Welcome to the third instalment of my series - Thinking Matters. If you are a newcomer to this ongoing conversation, I recommend reading here and here to catch up. Let's move right along to the next reason why thinking matters. If we as Christians do not think seriously about what we believe and why we believe it, we are left with a hollow worldview. Before we delve deeper, let's define some terms.
What is a worldview?
I searched far and wide for a good definition but alas. So, here is my best shot at what encompasses a worldview -
Worldview: the framework of presuppositions, ideas and beliefs through which an individual or group interprets reality.
From this definition, we pick up on an important aspect of worldview - everyone has one. Where we were born, how we were raised, our education (what (if any), where, when) - all of these factors play a part in the development of a worldview. Whether you are an award-winning evolutionary biologist or part of an unreached Amazonian tribe, you interpret the world and everything you see in it through the lens of your own presuppositions and beliefs.
What does it then mean if a worldview is hollow? Just as you knock on someone's head to ensure there is indeed something inside, a close examination of a hollow worldview will resoundwith emptiness. Presuppositions can be groundless and lead to false conclusions or vice versa - where hopeful beginnings end in absurdity. Sometimes, the starting and finishing lines of a worldview can tickle the ears and appeal to our deepest human desires, but when challenged by the harsh realities of life, they fall like a house built on sand.
Hollow examples include:
- A naturalist is in awe at the wonder of the physical world in all of its intelligibility. The logical conclusion for worship is the Designer behind the design, but their naturalistic presuppositions closed the door on this option before the conversation even starts.
- The spiritual type who turns his back on evil and suffering in an attempt to rid them of their power and influence. They are quickly found out in this painful world.
- The nihilist, disillusioned by the excessive pain he sees, trumpets Meaninglessness as his call to arms. This, however, is an untenable position - human experience offers plenty of things that are meaningful (and how do you meaningfully fight for Meaninglessness, anyway?).
If you have read my previous two articles, you will have heard me comment on the tendency for Christians to have their minds and actions influenced by the dominant thought trains of the day. Regarding the development of worldview, this is no different.
The harm of a hollow worldview
In a marketplace, goods and services are offered to customers in exchange for capital. Convincing argumentation is presented as to why this product should be purchased and if the customer is persuaded, they will part ways with their money to obtain it. If the consumer is pleased, he or she will often recommend the product to others. This increases the influence of the vendor, enabling them to spread their product through larger client bases and make more money.
In an analogous way, Christianity, like any other view of reality or belief system, is competing in a global marketplace of ideas. In this environment, interpretations of reality and the meaning of life are legion and the competition is often fierce. They are sold with convincing argumentation, persuading the consumer that they need this way-of-looking-at-the-world in order to have the most fulfilling life possible. These products are not bought with physical or digital capital, but with our allegiance. And in much the same way as above, satisfied converts can't help but share how this change has benefited them.
I am sure I don't need to stress the inadequacy of analogies. In fact, you have most likely exposed some flaws in the one I have just offered. I have definitely made it all look quite simple. It is not. Christians stand in the midst of a world with heavy baggage. We face objections of various types - intellectual, emotional, moral. By not thinking seriously about what we believe and how it makes sense of the world around us, we add more fuel on an already raging fire. We need to seriously and intelligently engage in this marketplace and provide powerful reasons for people to buy into the Christian worldview.
Towards a Christian worldview
What is the solution? How do we develop a cohesive Christian worldview that is credible, answers people's questions, and brings honour and glory to the name of Jesus? I offer three brief suggestions that I am convinced are part of getting back on track.
Firstly, Philosopher Douglas Groothuis proposes 7 criteria to evaluate a worldview:
- Able to answer life's big questions
- Internal logical consistency
- Factual adequacy
- Existential viability (doesn't shy away from our everyday experience)
- Intellectual and cultural fruitfulness
- Does not make radical ad hoc readjustment when challenged
An entire article could (and should) be written on the importance of each of these criteria, but for now they providea good starting point for exposing the flaws of today's dominant worldviews, and demonstrating the power of the Christian alternative.
Secondly, we need to develop a rich theology. Rather than being a Christian swear word, theology is the lifeblood of the believer - without it, we would die. Theology is the content for filling in the worldview criteria above and demonstrating the strength of the Christian position. Simultaneously studying the Bible, works of theology, and the history of Christianity is vital in this endeavour.
There is one more thing we can do to begin to see change - we can pray. The task before us is enormous and we will not succeed if we trust in our own ability and inventions. Evaluating and studying are exercises in futility unless the Holy Spirit sets fire to them. When articulating the jaw-dropping panorama that is the Christian worldview, we desperately need the God at its centre to help us. May He graciously bless our attempts to love Him with all of our minds and may our thinking bring glory to His Great Name.
Cody Knox lives in Wellington, New Zealand. He works in ICT for the New Zealand government and in his free time he loves to read, write, and run. Feel free to get in touch at email@example.com.
Cody Knox's previous articles may be viewed