What Is a Worldview? Why Should I Care?
Everyone has a worldview, whether they know it or not. A worldview is a soul-deep spiritual-level conviction regarding life’s most basic questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? The most basic conviction arises from a personal determination, either by investigation or by tacitly going along with the cultural crowd, regarding the existence or non-existence of God. That conviction becomes the passion that drives the rest of a person’s life.
Consider the difference between an emotional passion and a spiritual passion, which is easily clarified with a sports analogy. Suppose your favorite NFL football team has a great season and makes it all the way to the Super Bowl. For a week or so, before the big game the excitement builds until it becomes hard to think of anything else. Unless you have the means to travel a long distance and pay a very high price for tickets, you probably invite your friends over on the big day and put on a pot of your favorite chili.
An evening of screaming and hollering leaves you nearly voiceless. Win or lose, the game is the topic of water cooler conversation for the next day or so. Then—it’s gone—it’s over—just another statistic in sports history. That is an emotional passion. It is a temporary emotional roller coaster ride. It is great fun, but just does not last.
In contrast, consider the Olympic athlete who intensely trains for four, eight, twelve, or sixteen years enduring considerable pain along the way often sacrificing important aspects of life such as dating or family, in a relentless pursuit of the privilege of competing for one or a small number of Olympic medals. The medals do not have a great deal of tangible value and only a privileged few are ever pictured on the front of a Wheaties cereal box. However, the victories represented by the medals do attach significance and meaning to the life of the competitor, satisfying deep spiritual needs.
The victories or near victories separate the athlete from the vast majority of others who participate in the same sport, from childhood teams all the way to the Olympic team. Winning an Olympic medal is truly a world class achievement. Such an enduring passion and total commitment is a spiritual passion. The championship Super Bowl team may have pursued a spiritual passion as well. But for the fans, the game is merely an emotional passion.
A spiritual passion is the soul-deep conviction that forms a worldview and drives all aspects of life, including the choices made to satisfy the deepest spiritual yearnings for significance and meaning in life. Currently, there is a well-known credit card marketing campaign that uses the tag line, “What’s in your wallet?” The sponsors want their card to be in the deepest most secure part of your wallet, from where it will be used to transact most of your future purchases. Similarly, the worldview that is in your spiritual “wallet” will control most of life’s “transactions.” Consequently, the often taken-for-granted, neglected, or innocently assimilated worldview takes on monumental significance. Ultimately, there are only two worldviews. Either God exists or God does not exist.
Most of the early settlers arriving on the North American shores were seeking religious freedom. Their predetermined worldview confirmed the existence of God and His exclusive role as the only agent capable of completely satisfying all of a person’s spiritual needs. Judeo-Christian tradition formed both the foundation and the driving force of their lives.
Two hundred years later, the same culture became embedded in the culture of the United States of America, codified through the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. Although not everyone in the fledgling nation was a devout Christian believer, Judeo-Christian tradition so permeated the culture that it had a strong influence on virtually everyone’s sense of right and wrong, moral behavior, personal conduct, and interpersonal relationships. The American culture experienced a unique cohesiveness that successfully resisted the negative influences of other philosophies or belief systems.
As a result, the United States was blessed with remarkably close families and an abundance of prosperity. Unprecedented intellectual, emotional, and spiritual growth produced an outstanding quality-of-life resulting in generally good or improving personal health and a rich network of interpersonal relationships, beginning with the family and working outward. Similarly, America has enjoyed the world’s highest standard-of-living, related to accumulated material blessings. Both emerged from a God-centered worldview.
An opposing worldview, championed by pagan religious systems for several millennia, received a credibility boost when Charles Darwin published, The Origin of the Species By Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life in 1859. His concepts became known as the theory of evolution. Unlike passive religious systems, advocates for evolution quickly developed a confrontational relationship with Judeo-Christian tradition, because evolution appeared to provide a naturalistic explanation for every living and non-living thing in the universe. The naturalistic explanation became the basis for denying or marginalizing the existence of God. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul accurately described the confrontation. To other believers we are the “fragrance of life;” to evolution-driven people, we are the “smell of death.” [2 Corinthians 2:15-16]
The two opposing worldviews rest on the most fundamental question of the ages. Does God exist? The Judeo-Christian worldview says that God of love absolutely does exist and is personally interested in our earthly affairs and our ultimate eternal destination. The Judeo-Christian worldview is supported by nature and God’s revelation of Himself throughout Divinely inspired inerrant Scripture—The Holy Bible.
The evolutionary worldview, championed by Charles Darwin and a host of others purports that all life forms emerged from a combination of extraordinary lengths of time, chance, and necessity (natural physical laws). Although the scientific support for the theory is astonishingly thin, the culture’s blind confidence in science has enabled the theory of evolution to be widely accepted as fact—a “fact” which has had catastrophic effects on the American culture.
People of faith often find themselves caught in the crossfire between the two major worldviews. Most people do not spend hours and hours sitting around discussing the details of the theory of evolution or its impact on society. However, they do emerge from the public school system and many private school systems with an embedded bottom line image of man as simply a highly evolved animal. The schools disallow any discussion of the flaws of evolution or any possible alternatives.
For Christians and others, the mental image of mankind as a product of evolution is sufficient to cast doubt on the Genesis accounts of the beginnings, creating a vulnerability to increasing cultural pressure that is continually reinforced by politicians, news media, all manner of entertainment outlets, neighbors, work associates, and friends. The cultural pressure has been so great that there have been increasing attempts to compromise Scripture to accommodate science.
Whoa! What exactly is being compared? “The Bible is supreme truth, and therefore it is the standard by which scientific theory should be evaluated, not vice versa. Scripture is God’s own eyewitness account of what happened in the beginning.” John MacArthur Why should anyone seek to compromise God’s perfect Word to achieve apparent consistency with the woefully incomplete and imperfect findings of human scientists? What do you think?