What's So Important About Your Worldview?

Do you know about the influences of the Bible on American culture?

The concept of a world view has received increasing attention for the past several years. Many books have been written on the subject covering about every perspective.

Frequently, speakers refer to the term, and on occasion even reviews of movies and music will include the phrase. In this study, we will define “world view” and consider how it molds the decisions people make and defines the way they live; thus, creating what is called, a culture.

A variety of definitions have been offered by numerous authors. For example, James Sire asserts that "A world view is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world." Phillips and Brown state that "A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world." Walsh and Middleton provide what may be the most succinct and understandable explanation: "A world view provides a model of the world which guides its adherents in the world." Once a world view has been established, one’s corresponding actions and perceptions are influenced by that world view. That is one reason why two scientists or educators can look at the same data and have two different conclusions. One of them sees the proverbial glass “half empty”, while the other sees the glass “half full”, depending on their world views.

A personal philosophy/religious belief determines one’s world view. That world view influences their actions, actions create habits; habits establish traditions and those traditions eventually become a culture. Have you wondered how that two different scientists with identical credentials can look at the same empirical data and have two very different conclusions? Here’s why. A scientist that does not believe in a creator-God (Atheist) looks at the similarities of humans and monkeys, and concludes that one must have evolved from the other, while a scientist that does believe in a creator-God (Theist) sees those same similarities and concludes that they must have had the same creator. Why? It’s all about their world views!

The Need for a World View

World views act somewhat like eye glasses or contact lenses. That is, a world view should provide the correct "prescription" for making sense of the world just as wearing the correct prescription for your eyes brings things into focus. And, in either example, an incorrect prescription can be dangerous, even life-threatening. People who are struggling with world view questions are often despairing and even suicidal. Thus it's important for us to give attention to the formulation of the proper world view. Arthur Holmes states that the need for a world view is fourfold: "the need to unify thought and life; the need to define the good life and find hope and meaning in life; the need to guide thought; the need to guide action." Yet another prominent need for the proper world view is to help us deal with an increasingly diverse culture. We are faced with a smorgasbord of world views, all of which make claims concerning truth. We are challenged to sort through this mixture of worldviews with wisdom. These needs are experienced by all people, either consciously or unconsciously. All of us have a world view with which we strive to meet such needs. The proper world view helps us by orienting us to the intellectual and philosophical terrain about us.

World views are like the operating systems in a computer; they process the input of information and display it according to the program written in the software. Whether we recognize them or not, world views have become an integral part of our everyday life because we are always receiving information from the world around us. For example, movies, television, music, magazines, newspapers, government, education, science, art, and all other aspects of culture are all greatly influenced by world views.

Three Common Components of World Views

In addition to putting world views to these tests, we should also see that world views have common components. These components are self-evident. It is important to keep these in mind as you establish your own world view, and as you share with others. There are four of them.

First, something exists. This may sound obvious, but it really is an important foundational element of world view building since some will try to deny it. But a denial is self- defeating because all people experience cause and effect. The universe is rational; it is predictable.

Second, all people have absolutes. Again, many will try to deny this, but to deny it is to assert it. All of us seek an infinite reference point. For some it is God; for others it is the state, or love, or power, and for some this reference point is themselves or man.

Third, all people exercise faith. All of us presuppose certain things to be true without absolute proof. These are inferences or assumptions upon which a belief is based. This becomes important, for example, when we interact with those who allege that only the scientist is completely neutral. Some common assumptions are: a personal God exists; man evolved from inorganic material; man is essentially good; reality is material.

As you dialogue with people who have opposing world views, an understanding of these common components can help you listen more patiently, while evaluating your own.

Six World View Questions

First, why is there something rather than nothing? Some may actually say something came from nothing. Others may state that something is here because of impersonal spirit or energy. And many believe matter is eternal.

Second, how do you explain human nature? Frequently people will say we are born as blank slates, neither good nor evil. Another popular response is that we are born good, but society causes us to behave otherwise.

Third, what happens to a person at death? Many will say that a person's death is just the disorganization of matter. Increasingly people in our culture are saying that death brings reincarnation or realization of oneness.

Fourth, how do you determine what is right and wrong? Often we hear it said that ethics are relative or situational. Others assert that we have no free choice since we are entirely predestined.

Fifth, how do you know that you know? Some say that the mind is the center of our source of knowledge. Things are only known deductively. Others claim that knowledge is only found in the senses; we know only what is perceived.

Sixth, what is the meaning of history? One answer is that history is determined as part of a mechanistic universe. Another answer is that history is a linear stream of events linked by cause and effect but without purpose. Yet another answer is that history is meaningless because life is absurd.

Examples of World Views

In his book, The Universe Next Door, James Sire catalogs the most influential world views of the past and present. These are Biblical Theism, Deism, Naturalism, Nihilism, Existentialism, Eastern Pantheism, and New Age or New Consciousness.

Deism, a prominent world view during the eighteenth century, has almost entirely left the scene. The Deist believes in God, but that God created and then abandoned the universe; however, Nihilism, a more recent world view, is still popular today.

The Existentialist, like the Nihilist, sees life as absurd, but sees man as totally free to make himself in the face of this absurdity.

Biblical Worldview

Let's return to the six questions we asked earlier and briefly see how the Biblical World View might answer them.

Question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Answer: There is an infinite-personal God who has created the universe out of nothing.

Question: How do you explain human nature? Answer: Man was originally created good in God's image, but he chose to sin and thus infected all of humanity with what is called a "sin nature." So man has been endowed with value by his creator, but his negative behavior is in league with his nature.

Question: What happens to a person at death? Answer: Death is either the gate to life with God or to eternal separation from Him. The destination is dependent upon the response we give to God's provision for our sinfulness.

Question: How do you determine what is right and wrong? Answer: The guidelines for conduct are revealed by God through the Bible.

Question: How do you know that you know? Answer: Reason and experience can be legitimate teachers, but a transcendent source is necessary. We know some things only because we are told by God through the Bible.

Question: What is the meaning of history? Answer: History is a linear and meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God's purposes for man.

What You Tolerate – You Can’t Change!

The Biblical Worldview has had a long history in the USA and Western culture. This does not mean that all people with this world view who have lived in Western culture have been Christians or Jews. It simply means that this world view was dominant and most influential in the USA culture for about 200 years. However, that is no longer true. Western culture has experienced a transition to what is now called Naturalism as evidenced by the wide spread acceptance of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution in our culture and our apparent aversion to the Bible and prayer in the public arena, while embracing cultural diversity and calling it “tolerance”. However, the biblical world view would see this as cultural intolerance, because all cultural world views are “tolerated” except for a biblical one. We see this in many of our public schools as evidenced by their refusal to teach evolutionary theory along with creation theory. This secular world view has even influenced many that previously had a biblical world view as evidenced by their acceptance of “millions and billions of years”, evolution and carbon dating theories, while the biblical creation story has historically and traditionally been understood as “7 24 hour days” when literally interpreted.

So what’s wrong with the millions and billions of years, evolution and carbon dating? First, they are theories, not scientific facts as some have tried to portray. Why? Because certain scientific assumptions have been made that cannot be proven. No scientist has proven that the earth has always had the same rate of decay (that is, a 5,730 year half-life) and has remained constant throughout the unobservable past. In other words, carbon dating techniques have assumed that the earth has been consistent and has not changed, although there is now strong evidence to the contrary, suggesting that radioactive decay may have been greatly accelerated in the unobservable past.

For example, after studying the effects of modern volcanoes, scientists have learned that rapid changes in the earth have occurred that are in direct opposition to the carbon dating, millions and billions of years theories. In addition, scientific labs that determine age, using carbon dating, frequently produce very different date timelines, causing many to see the great limitations and inconsistencies of those theories.

Simply put, if you have blindly accepted or tolerated evolution, carbon dating or the millions-and-billions-of-years theories, you have been influenced by a secular worldview that is not supported by the biblical narrative. And if you have been deceived, perhaps you should do what I’ve tried to do. Remember the wisdom of Proverbs 14:11, “The naïve believes: but the wise man looks well to a matter.” And also Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways acknowledge him and He will direct your paths."

Educator Larry Dozier, M.Ed. is available for radio, TV and/or print interviews.

The Christian Post