We are in the middle of a clash between paradigms. It’s a tug of war between ideologies. Most people don’t recognize it because it’s been going on for so long. Learning to recognize and handle this conflict is a necessary skill in our modern world.
What is a paradigm?
A paradigm is another term for a worldview. Think of it as a filter through which we view the world. It is a set of beliefs and values. It’s the framework that provides structure to our thinking. But in doing so, it creates boundaries.
It places values on thoughts and beliefs. And so acts much like colored glass, coloring everything. This filter tells us what is right and wrong. This judgment is automatic. It is a part of our cultural programming.
Clash Between Paradigms?
A clash of paradigms exists when two differing ideologies try to exert their influence on the same group. We live in the middle of a major paradigm clash. It started at the beginning of the post-classical period in about 500 CE. On one side is mythology and superstition masquerading as “religion”. On the other side if this conflict is logic, reason, and science.
Faith Vs Facts or Science Vs Religion
Science grew out of the need to find better answers the belief in mythology was selling. But mythology in the form of religion has a hold on the programming of the cultural narrative. Science and reason provide the freethinkers who innovate and find solutions to problems. So, you’d think everyone would like science. This is not the case. Science finds facts. This exposes the origins of superstitions and mythologies. That’s the problem. Exposing the truth is the cause of the paradigm clash.
Tribal vs Universal
There are several ways to frame this clash. Some see it as faith vs facts or science vs religion. Faith relates to the belief that religious mythology supersedes any opposing evidence or logic. Science relates to processes with a basis in evidence. Whereas, religion places faith and belief as superior to evidence and logic.
We like to frame this clash as something more basic, the clash between tribal vs universal paradigms. This clash between paradigms has been going on all our lives. So, it’s sometimes hard for people to see it. Let’s look at these two major worldviews.
The Tribal Paradigm
First, it is important to understand the difference in the terms of a tribal paradigm and tribal as it relates to indigenous people. These are two different things. We are not talking about the genetic or historical roots of people. We are talking about ideology with specific characteristics. Most indigenous people exhibit a higher level of universal values than most modern cultures.
The basis of a tribal paradigm is segregation. It segregates people by shared traits. The tribe selects one or more elements such as religious belief, race, or ethnicity. This distinguishes the group from all other people. Now, it’s a tribe. If you are in the tribe, you belong. If you are not a member of the tribe, you are an enemy. This is the tribal mentality. This means the dominant worldviews are tribal in nature. And the tribe dictates values and religious beliefs that are unjust and discriminatory.
If you think in terms of tribal boundaries, you will always have people on this planet that are outsiders, untrustworthy, even enemies. A tribal point of view is a worldview based on biases and prejudice. It always equates to us-against-them. This is an ancient paradigm system that bases thinking and values on mythologies. It is a deception resulting in mistaking mythology as fact. These constructs divide people into belief, race, ethnicity, and gender bias. Those in charge use this strategy to control and exploit people. A good example is the dark ages (1).
The Universal Paradigm
In contrast to a tribal point of view, a universal paradigm perceives everyone and everything as being of equal value. It negates the power of arbitrary tribal paradigms. A universal paradigm strives for equity and equality for all people. It holds that all of life is sacred, mystical, and meaningful. This worldview promotes the advancement of logic, science, and the scientific approach for the benefit of all life. This mindset is responsible for all the real and tangible advances of mankind.
The Need to Control and Feel Safe
So, the paradigm clash is a battle of ideologies. Religion wants to control the thoughts and values of people through groupthink manipulation. Science wants to advance the use of reason and common sense over mythology.
No matter how you define it. It could be the argument of faith vs facts, or science vs religion. Their fears all come from the same place. Any threat to their paradigm is a threat to their identity.
When people ask, what do you believe, they are asking you what tribe do you belong to. The answer to this question tells them whether you are safe. You are safe if your beliefs are similar enough. In other words, do you share the same fears, and are you bound by the same thought and value controls?
People will consider new ideas if your underlying values seem similar to theirs. This is because they program people to think in terms of tribal vs universal boundaries. It’s not their fault. The cultural narrative uses systematic brainwashing techniques. Many people go through indoctrination at an early age in their families. Then they continue the cycle. You can help them break free and become freethinkers.
Moving Beyond the Tribal Paradigm
The goal is to help someone trapped in a tribal paradigm see the bigger universal picture. To do this you need to at least be acceptable to the tribe. You may not yet be a trusted member. However, you need to align yourself so you are “safe” enough for them to accept any new ideas. Your new idea might be as simple as prompting someone to do their research. This is a big step for many.
The argument goes like this. No one thinks their beliefs are wrong. Yet, most would agree that their beliefs confine their perspective. They only feel safe when someone believes what they do. It’s the trap of belief. So, people need to ask, what you believe. They need to know so they can judge you based on the boundaries of their beliefs and values.
So, to align with them, I say I believe the good in all religions. I am a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and Hindu plus many more. Some people are okay with this answer.. But others tell me I must one religion. I ask them why? Isn’t it more prudent to believe the best in all, rather than confining yourself to just one point of view? — Guru Tua
Discussing the Universal Perspective
So, here is the strategy. When someone asks what you believe, you might say you agree with all the paths that lead to a better world for everyone. Then ask them what they believe. Show you align with their paradigm. But, above all be truthful.
For example, if they are a Christian, tell them you believe the positive aspects of Christianity. If they are Muslim, tell them you align with all the positive aspects of Islam. Whatever their paradigm seek some common ground. Find a way to connect. The bottom line to apply the universal perspective. Let them know you respect any path that is consistent in promoting love for everyone, and all living things.
Alignment to Open Dialogue
The above approach works well if you can get an initial alignment. If they believe that you are genuine in your alignment, you’ll be able to move them on the continuum from tribal toward the universal. For you to introduce any “new” ideas, you must first be able to project some alignment with the underlying ideas of their tribe.
Sadly, some people are so ingrained and programmed into their religious beliefs we cannot persuade them with facts. They strive to maintain the tribal vs universal conflict. Yet these same people would not dream of giving up the modern conveniences that science has brought to their lives.
All you can do is plant seeds of thought, They must learn how to question the cultural narrative. We will probably not eliminate this clash between paradigms. But we can plant seeds in our circle of influence.
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(1) The Dark Ages, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia