Tuesday, April 15, 2008

After the Paradigm Shift

I wince when I hear the phrase "paradigm shift," because it's so tied into business buzzword BS, but it is an important concept. Those of us who have left Orthodoxy have experienced a major one -- our understanding of everything has been upended and we can never return to seeing things the same way as we once did.

DBS explains it well in his new post. Excerpt:
There is a very tangible change which happens some time after you have left religion and have had a chance to reacclimate to the world. At some point, you look back at the belief system which you left behind and feel a sense of shock at what you see.

This may really be the point of no return. Up until then, there is a sort of built in defensiveness in your thinking. You have all of your reasons – logical and moral, all worked out in your mind - as if you have to justify your choice to leave the Orthodox world. But at that moment, you suddenly grasp that the shoe belongs firmly on the other foot. You have the powerful feeling of seeing, for the first time, your old beliefs on equal footing with the claims of the other religious groups.

And, just as suddenly, your need to justify your ideas evaporates. “Am I really concerned about explaining why I don’t believe in this outrageous mythology?” “Am I really worried about proving that I’m still moral?” You feel, for the first time, that it would be just as absurd to have to justify why you are not a Mormon or Scientologies.

From this side of the shift, I cannot understand how smart, educated people continue to believe in Orthodox Judaism. I know that sounds arrogant, but it's true. I literally cannot understand it. I've come up with various hypotheses ranging from psychological mechanisms to the idea that a lot of them are just faking it, but I don't get it at the gut level as I once did.


Anonymous said...

brilliant. you nailed it.

Matt said...

People who don't believe are typically not very community oriented, they don't need validation from or to be part of a group to secure thier identies. Furthermore they live in a society where casting off their groups is acceptable.

People who do need this emotional support, will do anything to keep their group affiliation. Most don't even think about the basis for that affiliation, those who do will adopt whatever disonance is necessary. Expecting rationality from people proffessing irrational things is silly. The question is what keeps people married to irrational things. The answers don't lead one to engage those folks in formal arguements about their beliefs.

asher said...

Isn't this kind of like going to public high school your whole life and then to a secular college and graduate school and wondering why your view of life is governed by a liberal secular viewpoint? Why you are overwhelmingly pro-choice, anti capital punishment, pro-same sex marriage, and a firm believer in government as the answer to everything?

dbs said...


There certainly are some similarities in terms of social context. On the other hand, those ideas don't fly in the face of reality as does fundamentalist dogma.

miki said...

I guess a supreme, pre existant, all encompasing, holy, righteous, accepting, forgiving and loving reality outweighs a mere observational fact.

jewish philosopher said...

I cannot understand how smart, educated people continue to believe in atheism. Even though I once was one.