Friday, October 17, 2008

Frequently Asked Friday

What's a Worldview?

We're doing a weekly Bible study at our friends' house, and we just started a unit on popular worldviews. The study materials are based on David A. Noebel's book, Understanding the Times (revised 2nd ed.), available from Summit Ministries. They have not only the book, but an entire curriculum based on it, as well as many other Christian materials addressing moral issues.

In their 1989 book, Worlds Apart, Geisler and Watkins define a worldview as "a way of viewing or interpreting all of reality. It is an interpretive framework through which or by which one makes sense of the data of life and the world." In other words, a worldview is the interpretive pair of glasses you use to explain the world around you. Even if you never thought about it explicitly, you already have a worldview; everyone does!

This past week, my wife received her first issue of Answers Magazine, which defends a literal Biblical interpretation of science and history. Browsing the magazine, I found this cartoon (drawn by Dan Lietha, whose permission I have to use it). No matter on which side of the fence you're on, it is a great illustration of the concept of worldviews.


The intentional irony of this cartoon is that the atheist accuses the believer of having a distorted view of his reality. But in fact, his own so-called "objectivity" is actually based on his belief in the absence of God. Even agnostics are not truly objective, because many of them don't just claim that they don't know that there is a God; they go one step farther, declaring that you cannot know.

Believe it or not, it's really not that big of a deal to us if the earth was created in 6 literal days, 4.5 billion years, or some amount of time in-between; we know God created it (and everything else, including all mankind), and that's good enough for us.

Why Study Worldviews?

Understanding your own worldview, as well as those of others around you, helps you develop a consistent way of looking at things, as well as leading you to understand where other people are coming from. It can help you better understand the great moral and political debates of the day, including homosexuality, abortion, elections, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the economy. It helps you become a better informed voter, more convincing debater, and more understanding of others.

After much time debating atheists and those of other beliefs, I have come to understand and appreciate this problem better. Clashing worldviews and the inability to understand how each developed is probably one of the leading reasons why religious and political discussions can get so heated.

Ultimately, truth is truth, and God's view is all that really matters. Yes, I know, God is central to my worldview, but He may not be in yours. But if we have a mututal understanding of our respective worldviews, we can have a polite, but lively discussion about anything.

I don't know if this stream-of-consciousness makes much sense to anyone but me, but as we continue the study, I'll continue to share my thoughts on it.

19 comments:

Nitewrit said...

Greg,

Interesting. I just started reading a book by Albert M. Wolters, "Creation Regained: Biblical Basics for a Reformational Worldview". I am not far into it so can't really comment yet.

I had a lot of different worldviews until I arrived at the one I have today. One thing I have found is those with a true Christian perspective centered on God are much more tolerant, open-minded and willing to study both sides of the argument than those with secular worldviews. (See my posts on Bertrand Russell and the Fig Tree).

I would consider myself someone who takes the Bible literally (a term often distorted and misinterpreted by the world). I also realize many Christians disagree on some things and I respect that because usually they are things hard to prove and up for interpretation. Such difference on how long Creation took is one and it doesn't effect any core belief of the Christian whether it was six days or six million years. I admit, the more I read my scriptures and think about, the more inclined I am to the literal six days, but then again to the Lord a 1000 years is as a day, so it has some stretch there.

Let us know what you discover about worldviews. meanwhile I will attempt to finish this book and maybe have some intelligent remarks to make.

Larry

Greg said...

Yeah, that's a pet peeve of mine: people arguing (and even splitting up) on issues that aren't really relevant to the core of salvation. The irony is that a certain doctrine becomes so important, that it blinds them.

Although I'm quite a few years your junior, I have also had quite a variety of worldviews. I think that actually gives us an advantage, in that it helps us better understand and appreciate those who hold on to secular worldviews. Our son, on the other hand, has been a believer ever since he can remember. I sometimes wonder how to best raise him with an understanding of other views, without risking him getting confused by them.

Karla @ Ramblin' Roads said...

Thanks for the shout-out. Glad you guys are joining us. I look forward to learning together!

DanL said...

Hi Greg,

Thanks for your kind words about my cartoon. It's fun to see people reading them and hopefully being challenged by them. I would request that you change the "not used by permission" status of the cartoon to "used by permission". I spoke to the cartoonist and he says you can use it as you have it here in your blog. :-)

Regarding the issue of days vs millions of years, I would encourage you and your readers to continue to look into the issue. You are correct in that it is not a salvation issue, (truly saved people that we will spend eternity with in heaven, have many different beliefs about the length of creation) however, the issue of days or millions of years does closely connect to the issue of sin, our need for salvation, the curse that brought the need for a Savior, and the character of our Creator God. The events in Genesis 1-11 are very unique and important in that they are foundational to the rest of scripture. So I would challenge you (in a friendly way) to not take the "it doesn't really matter one way or the other" approach and dig deeper.

I'd like to submit another cartoon for your consideration:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/images/articles/wow/eden-bones.jpg

as well as these 3 articles:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2006/death-and-suffering.asp

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2005/0110death.asp

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v24/i3/eisegesis.asp

Keep those Bible glasses on! May this topic be a blessing to you all.

Thanks again!

Dan Lietha

Greg said...

Dan Lietha!! My jaw just dropped, when I saw your comment on my blog! That was really cool that you stopped by!

Thanks for granting me permission to use your drawing; I've updated the entry accordingly.

Those were some interesting articles, which I hereby encourage all my readers to read. My only comment regarding them is that our view of what's "very good" could be quite different from God's. We are shallow, limited beings, and we tend to assign human qualities to God. And when He does not meet our expectations, we begin to blame and doubt Him. I think this is a stumbling block to many an atheist. Therefore, I cannot assume that non-botanical death was not present in the Garden. After all, what did the animals do to deserve death? Besides, just because we see physical death as a bad thing, it doesn't mean that God does, too.

With regards to the duration of creation, I think it would truly be an interesting discussion to see how it's related to the concepts of sin and Jesus' atonement. I could definitely see one connection: doubters who scoff at the 6 days of creation as scientifically unfounded, can use that as a reason to doubt the veracity of everything else in the Bible.

I hope to see you come back again soon, Dan!

DanL said...

Hey Greg,

Yes, Google alerts keeps me up on what people are saying about me on the web. It's a great help.
In my line of work, a thick skin helps (as well as those biblical glasses we're talking about.
Jesus said it's a good thing to suffer for Him and HE said those that stand for Him would be persicuted) Of course not all of the things being said about me and my cartoons are negative and I appreciate that.

One thing that we all suffer from in this fallen world (and this is supported in scripture) is the tendency to follow our own thinking and reason things apart from God's Word, even if we start with some bits of thinking from God's Word. As the 3rd article pointed out, this is called Eisegesis. Our thinking about origins has been corrupted (our biblical glasses are dirty) and we add man's fallible opinions to God's perfect Word

Greg, you said,"My only comment regarding them is that our view of what's "very good" could be quite different from God's.
We are shallow, limited beings, and we tend to assign human qualities to God. "

My question to you is, can we find out what God's view of very good is? I believe we can, and then we should build our thinking on that instead of blaming and doubting God after He didn't meet our expectations. Also, I don't mind being a stumbling block to an atheist IF I am consistent and true to scripture. Jesus was a rock of offense to many. 2 Peter 2: 8 refers to Jesus as "A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE";
 for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

One accusation from atheists to Christians is the question, "if your God is so loving, perfect and all-powerful, then why didn't He make the world perfect in the first place? Why all the mutations, disease, death and suffering? If we believe in millions of years, we have no answer for them. Cancer would then be considered very good by God and it's existence in this world would be God's fault. However, if God did make the world perfect, without death and suffering, and man's sin brought the curse of death (as the Bible says), then it's our fault. Heaven and the Gospel make sense if God is rescuing us from the mess we made. A restoration to life in a perfect world without pain and death.

Or if death, pain, suffering and cancer are all "very good", then why would God not include them in Heaven and in fact, speak against such things as being bad? In fact the Bible says death is an "enemy"! Death was conquered and will be done away with forever. Praise the Lord for that!

Here's more info (and cartoons by me) on that topic:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v24/i1/history.asp

Hope this is helpful. :-)

Dan

Greg said...

Hi, Dan! I guess you're a debater, like me! :) You brought up some good points.

First of all, I wanted to clarify that I wasn't implying that you are stumbling block to others; far from it! My point was that to some, if one thing in the Bible could be proved incorrect, then the whole thing is false; they throw the baby out with the bath water. I think this is why it's so important to some apologists that everything in the Bible be proven literally true. But the Bible is often symbolic (I'm sure Jesus did not mean to literally cut off a "sinful" foot or eye), and God often leaves out details that are not important. People often try to fill in the blanks themselves and come to the wrong conclusion (eisegesis). A classic example is the early thinking that the earth is the center of the universe, with everything orbiting around it. The Bible never said this, but man concluded it was true, by reading between the lines. We do have to be very careful about our assumptions. It is in this light that I see the "days" of Creation. I remember seeing an article that made a case for literal, solar days, even though the sun and moon weren't created until the 4th day. Could God have done it that way? Of course! He could have created it all in the blink of an eye, if He so desired. I think the literal duration is a minor point, compared to the fact that He created it, in the first place. I really don't see a necessary connection between the six literal days of Creation and man's fall from grace. Do you have some articles on the subject, that may shed some light on that connection?

Regarding "good", most of the things God created (which were indeed very good) will not be in Heaven, such as the sun, moon, and stars (see Revelation). Also, God created the serpent, which ended up tempting Eve. How do we justify that that was "very good" in God's eyes? God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and that their seed would need a Savior, even before He created everything. He knew that man was prone to sin when He created him, and yet he was "very good". Since all Creation, from beginning to end, is all part of God's perfect plan, the serpent was necessary, and therefore, very good. I certainly can't say I have it all figured out, but God is perfect, His Creation is perfect, and He is in total control.

God is love, and the Bible tells us He treasures its fruit (obedience) above all other forms of worship. Jesus Himself said that love was at the root of all the Law and prophets. But love and obedience cannot exist, unless we have the freedom to choose to love and obey God (let me know if you're a Calvinist, and this conversation will really take an interesting turn!). That freedom implies that we must be able to choose to disobey God. While sin is bad, the ability to choose is indeed very, very good.

I touched on the topic of death in an earlier post. Both ends of the Bible tie immortality to the Tree of Life; it's a beautiful connection that truly binds the Bible as One Word, by One Author, instead of dozens of disjointed books, by many authors. Death is the absence of the Tree. It may be that death is merely the inevitable opposite of life, just as darkness is the inevitable opposite of light, and sin is the inevitable opposite of holiness. It is only through the power of God that death, darkness, and sin are defeated. Sin separated mankind from God (and the Tree), making room for physical death.

It's also important to note that the Bible uses the same word (at least in English) to refer to physical and spiritual deaths. Physical death is not so bad; it enables us to shed this mortal shell and put on our immortal one. But spiritual death is an eternal separation from God, which is... umm... very bad, to say the least! :(

I don't feel like we're arguing, but just exploring these issues. I hope you feel the same way. I really appreciate your views and your kind way of expressing them, and would like to continue the discussion, if you're so inclined. :)

Greg said...

Dan, I just now went to that article about death. I'm going to have to study it, before I can talk about it; I may even do a post on it.

I had read before how Charles Darwin's daughter's death pushed him away from Christianity. It really is very sad. Losing loved ones has a way of polarizing one's beliefs, but it can go either way. One blogger I know actually got saved, after he and his wife lost one of several babies.

Although I've never experienced such loss myself, I pray that I will have the faith to say, "Thy will be done," when the time comes.

jeleasure said...

Hi Greg,
Vicki and I saw your 'twin' in church, today.
Why study world views?
Well, it gives us a good place to start as to why people don't value the Truth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is why, and how I wrote Love One Another . Love One Another is my online manuscript attempting to answer to what the core message of the Bible is.
The American Family Association revealed a statistic that says, "Only six percent of all people who call themselves Christians truly understand the core message of the Bible".
Now, I have sent this out over the internet and made this statement many times. The response I get goes something like, "I find this difficult to believe". However, I can tell you when I've known a person long enough and have had a chance to see them miss the opportunity to show themselves to understand the 'core message of the Bible', that these are the very same people who find it difficult to believe the statistic.

DanL said...

Greg,

I actually don't spend a lot of time going back and forth with people in email debates, however, I've answered a few emails with questions about my cartoons over the years. For some reason I felt drawn to this discussion. Forgive the pun. :-)
You may want to look at the Answers section of the AiG web site for easy searching in the various topics we have started exploring here on your blog and more.

http://www.AnswersInGenesis.org/home/area/qa.asp

Thanks for being so kind in your replies.

Dan

Greg said...

Jim,
A twin??? Cool! Scary, but cool! ;) Let me know if he comes back, and you get a picture.

At first, I too was surprised at that statistic, until I gave it some more thought. The Bible has several critical messages, and I think different people might see different ones as "most important." Since loving one another is the second commandment that Jesus gave us, that's definitely right up there (inseparable from salvation, in fact), and it's the most obvious way to tell Christians apart from non-believers (1 John 4, for example). But there are plenty other religions that preach loving one another; I met a New Ager online, who was very big on that. If I were to choose, I would pick the one core belief that is unique to Christianity: that mankind's sin has separated us from God, and we can only be reconciled through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Greg said...

Hi, Dan! After further reading of the article on death, I'm beginning to understand the connection between death, the 6 solar days of Creation, and the Fall. If I understand it correctly, the premise is that there was no death in the Garden (or on the entire earth), so there could not have been scores and scores of creatures that lived and died, before Adam and Eve sinned and introduced death upon the world.

I'd have to study this viewpoint more, in order to understand it better, but from the way that I understand the literal Garden of Eden and the Tree of Life, death could have very well existed on the earth, and the Garden was an oasis where death and sickness were not known, because of the Tree of Life.

I'm not fighting for an old earth or evolution, but I am trying to get to the bottom of why there had to have been no death and only 6 days of Creation.

Again, thanks for the discussion, and I hope you visit again sometime.

jeleasure said...

Greg,
You hit the mark with your answer. The reason your answer of the second greatest command to love one another is what the core message of the Bible is, is that we can not say we fulfill the first command; to love God.
James asks, "How can you say you love God and hate your brother?"

Yes, you have a twin. It will be easier for him to see your picture than for you to see his. He is a blogger. His blog is http://everybodyhasarighttomyopinion.blogspot.com/

If you visit his blog, he will just freek out when I see him at church. What I can do, is take a picture with my camera phone, and email it to you.

Greg said...

Jim,

You're no fun, buddy. Aw, let me scare this poor guy with my picture. I'll use my driver's photo; he won't feel a thing! LOL! Now I'm really intrigued to see how much your friend really resembles me. You might want to get his permission before you snap that photo. ;)

Regarding love, I'm a firm believer that when the Holy Spirit fills us with His perfect love, we can truly fulfill both of Jesus' commandments.

Nitewrit said...

Greg,
been reading through your discussion here. Like Dan, I'm not a debater, although this is hardly a debate, just a discussion. I mentioned in my comment I use to feel it could have been a long time, but have come more to believing it was six days. I can't get into depth here, but I will mention a couple of things in my thinking that you have touched upon.

In the literal translation, Genesis 1:1-3 reads "In the beginning of God's preparing of the heavens and the earth -- the earth hath existed the earth hath existed waste and void, and darkness on the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God fluttering on the face of the waters, and God saith, 'Let light be;' and light is."

God is eternal. The earth is finite because he created it. This indicates the earth existed in a state of waste, void of life or anything. It also inplies a gap in Genesis one and the six days of creation. Could be short, could be long. Don't know and it doesn't matter to us.

The earth was created by God and it turned on its axis. It is not the sun or moon that dictates a day's length, it is the revolution of the earth.

the earth was in darkness. I believe this was really, really, really dark darkness. God said "'Let light be'; and light is." Now there was light and darkness. This light was not sunlight. It was light. God created light and then he endowed certain things of have light. . This first light on Earth was some kind of Godly light.

I knew it was a bad idea to start this comment. I have to stop now to go to work. I think I'll make it a post on my Night Writing Blog. I'm trying to work this out for myself as well so don't want to rush it.

My computer just told me in its throaty female voice that it is eight o'clock. Got to get moving. I'll try to get back to this later today.

Larry

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Good post, Greg.

I agree that everyone has a worldview by which they "interpret" reality, whether they realize it or not. This is why I cringe when I hear people talking about the uselessness of philosophy; everyone utilizes philosophical thinking in their understanding of...well...anything! The problem is that unless we carefully consider where we get our ideas (what we believe), our worldview/philosophy tends to be inconsistent.

The "Christian" worldview, in my opinion, is not only consistent with reality, but also how we actually live in and interact with reality. Christianity just makes the most sense out of reality and our place in it.

Cornelius Van Til and his disciples in the "presuppositional apologetic" discipline have much quality material about "worldview" and specific philosophical issues. One of my favorite books on this issue is by John M. Frame: "Apologetics to the Glory of God" and Ronald H. Nash's, "Worldviews in Conflict". The book that Nitewrit (Larry) is reading is also a very good book.

My favorite author at the moment is Cornelius Plantinga, Jr. His material is excellent in helping us to understand the purpose of God in creation and the meaning of reality and our place in it. And this is really the substance of philosophy, right? What is life? What is reality? Why are we here? etc. I cannot recommend enough reading C. Plantinga's material.

As for the discussion about "days vs. millions of years", I'm with you that it is not necessary to the Christian faith to believe in a literal six-day creation. I've been dealing with this issue for a while now, and I'm always disappointed when this becomes a litmus test for orthodoxy. Textually, either case is supported. Contextually, I believe the "framework" theory is the most Biblically sound.

In the framework theory, it doesn't matter how quickly God made the heavens and the earth because that's not the point of the Creation account. A good rule of hermeneutics is to ask the questions that the Bible asks. The Creation account isn't concerned with answering the question of how old the earth is; it's concerned with laying out the principles of "order", "realms", "rulers of realms" etc. The purpose of the creation account isn't about the scientific viability of a six-day creation or how we can answer a skeptic of "creation" and attest to God's creative work. The Bible simply assumes creation and expects us to as well. We need to "listen" to the Bible and not concern ourselves with issues that the text is not dealing with. I'm not only (biblically) content in my understanding of creation, but I'm "free" to discuss the truly important issues of "life" and "meaning"; issues that the Bible itself is preoccupied with. :-)

Jason

Tamela's Place said...

Greg,
I am not a debator it is something i try to avoid. I am a good listener and I will try to understand where others are coming from but I have found that there are many who just do not care about The Truth Of God's Holy Word. And we must be careful to not throw our pearls before the swine because they will only trample them under foot and then turn on us.

I believe that there are absolutes. There is a right way and there is a wrong way. The right way is the narrow way and the wrong way is the broad way and many will choose the broad way and be destroyed.

We live in a world of tolerance and acceptance of evil and it is getting worse.

I believe in bringing the TRUTH of God's Holy Word in love and pray that God will open the hearts of many to receive. There are people out there that are hungry to hear the Truth.

I believe we as Christains should pray and ask God to allow those people to come across our path. They will hear and they will listen and they will rejoice.

Many blessings to you and your family! Tamela

jeleasure said...

O.k. Greg,
I will ask Craig for permission to snap a photo before, and I will explain why. Then I will send it.
BTW. I see you are preoccupied with celebrities. Cool, wipe the stars from your eyes. Don't forget about us little people.
(Hint, Hint. I posted to your blog. Visit no. three.)

Great Googly Moogly! said...

Thanks Greg for the comment. I responded and directed you to a link. If you want to discuss this issue, that's fine with me. If not, that's cool too. I'll probably start posting some on this issue again in the future.

GGM