Over the last few months I have encountered some debates that continue to baffle me. These debates and the issues found within them will not be addressed, but I wanted to spend a moment to remind everyone who reads this of a simple observation and truth that needs to be held if we are to continue in debates.
The content of the debates, which in reality are as extensive as a merry-go-round in that, once you get on, its hard to get off and you end up going nowhere, begins with my fellow believers going into the topic of worldviews to begin their arguments. (I would like to add that this paragraph is not in any reference to specific debates nor is it addressed to specific people.)
Evaluating worldviews is an amazing approach to finding flaws in somebody’s perspective, in fact, eventually I will be looking at some of the flaws in a pure naturalistic worldview, but this does not mean that you actually know what worldview the other individual holds. Assumptions of one’s worldview can make you look ignorant when you end up being completely wrong. One of the biggest assumptions I have seen is calling an atheist a naturalist. An atheist could indeed believe in a system such as karma. It seems odd, but I have seen it before and I have had friends who indeed, believed in karma, but did not believe in God. This is merely one example, but what I am trying to say is that we should never draw the conclusion, which in truth would be making an assumption, until you have evidence that clearly defines one’s worldview. This basically means that the other party needs to express it themselves so that you can confirm it. Regardless, when finding out the other parties worldview, you never want to express that you know their worldview, in fact you just want to break down the worldview, which doesn’t require you pointing out that the other person is a naturalist or materialist.
As I mentioned above, I wanted to take a look at a pure naturalistic worldview, but before I begin that, I wanted to provide some basic ideas about worldviews that may be helpful. This post will most likely be one part of a series and I am hoping that it ends up being under three parts long.
What is a Worldview? A general Idea…
I recommend that everybody who uses worldviews in arguments take a refresher course in what a worldview actually is. You will find that a lot of individuals cannot tell you what a worldview is and while I mention this, I also ask, can you tell me what a worldview is?
“A worldview has been compared to a pair of glasses through which we see the world. Without these glasses, the world would appear as an unfocused, meaningless blob of people, places and ideas. Our worldview puts the world in focus and shapes how we make sense out of what we see; and, like glasses, it will either help us or prevent us from seeing the world as it really is.”1
An individual’s search for an established worldview is typically formed whenever they have discovered the holes in their worldview or thinking, or simply when they have a drive to search for (the) truth. The search for truth is a science known as epistemology (also known as the theory of knowledge) and according to this science, truth must be measurable, and the person must be able to describe and defend what he believes. According to Ergun Caner, “This defense must be congruent. For a person to state what he believes, he must be able to explain how he knows what he knows. He must be able to explain a process that defines truth and error. In the end, how he comes to a belief is as important as what he believes.” 2
I recommend that you conduct some extra research to ensure that you fully understand the concept of a worldview or what a worldview is.
How do we test a worldview?
“Worldviews are never passive; they are by their very nature a confrontation of our presence in the world.” 1
Before Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy became a Christian; he listed six questions he had to answer:
- Why am I living?
- What is the cause of my existence and that of everyone else?
- Why do I exist?
- Why is there a division of good and evil within me?
- How must I live?
- What is death – how can I save myself? 3
These are considered, by most, to be the “ultimate questions of life”, which confront every human being at one point or another in their lifetime. “The Answers we embrace to these ultimate questions, whether consciously or subconsciously, shape our assumptions about the three major concepts of human existence: (1) God, or the concept of ultimate reality; (2) Humanity, or the reality of human existence and self-consciousness; and (3) nature, or the existence and purpose of the world around me, both physical and spiritual. These upward, inward, and outward assumptions form the framework for my worldview.” 4
(You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a power-point document to answer the “ultimate questions of life.” I will typically take my ‘base’ and update it every three months, try it out!)
Below are very brief descriptions of each test that should be used when analyzing a worldview and I hope to provide a more in depth look at these tests in the next post, which I will have up sometime next week.
The Test of Reason
The test of reason evaluates the reasonableness of a worldview. In other words, can the worldview be logically stated and defended?
Test of the outer world
The test of the outer world evaluates the evidence for a particular worldview. “If a worldview is true, we can expect to find at least some external corroborating evidence to support it. This does not mean that something is true because there is evidence for it, but rather evidence will be available because something is true.” 1
Test of the inner world
“A worldview may be reasonable and supportable, but it is not much use if it cannot adequately address the victories, disappointments, blessings, crises, and relationships of our everyday world.” 1
Test of the real world
While the test of the inner world focuses more on the perspective of the individual, the test of the real world evaluates what a worldview looks like in its application. Simply put, ideas are not isolated cognitive concepts. They have consequences: good ideas have good consequences and bad ideas have bad ones.
The mentioning of the tests above are more of an introduction and something that you should be thinking about in the back of your mind when looking at worldviews. The lay out for this series will follow such as this; A basic idea of worldviews, the tests explained and the naturalistic worldview and testing the naturalistic worldview.
- Based on the limited description of the ‘tests’, does your worldview hold up?
- Can you answer the six “ultimate questions of life” with your worldview?
- What is a naturalistic worldview and how does it hold up to the tests?
Please leave your answers to these questions in the comment section below and leave any feedback or suggestions for future posts as well. I appreciate that you have viewed my post and I hope you feel free to browse my other posts. The site is currently under construction including; more resources, updated bio, updated ‘books’ section, updated mission statement and much more.
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1 Phillips, W. G., Brown, W. E., & Stonestreet, J. (2008). Making sense of your world: A biblical worldview (2nd ed.). Salem, WI: Sheffield.
2 Hindson & Caner. (2008), The popular encyclopedia of Apologetics: Harvest House. Eugene, Oregon.
3 Stephen Zweig, The living thoughts of Tolstoy (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1939)
4 Friedrich Schleiermacher, The Christian Faith, H.R. Mackintosh and J.S. Steward (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1928). See also William Temple’s Nature, Man and God (London: Macmillan, 1934)