"The unexamined life is not worth living." - Socrates
“Most critics are not well-equipped to defend their own faith. They have rarely thought through what they believe and have relied more on generalizations and slogans than on careful reflection.”
- Francis J. Beckwith
How would you respond to the following?
Why am I here? What is the purpose of life?
Where did I come from? Where am I going when I die?
Is there a God? Is there life after death?
If you are not familiar with the term Worldview, it is simply the way a person views the world. A worldview is the collection of ideas which frame how a person concludes what is true about the world. You might also consider this as the belief framework that helps us make sense of the information we see about the world. For many, their worldview is based upon what they really want to believe, and not always based upon good evidences. As seen in the last section with the game show, the truth of something isn’t determined just because someone wants it to be true.
www.thefreedictionary.com gives the following definition:
Worldview: “A collection of beliefs about life and the Universe held by an individual or a group”.
Having an understanding of what a worldview is will provide you a better understanding as to why people often come to accept the beliefs and ideas that they do. Considering the reasons why people believe what they believe, and that a person’s worldview can be such an influence to their beliefs and ideas, I believe this is one of the most important sections in this guide. You might find it surprising that the beliefs many people have are as much determined by how they view the world as they are determined by the evidence. Often you will find that a person’s worldview is even more influential to their beliefs than the evidences, and how strong they hold to their worldview will determine how motivated they are to actually consider evidences for other beliefs.
Another word close in meaning to worldview is Philosophy, or way of thinking. www.thefreedictionary.com gives two of the definitions for philosophy as:
“A personal outlook or viewpoint.”
“Any system of beliefs, values, or tenets.”
“Any system of beliefs” are the ideas we hold as true. A good concept to become familiar with is, “Ideas have consequences”. Beliefs throughout history have caused great good or great harm to people affected by those beliefs. Two belief systems which clearly show this are Nazism and true Christianity. One of the foundational ideas of Nazism was the elimination of inferior peoples and the creation of a super race. Two of the teachings of Christianity are to “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. One belief system has killed 12 million people, and the other has been a transformational force in the world for the last 2 thousand years.
Considering the above example of Nazism, I'm reminded of a phrase I heard a speaker make that is an extension of the "Ideas" phrase. They stated,
"Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have victims"
Can you see in these two observations of just these two belief systems that ideas truly do have consequences? If you can see these consequences, can you see how important it is to argue, (in the legal sense), against some ideas and argue to promote other ideas? This could be why the Bible emphasizes that we be careful as to what beliefs we choose to accept.
Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
A quote from CS Lewis that really seems to apply is:
“Good philosophy must exist, if for no other reason, because bad philosophy needs to be answered.”
Everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t realize that they have one or what that worldview is. Yes, that goes for you and me as well. What may surprise you is that most movies, TV programs, commercials, books, and songs promote a worldview; a value system for one’s life. When we watch or hear something, one of the goals we should have is to determine which worldview is being promoted, what that worldview indicates as valuable, and what evidence there is for the worldview being promoted.
One example of a worldview in a commercial is a Lexus commercial I saw some years back. It showed a Lexus driving down a street and then pulling into a driveway. Toward the end of the commercial, the narrating voice in the commercial said,
“On the road to success, let your neighbors know that you’ve arrived ahead of schedule”.
In this commercial, what was the worldview being presented? What was shown as an indication of value in life? The worldview being promoted was that our success is shown by the possessions we have, and in this commercial, specifically which car we own. There is a song titled "It’s All About The Benjamins" (a reference to $100 bills). The worldview presented was that value in life is shown by how much money we have.
When watching commercials, see if you can determine if a worldview is being presented and what that worldview is. How many messages like these can you find in what you watch and hear? Then think about how these messages compare to value and success as indicated by the Bible.
How does the Bible define success?
The Biblical Meaning of Success
What in the World Is a Worldview?
Worldview 101: Why It Matters
Answering Four Questions
Each person’s worldview is one of the most significant factors in the major decisions they make and how they live their lives. To illustrate this, think about just two different worldviews, Atheism and Christianity. Atheism is the belief that there is no God. Christianity is the belief that there is a God; a God who has communicated an absolute standard of right and wrong, who knows everything we do or think, and a God who we are accountable to for our thoughts and actions. Can you think of the logical consequences of these two worldviews?
With Christianity there is a God and there is one of two eternal destinations after this life. There is an ultimate judgment or reward after this life based upon the choices we make. The logical result for true followers of Jesus, is that what we do and think is important because God knows everything we do and think. We work to live differently because of this realization, and not just because our beliefs have consequences in this life but our beliefs have consequences in eternity as well.
If you consider yourself a Christian, does your belief in the existence of God make a difference in your life, in what you think and do? If it doesn't, you are calling yourself a Christian but not living as a Christian, and not living according to a Christian worldview. If you aren't living according to a Christian worldview, they by default, you are living according to a different worldview.
With Atheism, there is no God and nothing after this life. Since there is no God there is no absolute standard for what is right or wrong, no ultimate judgment or reward. The logical consequence is that it really doesn't matter how we live our lives because there is no God and nothing after this life. Doing good or bad, also called morality, makes no ultimate difference because if we will all ultimately die and there is nothing after this life, there can be no ultimate right or wrong, no ultimate purpose for our lives.
Now, I didn't say that all Atheists live this way. In fact, most Atheists live very moral lives. It might even be argued that many Atheists live more moral lives than many Christians. However, without God there can be no absolute standard for good or evil, right or wrong. Without an absolute standard, nothing can be considered truly good or evil. Without an absolute standard, what is the basis for good and evil in Atheism? There has to be a standard of heat before we can say what cold is, a standard of light before we can say what dark is, and a standard of good before we can say what evil is. Without a standard for good, we can’t call anything evil.
If there is no God, any thought or feeling of good or evil is just our own idea or preference. Someone else might have a different belief about what is good and evil. Without God and any absolute standard for good or evil, everything ends up being someone’s subjective standard for good or evil. There can be no objective standard if that standard is not founded by an ultimate standard giver, which is outside our likes, dislikes, and preferences.
This logical conclusion of Atheism has existed for many years as a challenge to evolution and Atheism. If there is no standard for right or wrong, there is no explanation for the existence or origination of morality. When you think about it, you know that there are right and wrong or good and bad motivations, and you know without having to be taught. We all know this inherently. Considering that most Atheists live consistent with a moral standard, even if it is one they have determined, it is evidence of their recognition of right and wrong.
The death of an attacker by one protecting the one who is being attacked is a motivation to do good, while the death of someone innocent through the pre-meditation by another shows a motivation to do bad. While the death of an individual is the end result in both examples, it is the motivation behind the action that is important. Motivations are very important. Penalties in our legal system are based on a person’s motivations. Again, this right and wrong shows morality.
I've seen articles written by Atheists, and interviews and debates with Atheists arguing for their position. When the subject of absolute morality is brought up, they will reason that they don’t need God to be moral. Even as a Christian I would absolutely agree. The existence of God is absolutely not necessary for a person to be moral. The question is not whether someone needs God to be moral, the question is where does the standard of absolute morality come from? An Atheist certainly can be moral, but what are Atheists basing their standard for morality on? Like a standard for light giving us the ability to determine dark and a standard for heat giving us the ability to determine cold, there has to be an absolute standard for morality that is outside the preferences and feelings of any individual. Otherwise morality is determined by our feelings and what we decide. This standard is not absolute, but subjective.
Is There an Objective Moral Law? - Frank Turek
There is a recent challenge by Atheists to the belief that the basis for morality is evidence for God. Their challenge is that morals can be explained through evolution; that evolution is not only sufficient to explain biological developing in organisms, but developing morality as well. According to Atheists this evolution of morals challenge eliminates the need for God. If evolution truly can explain morals then this challenge is a very strong argument against the need or existence of God. In the Can Evolution Explain Morality? section, I go into additional detail about this, and provide links to resources relating to this recent Evolutionary argument. These resources will allow you to gain a much better understanding of this recent argument, as well as the arguments against this evolutionary explanation for morality.
Again, the Christian Worldview is one where there is a perfect God who sees everything we do, who knows every thought we think, who knows our motivations, and we are ultimately accountable to this God for our thoughts, actions, and motivations. This accountability should cause us to be concerned about what we think and do because these motivations, thoughts, and actions have eternal consequences.
If we call ourselves Christians, we are representatives of Christ in this life. If we are representatives of Him, do we evaluate our motivations, thoughts, and actions as compared to those who don’t accept Christ as their savior? As followers of Christ, we should be good and true representatives of Christ. If you call yourself a Christian, are you living as a good representative of Christ?
As mentioned above, some Atheists believe that to claim that God is the basis for morality is the same as claiming that Atheists can’t be moral since they don’t believe in God. This is a misunderstanding of the claim. Again, Atheists certainly can live with good morals, and most do. The question is not whether an Atheist can be moral, but what is the basis for their morality. The issue here is that anyone who holds to the Atheistic worldview, that there is no God and then claim that certain things are wrong, is using a theistic worldview of morality, not an Atheistic worldview. They are not believing consistent with an Atheistic worldview.
Everyone likes to believe that they live consistent with their particular worldview and they will often say they live according to one worldview but not respond to events consistent with that world view. They respond consistently with a worldview they say they deny, and they usually do this without realizing it. An example is a person who doesn’t believe in God and will say they don’t believe in Evil. If someone wrongs them or wrongs someone they know or if someone steals from or assaults them, they will say that the act of the offender is wrong. But it can only be wrong if there is evil in the world.
How do Atheists justify the position that the act is wrong? If there is no God, then there is no absolute moral law. If there is no absolute moral law, there can be no right or wrong. Without an absolute moral law, there is ultimately no difference between Mother Teresa and Hitler. Without an absolute moral law, morality comes down to what we prefer and decide it is. While some call this preferred or decided standard a moral standard, if it is a standard which is preferred or decided by one or more persons, it can’t be an absolute moral standard. It would be a subjective moral standard, a moral standard based upon what is preferred or decided can be changed based upon the preferences or decisions of individuals or the majority. Since preference or majority decision can be different between different people and/or groups, then the standard can’t be an absolute standard, applicable to all persons at all times. It can only be a subjective standard.
At one time in our country, the majority decided that it was acceptable for certain people to be owned, based on the color of their skin. We look at that decision as wrong even though the majority at that time and in that geographic area had decided that it was the standard. The absolute standard of morality isn't based upon what our preference is or what the majority in a group decides. A Law can only be given by a Law Giver, and an Absolute Moral Law can only exist if there is a Moral Law Giver. This is logical and is clearly taught in the Bible.
Jeremiah 31:33 “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts”.
A survey of college students by the Barna Group is equally as concerning as the 70% statistic indicated at the start of this guide. The survey found that of those aged 18-23, only one half of one percent hold to a Biblical Worldview! That’s only 1 in 200 of those aged 18-23!
Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians Over the Past 13 Years
I was amazed when I heard this statistic! I thought the person indicating the 1/2 of 1% statistic had misread the survey, but I confirmed that they did indicate the details correctly. This statistic is another confirmation of the necessity for Christian students and young adults to know not only what they believe but particularly why they believe what they believe. Whether through this guide or another source, knowing what and why you believe is critically important.
If you are a Christian student reading this, do you know what a Biblical Worldview is? According to this Barna survey, 199 out of 200 young adults do not. If you are a Christian but you don’t know what a Biblical Worldview is, how can you have any confidence that you are living consistent with a Biblical Worldview? You can’t, can you? And if you don’t know what a Biblical Worldview is to be able to live consistent with it then how do you also know that you haven’t conformed to a non-Biblical Worldview? As we have seen, ideas (or philosophies) have consequences.
Read Colossians 2:8 again:
Colossians 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
“See to it” suggests that doing so is very important!
Think of your own life. If you are a Christian and you found that to live consistent with a Biblical Worldview meant that you would need to live differently than you do currently, would you be willing to change how you live?
Questions that effectively capture this idea are,
“If we call ourselves followers of Christ, will we make the Bible flexible to our human reasoning; or will we make our hearts, lives, and motivations flexible to the Bible?”
“As a Christian, should a Biblical Worldview have an effect on my life; in how I think and what I do?”
You may be thinking, “But if my lifestyle is the same as the other Christians I know then doesn't that mean that I’m living as a Christian?” Think back to the Barna survey. If only 1 in 200 of those age 18-23 even know what a Biblical worldview is, isn't it highly probable that you and your Christian friends are part of the 199 out of 200 who don’t know what a Biblical worldview is and not the 1 in 200 who does? If you are part of the 199 of 200 who don't know what a Biblical wordview is, how would you ever know you are living as a true Christian consistent with a Biblical Worldview?
It is easy to forget that most of us live in a sort of bubble. It’s easy to think that if we live like our friends, we are all living consistent with our shared worldview. If our friends claim to be Christian and we live like them, we think of ourselves as living consistent with a Christian worldview. However, even if you are a Christian, living like your Christian friends is not the same as living with a Christian worldview. If you are a Christian, have you ever questioned the lifestyle you and your friends accept and live? Think about your non-Christian friends. How does your lifestyle compare to theirs?
Christian vs. Non-Christian - What's the Difference?
If you and your friends are in the 99% who don’t know what a Biblical Worldview is, wouldn't the moral standard you've all become comfortable with be one you and your friends have decided is right by passively accepting it? And remember, is a standard which you have decided and agreed upon an absolute standard? No, it is subjective. And isn't this true even if you and your friends haven’t actually discussed the standard but have just accepted it? Think about the idea of a Biblical Worldview. Is a Biblical Worldview one that is indicated by the Bible or decided by us? I heard a speaker indicate that many Christian youth act as if being a Christian is nothing more than buying one of the latest Christian music CDs, or having a ringtone of a Christian song.
To gain an understanding as to what a Biblical Worldview actually is and how close your worldview is to a Biblical Worldview, take the following worldview quizzes.
Worldview Quiz – Self Test to Determine My Worldview
Something else to consider regarding this. When we invite Christ to be our Lord, He will convict us of our sin. If you call yourself a Christian and are living no different than your non-Christian friends, and you are not feeling any conviction about aspects of your life which are unpleasing to God, you should really question whether you have truly accepted Christ, or whether you have only repeated a phrase.
God knows our thoughts, motivations, actions, and He especially knows our heart. You can say any phrase you want, but if your life hasn’t changed from before you made a decision to accept Him, He is fully aware of the truth. If this describes you, you should really consider that you may not have truly accepted Him as your Lord and Savior.
Hopefully you are starting to understand the significance of having a Biblical Worldview and you are now evaluating your life in light of the Biblical Worldview.
With the information you now have let’s consider those two questions again:
“Will we make the Bible flexible to our human reasoning, or will we make our hearts, lives, and motivations flexible to the Bible?” and “Should a Biblical Worldview have an effect on my life; in how I think and what I do?”
Why Think of Worldviews
Worldview & Basic Beliefs Review
Summit Ministries Worldview Chart
A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person's Life
Worldviews in the Movies
(A good list of questions to think of when watching movies, TV, commercials, listening to music, etc.)
Naturalism: Bumping into reality
Naturalism: Bumping into Reality - Greg Koukl’s video presentation