They say there are a two things you don’t talk about at a dinner party: politics and religion. Well “they” are stupid. Our political stance and our religious views are some of our most foundational beliefs. I guess it would depend on the goal of your dinner party, but if you’re interested in getting to know someone you’ll need to know what they believe about life. What’s their conceptual framework for viewing their neighbors, their country, the world we inhabit, and the universe Itself. This conceptual framework is called a worldview. The word “Worldview” comes from the German word Weltanschauuung and it literally means how you view the world. As one of my favorite thinkers puts it :”Your worldview represents your most fundamental beliefs and assumptions about the universe you inhabit. It reflects how you would answer all the ‘big questions’ of human existence, the fundamental questions we all ask about life, the universe and everything” (James Anderson, What’s Your Worldview). A worldview contains our fundamental beliefs but it also acts as a sieve that strains out conflicting facts and ideas as we take in new information. For instance if you are a naturalist, you have a naturalistic worldview and you will not except claims to supernatural phenomena, by definition your mental framework has to rule it out from the start if you’re being consistent. So Who has a worldview? Everyone. Everyone has a framework by which they view and judge the world, some have given thought to theirs, most have not.
“So who cares, Park? So what? It doesn’t effect my life in the slightest to know that I have a Weltansstar- a welteshaw- a veltenshau- a worldview or whatever!” If you’re thinking that then you haven’t understood what I’m saying. Everyone has a worldview, when you realize that, it changes everything. This means that no one is neutrally looking at facts or being impartial in their judgements. I believe you can work to be impartial but not without understanding your worldview first to know where you’re coming from. My goal in this post is to get you to consider your own worldview, does it make sense of the world you live in? Does it give you justification for knowing anything at all? Does it makes sense of your inner thought life? Can you actually live out your worldview? Don’t be mistaken, when I say everyone has a worldview I don’t mean all worldviews are equal. I don’t mean you have your worldview and I have mine and we can agree to disagree because we are squishy postmoderny gummy bears. I’m saying everyone has a worldview but not everyone’s worldview is workable. There is objective truth outside our minds that our worldviews should conform to. Just as a freebie, if you say all truth is relative ask yourself real quick if that statement is true.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what a worldview is. We know it involves big fancy words right? But what does it do? Well our worldviews are clusters of beliefs, there are pretty much five of these clusters that make up a worldview: God, Metaphyics, Epistemology, Ethics, Anthropology. I know I might have just lost some of you but let’s look at what these words mean and you’ll see they aren’t so intimidating. God is the creator of the universe or an ultimate authority. Metaphysics is deals with reality and being, time and space. Epistemology is the study of knowledge itself. What do we know, how can we know etc.. Ethics is probably the aspect of our worldviews that we consider the most. Ethics is concerned with the why behind moral judgements, why is this action good or bad? And finally anthropology, which is the study of the nature of human beings. Why do we do what we do? Even if we’ve never heard of these fancy pants philosophical words before, all of us have a conceptual framework that seeks to make sense of each of these fields of study.
I’m going to give you four easy questions that can help you understand your own worldview. When I say easy I mean easily read and understood but they are actually some of the toughest questions to answer consistently.
1. Why is there something rather than nothing?
2. What happened and is broken in the world?
3. Is there any hope, and if so what is it?
4. Where is history headed?
Every worldview should be able to answer these four. I encourage you to take some time and answer them for yourself. What do you really believe? And once you’ve done this you’ll begin to understand yourself more clearly, then you can begin to consider your own worldview. You’ve understood where you are coming from and what you believe, now you can begin to ask yourself why do you believe what you believe. I’m going to give you another list of four, but this time it’s four tests to question your worldview.
1. The Test of Reason
Is your worldview logically consistent? Do you have beliefs that contradict one another? Does your worldview even account for the use of logic and reason? What are the laws of logic, where do they come from and how can we use them? Is it reasonable to use logic without justification?
2. The Test of Outer Experience
Is your worldview true to what we experience in and know of the universe? Does your worldview even allow you do use the scientific method to seek after truth or does it depend on the Christian view that God has made the universe orderly and is holding all things together?
3. The Test of Inner Experience
Does your worldview fit what you actually know about yourself? Your inner thought life, your desired to be love and love others etc.. Does your worldview give you justification for believing human’s have intrinsic worth and inalienable rights?
4. The Test of Practice
Can you actually live out your worldview or do you have to depend on beliefs from another, a competing worldview in order to live your life?
Why do I care if you consider your worldview? I believe that when you actually take time to sit down and think about what you believe and why you believe it you will realize you have a ton of inconsistencies between what you say you believe and how your life day to day. Is that any of my business? I’m not sure, but I am nosy. More importantly, I believe God has opened up my mind and is continuing to grow me in wisdom, knowledge and understanding, not because I’m so awesome, but because He is! He’s using a broken stick like me to draw straight lines. I want you to come to know the truth, Jesus is the way the truth and the life. It’s my contention that we are living in the universe that the God of the Bible created, therefore if you live in this universe without a Judeo-Christian worldview, you will have some glaring inconsistencies. You tell me. Answer the questions and see if I’m right or if I’m just another religious nut job.