The goal of studying the concept of worldview is best summarized by James W. Sire in his book, The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog. He writes with the hope to “encourage us all to think in terms of worldview, that is, with a consciousness of not only our own way of thought but also that of other people, so that we can first understand and then genuinely communicate with others in our pluralistic society.” This goal flows from the conviction that: What we believe necessarily impacts the way we live and think about things in the world. So…
What is a worldview?
According to Sire, “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set presuppositions, which we hold about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.” Another helpful definition comes from philosopher, Ronald Nash, who writes, “A worldview is a conceptual scheme that contains our fundamental beliefs; it is also the means by which we interpret and judge reality.” Nash continues, saying “Many people have no idea what a worldview is. Many are unaware of the specific content of their personal worldview, or even that they have one. Worldviews function much like eyeglasses. When people look at the world through the wrong conceptual system, it doesn’t make much sense to them. It is also true that the right conceptual scheme can have important consequences for the rest of a person’s thinking and acting.”
So what fundamental beliefs must a worldview consists of?
The structural elements of a worldview are best captured in the form of answers to the follow six questions:
- What is prime reality – the really real?
- What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
- Why is it possible to know anything at all?
- How do we know what is right and wrong?
- What is a human being?
- What is the meaning of human history?
Everyone has some sort of belief system, but not everyone’s system is consistent or coherent. For instance, sometimes people answer the first question from the perspective of an atheistic/naturalistic worldview, but attempt to answer the fourth question from the perspective of a theistic worldview. People tend to want to live in a society where there is such thing as “right” and “wrong,” however, not every worldview is able to give a satisfying answer to this question due to their previous convictions regarding the nature of reality. Such dilemmas should force the truth-seeker to reevaluate their systems of thinking and commitments in order to be more consistent and rational.
The goal of these Wednesday Worldview post is to make us think deeply about the fundamental elements of our world. Hopefully all who interact with and engage these post will at the very least take the time to consider their own convictions and ask whether or not they are consistent with the way they think, speak, and act.