We live in a culture that is beset with
competing world views.
Intellectuals argue about these views, and our children are taught
competing world views not only at school, but on television and even in
their music. In simple terms, a world view is our understanding of how
the world works. James W. Sire, author of The Universe Next Door, a
textbook on world views, defines world view as “a set of
presuppositions which we hold about the basic makeup of our world.”
There are several things that must be included in a good world view:
- Is it true? Is there evidence to support its validity?
- Is it consistent with reality?
- Does it work?
- Does it answer the hard questions that people care about? What is
its position on the value of a human being? What does it tell us about
what happens at death? What does it tell us about reality?
- Does it make us better than if we did not hold it?
There is a variety of world views outside of the Christian world view
that are supported by leading philosophers, theologians, and
politicians. In general, they can be lumped into the following
NATURALISM — those who
hold to this view maintain that we can only
function by what can be measured. Science is held as the most important
operator in life and our goal in life is to pass along our genes to
those who live in the future. The value of a human being is basically
held to be $2.35 — the market value of the elements that make up our
bodies. Those who hold to naturalism will generally maintain that
justice is a product of our imagination and that there is no such thing
POSTMODERNISM — the most
fundamental concept of most teachings of
postmodernism is that there is no absolute truth. One interesting
challenge to those who hold this view is to ask, is it absolutely true
that there is no such thing as absolute truth? That question is not
just fun and games, it points out the esoteric nature of the view.
Viewing life as being totally relativistic means that every person has
the option of doing whatever he wishes in every situation. While this
may be appealing in a selfish kind of way, the inability of this view
to apply to all situations, especially those of hardship and
unavoidable suffering, should be obvious.
PANTHEISM — this is
primarily a religious view that maintains that life
is an illusion. It is the basis of Hinduism and Buddhism and is
polytheistic in nature, with the view that discipline and enlightenment
are all that comprises life.
ISLAM — this is, of
course, a religious view which maintains that God
is a distant, arbitrary entity, and salvation is earned by man with
that goal being all there is to man’s purpose and experience in life.
— this view says that everything is caused (by God in most
cases) including evil. Man’s existence is considered to be directed and
controlled by forces and entities beyond his control so that all
experience is mechanically and robotically determined.
While we have tried to point out some of the superficial problems in
these world views, it is not our intent here to go deeply into any of
them. It is also not our purpose to approach them by getting into
scientific evidence in specific terms. Science answers some questions
such as “where,” “when,” and “how many,” but science does not answer
the questions of “why” or “what is the right thing to do?”
THE CHRISTIAN WORLD VIEW —
1. The world is real. There is no
attempt in the Christian world view to avoid reality or to suggest that
pain and suffering are not real. Science can only exist in a real
world, and measurements of the consequences of actions and of pain can
be reproduced and recorded.
2. The physical cosmos was created
out of nothing. All of the physical world we see had a beginning. This
is supported by all observations science is able to make and all
physical laws that we are able to demonstrate. Studies in quantum
mechanics and modern physics are telling us more about the mechanisms
and processes that brought the physical universe into existence and
verify that the physical universe is real and not eternal.
3. The physical creation was good.
Matter/energy is a positive thing that has the potential for enormous
good. All of science is based on the assumption that this is true.
Desiring to understand and improve one’s situation comes from a world
view that says the creation is good and can be understood in a way that
will benefit those living in that physical creation. That which is not
good does not come from the physical creation but is the product of
4. There exists an unseen
spiritual reality which is not limited to or defined by the physical
reality. The creation of time, space, and energy must come from an
entity outside of these quantities. In addition to being external to
the physical universe this quantity demonstrates love, intelligence,
purpose, and design in all that the Creator does.
5. Humans have a spiritual aspect
to their nature. Man is created in the image of this Creator, but
because humans are housed in a physical body they have this spiritual
capacity to a limited extent.
6. Evil does exist and is the
result of choice by free moral agents including man who was created
with a free will. Imagine what would happen if evil did not exist as
many other world views maintain. Slavery would have
a good thing, or the natural result of “survival of the fittest” with
no negative connotations. War which brings pain to all of the physical
creation could not be opposed because there is no negative value that
can be attached to it. Cruelty and abuse have to be accepted as good or
unavoidable because there is nothing that is evil. Mankind’s inhumanity
to his fellow man is rooted in one way or another to world views that
deny or rationalize all evil.
The Bible has always portrayed humans in the
framework of a full recognition of the existence of evil as something
distinct and alien to God, and something about which human beings must
make a choice. In Deuteronomy 30:15 –19
(NKJV) God says “I have set
before you today life and good, death and evil. … I command you today
to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His
commandments, His statutes, and His judgments that you may live and
multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you … . But if your heart
turns away so you do not hear, and are drawn away and worship other
gods [world views] … you shall surely perish; … I have set before you
life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life … .”
In the New Testament we see teachings and parables
over and over that portray man’s need to choose between good and evil
and how God deals with the choices. In the parable of the prodigal son
we see a beautiful picture of a son making a bad choice, accepting evil
over good. The story drives home the point that he did not know how
much his father loved him and that the father continued to seek the son
even in his rebellious mindset.
suffering must include compassion and service. World views that deny
the existence of evil or that man has any role to play in the
consequences of evil do not have to address any response their
followers need to make in any situation. That may be appealing to some,
but it does not work. It also does not make the world a better place or
offer any solution to an individual who is suffering the consequences
of evil. In Matthew
9:35 – 38 we are told that Jesus went about
addressing the pain and suffering that was a part of the world in which
He lived. Verse 36 says, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved
with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered
abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” As Jesus prepared to leave the
earth He washed His disciples’ feet and then said to them that they
were to do to one another what He had just done to them (John
13:4 –15). Christianity is the only system on earth that commands
followers to do good to their enemies and to give to those in need no
matter what their circumstance in life might be.
DOES CHRISTIANITY QUALIFY AS A
GOOD WORLD VIEW?
Let us go back to what makes a world view good:
1. Is it true? Is there evidence
to support its validity?
The Does God Exist?
ministry and this journal are
dedicated to providing evidence that Christianity is true. For 42 years
we have been bringing people’s attention to the evidence. This has
nothing to do with us, our scholarship, or our knowledge. We have
brought people who are scholars and who have done academic, and more
importantly, practical work in every aspect of life to the attention of
our readers and listeners. The positive effect of the Christian world
view cannot be denied by any honest, practical, open-minded human
being. Organized religion and hypocritical humans may have failed, but
what Jesus taught and the practical good it has brought to this planet
2. Is it consistent with reality?
The older you get and the more experience you have,
the more you will be convinced that what Jesus taught and did were real
and need to be applied to the reality of our lives. The use of parables
by Christ was a deliberate attempt to bring mankind face to face with
the reality of what He taught about every day life.
3. Does it work?
Atheists and skeptics do not like to hear people
testify, but the fact is that there are literally millions of people
who have testified as to how the Christian system has changed their
lives and brought solutions to them and those they love. Attempts to
explain these away ring hollow when the change in their lives is
4. Does it answer
questions that people care about? What is its position on the value of
a human being? What does it tell us about what happens at death? What
does it tell us about reality?
People criticize Christianity by arguing from
ignorance. The idea is that since we cannot die and then come back and
report on what happens when we die that somehow this invalidates the
concept of heaven and hell. However, it does answer the question,
whether you like the answer or not. There are other world views that
also offer explanations, so one has to compare them and see what makes
sense. The promise of reincarnation or of a harem of black-eyed virgins
does not compare positively with the description of heaven given in the
– 22 deals with the question of what happens when
we die, and offers great hope and consolation to those who are
struggling with bad things in this life.
5. Does it make us better than if
we did not hold it?
As one who lived an atheist world view for many
years, and who saw the effect of that view on friends and family I can
testify as to how much better I am as a person than I was before I
became a Christian. You may not think much of me, but if you had met me
before I became a Christian you would have thought even less of me. I
am a changed person, and there are countless others like me who are
changed from what we were to something infinitely better.
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Does God Exist?, NovDec10.