Re: [asa] Believing Scripture but Playing by Science's Rules

From: Don Winterstein <>
Date: Tue Feb 13 2007 - 19:40:30 EST

I first came across paradigms as examples of declension or conjugation in foreign language classes, but of course the word has come to have much broader meanings both within and outside of science.

To me a paradigm is the model that underlies the models within a system; it's the set of postulates and axioms in terms of which all the details of a system are interpreted and understood.

Example: The Old Testament paradigm holds that God seeks to express his glory on earth through his chosen people, who honor him by obeying his laws. This expression of glory is to find fulfillment in an earthly kingdom ruled by his Messiah.

Jesus the "apocalyptic prophet" implemented a new paradigm, one that holds that the glorious kingdom is not of this world; its citizens qualify through faith, not through ancestry or by obeying laws; and Jesus is the Messiah, the head of the kingdom.

Whether or not you agree with my characterizations of OT and NT, what I would call a clear paradigm shift took place as a result of Jesus' coming. The apostle Paul in particular struggled mightily to reinterpret Jewish history and the OT in terms of this new paradigm. If there had not been a change of paradigm, there would have been no need for the reinterpretation struggle. Despite efforts of NT authors to make it seem so, the NT paradigm does not follow in an obvious way from the OT paradigm. That's why I call the OT/NT transition a paradigm shift.

I also like to include unsuccessful paradigms within the meaning of paradigm. That is, a model that has the potential to conceptually underlie a system is still a paradigm even if it has not been widely accepted. If it is eventually accepted, then said system would need to be reinterpreted in terms of it.


----- Original Message -----
  From: George Murphy<>
  To: Michael Roberts<> ; Ted Davis<> ; American Scientific Affiliation<> ;<>
  Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 4:14 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Re: [asa] Believing Scripture but Playing by Science's Rules

          "Aristotle's _Physica_, Ptolemy's _Almagest_, Newton's _Principia_
  and _Opticks_, Franklin's _Electricity_ and Lyell's _Geology_ -these and
  many other works served for a time implicitly to to define the legitimate
  problems and methods of a research field for succeeding generations of
  practitioners. They were able to do so because they shared two essential
  characteristics. Their achievment was sufficiently unprecedented to attract
  an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific
  activity. Simultaneously, it was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts
  of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.

          "Achievments that share these two characteristics I shall henceforth
  refer to as 'paradigms,' a term that relates closely to 'normal science.'"

          (Thomas S. Kuhn, _The Structure of Scientific Revolutions_, 2d ed.,
  enlarged [University of Chicago, 1970], p.10.)

  At least that's what Kuhn meant.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: "Michael Roberts" <<>>
  To: "George Murphy" <<>>; "Ted Davis" <<>>;
  "American Scientific Affiliation" <<>>; <<>>
  Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 6:13 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Re: [asa] Believing Scripture but Playing by Science's

> Can anyone tell me what a paradigm really is? Is it just a pretentious
> word of no meaning?
> Michael

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Received on Tue Feb 13 19:39:16 2007

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