Much of what has been said about the succession of, and attitude towards,
disciplinary matrixes or
'paradigms' in science need not exclusively hold
for science at all, but could be applied to other departments or
disciplinary thought as well.
In this and the following section we will consider some of the similarities
and differences between the theory of the history and future of scientific
paradigms as outlined in the previous section, and a theory of the history
and future of
A denominational paradigm is, then, a (religious or nonreligious)
comprehensive ideology which plays a
dominant part in a certain community because it is generally adhered to,
or made to adhere to, in that community.
This definition may still be vague —what does community mean,
for instance?— but here it need not be more accurate than the
concepts used in the theory of scientific paradigms or in other theories
propounded by philosophers of science.
What are the most plausible things the analogy reveals to us?
First of all, it reveals to us —again, for all but the most
ignorant— that a religion or nonreligious, denominational doctrine
has never been, and never will be, abandoned because it has been
Like 'normal scientists', 'normal denominationalists' always have tried,
and will try, to interpret the facts and
modes in such a way that they do not
contradict the dominant religion or nonreligious ideology, or else they
will reinterpret or restrict the assertions of that dominant ideology to
make them correspond with new facts and modes.
The distortion of language and truth may be outrageous, yet they will do
(For example, if the end of the world was predicted several millenniums ago
in their religion, they may retort that for their god one day may be a
thousand years and a thousand years one day.)
That the falsification of religious or
theodemonical belief does in no way affect
adherence to such belief was discovered a long time ago.
When, with the advent of modern science, the key theme of atheist arguments
became the relationship between science and religion, the problems of this
relationship were viewed from a purely epistemological standpoint.
So it was naively believed that the future of religion would
depend on the progress of science in that science would disprove
the crucial assertions of religion and theodemonism.
In the meantime, history has demonstrated, however, how silly these
expectations were, and that —as said elsewhere— the 'exposure
of the contradictoriness of religious symbols and dogmas proves to be
(Certain exponents of atheist ideology have subsequently started
concentrating on science and religion as 'specific components of the
intellectual life and social system as a whole serving different objective
needs and performing particular social functions'.
Their interest is not really in the truth of statements about the external
Instead of elevating ideology to the level of science, these
atheists drag science down to the level of ideology; traditional
ideology, that is.)
Another thing which the analogy between paradigms in science
and in denominationalism teaches us, is the occurrence in the
past and/or present and/or future of denominational crises.
Also in the denominational field a crisis is a necessary
precondition for the emergence of a new paradigm with its own
conceptual apparatus and symbolism.
Such a crisis situation is found in this field, when the old denominational
paradigm (for example, a state's monotheist ideology) is bankrupt of
original ideas and has exhausted its plausible intellectual supplies; when
it is confronted with too many or too serious anomalies it
cannot satisfactorily and convincingly cope with anymore.
While the loyal agents of the old lights stick to the descriptions and
prescriptions which have been churned out for centuries or
millenniums, many people in the community or society concerned
begin to lose, or have already lost, faith. The traditional
standards of conduct and belief become weaker and weaker or
vanish altogether. It is in such a state of anomie that
'spiritual culture' is often said to be at a low ebb.
altho some people start
searching for an alternative the denominational doctrine (or family of
denominational doctrines) which has led the community or society into
crisis or anomie will not yet be apostatized officially, publicly or by
the majority of people.
It is only if, and when, a suitable denominational alternative is
available that this can happen, for the decision to reject the
traditionally dominant ideology is at the same time a decision to accept
another doctrine as the new denominational paradigm.
And whereas it may be exaggerated to call such a decision "a traumatic
one" in science, in the ideological field it can be a dramatic and very
stressful one because what is at stake here is people's denomination, that
is, their 'name': the name in which they and their forbears have
always gone (and forgone).
When that denomination changes, it is as if their own identity as a
Yet, it is not necessary that in a time of denominational crisis people
individually renounce their old belief and accept a new one.
(If the adherents of that old belief do so grossly violate other people's
rights that their actions cannot be tolerated anymore, they will have to be
restrained, but they still do not have to be forced to renounce their
Again, like in science, the paradigm which has been in force in the
community as a whole can in principle be replaced without anyone
personally falling away from
'er religion or other ideology.
The outdated belief system may simply disappear or lose its hegemony with
the passing on of the old generation of believers.