People have a difficult time evaluating their own world view.
All people at all times have a grid or filter through which they understand the world. All information taken in to a person’s mind gets filtered through their worldview. There are certain things that are possible and certain things that are impossible or at least improbable according to one’s worldview. One problem is people have a very difficult time taking an unbiased look at their own worldview in order to evaluate it for its pros and cons. We automatically assume everyone for all time thought about their world in the same way we do, and this is woefully incorrect. We get so busy experiencing our life that we do not want to examine our preconceived notions to see if they should be rejected or tweaked.
A tale of two worldviews
There are dozens (if not hundreds) of worldviews. I would like to use 2 as an example of how each includes some aspects and rejects other aspects of differing views.
Worldview #1: Naturalism – people who hold this view believe that matter and energy are all there is in the universe and because ALL things follow certain laws it is impossible for miracles to occur. Yet when something out of the ordinary (they would say impossible) happens it is rejected immediately without ever carefully examining the evidence. According to this view Jesus could not have been raised from the dead because this is an impossibility. This does not fall into their categories of reality. Jesus’ resurrection just could not happen because miracles do not happen, therefore Jesus could not rise from the dead.
Worldview #2: Christianity – this worldview says (among other things) miracles can happen and one can use reasoning to examine the evidence and determine the event’s validity. It is not only possible for Jesus to be resurrection from death, but can be defended through the use of examination and corroborating evidences. The reliable eyewitness reports (the New Testament gospels) can be scrutinized for their validity and accuracy. In this worldview, however, certain scientific assertions are rejected out of hand without weighing all of the studies. Concepts like the neo-Darwinian synthesis are rejected due to lack of convincing evidence. Many will dismiss micro-evolution because of the “disagreement” between science and the Bible. Often a Christian will say ‘evolution does not happen because it goes against the Bible’, when the differences between micro and macro evolution need to be defined. As quickly as many non-Christians reject the concept of a supernatural being, a Christian will reject assertions made and proven by science.
I would like to state that one needs to re-evaluate their own worldview to determine if they are merely stating something which comes from the culture or something that is consistent with their basic beliefs. Do people reject the existence of God because they have “proven” to themselves he does not exist or simply because the concept of a god does not fit into their preconceived notions? Do people reject the idea of an “old earth” because they have made an assessment of the pertinent information to come to a logical conclusion or do they simply reject it because the people they read reject it and ‘the Bible rejects it so I reject it’?
What’s the point?
The point I am attempting to make is this: we all need to take a serious evaluation of our worldview and be able to support our beliefs with legitimate and sound reasoning. Too many of us (not merely Christians but including Christians) believe something or a set of somethings just because other people believe it, not because the individual came to that conclusion through reasoning. Often we believe something because people we respect say it’s true, yet we have not taken an unbiased, critical view of this belief.
A shift from Medieval to Modern to Post-Modern to . . .
As I stated in the beginning of this post, most of us believe people through all of history had the same worldview as we, yet this is just not the case. There seems to be a worldview shift (at least in western culture) periodically at various times.
The Medieval Mindset: If we start chronologically with the Medieval Period (AD 500-1500) there is a way of looking at the world that I would say is more ‘superstitious’ than later periods. The medieval mindset put more thinking on a controlling god than on the science of ‘how things worked’. The people back then just did not have the science background to look at how the world worked so they attributed phenomena to ‘evil spirits’ instead what we would now see were a scientific process.
The Modernist Mindset: Somewhere from the 1500’s to the 1700’s (the time of the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Enlightenment) there was a drastic worldview shift. People changed their thinking from ‘more superstitious’ to ‘more scientific’. There was a boom in scientific and mathematical discoveries (actually there was a boom in many aspects of society) which changed the way people thought about their world. This shift caused them to change the grid through which they evaluate their surroundings. This worldview stressed logic and reason, where reason replaced faith in evaluating their world. In this worldview there are objective truths in the universe which can be found through reasoning.
The Post-Modern mindset: Somewhere around 1972 another shift took place. This one started in art and literature and then moved into academia and eventually to theology. In this mindset there are no objective truths (and even if there are it is irrelevant), truth is whatever my subjective experiences tell me it is. Post-modernism is includes moral relativism, but encompasses all of reality. In the religious realm post-modernism can easily be seen in the Emerging Church movement (a la Brian McClaren).
Post-post-Modernism- what comes after post-modernism? I have no idea, but when I talk to people and do some research I will let you know. The point for our discussion is Post-Modernism is waning and it will soon (or already is) be replaced by a new worldview.
Why the discussion on worldview?
May goal in discussing this topic is for more people to ask themselves the question, “Do I believe this thing is true, or am I merely following my culture?” All intelligent people should take a close look at their beliefs, re-evaluate them and strive for consistency in their worldview.