me if I could confirm what he had learned. When he told me what that was I just knew he must have been taught something wrong. After a few weeks he came back again and ask me to please check it out. So the first thing I did was to go to God and ask him to show me, by scripture, if my son was right or not.

                It took me a least two months of study but in the end I had a new understanding, a paradigm shift if you will, on how to understand God's word.

                1. The old testament was written to the Jews, not us.

                2. The gospels were written about the coming of the Jews messiah, Jesus, and his coming to earth as it was foretold to them in the old testament. (He didn't come as the Gentiles messiah.)

                3. Jesus, as the Jews messiah, told them, Jews not Gentiles, that he would come in judgment of them because of their unbelief and rejection of him.

                4. The epistles were written to the early churches, not to us.

                5. The book of Revelation was about the judgment that was about to come upon the Jews.

                The paradigm shift is to read the bible as we would a novel. It should not be read as if God is speaking directly to us. It has been written for our understanding as to how we should live and believe God.

                Don't make it about you, because it isn't.

                Most people will never get it!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Clete View Post
                  I am convinced that the primary reason why very little progress is every made toward convincing people of anything, not just here at TOL but anywhere, is because of the paradigm effect. Discussions very seldom reach to the level of paradigm analysis because almost no one is willing to question their paradigm. And when someone's paradigm is challenged the response is almost always to ignore the challenge and to deflect to another topic. This is especially true when its a religious or theological paradigm that is being challenged. Most people are simply not willing to touch their theological paradigm at all. It costs way too much.

                  People have invested their lives into the construction of their theological paradigm. A person inherits their theological paradigm from whoever raises them initially, even if that paradigm is an atheistic one, but typically, by the age of twenty a person has either made that paradigm their own or they've rejected it in favor of another. In either case, they've set out on a particular road that takes little effort to stay on but a very great deal of effort to get off of.
                  I enjoyed reading your OP. I thought you might be interested in Leon Festinger, his study of a doomsday cult in the 1950s and their reactions when the world didn't end when they expected it to.

                  I've posted about him here before, but I don't think those posts survived the recent pruning, except for this one quote:
                  A man with a conviction is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point. We have all experienced the futility of trying to change a strong conviction, especially if the convinced person has some investment in his belief. We are familiar with the variety of ingenious defenses with which people protect their convictions, managing to keep them unscathed through the most devastating attacks.

                  But man's resourcefulness goes beyond simply protecting a belief. Suppose an individual believes something with his whole heart; suppose further that he has a commitment to this belief, that he has taken irrevocable actions because of it; finally, suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before. Indeed, he may even show a new fervor about convincing and converting other people to his view.

                  Leon Festinger
                  Your topic is very interesting, even if we might not agree on particulars.

                  And a couple more links, if you're interested:

                  Disconfirmed expectancy


                  Cognitive dissonance
                  Last edited by annabenedetti; August 5th, 2015, 06:35 AM.

                  Tried and waited then got tired, that's about it

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by iamaberean View Post
                    Clete,

                    This is probably one of the most important post that could be made. How one believes the word of God, many times, is mainly what they were taught in church when they were children.

                    Ten years ago, my son went to a conference where they spent a week just praying and speaking about God and their beliefs. From that conference he came back a different man with a different perspective about God and the church. Shorty afterwards he ask me if I could confirm what he had learned. When he told me what that was I just knew he must have been taught something wrong. After a few weeks he came back again and ask me to please check it out. So the first thing I did was to go to God and ask him to show me, by scripture, if my son was right or not.

                    It took me a least two months of study but in the end I had a new understanding, a paradigm shift if you will, on how to understand God's word.

                    1. The old testament was written to the Jews, not us.

                    2. The gospels were written about the coming of the Jews messiah, Jesus, and his coming to earth as it was foretold to them in the old testament. (He didn't come as the Gentiles messiah.)

                    3. Jesus, as the Jews messiah, told them, Jews not Gentiles, that he would come in judgment of them because of their unbelief and rejection of him.

                    4. The epistles were written to the early churches, not to us.

                    5. The book of Revelation was about the judgment that was about to come upon the Jews.

                    The paradigm shift is to read the bible as we would a novel. It should not be read as if God is speaking directly to us. It has been written for our understanding as to how we should live and believe God.

                    Don't make it about you, because it isn't.

                    Most people will never get it!
                    I'd agree with most of that except that the Pauline epistles and only the Pauline epistles where written to Gentiles. Paul was sent to the Gentiles and when he went to the 12 apostles to explain his ministry they all agreed that they (the 12) would ministry to the Circumcision (Jews) and he would minister to the Uncircumcision (Gentiles) (Galatians 2:9).

                    Which incidentally, defines the most important paradigm shift in my entire life by far. Once you see this, it changes nearly everything.

                    Resting in Him,
                    Clete
                    sigpic
                    "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chrysostom View Post
                      do you want to talk about this?



                      or waste a lot of time talking about what a paradigm is?
                      I think the former will be served by the latter.
                      sigpic
                      "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Clete View Post
                        I'd agree with most of that except that the Pauline epistles and only the Pauline epistles where written to Gentiles. Paul was sent to the Gentiles and when he went to the 12 apostles to explain his ministry they all agreed that they (the 12) would ministry to the Circumcision (Jews) and he would minister to the Uncircumcision (Gentiles) (Galatians 2:9).

                        Which incidentally, defines the most important paradigm shift in my entire life by far. Once you see this, it changes nearly everything.

                        Resting in Him,
                        Clete
                        Clete,

                        I agree with the fact the epistles were written to Gentiles, but my comment was the fact that they were not written to us.
                        My closing comment was:
                        The paradigm shift is to read the bible as we would a novel. It should not be read as if God is speaking directly to us. It has been written for our understanding as to how we should live and believe God.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Clete View Post
                          I think the former will be served by the latter.
                          the word is already defined

                          why would you want to change it?
                          a voice crying in the wilderness :chrysost:

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by iamaberean View Post
                            Clete,

                            I agree with the fact the epistles were written to Gentiles, but my comment was the fact that they were not written to us.
                            My closing comment was:
                            The paradigm shift is to read the bible as we would a novel. It should not be read as if God is speaking directly to us. It has been written for our understanding as to how we should live and believe God.
                            Well my point being that we are Gentiles because we aren't Jews. And even if that logic didn't follow Paul's a epistles still apply directly to us because now there is no Jew or Gentile. There will come a time when God returns to Israel and then they'll be Jews and Gentiles again but for now everybody is just people and the epistles that apply directly are those written by Paul.

                            Which is an interesting distinction because I think that also is a form of paradigm. And or if it's not a paradigm the distinction is created by paradigm.

                            In any case I'm more interested in the process that you used to determine whether your current paradigm is superior to your previous one. How did you know that making this paradigm shift was the right thing to do?

                            Resting in Him,
                            Clete
                            sigpic
                            "The [open view] is an attempt to provide a more Biblically faithful, rationally coherent, and practically satisfying account of God and the divine-human relationship..." - Dr. John Sanders

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is an important thread. One of the reasons Dean Gotcher is not liked in the churches is because what he is talking about is a paradigm shift, and in talking about that he is over the heads of almost all church members. And they do not like that. Gotcher is a preacher and a scholar, and they don't like that either. Because as a preacher he is a remnant leader and as a scholar he says things they do not understand but have some vague impression that he is being critical of the churches.

                              To be interested in and talking about paradigms is like being interested in and talking about epistemology.

                              http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/epistemology/

                              "As the study of knowledge, epistemology is concerned with the following questions: What are the necessary and sufficient conditions of knowledge? What are its sources? What is its structure, and what are its limits? "

                              Epistemology is a study of the ways we create knowledge. Revelation from God to men of old by the Holy Spirit is a way we gain knowledge. And this knowledge is absolute truth and cannot be changed or compromised by man, though man has done so.

                              Experimental science is another way of creating knowledge. Depending on what is being observed and the methods used for observation and recording of data, scientific findings are knowledge, but are not absolute truth. Scientific knowledge can be changed, refined, and added to and rarely completely overturned - if the scientists that do the research are honest.

                              There is "hard" experimental science and there is "soft" experimental science. There are laws of physics which are based upon hard science, which is knowledge with a greater amount of truth, or absolute nature. Then, there is work in sociology and in some areas of psychology, that is soft science, which is not so absolute in truth because the methods of manipulation of variables and observation of results are not very exact and when the research is replicated the results are not exactly the same each time as in some experiments in physics.

                              But scientific knowledge is better than opinion, which could be considered to be another way of gaining knowledge.

                              Karl Marx comes along and begins to make use of the Hegelian dialectic as a way of changing the society through changing its paradigm, in order to set up a totalitarian government and society.

                              This is where Dean Gotcher loses most of his audience. They do not understand how the Hegelian dialectic can be used to change paradigms, even if they have some idea of what a paradigm is.

                              In the eyes of the dialectical philosophy, nothing is established for
                              all time, nothing is absolute or sacred." (Karl Marx)

                              Benjamin Bloom, who wrote the two volume book on the Taxonomy
                              of Educational Goal Objectives, by which all teachers must be
                              certified, said "We recognize the point of view that
                              truth and knowledge are only relative and that there are no hard and
                              fast truths which exist for all time and places.” (Benjamin Bloom, et
                              al., Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Book 1, Cognitive Domain)

                              With the Hegelian dialectic, there are two opposing positions, or attitudes, or beliefs, and these two clashing positions are to be resolved in a compromise. The thesis and the anti-thesis conflict and the result is the synthesis, which is brought about to change paradigms.

                              In a culture dominated by Biblical Christian thought, the word of God is absolute truth. You cannot, or must not, compromise that absolute truth by running it though the Marxist version of the Hegelian dialectic, so that an argument in opposition to an absolute truth from Scripture results in a compromise which moves the position a little away from absolute truth, that is, it compromises it. Then, the same process is carried out again and the absolute truth is compromised a little more, and on and on. Finally, you have changed the paradigm, so in the minds of those who have been led into the dialectic mind set, there is no longer an absolute truth any more in scripture, but everything is relative and subject to change. Gotcher talks about relationships of affection being effective in bringing change to the positions people take, or to their truth.
                              Last edited by northwye; August 5th, 2015, 11:48 AM.

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