Saturday, July 27, 2019
A Trip Around the Worldviews
I love studying apologetics, which is the defense of the Christian faith. I can easily spend hours listening to detailed historical arguments supporting the veracity of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead or reading about evidence that supports the reliability of scripture. However, as I listen to online debates or read comments from YouTube viewers, I sometimes feel that people are missing the forest by focusing on the trees. While debating more isolated issues, people will sometimes make comments that completely contradict their overall worldview.
Allow me provide an example from renowned evolutionary biologist and vocal opponent of faith, Richard Dawkins. Reasoning from a foundation of atheism, materialism, and naturalism, Dawkins describes the universe in this way: “In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and gene replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, not any justice. The universe we observe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference” (River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life). While I disagree with Dawkins assessment of the universe, it is completely consistent with his secular worldview.
However, his following comment, meant to carry rhetorical power and refute the existence of God, does not. “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving, control-freak; a vindictive, blood thirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully” (The God Delusion). While I would again disagree with Dawkin’s Biblical interpretation, the bigger question is, “In a world with no evil, no good, no justice, nothing but blind pitiless indifference…Who cares?” If there is no evil, where does Dawkins find the moral foundation from which he attempts to condemn God? Where does he find the notion that people have intrinsic value and dignity that should be protected and respected? These ideals don’t find their foundation in his worldview, so he borrows them from a theistic worldview. To paraphrase theologian Cornelius Van Til, he sits in God’s lap so that he can slap him in the face.
That is why an analysis of worldviews is so important. Everyone has a worldview, which is simply how one views the world, an overall philosophical perspective on everything that exists and matters to us. A person’s worldview will determine their answers to the following questions:
Origin – How did we get here?
Identity – What does it mean to be human?
Morality – How should we live?
Purpose – Why are we here?
Destiny – What happens to us when we die?
Some people may not have given much thought to their worldview, but their answers to these questions will reveal where they stand. Others have clearly defined their worldview, but will sometimes live or debate important issues and questions in a way that contradicts the very foundation of their worldview, such as Dawkins did in the previous example. So, in this series, we are going to zoom out from the trees so that we can get a large angle view of the world’s major worldviews: secularism, new spirituality, Islam, Marxism, postmodernism, and Christianity. We will examine what answers each worldview provides for the big questions of origin, identity, morality, purpose and destiny. By the end of our trip around the worldviews, we will be equipped to assess what worldview provides the most coherent description of the universe in which we live. So let’s get started. The first stop on our itinerary will be secularism.