Worldview in Entertainment

Worldview in Entertainment

It goes without saying that virtually everyone loves to be entertained. Americans (and everyone else) spend literally billions (maybe even trillions) of dollars every year to be entertained. Besides individually spending money on sporting events, theater presentations, movies, television, art museums, and so on, our corporations and communities also spend big bucks to build venues of every kind where we can get our entertainment fix.

There is certainly nothing inherently wrong with being entertained, but entertainment comes in many forms and can be based on various moral beliefs. All entertainment is not created equal. What is considered acceptable for one person may be totally unacceptable for another. And the basis for evaluating the moral virtues or wickedness of any given entertainment is our worldview foundation.

There is a worldview portrayed in every kind of entertainment that we see. In order to understand this more fully, I am going to go through the seven worldview questions and give examples of some of the ways different worldviews are expressed in them.

1. What Is the Nature of Ultimate Reality?
Ultimate reality deals with the origin and sustenance of everything in existence; is it God or nature or the life force, for instance. A Christian worldview understand’s the God of the Bible to express ultimate reality and is the Creator and Sustainer of everything else.

Star Wars (movie) – Star Wars represents a Far Eastern Thought belief about ultimate reality. It portrays ultimate reality as the impersonal life force. For instance, when Luke Skywalker was attacking the Death Star, he sensed the inner voice telling him, “The force is with you.” He then turned off his computer in order to “feel the force” and was able to intuitively know when to drop the bomb.

Avatar (movie) – Avatar represents an Animistic belief about ultimate reality. It portrays a universe in which nature is alive with spirits that are interactive with human beings. One expression of this was when the humanoid creatures physically/spiritually connected with other creatures in order to control them.

2. What Is the Nature of Material Reality?
Material reality deals with the nature of the material universe. The Christian worldview understands the natural universe to be a temporal creation of God.

Cosmos (TV show) – Carl Sagan’s TV series on PBS is a classic example of the promotion of a Naturalistic worldview. His program had a slogan that began every show that stated, “The cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be.”

3. What Is a Human Being?
This question relates to the nature of the human person. A Christian worldview asserts that human beings are persons made in the image of God but are fallen because of sin.

Planet of the Apes (Movie) – This movie is built on the Naturalistic idea that it is possible for life forms to evolve based on Darwin’s theory of evolution.

4. What Happens to a Person at Death?
Worldview question number four deals with the possibility of an afterlife. The Christian worldview teaches that the human soul is eternal and will endure eternally following physical death either in or outside of the presence of God.

The Voyage Home (Star Trek Movie) – This movie expresses a mixed message about death. In order to save planet earth, the crew of the Enterprise have to travel into the past to save endangered whales. So, even though they would interact with people who were dead to their generation, there are physical natural laws which allow for time travel – a Naturalistic conception. But the fact that life can exist objectively in a past that can be accessed by people from the future could also be an expression of a Far Eastern Thought idea that everything exists in eternity.

5. How Is it Possible to Know Anything at All?
This question deals with the nature of human knowledge. The Christian view maintains that human beings have the ability to know because we were created in the image of God who, himself, has that capability.

Bicentennial Man (Movie) – In this movie a mechanical Robot eventually turns into a human being. This reflects a concept in Naturalistic evolution which asserts that the human brain is nothing more than a biological computer. The belief is that if a mechanical computer can be created with enough computing power, it too can become self-conscious and able to reason independently.

6. How Do We Know What Is Right and Wrong?
Worldview question six deals with the issue of the source of morality. Christian worldview teaching says that right and wrong are based on the character of God who has revealed this knowledge to humanity.

Fights (Sporting event) – Throughout history, human beings have enjoyed “the fights.” Most are done purely for fun, but there have been times when the nature of the events have reflected the values of particular worldviews. For instance, the gladiator fights in ancient Rome reflected an Animistic worldview belief that the lives of people who were not of their “group” could be destroyed and the gods not be offended. Thus, non-Romans and serious criminals could legitimately be killed in the name of sport.

In modern times, movies such as Bloodsport have reflected this same lack of value for human life, but based on a Far Eastern Thought foundation.

Most modern fighting events which are sanctioned by fighting organizations express a higher value for human life as they impose very strict rules about the kinds of strikes that are legal and are very quick to stop fights when someone becomes defenseless.

Pornographic movies – Those who make and view pornography have a worldview belief that there is nothing wrong with making and viewing sex acts. The worldview foundation for this can come from various places. It could be Theistic if “God” is understood to have revealed it to be okay. It could be Naturalistic as human beings are viewed only as purely physical animals and that this is “only natural.”

Bones (TV show) – Different characters in this TV show reflect different worldview beliefs. Bones, herself, is a pure Naturalist and doesn’t believe in such a thing as sexual immorality because there is no God to reveal morality. One of the lab technicians believes in a Native American Animistic approach to life. The FBI agent claims to be a Catholic Christian, but doesn’t necessarily believe in traditional Christian ideas about sexual morality.

Piss Christ – (Art Display with a Crucifix in Urine) – This art exhibit was supposed to depict the contempt with which modern society views the Christian faith. The fact that it was partially paid for by the U.S. government through the National Endowment of the Arts is an illustration of how non-Christian beliefs are promoted in the public square.

7. What Is the Meaning of Human History?
This question deals with meaning in human life. A Christian worldview holds that God created the material universe to accomplish his purpose which is being carried out as history goes forward.

The Truman Show (Movie) – This was a movie in which the characters were unknowingly raised in a film studio. Their lives were a literal reality show without them knowing it. Those producing the show (in the movie) held a Naturalistic belief that human life didn’t really have ultimate meaning and that those in the show could be used in this way.

Summary
We could have gone on endlessly with the examples. Literally every expression of entertainment emerges out of the worldview belief system of those who create and distribute it. Some of the forms can easily cross worldview systems (such as we saw with the “fighting events” illustration above). Others specifically demonstrate the beliefs of a particular worldview (for instance, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos). By understanding the worldview belief possibilities, we can view movies, TV shows, and other kinds of entertainment in a way that allows us not to be negatively influenced by them. This knowledge also provides us an instrument of witness if we will use it that way.

In spite of the fact that non-Christian worldview beliefs are common in the entertainment arena, entertainment, itself, is a legitimate engagement that God provided to humanity. We need to employ it based on God’s purposes.

And indeed, many people do. Over the years the Billy Graham organization has made movies based on a Christian worldview. Many other organizations continue this tradition today. Beyond that, many churches and other Christian organizations have sports teams and provide all kinds of other entertainment based on a Christian worldview.

As Christians, we not only need to push against the non-Christian worldview values represented in much modern entertainment, we need to be active in producing and pursuing a Christian worldview through entertainment. As we do, God will strengthen our own faith and use it in our lives to lead people to know him more fully.

© 2012 Freddy Davis