“Worldview” and How Worldviews Change

June 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

From its inception the Christian church has been involved in battles involving ideas, theories, systems of thought, presuppositions and arguments (Nash, Worldviews in Conflict). What I believe (doctrine, truth or theology) ALWAYS determines what I do on a practical level (Dr. Martin, Lecture 3). Kraft in Christianity in Culture defined a worldview as a set of more or less systematized beliefs and values in terms of which a group evaluates and attaches meaning to the reality that surrounds it. Sire, in the Universe Next Door defined a worldview as a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic make-up of our world. Nash, in Worldviews in Conflict defined a worldview as a set of beliefs about the most important issues in life or a conceptual scheme by which we consciously or unconsciously place or fit everything we believe, and by which we interpret and judge reality.

An illustration of worldview is “eyeglasses through which we see the world and help us interpret our surroundings.” It’s important to note that we all possess world views even without acknowledging it or articulating it. Everyone judges and interprets the world and our experience through a particular framework of assumptions. The notion of worldview is important because if our presuppositions are wrong then our actions will be misguided and the conclusions I read will be in error (Dr. Martin, Lecture 3). James Sire, in the The Universe Next Door lists the following as elements of a worldview: 1. What is prime reality–the really real? 2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us? 3. What is a human being? 4. What happens to a person at death? 5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? 6. How do we know what is right and wrong? 7. What is the meaning of human history? A key element in theistic worldviews is who is in charge? Ronald Nash in Worldviews in Conflict lists the elements of a worldview as views regarding God, reality, knowledge, morality, and humankind.

According to A. Scott Moreau, “Worldview Shift and Myth in North America” in Christianity and the Religions, a worldview shift will occur when 1. Changes in the circumstances of life demand such a shift before the world will make sense to the culture again. 2. The circumstances around us change. An illustration was used in Dr. Martin’s lecture that basic assumptions can be compared to a train running on tracks . . . in that our axioms determine theorems. Only two means exist by which a person can alter his direction and destination. 1. Jump the tracks resulting in a wholesale swap or 2. Introduce inconsistencies in the instance of tragedies, traditions, trends, where the tracks merge and mix with other worldviews. Examples of inconsistencies introduced in the lecture among Christians were omnipresent, omniscience, and omnipotent, and tragedies, sufficiency of God’s Word (traditions, trends, desires).

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