When a paradigm fails

For many of us, faith is our map of reality, our map of the universe. It tells us where we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going, where to turn. But as soon as our trusted map stops matching reality, we feel disoriented. We have no idea where to turn, what to do, how to survive.

Perhaps you’ve had the experience of using a paper map or a GPS guidance system and realizing that because of some glitch or a flaw, it’s leading you astray, or taking you in circles, or telling you to keep going straight or turn right when you’re actually at a dead end. 

Academics often call these mental maps paradigms, and when a paradigm fails and we need to seek a new one, we go through a paradigm shift. That intellectual language might make it sound like we’re dealing with a strictly theoretical problem, but people experience the failure of a mental map, paradigm, or worldview as personally traumatizing. Even scientists, when their conceptual maps fail them and they must challenge some of their fundamental scientific assumptions, use emotionally charged language to describe the experience. 

From “Faith After Doubt: Why Your Beliefs Stopped Working and What To Do About It” by Brian McLaren

, ,