The Faithless Paradigm, or, Ken, The Paradigm Pirate
By Ken K. Gourdin
As difficult as it is for me to imagine a workable worldview and/or a set of ethics without faith being a big part of the picture, if someone who doesn’t happen to be a person of faith is an honest, decent, caring individual who has determined to do his best to make life as good as he can make it for his fellow beings as long as he is here before (from his perspective) succumbing to the void, more power to him. That said, another poster at Mormon Dialogue and Discussion questioned the utility of a faith-based or religious worldview. Unfortunately, the thread was shut down before I had an opportunity to post the following. I thought, if nothing else, I’d post these thoughts here:
Only you can decide how much good faith was involved in your attempts to make Mormonism (or faith in general) work for you. I don’t work for the ACME Judgment Company (they offered me a terrific position with a great salary, wonderful benefits, and so on, but I turned it down because I didn’t feel I was qualified). From your own description (unless you’re omitting a lot of things for the sake of brevity, which you could well be doing) however, it does seem as though you rejected Mormonism and/or faith a priori. Laying aside, for the moment, the fact that you probably don’t see a religious worldview as valid in any case, I wonder if your rejection of Mormonism or of religion wasn’t predetermined by your a priori assumptions about it. (And before you accuse me of judging you, you wouldn’t support an a priori rejection of a scientific claim before someone had a chance to examine the evidence you put forth to support it, would you?) And—while if someone can find happiness, fulfillment, meaning, et cetera, outside of a religious paradigm, more power to him—there is scientific data tending to show that, on balance, religious people are at least as happy (if not more happy than) their non-religious counterparts.
As [Screen name redacted] pointed out so well (he usually does), the paradigm one uses to approach a particular question makes a huge difference in how one resolves that question. One key for me is that I don’t feel bound to use a single paradigm to answer all questions. I have legal training, and I do find the methodical, analytical framework used to analyze legal questions to be of value in resolving them, as well as in resolving questions in some other areas. However, I also try to avoid pressing a legal (or other) paradigm into service for purposes for which it is not well suited and for which it is not intended. I use one or more religious or faith-based paradigms to answer religious or faith-based questions, one or more scientific paradigms to answer scientific questions, one or more legal paradigms to answer legal questions, one or more philosophical paradigms to answer philosophical questions, a logical paradigm to answer logical questions, and so on. And as I’ve said so many times before, none of us sees the world as it is; rather, we see it as we are (that goes even for scientists and other people of a similarly empirical bent).
Science is an amazing, often even a beautiful and elegant, thing. But not all science is created equal: there’s good science and there’s bad science. And to borrow and to slightly alter Shakespeare, “There are more things in heaven and earth, [Screen Name Redacted], than are dreamt of in your science.” And all a particular theory can do is account for the currently available evidence. Tomorrow, additional evidence may be discovered in some arena which stands a current theory on its head. And it’s not as though only the religious grapple with the sort of questions you apparently don’t think religion answers well: philosophers, poets, writers, and other people of like stripe (both religious and not) have been grappling with those questions for millennia. And as I said in another forum a few weeks ago, science may explain how (or at least why) the world goes ’round, but only such things as love, faith, philosophy, art, literature, music, and so on can make the trip worthwhile.