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Friday, October 07, 2011

Shaping the World

A worldview is the view you have of the world. "Thanks, Stan. I needed that." No, I'm being simplistic. A worldview is how you answer the major questions. Why are we here? What is truth? What does the future look like? How then are we to live? The really big questions. Your worldview answers these questions and, in terms, shapes your life. So what shapes a worldview?

The standard worldview is shaped by the world around you. It is the collection of experiences, emotions, relationships, education, and so on that make up your life. For most people, that is the limit of the available sources. For the majority, things like science, research, studies, and especially experience are the primary sources of reliable information. For a large number this information is analyzed by their emotional response and used to determine what is or isn't true. Interestingly, this final step varies widely. One person will analyze the available news and research and conclude that things are fairly normal and another will see conspiracies and other mysteries lurking around every corner. This is largely because the conclusions -- the truth claims -- are drawn from their feelings, and feelings are subjective enough to not require all the facts in order to arrive at some outlandish outcome. Others are more logical, analyzing the available data and determining what is or is not true based on their thoughts on the data. In all cases, however, sources are prioritized and then determine truth claims. Science very often trumps experience. Experience usually rules over conjecture. And in this structure science and experience become the "gods of this world", so to speak, arbitrating truth in all cases. The trick in this worldview is trying to align all the available information to a coherent pattern. Thus, when the Bible talks about "creation" and science claims "evolution", this worldview demands that the biblical account be shifted somehow. If it isn't dismissed outright, it is assigned to legend or myth or some other less-than-factual realm. When the Bible claims that "There is none who does good; no, not one" and experience says there are lots of good people out there, the biblical account is either dismissed or downplayed because science and experience outweigh other truth claims in this worldview.

A far more rare worldview is a biblical one. In this one the Bible shapes all other truth claims. The Bible says, for instance, that God created the universe, so this worldview says "That's true" and concludes that scientific inquiry that denies this is not true. In this worldview the biblical account of marriage (the union of a man and a woman for the purpose of cooperation and procreation) is the definition of marriage and other views are not accurate representations of marriage. When Jesus speaks of an eternal torment for sinners, a person with a biblical worldview doesn't wonder "Is there an afterlife?" or "Is there an actual Hell?" The answer is a given. The trick of this worldview is to try to align science and experience (and the rest) with what the Bible says. Thus, when experience tells you there are lots of good people and the Bible says "There is none good; no, not one", you're going to have to reexamine your understanding of "good", not explain how the Bible doesn't mean what it says. Strategies for marriage, child-rearing, work ethics, and even how to get along with your neighbors are defined in this worldview by what the Bible says, not by "what works" or "what feels right" or "what the studies say".

Clearly the second view is much rarer than the standard worldview. You don't score points with the standard worldview people by ignoring their standard sources of truth. You don't come across as intelligent by defining what they accept as definitive as misleading and wrong-headed. You're not likely to be the favorite invitee to the party. But, as Paul said, "The word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.' Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Cor 1:18-20). No, a biblical worldview won't assist you in arriving at the "popular" or "fun" or "mainline" position. Conversely, attempting to claim a "biblical worldview" while redefining Scripture in terms of the world's standards works out to be simply a contradiction in terms. So, your call. I'll leave you to decide which is your preferable worldview. Just keep in mind that your worldview shapes your life. Be not deceived.

1 comment:

Miklós said...

I believe this absolutely the main topic of the last days. The Bible is honest, things rest on faith, while communication about science is deceptive, hiding hypotheses, and showing conclusions as facts even if they are not. Especially the popular media about science.