A paradigm, also called a worldview, is a mental construct of the world around us. In communication theory, it is called a filter. It is actually the world with which we interact. This worldview filters our perceptions so that we never really deal with reality as it really is. We are able to adapt our paradigms to fit circumstances, but events or ideas that conflict with our paradigms cause us to react negatively to them.
The un-anointed human mind is such that no matter how hard we try not to hold dogmatic positions regarding things about which we know little or nothing, we still find ourselves holding various positions. Paradigms play a big part in this problem.
The trouble with a paradigm is that the elements of the paradigm seem to be reality itself when they are not real. They are mental constructs. Of necessity, they are part truth and part lie. The parts that are truth are incomplete. The parts that are lie are distortions of truth. Those lies that are distortions by believing the exact opposite of truth appear to be the most convincing lies.
Paradigms generally start with assumptions. Those assumptions may be made consciously, but they are generally made unconsciously. The assumptions become presuppositions that filter what we can sense in the real world. Eventually, these presuppositions are pieced together into a complete, though flawed, view of the world around us, a worldview or paradigm. Why not just deal with reality as it is? Why are we so protective of our worldviews and so unwilling to change them?
Consider the person who is in a familiar city but gets turned around, thinking north is south and east is west. As this person drives down the streets, things are surreal as streets appear in reverse order and addresses proceed in the wrong direction. Suddenly they realize that they have gotten themselves turned around and they adjust their thinking. What caused them to hold onto the wrong paradigm for more than a split second when all the evidence pointed to dropping the paradigm?
A magician’s patter, the words they say while performing the trick, has the purpose of creating a paradigm in the mind of the audience. This paradigm is part of the misdirection that makes the magic trick work. The trick creates surprise because the magician has built a paradigm describing what is happening at the moment, but the magician’s description is not what is actually happening. The magician adds the false paradigm to your already established paradigm and you make it fit. When the trick is executed, it violates your current paradigm and gets a reaction of surprise from you. Different people react in different ways to this surprise.
Any person who must find new solutions must break out of old paradigms. Unfortunately, they usually break out of an old limiting paradigm and bind themselves into a new limiting paradigm.
When an entire society or group within society agrees on a paradigm, this is even more limiting. Think of politics, religion, science, philosophy, or you name it, and you will see groups developing around a paradigm. Is there an alternative?
Both individually and in group paradigms, the conviction that the current paradigm is reality tends to disqualify evidence that might undermine the paradigm itself. For instance, in the scientific community, the prevailing paradigm among those who hold political power will make it very hard to get research funding for any project that might threaten the prevailing paradigm. The prevailing paradigm becomes the measure of how science is defined, what science is done, what science is taught, and what progress is made to understand reality as it really is. Paradigms limit real progress in all fields. In science, one of the most obvious examples is the creation/evolution issue. Those who have the political power have a paradigm built around Naturalism, Materialism, Uniformitarianism, and Evolutionism. Thus, they control funding to assure that these are supported and no research is done that might threaten the paradigm. They also successfully control most education to instill this same paradigm in those who will replace them as defenders of the paradigm. When any fact is brought forward that conflicts with their paradigm, the level of emotion, personal attacks, profanity, loopy logic, and such like that is employed to dispute with reality is amazing. When asked to use science to show that Naturalism is a fact, they say, “It’s self-evident,” which is not scientific. The same holds true for Uniformitarianism and Materialism. When asked to show that Evolutionism actually happened (not stories about how it might have happened), they can’t do it, so they just say something unscientific such as, “Evolution is science.” If pressed further, they leave the conversation.
Is there an alternative, or are we trapped to be captives of false reality. Are we forever going to be unable to deal with reality as it really is, or is there a way out?
There is a way out, but we must break out of the paradigm of paradigms. We must break out of the paradigm that says that we must live by the paradigm. We must break out of the paradigm of Naturalism that says that God cannot renew our spiritual senses to see reality as it really is.
There are many opinions, and all of them are based on faith. Yet, all faith is not equal. There is faith that is based on nothing at all, and there is faith that is based on hearing the voice of the Almighty, All-wise, Creator God and Savior Who cannot lie. Just ask a Naturalist to show, using science, that Naturalism is valid. You find that their naturalistic paradigm filters God out and makes Naturalism self-evident through circular reasoning. Paradigms look like reality from inside.
The alternative to living in a paradigm is to live in reality. Truth and reality are synonyms. Reality is truth. Jesus is The Truth. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My Voice.” Hebrews says, “Today, if you hear His Voice, don’t harden your hearts/minds.” Millions of Christians are witnesses to the fact that God leads. God speaks.
However, Christians are influenced by a culture that has been saturated with a paradigm of Naturalism. If ungodly people hear a follower of Christ talking about God leading and speaking to them, the ungodly person will often use ridicule to silence the follower of Christ. These extreme tests of faith may make those who are learning to lean on the leading of Christ question themselves and question Jesus. If they can come through this test victoriously, they will have tremendous strength, and their spiritual senses will be exercised by reason of use.
We have a corrupted natural mind that is filled with lies from Satan, the culture, and our own sinful natures. We are called to allow the Holy Spirit to transfigure our minds to be like Jesus Christ. These sinful lies that corrupt the natural mind is filled with are the paradigm in which we are trapped. Jesus Christ, leading us and doing His works through us, is the solution to this. Moment by moment He’s changing me. Line upon line, He’s setting me free. Jesus is changing me.
So God’s plan is that ultimately we would be able to fully embrace reality/truth. In the meantime, we are led by the Holy Spirit and we have the option at every moment to believe Him rather than believing our own paradigm and the paradigm of the corrupted culture.
Last updated: Feb, 2014
The Problem with Paradigms
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