One dictionary defines the word, “worldview” as “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. It is a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group”.
Whether conscious or subconscious, every person has developed some type of worldview. A person’s worldview–what they believe to be true– becomes the driving force behind their every emotion, decision and action.
For example, a toddler believes he or she is the center of their world. Yet, we all know that unless that toddler’s parents can change their child’s narcissistic worldview, a lot of people will regret the day when they must work with that person as an adult. My point–not all worldviews are necessarily good ones and when confronted with correct information should be modified.
James Sire, in The Universe Next Door, gives the following definition of "worldview": “A world view is 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”. As Sire suggests, we must all come to terms with whether our assumptions, perceptions and suppositions are true, partially true or entirely false.
A worldview seeks to answer such fundamental questions as, “Why are we here”? “What is the meaning and purpose of life”? “Is there a difference between right and wrong”? “Is there a God”? We all develop ideas consciously or unconsciously in our attempt to answer these questions, and our ideas naturally give rise to a system of beliefs that becomes the basis for our decisions and actions. While there are many worldviews such a secular humanism, atheism, pantheism, and others, in this blog, I will look briefly at a biblical worldview.
A biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe, the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do.
All worldviews, including a biblical one, must wrestle with some critical questions. How we answer these questions determines whether we have a materialistic, impersonal or fatalistic view of our world or if we see our world as one of intelligent design and order.
Here are three important questions to consider:
1. What is the truth about our existence? To this question people might answer: God, the gods, or the material cosmos. In the Bible, Moses answered this question of our existence by asking a rhetorical question to the people of Israel in Deut. 32:6, “O foolish and unwise people, is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you? Moses states his unequivocal conclusion not only for Israel’s benefit but for all of creation.
Unfortunately, not everyone in the world sees things so clearly and convincingly as Moses. In fact, many people have made the decision to turn God’s rational order of creation completely upside down. Paul points this out in Rom. 1:25, “They traded the truth of God for a lie. They worshiped and served created things instead of the God the Creator”. Two obvious facts stand out here: 1.) People instinctively knew the truth about God being their Creator but chose instead to trade it for a lie. 2.) In their deluded state, they began to invert God’s order for worship by worshipping created things instead of the Creator Himself.
So, why did people exchange the truth about God as their Creator and begin to look for other explanations for their existence? Why did they worship creation itself–the moon, the sun the trees, the rocks, animals, and the cosmos, to name a few? Of course, the obvious answer to this question is that none of these things required moral accountability. As impersonal objects, they could place no demands upon people’s lives regarding how they lived. On the other hand, if God is our Creator, and we are His creation, then there is automatically a relationship of accountability. No longer can we live our lives in utter disregard to God who created us without consequences.
A biblical worldview then acknowledges the reality of God as the ultimate source of truth regarding our human existence and it acknowledges our accountability to Him as our Creator. The Bible plainly states, “God made the earth by his power; he founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding” (Jer. 12).
2. What is a human being? To this question one could answer: a highly complex machine, a god, a modified ape, or a person made in the image of God.
If we are merely a life form derived from some cosmic soup mix–then where did the ingredients for this primordial soup come from? What would be the purpose to our existence? The answer is simple–there is no discernable purpose to the soup mix and there is no intelligent designer if all is left to chance.
Unless we can determine a rational cause and effect sequence to our existence, then happenstance leaves us with nothing but nihilism. This may explain why there is so much despair and hopelessness in our world–people have not found a purpose for their existence. The Bible points out the reason for our existence. Three times over in Gen.1:27 it mentions that God created man, twice emphasizing “in His image.” One cannot harmonize the Genesis account with an evolutionary origin of man. God created man distinct from animals. Only man is made in God’s image and he was made to have a relationship with his Creator.
The fact that human beings have been created in God’s image has many practical implications. When we are connected to our Creator in a relationship, our lives will have a lasting purpose. Otherwise, we are born, we live and then we die. What’s the point of that? But if we know God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, then our life has purpose and meaning beyond the grave.
When we acknowledge that every human being is created in God’s image, then the unborn baby is treated with dignity and the elderly with respect and care. Women are treated the same as men because both are created in the image of God. Without a relational accountability to God our Creator, the dignity of life is easily sacrificed at the altar of expedience.
3. What makes us instinctively know that God exists? What makes us know the difference between right and wrong? Could it be that because we are made in the image of God, we have a built in “homing beacon” pointing us to God and a moral code imprinted on us? Paul clearly makes this connection in Rom. 1:19-20, “They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So, they have no excuse for not knowing God”. Regarding a moral code, Paul says, “They show that in their hearts they know what is right and wrong, just as the law commands. And they show this by their consciences” (Rom. 2:15)
If right and wrong are only determined by human choice alone, or by what feels good, or by the notions and assumptions developed under the incentive of cultural or physical survival, then who gets to determine what’s right and wrong? How can we be certain we are right in our interpretations of what is right and what is wrong? If you are right, and I am right, and yet we have totally conflicting views, to what “compass” can we point to outside of ourselves to determine who is right–if truth is only a matter of taste?
We should understand by now that our schools’ experiment in values-free and morally neutral education has left many in our nation morally daft. We do not hear the words right and wrong anymore. We hear, “if it feels good” and “you believe it to be true for you”, then it must be okay. After all, just because it's wrong for you, doesn’t mean it is wrong for me. We now have a generation that has the idea that right and wrong is something that is fluid, something that is subject to change, something that is relative and personal–not constant and universal.
How then can we be certain about our own decisions or judgements? How can we measure ourselves, if the only measuring stick is ourselves? We need a source of absolute truth, completely independent from ourselves, and the Bible provides that source. It moves us beyond assumptions and conjecture. It grounds us in the timeless truths and moral codes of the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.
A Biblical worldview changes our perspective and changes lives. The story is told of a South Sea Islander who proudly displayed his Bible to a G.I. during WW II. He had received it as a present from a missionary some time before. When he showed the soldier, the soldier said, “O, we’ve outgrown that sort of thing.” The native smiled back and said, “Well, it’s a good thing we haven’t, because if it weren’t for this book, you would be our evening meal.”
 American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. S.v. "worldview." Retrieved February 23, 2017 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/worldview