A Place for Evidence: Worldviews

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One of the best ways to show that Christianity is reasonable is to compare it to the other belief systems. Another way to describe a belief system is to call it a worldview. At its most basic level, a worldview is a framework through which or by which we make sense of the world. Because your worldview is like a lens through which you view and come to conclusions about reality, it shapes the way you live your life.

Remember what we said about the truth? Truth corresponds to reality, to the way things really are. So blending these two definitions together, we can say that our worldview helps you get to the truth. With that in mind, it would seem that using a worldview is a pretty important task in life. Searching for a right worldview should be at the top of everyone's to – do list. The trouble is, most people aren't proactive when it comes to investigating worldviews. Instead they do one of two things: Either they inherit their worldview from their family through tradition, or they merely absorb the ideas and lifestyles of the culture around them, whether that involves tracking the media or following the crowd. Your worldview is very important because it helps you answer questions about these things:

  • Origins – where we came from
  • Identity – who we are
  • Purpose – why we are here
  • Meaning – what life is all about
  • Destiny – where we are going to

Your Search Matters

One of the main benefits from putting so much effort into this search of a worldview is that when you arrive at a worldview that is reasonable, well thought out, and consistent with reality, you will be able to live your own life as reasonable, thoughtful person who makes decisions based on the ultimate realities of the universe. That may sound rather cosmic, but the benefits are extremely practical, the biggest one being that you're able to confidently answer life's take questions: where you came from, where you are, why you're here, what your life is all about, and where you're going when you die.

What are the Options?

A lot of religions are out there – a religion is simply a set of beliefs – as well as a lot of ideas about the world. But all belief systems actually stem from three major worldviews.

First, Naturalism. This worldview says that reality includes the natural world and nothing else. Naturalism begins with scientism, a belief that only things we can truly know – physical objects, properties, events, and propositions – are things that can be proven scientifically. This worldview leaves no room for the supernatural and there is no room for God. Consequently, when you try to answer the questions about origin, identity, purpose, meaning, and destiny, you are left with these answers:

  • There is no explanation for how the natural world came to exist; evidently it came out of nothing.
  • After the "nothing", matter, energy, and forces just happened.
  • No planning or design was involved because no planner or designer existed. Everything has happened by random mutation and natural selection.
  • Human beings aren't any better than other life forms, just more advanced.
  • Humans have no purpose for life larger than what they can create.
  • There is no life beyond this life; everything and at death.

Does naturalism correspond with Reality?

Naturalists believe their worldview provides answers for everything that is real in the universe. There's only one problem (and it's a big one). By definition, naturalism leaves out the supernatural. By implication, it says that supernatural beings and supernatural occurrences aren't real. However, if God, who is supernatural, exist, then naturalism falls short of reality.

Second, Moral relativism. In this worldview, propositions about nature or reality are not simply true or false. What we believe depends on cultural, social, and linguistic contacts at the particular situation in question. In other words, truth is relative. What's true for one person may not be true for another. What's true in one location may not be true in another. And what's true today may not be true tomorrow.

Relativism doesn't necessarily rule out the existence of God, but it doesn't establish God as an objective reality. Because truth is relative, belief in God and the supernatural is relative.the relativistic framework doesn't include the objective, transcendent God created humanity in his image and who exist apart from his creation. In this worldview, God is who or what we want him to be.

Clearly, there are different forms of relativism just as there are different forms of naturalism. But the bottom line is that both worldviews lead to one bleak conclusion there is no objective meaning or purpose to life. You are on this earth for a few years, you do the best you can, try to make the world a better place and in the end you will die.

Does Relativism Correspond with Reality?

This is an interesting question because in this framework, reality is subjective. There is no such thing as objective truth. The problem is that in saying that all truth is relative, the relativist is making an objective statement (in philosophical terms, that means the argument about all truth being relative is self-refuting). The other problem is that when push comes to shove. Two people with alternate views or perception of something that is real – let's say a car sitting in a parking lot – will ultimately agree that the car belongs to the person to whom it's registered rather than the person who wants to steal it.

That's not to say that people with naturalistic or relativistic worldviews can't be happy and productive. and don't think for a minute that these worldviews rule of faith. The naturalists can have faith, as long as it's faith in some kind of physical object, property, or event. And someone with a relativistic view can have faith as well, as long as it's personally helpful or enriching. However, in both cases, if your talking about a reasonable faith that leads you to the objective reality of God, and that's an entirely different matter. In fact, it's at the heart of our third worldview.

Third, Theism. This worldview includes an infinite, personal God who created the universe. God is both transcendent over the universe that means he exist apart from it and emanate in it that means he is involved in it. Biblical theism answers the great questions about the universe and life with these propositions:

  • God created the world out of nothing (Genesis 1:1).
  • God created people in his image, which means all humans share some of his characteristics (Genesis 1:26-27).
  • God lovingly created us in order to glorify and enjoy Him (1 Corinthians 10:31).
  • We find meaning in life as we invest in his internal values (Matthew 6:33).
  • Each of us has an eternal destiny and can, by God's grace and an exercise of faith in Jesus Christ, chose to spend eternity in heaven (1 Peter 1:3-4).

For many people in particular those who hold a naturalistic or relativistic view, these propositions sound like wishful thinking of people who willfully set aside the harsh realities of our universe instead believing in fairy tales that promise eternal rewards and happiness. All you have to do is believe in Jesus. It's understandable that people would view theism and Christianity in this way.  The story told in the Bible does sound amazing, especially the many supernatural elements. However, when considering a worldview, the issue is not how good it sounds or how satisfying it is to the people who believe it. Only one issue counts: Is it true? Does it correspond with the way things are?

The Difference Between Knowing and Showing

William Lane Craig, makes a distinction between knowing that Christianity is true and showing that Christianity is true. First, you can know your faith is true even if you don't know everything about your faith or have an answer to every question and every doubt. Faith adds trust and commitment to believe. Faith is a decision to trust in Jesus. If it were simply a matter of mental understanding, even the demons would be saved! But faith is more than knowledge. The act of faith comes from the heart, and saving faith comes from God. Second, you're not alone when you attempt to use reason and evidence to show the truth of your faith. God has given you some extra help.

Knowing Christianity is True

For the Christian, knowing Christianity is true comes through the "self authenticating witness of God's Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit plays a role in the life of the unbeliever. this kind of knowing is along the lines of confidence or assurance. That's because God sent the Holy Spirit to be Christ's presence in us. Jesus explains it in this way "but when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative – that is, the Holy Spirit – he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything that I have told you" (John 14:26).

The Bible is clear that people don't seek God on the own (Romans 3:10–11). The only way any of us open our hearts and minds to even consider God is through the Holy Spirit. Jesus explains it in this way, "and when he – the Holy Spirit – comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world sin is that it refuses to believe in me (John 16:8 – 9).

The Holy Spirit is the key! How many people had you known who have all the evidence they need for the existence of God and yet still refuse to believe? It isn't because they lack evidence, but because they are resisting and ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Or because they have been hurt by a negative experience with the church or other Christians. Or because they have been misled by a false presentation of the Christian message.

Showing That Christianity is True

You may know your faith is true, but how do you show it to be true to someone who wants to know? Here the role of evidence and reason is very important. But the Holy Spirit doesn't take a backseat while you lay out your persuasive arguments and evidence. The Holy Spirit will act to use your arguments to convince unbelievers that Christianity is true.

In Summary:

  • The three main belief systems or worldviews are naturalism, relativism, and theism. It's reasonable to arrive at a worldview that is reasonable, well thought out, and consistent with reality.
  • When considering a worldview, the issue is not how good it sounds or how satisfying it is, but whether or not it is true.
  • There is a difference between knowing and showing that Christianity is true. For the Christian, knowing Christianity is true comes through the self authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit. Evidence and reason help the Christian to show Christianity is true.
  • Faith in evidence leading to truth will never contradict each other.

Reflection and Discussion:

  1. Which of the 3 world views is common today? Which one has the most popular appeal for today's culture?
  2. Why do you think popular culture has disdain for the theistic worldview?
  3. As best as you can, explain how the self authenticating witness of the Holy Spirit helps you to know your faith in Christ is real and true. What can you do to increase the power of the Holy Spirit in your life? (See Galatians 5:16 – 26.)

Reference:

Bickel, Bruce and Stan Jantz. Evidence for Faith 101:Understanding Apologetics in Plain Language. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008, 48-57

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