What Is a Worldview?

By Dr. Bob Martin III
Published 4 years ago

A worldview is the way we interpret the world around us.

Every day we face new and challenging information, ideas, and questions. Do you ever struggle with what to believe, what is right, and what to do?

For example, have you ever wondered:

  • Why am I here?
  • What does my life matter?
  • Is there more than this life?
  • How can I make sense of the evil and divisiveness around me?
  • Is there a God?
  • Where am I going after this life?

 

In short, a worldview answers those and many more questions. To illustrate a worldview:

  • First, it takes in the data of life
  • Second, it molds how we interpret and think about that data
  • Third, these interpretations and thoughts then generate decisions
  • Fourth, these decisions lead to our actions

 

 

What is a Worldview First, it takes in the data of life. Second, it molds how we interpret and think about that data. Third, these interpretations and thoughts then generate decisions. Fourth, these decisions lead to our actions. Takes in the data of life Molds how we interpret and think about that data These interpretations generate decisions These decisions lead to our actions

 

So, a correct worldview is essential. Why?

Because if you have the wrong worldview, you will:

  • Not understand the world around you
  • Inaccurately interpret the data of life
  • Make bad decisions
  • Take the wrong actions

 

But worse, from a Christian point of view, a false worldview has eternal consequences.

 

 

I.   An Analogy of a Worldview

Does the term “worldview” seem confusing? As an illustration, consider a worldview like prescription eyeglasses.

For instance, if you need eyeglasses, there is only one correct prescription. Wearing the proper prescription eyewear puts your surroundings into focus.

But the wrong prescription puts the world out of focus. And damaged, cracked, or scratched glasses obscure your view.

In general, that is how a worldview works. If you are wearing correctly prescribed eyeglasses, everything comes into proper focus.

But eyeglasses need to focus on something. By analogy, a worldview focuses on six different areas of life.

So, when we look at the six areas of our worldview, we need to ask, “Is it in focus or not?”

For instance, in some worldviews, only one or more areas of the worldview may be in focus. And as a result, the rest are distorted or obscured. But with Christianity, all six areas are in focus.

 

II.   Six Areas that Define a Worldview

The six areas of life fit together like a puzzle. In other words, your belief about one area of your worldview will affect your belief in the other five areas. And subsequently, your belief in these six areas defines “who you are” for the rest of your life.

The six areas of life that make up a worldview correspond to the mnemonic, “GO HOME”:

  1. “G” is for God: Does God exist? And if so, what is God’s nature or characteristics?
  2. “O” is for Origin: Where did the universe, first life, and humans originate?
  3. “H” is for Humanity: What makes humanity humans? Are humans exceptional when compared to other species?
  4. “O” is for “Ought” (Morality): What is good vs. evil or right vs. wrong? And who decides?
  5. “M” is for Meaning: Is there any meaning in our existence? If so, how do we discover it?
  6. “E” is for End (Destiny): What happens to us after we die?

 

 

What is a Worldview First, it takes in the data of life. Second, it molds how we interpret and think about that data. Third, these interpretations and thoughts then generate decisions. Fourth, these decisions lead to our actions. Takes in the data of life Molds how we interpret and think about that data These interpretations generate decisions These decisions lead to our actions

 

III.   Acquiring a Worldview

So how does a worldview come about? According to George Barna, a worldview starts in early development. And it continues until the early teens when it is reasonably well determined.

Put differently, we decide on what we believe for each of the six areas or our worldview while we are young. And by the end of our teens, most of us have permanently established our beliefs in each area.

 

IV.   Some Truth in Every Worldview

Those who say, “I don’t have a worldview,” are wrong. Everyone has a worldview, whether they know it or not. The real question is, “Is my worldview the correct one?”

There are seven worldviews. Each of the seven worldviews has contradictory views from the other six. The contradictions mean only one worldview can be correct.

To continue with the analogy of eyeglasses. Only one prescription is correct, and every other prescription is wrong. As a result, only one worldview is accurate, and the rest are false.

And Christianity is the only correct worldview. It alone has the right answers to the six areas of “GO HOME.”

 

V.   One Caveat Worth Mentioning.

Every worldview has some truth in it. Otherwise, no one would believe in it.

On the one hand, some worldviews are closer to the truth of Christianity. While on the other hand, particular worldviews are significantly different.

In returning to our analogy. Even with wrong prescription eyewear, you can still see out of the glasses. Of course, those glasses closer to the correct prescription will be less distorted. However, highly incorrect prescriptions or damaged lenses are nearly impossible to use.

Christianity provides the correct perception of the world. Other worldviews differ from Christianity in varying degrees.

  • Some worldviews are closer to the correct prescription. For example, Judaism shares many truths with Christianity
  • Other worldviews are so damaged and out of focus that they share little with Christianity. For instance, atheism and pantheism

 

VI.   7 Different Worldviews Based on “God”

 

7 WorldviewsAtheism Polytheism Panentheism Finite Godism Pantheism Deism Theism

 

 

How do we classify worldviews? The determining factor is the existence and characteristics of God. In other words, does God exist? And if he does, what is his nature?

Based on this, there are only seven worldview possibilities:

  1. Atheism (no God)
  2. Polytheism (many finite gods)
  3. Panentheism (one finite God identified with the world)
  4. Finite Godism (one finite God not identified with the world)
  5. Pantheism (one infinite God identified with the world)
  6. Deism (one infinite God not identified with the world that doesn’t perform miracles)
  7. Theism (one infinite God not identified with the world that does perform miracles)

 

Let’s break these down one at a time.

 

1.   Atheism

Atheism (or “anti-theism”) claims that no God exists. The only thing that exists is the physical universe. But atheism leads to two impossible conclusions, either:

  • The universe has existed for an infinite number of moments (impossible).
  • Or it is self-caused, meaning it caused itself to exist (also impossible), and it is self-sustaining.

 

2.   Polytheism

Polytheism believes that many finite gods exist both beyond and within the world. There is no singular infinite or eternal God. Instead, each of these finite gods has their domain.

Henotheism is the belief in a hierarchy of gods. For example, ancient Greek and Roman polytheism were henotheistic.

Present-day polytheistic religions are Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), neopagans (Wiccans), and Jehovah’s Witnesses.

 

3.   Panentheism

Panentheism (process theology) is not the same as pantheism. “Pan-en-theism” views God in the universe as a mind is in a body. In essence, God has two poles: an actual pole and a potential pole. In brief, the universe is God’s “body” or his actual pole. But there is also a “potential pole” to God, and that is his infinite potential to become.

 

4.   Finite Godism

Finite Godism contends that there is only one God beyond the universe. But God is limited (finite) in either power, knowledge, or both.

This belief system seeks to explain how a “god” can exist with evil and suffering. Rabbi Kushner’s book When Bad Things Happen To Good People is a popular treatment of this view.

 

5.   Pantheism

Pantheism contends that everything is God, from inanimate objects to humans. God is the universe or All, and the universe is God.

Pantheistic religions include certain forms of Hinduism and Zen Buddhism. American pantheistic religions are  New Age and Christian Science.

 

6.   Deism

Deism believes in one God who exists beyond the physical universe. But unlike theism, deism’s God created everything but does not act within his creation. In other words, there are no miracles.

Basically, deism’s God winds up the universe like a watch. And then creation runs on naturalistic laws without any intervention on his part.

 

7.   Theism

Theism is a monotheistic (“one God”) worldview. Theists believe there is only one infinite, eternal personal God.

This God exists beyond his created universe. He can also act within his creation with miracles. There are three traditional theistic views:

  • Christianity
  • Judaism
  • Islam

 

Of these three monotheistic religions, Christianity is unique. Christians believe God exists as a Trinity (or Tri-Unity, “three in one”).

God is three distinct persons: Father, Son (Jesus), and Holy Spirit. And these three persons all share the same divine nature.

 

VII.   Can’t They All Be True?

In reality, only one worldview can be true.

Why?

Because the law of noncontradiction excludes contradictory views.

This principle says that the opposite of true is false.

There are only seven options for worldviews. And since each worldview contradicts the other six, only one can be true. And as a result, the other six must be false.

When considering each worldview’s beliefs in the six areas of a worldview, only theism is true.

And further, of theism’s three main views, only Christianity is the correct worldview. Why?

  • First, Christianity has no contradictions. That means it is logically consistent
  • Second, it is the only worldview that corresponds to empirical data of the world around us. By that, we mean science and history verify Christianity
  • Third, it is the only religion that explains how to live the “good life”

 

As you continue to examine the choices, the answer is clear. Only Christianity is true. It alone is the correct prescription to see our world in proper focus.

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