Biblical Keys for Discerning True and False Prophets/Considering Joseph Smith/Paradigm debate/Defining Our Paradigms

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Defining Our Paradigms

In the sciences, paradigms are defined by

“standard examples of scientific work that embody a set of conceptual, methodological, and metaphysical assumptions.” (Kuhn, 103).

Paradigms in religious life are defined in much the same way, via stories, such as Bible accounts, or later accounts of the early Christian fathers, key teachers, and reformers. Ian Barbour observes that “Every community celebrates and re-enacts particular historical events which are crucial to its corporate identity and its vision of reality” (Barbour, 55). In the sciences and in religion, paradigm testing is between rival paradigms, and concerns both the playing field (or territory) and the rules to use in evaluating the map. Because the setting and rules themselves are in question, we face problem of self-reference in unconsciously using the rules that govern one paradigm to reject those of another.

  • [P]aradigms differ in more than substance, for they are directed not only to nature, but also back upon the science that produced them. They are the source of the methods, problem-field, and standards of solution accepted by any mature scientific community at any time. (Kuhn, 103)
  • When paradigms enter, as they must, into a debate about paradigm choice, their role is necessarily circular. Each group uses its own paradigm in that paradigm’s defense. (Kuhn, 94)