The Invisible Nature of Worldview

The Invisible Nature of Worldview

Some time back the hard drive on my computer died. Fortunately, I had most of my important data backed up and was able to get it back when I got my new computer. My e-mail program, though, was not backed up. But I had a friend who took my hard drive and was able to recover the lost data. It took the recovery program literally 3 months to dig the data out, but I finally had it. By that time, I had a new computer and my e-mail program was back up and going. At that point, I thought it would be good to reinsert the old data so I went through all of the proper steps and put it in. Basically everything was fine when I did this, but there were a couple of anomalies – nothing major, but they were a bit annoying.

So I went to the tech support website to try and figure out how to solve the problem. There was a procedure to work through, so I did it. But it didn’t solve my problem. The next step was to send an e-mail to the support folks. From that, an actual person e-mailed me back with some questions. We went back and forth several times so I could explain the problem, then he sent me a process for solving it. When I read his e-mail I was completely blown away.

I am sure that you have dealt with people before who are literally geniuses in their field, but are virtually incapable of explaining how to do something in a way that a lay person can understand. Well, that was this guy. I hardly understood anything he had written. And when I asked a simple question to clarify his explanation, what came back was an even more detailed explanation with dozens of contingencies. It took, literally, three weeks to finally get my problem worked out. After finishing the process and looking back at what I ended up doing, it all could have been handled in about two e-mails with the right explanation.

The truth is, I had no idea that the possibilities for dealing with that program were so vast. I only work with it on a surface level. And for me, surface level knowledge (or ignorance) is really quite sufficient for working with this program.

But, that cannot be said for every subject. There are some things where remaining ignorant is not an option. For Christians in our day, ignorance of worldview is one of those areas.

The fact is, you, and everyone else in the world, have a worldview. But unless you have studied the topic, you probably have no idea as to its nature. Worldview relates to the assumptions people make about the nature of reality. While this definition may initially sound daunting, it is really not that complicated. All we are talking about, here, is a particular set of beliefs that individuals hold.

But these are not just any ol’ beliefs. This is a particular set of beliefs that underlie all of a person’s other beliefs. These beliefs are so basic that most people are not even consciously aware of them, and certainly don’t know why they have them. They are so basic that they generally fall into the category of assumptions that people hold.

These beliefs also relate to a particular topic – the nature of reality. Reality, in this case, is simply what is actually real. We get at reality by asking three basic questions: Does God exist or not? What kind of creature is a human being? What is the ultimate meaning that a person can get out of life?

Recently I had an e-mail discussion with an Atheist. During this conversation, he kept insisting over and over that he did not adhere to any faith and thus he didn’t have to account for faith beliefs like “religious” people do. He was not even aware that his understanding of reality is solidly planted on a faith foundation. He was totally convinced that his beliefs about reality were based on science. This is a perfect illustration of how fundamentally basic worldview beliefs are. They are so basic, it is hard to imagine that anyone could believe anything else. They are so basic, they are considered to be objective fact, even though they are beliefs.

For instance, this Atheist insisted that his belief that God does not exist is factually based. The truth is, there is no science which can demonstrate a belief like that. In fact, Atheism is built completely on faith. But Atheists don’t generally see it. They tend to think that everything they believe is based on science.

This assumptive nature of worldview is true for Christians, as well. We do assert that our belief is built on faith, but our underlying assumption is that God exists and that he is the God described in the Bible. When people say they don’t believe in God, many Christians can’t fathom that they really hold that belief from their core. I don’t know how many times I have heard Christians express the sentiment: Maybe they say they don’t believe in God, but just watch when they get in trouble and see who they turn to. But if they are true Atheists, that is not the way they will respond. They believe God doesn’t exist to the same degree Christians believe he does. And it is hard for them to imagine that Christians can believe the “superstition” of the Christian faith.

The truth is, we cannot get at worldview beliefs by scientific enquiry. A worldview is a set of beliefs. That doesn’t mean, though, that people can just believe anything they want as if there is no such thing as objective reality. There is some actual way that reality is structured. We can live life as if it is structured a different way, but it doesn’t change the reality.

Also, we are not left without a means of getting at the truth. We have logic, empirical enquiry, human experience and revelation from God. If we look in the right place with an open mind, the truth about reality can be discerned. If we don’t look in the right place we will still live life from beginning to end, we just won’t ever be in sync with the way reality is actually structured.

For Christians in modern society, worldview is actually a very critical thing to understand. The fact is, we interact with many people who hold different worldview beliefs than we do. If we are serious about sharing a witness with them, we must know what they believe at this very basic level. Otherwise, we will not be able to share the gospel message in a way that makes any sense to them.

I want to challenge you now to make a commitment to make your worldview education a priority of your Christian training this year. If you do, you will find yourself in a position to be a more effective witness for Christ than you have ever been before.

© 2012 Freddy Davis