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Myths Models Paradigms 

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    Ian Barbour is a Professor of Science Technology and Society. In his book Myths, Models, and Paradigms, Barbour goes into depth about his unsettlement regarding the religious language and the influence science has had on religion overtime when philosophers and scientists use it. Barbour further expresses his concern through different methods in his book. He established the adaptable and unique function that language plays in beliefs and how every religion by itself has its mission, established tenets, and ways of thinking. In his book, Barbour elaborates on how religious marks, signs, or words, and their use in myths provide an idea of the entire human experience. The use of idols and different models in scientific and religious languages offer an elucidation of how an individual should see the world. The final idea discussed in Barbour’s book is the role of the paradigm in both scientific and religious languages. Paradigms are the common ground found in both languages where specific scientific examples are used to act as the epitome of a set of standard presumptions which over time, are overthrown by another set of them. Barbour concludes his book by stating that scientific and religious religion offers the idea that reality is based on experiences. The key themes that are discussed in this book are the different and distinctive qualities of language, the position of models, and the position of paradigms in these languages. He focuses on the semantics used in science and religion as a way to show the advancements made in both. The central conflict that Barbour is dissecting is the fact that because of the massive amount of discoveries being made in science recently, many of which are practical, it offers a more plausible perception of reality than religion does to most individuals. This could then result in scientific reasoning being used towards all technical questions that have been answered by faith; therefore, possibly leading to the perish of religion, philosophy, and theology in general.

    In Chapter 1 of Barbour’s novel, he tackles the basic definitions of critical realism, which the author uses to vindicate ideas presented in religion and science to demonstrate his unbiasedness. He starts by defining myths, language, and paradigms and shedding light on their functions to go against ‘critical realism.’ Critical realism, by definition, is a branch of philosophy that separates the real world and the world that is considered ‘observable.’ The ‘real’ world is a world that lives independently away from personal opinions, views, and standards. Barbour goes into explaining the cognitive and noncognitive functions of language. The cognitive function is related to the detail, prediction, and manipulation of nature. While the noncognitive is formed through intention, morals and ethics, and attitudes towards science and religion. Barbour explains that there are four ways of thinking about science and religion, which are conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. He goes on to acknowledge the fact that there has been a difficulty when it comes to religion. He uses the example of the Bible and how, in it, there are many paradoxes and statements that, when reading today, would not be plausible to the modern man if it were to be taken literally. God is ‘incompatible with our understanding of the universe.’ In his research, Barbour found that a group of philosophers and scientists decide that religious language, God’s language, should be considered as something that lacks any meaning or use since there isn’t any experimental evidence to prove some tenets within it. In other words, this group concluded that religious language bears no fruit while scientific language could, which couldn’t be verified because to say that a language is meaningless would mean that scientific language could be ruled out just the same. However, the author rebuttals this claim to demonstrate how subjective religion can be and how unobjective science can be. They assume that God’s actions have no place in nature or what they believe to be the ‘real’ world. Religious faith requires an individual to have a sense of loyalty, and it is a personal commitment, unlike that of a scientific belief.

    In Chapter 2, Barbour discusses religious models that relate to sacred languages, specifically through using symbols, myths, parables, and images. Barbour goes into depth with these forms and shows how a few do not even relate to science. He starts off with the metaphors and parables, which expresses one thing while relating it back to another entirely different matter. He uses numerous amounts of examples, one of which includes ‘My heart is heavy.’ A metaphor cannot be taken literally because it is not valid. Metaphors and parables can be found generously throughout the religious language. It is argued, which Barbour agrees with, that metaphors are very ‘open-ended,’ making sky’s the limit for interpretation of the comparison. However, metaphors carry ’emotional overtones,’ which can be derived from the reader’s personal experiences. Barbour then transitions into discussing symbols, which is defined as a substitution of quality. Religious symbols, in particular, become extremely important in the influence of a community.

    Symbols can be contextual, and they do not always need to be taken literally. The symbol of height is huge in religion, which represents a symbol of achievement. Some examples would be ‘ascend to heaven’ and the ‘exalted one.’ One way I think of it in religious terms is God being above, and we all want to closer to Him, so lifting our hands to the sky as we pray is a symbol of height. Water was seen as a symbol of chaos, and it shows in the Bible when God wanted to destroy the world with a flood. Another crucial symbol in religion is fire. When one thinks of fire, they usually think, if they are religious, about the fires that are in hell, but it can also be taken as purification through fire. Light is also a universal symbol in the religious community where God and his glories are the light or Buddha being the ‘enlightened one’. Barbour provides several examples of symbols and goes into Religious models, which is a symbol in which can be taken in interpreting in a variety of ways and numerous religions. Myths are stories taken to give a reasoning behind why things are the way they are and why they manifested the way they did, usually involving some supernatural details. Myths usually fulfill the cosmic order and according to Barbour, contribute a way of experiencing and behaving in day to day life. He states that Myths offer ideas of ordering experience. Myths render a vision of daily life and are so relevant because it relates yo perpetual conflicts that one would face in their lives. Barbour then states that myths tell a man about himself because it takes their identity from the past and makes him believe that those events are what made him what he is today and gives him an understanding of their ancestors. The myth also expresses salvation in human life. This is reflected in an ideal state, or the best possible experience, the actual state of man is not perfect due to flaws or misrepresentation, finally, through saving power which allows for an overthrowing of the flaw or malformation resulting in redemption. Myths also provide patterns for human actions, whether it is right or wrong, moral or immoral. Myths are expressed through symbolic words and actions. In most religions and cultures, dancing, singing, prayer, rituals, and traditions are all ways to express myths. Barbour touches upon the functions of myths, which include psychological, Social, and Cognitive, which all go hand in hand with each other.

    Chapter three focuses on the different kinds of models in science. These differ greatly from that of religious models. The first model that Barbour elaborates on is the experimental model, which is a model that can be physically made. Empirical models are composed of space, temporal, and aspect systems. Scientific models can be used in several situations, such as doing research and conducting experiments. Models like these are used to solve possible conflicts. The second model that barber discusses our logical models. A logical model is a standardized set of bodies that fulfill theories and principles. in this case, a logical model will have no place in the physical world; however, it is originated from theories. The third model that he discusses is mathematical models, which represent quantitative variables in physics. Examples of this model would be equations and the growth of a group of a population. Mathematical models are commonly used as quantitative variables to represent an actual physical system. The next type of model Barbour discusses is the theoretical model, which is a theory that is developed through common agreement surrounding a process that was thought up. Scientific models are not taken literally, but they are strict. According to Barbour, scientific models are insufficient manners of imagining something that is not reality.

    Similar to the previous chapter, Barbour goes into depth with the models found in religion. It is evident to see that religious model have similarities with that of scientific models; however, there are still distinct differences between the two. Barbour explains the use of religious models and uses the interpretation of experience to distinguish it. Interpretation of experience can interpret what one sees or experiences through models that are used in the understanding of different experiences. The way you interpret something influences what you experience, and in this chapter Barbour the seven unique areas of experience which is set up to be interpreted in a numerous amount of ways. Barber then goes on to elaborate on the expression of attitudes, which include feelings, judgments, and values. In religious language, it is common for judgment to be based on the intention and motive behind someone’s action. In religious language, it is stressed that ethics be taken into consideration when it’s associated with parables or metaphors. Barber states that religious language expresses and sparks a distinctive attitude in an individual. Evokes one to have a self-commitment to a specific way of life depending on the religion and make that individual follow certain ethical principles. Additionally, disclosure models are the third function of religious models. Disclosure models are models that have an observation of two occurrences that have a distinct similarity. These two observations would be called an empirical fit, which does not guarantee the validity of the model.

    Chapter 5 of this book will be discussing the potential parallels that exist between the function of models in twentieth-century physics and strict religious ideas. For example, the wave-particle duality. Before the 19-century particle models had taken over physics, however, when another model was discovered, called waves, a significant number of confusing experiments called for the use of both the particle and a wave for two types of occurrences, this seemed impossible because the characteristics of waves and particles are so different there appears to be absolutely no form in which the two can combine and be used in one model. Barbour elaborates on this idea and comes to the conclusion that models are only related to theories and theories that have become very unclear and conflict producing.

    Barber further elaborates in chapter 6, the analysis of the structure of science models. He’s come to the conclusion that scientific models result in theories that can be tested against observations. In this chapter and the following chapters, he will discuss the process of assessment in both science and religion and then compare them both. To assess scientific theories, there needs to be a sense of simplicity that comes with coherence with other accepted theories. According to Barbour, a theory will be valued if it’s known for accurate observations and specific predictions of the future for this theory. Barber makes three claims that are necessary for objectivity in general science. These three claims are that the same standard should not judge theories that are going against each other, the observation holds dominance over the theories, and there are criteria of specific research programs. Theories that are well thought out and comprehensive are resistant to fabrication which

    Similarly, as chapter six, chapter seven discusses the influence of theory on observation of the argument over the falsification of religion compared with that of science, the function of loyalty and commitment to religious paradigms, and the issue that comes with the experience that’s beyond the average level. In the case of religion, the interpretation of an experience is viewed differently. What may seem like a coincidence to some or even luck those who are religious may believe it was an act of God. Whenever something miraculous happens in my life, I feel so grateful to God because my interpretation of that experience is that God is always there for me and does the best for me. Therefore I thank God for doing what he did. Barber states that experience is not 100% objective because one mistake into consideration that there are memories, feelings, and ideas of what the person is experiencing that influences their interpretation. After reviewing several pieces on the falsification of religion, Barbour found that it seemed unreasonable. He states that there are no rules when it comes to choosing paradigms; however, there are criteria for specific paradigms. Religious thought is impenetrable when it comes to falsification. Barber states that men should abandon or begin their faith based on their experience. Their interpretation of a certain experience can influence them to change or abandon their faith. Their interpretation of that experience is what resulted in it. Barber then goes on to explain the commitment to paradigms. He examines the parallels between the commitment to a religious paradigm and that of a scientific paradigm. The first similarity he points out is the importance of community within both parties. Science and religion are not singular occurrences. They can only happen with a community that supports it. Next, The author speaks on crucial historical events, which is how tradition is shared through the generations. He recalls the lives of Moses, Buddha, and Christ and how they play parallel roles in the self-identification of religious communities he recalls the experiences of Moses, Buddha, and Christ and how they play parallel rules in the self-identification of religious communities. The lives of these role models are influential, and religious traditions are created surrounding their memory and honor. The tenants of these individuals’ lives have become landmarks in the religious community. When an individual participates in any religious tradition, it requires a personal involvement that doesn’t often occur in science. Religion involves an individual’s faithfulness and devotion because an aspect of religion is a sacrifice, and one must be willing to make them if necessary. The commitment that comes with the paradigms of religion is one of loyalty. One’s adherence

    The following chapter, The Christian Paradigm, discussed multiple models of God, especially two which have been affected and manipulated by philosophy. Barbour analyzes the agent model and the process model. The Christian paradigm is based on the historical accuracy of the accounts of Jesus Christ and that of the Jewish scriptures. Barbour starts by explaining that religion is not only a set of streets but a way of life. Religion is something that influences a person’s lifestyle and values. The church represents a symbol of community, charity, unity, and moral support, all while keeping and honoring the memory of Christ. Christ is the epitome of the Christian paradigm, and the stories alluded to him are a perfect example of how to live a life in Christ. The events that occured in Jesus’ life is influential to the Christian community. Barbour then proceeded to speak about the four models of God, monarchical, deistic, dialogic, and agent models.

    Barbour’s book revolves around the idea of religious language being influenced by science and the concerns of losing religion if technicalities are being ‘answered’ through science. However, Barbour comes to the conclusion that regardless of whether you are a scientist or philosopher, in order to believe in it, you need to have faith in it. Barbour’s description of models and paradigms is used to show that no matter what you believe in, you first need to believe your experiences in the world and your interpretations. What can scientists know about God existing in the natural world? Barbour addresses the fact that philosophers write about the idea of the ‘modern man’ being unable to accept the ‘myths’ presented in the Bible, however, science by itself can not provide sufficient reasoning for the natural world. They speak of ‘demythologizing’ the Bible by proving that when taken, the religious language literally is superfluous; however, how can science falsify the existence of a supernatural realm?

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