Monday, December 8, 2008

Worldview Ignorance - Part 1

Worldviews contain at least five clusters of beliefs, namely beliefs about God, metaphysics (ultimate reality), epistemology (knowledge), ethics, and human nature. While worldviews may include other beliefs that need not be mentioned at this point, these five usually define the most important differences among competing conceptual systems.
Dr. Ronald Nash, Life’s Ultimate Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
(Buy it
here and support the work of ACWI)

Dr. Kenneth Samples, professor @ Biola University, in reviewing his book, A World of Difference, has said that most of the time we don’t think in a worldview-ishly manner. (Buy it here and support the work of ACWI)

George Barna’s 2003 research which was documented in his book Think Like Jesus (Buy it
here and support the work of ACWI) identified the following characteristics of a person with a Biblical worldview. They believe in:

  • certain doctrines that have historically been considered “orthodox Christianity”
  • absolute truth. You can’t have your truth and I’ll have mine.
  • the Bible as the source of absolute moral truth

So far, so good. But details from Think Like Jesus give the bad news:

  • Only one out of four born-again adults (25%) “make their moral and ethical decisions on the basis of the Bible” (p. 36).
  • Only one out of seven born-again adults (14%) “rely on the Bible as their moral compass and believe that moral truth is absolute” (p. 37).
  • Most disturbing of all: 91% of all born-again adults and 98% of all born-again teenagers do not have a Biblical worldview (p. 39).

We live our lives based on what we believe – not what we say we believe, but on what we really believe.

Most Christians would claim that they try to live their lives according to the Bible. This is just another way of saying “I try to live out a Biblical worldview.” But do we really?

What I’ve noticed over the years is that Christians tend to do a pretty good job in a few select areas. We’ve read books and heard speakers on Christian parenting, on abortion, on gay marriage. . . and on certain moral issues. We’ve often taken the time to think through the implications of the Bible in these specific areas.

But what about some other areas? Your worldview encompasses ALL of life – not just a few little corners of life.

Can you articulate your worldview? Can you explain why you make the decisions you make?
For example:

  • Can you point to specific Biblical principles that support your choice of candidate in the recent presidential election? John McCain, Barak Obama, or Ralph Nader – it doesn’t matter. Can you point to specific Biblical principles to explain why you’re a member of one political party or another?
  • In a press release the day after our most recent presidential election, Mathew Staver, the founder of Liberty Counsel and the Dean of Liberty University School of Law, said:

    While the people passed marriage amendments in Arizona, California, and Florida, two of those states voted for Barack Obama. When asked to vote on values, they chose traditional marriage. In California, the people overturned an activist state supreme court. However, a large number of people who voted for Obama voted for these marriage amendments, which Obama opposed.
    Accessed 12/3/08

    These people probably couldn’t explain their contradictory voting decisions, much less support them Biblically.

  • In the current economic “downturn” – a misnomer if ever I heard one! – are there specific Biblical passages that guide your economic decisions as a family or a business owner?
  • Can you explain to someone - from Scripture – why Communism isn’t Biblical?
  • Would you be able to provide Scriptural support for your parenting decisions? For the way you discipline your children? Or the choice of school your kids attend?
  • Can you offer Biblical support for your entertainment choices – the music you listen to, the TV shows you watch, and the movies you see? And not just the content, but the amount of time spent being entertained?
  • Do you try to live your life according to the Bible? Or are you allowing the world around you to influence your decision-making?

In my observation, there seem to be at least two types of Worldview Ignorance:

  • Willful Worldview Ignorance
  • Partial Worldview Ignorance

Willful Worldview Ignorance is practiced by people who are in what I call “Worldview Denial.” They don’t want to think about the big questions of life. . . many don’t really want to think at all!

They tend to deny that such a thing as a worldview really exists. They don’t believe that a person can actually have a consistent, over-arching conceptual framework that explains the whole world, how it works, and what life is all about. Their thought processes, their entire universe, are so fragmented and disconnected that it’s hard for them to imagine that anyone can have it all together and make sense of it all.

Part of the problem (certainly not all of it!) is in our educational system.

Today we have a weakness in our education process. . . we tend to study all our disciplines in unrelated parallel lines. This tends to be true in both Christian and secular education. This is one of the reasons why evangelical Christians have been taken by surprise at the tremendous shift that has come to our generation.
Dr. Francis Schaeffer

Because the vast majority of students today are taught this way, they don’t see the connections between history, literature, art, and language. By sitting in class for one hour to study history, in another class for another hour to study science, and yet another class to study literature, it's no wonder that life seems fragmented.

Because many have suffered through a fragmented education, they now have a fragmented worldview, thinking that connections don’t exist, that “having it all together” is just a dream.

Consider the alternative – what could “connected education” do?

Integration between academic subjects ties the world together. Math, science, philosophy, and history are all interwoven in a way that relates all subjects to a whole.
Adapted from Discover Classical Christian Education by David Goodwin, headmaster of Foundations
Academy in Boise, Idaho

And that whole is Jesus Christ. All the academic subjects relate to Him – because He is the Creator of all things, including academc subjects.

In addition, those in worldview denial tend to be totally focused on the here and now.

How do we get these people think beyond what’s for supper tonight or where I’m going to party this weekend?

And what of Partial Worldview Ignorance? Watch for Worldview Ignorance - Part 2 next week.

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