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Worldview Basics (Part 3- Selection of a Worldview)
“Reality forces itself upon our consciousness, and evokes the assent of the attentive and unprejudiced mind. When man resists the evidence of the real he does violence to his own intellect, and is able to detect his own insincerity.” -Avery Dulles
In the two previous posts I introduced the concept of worldview. A worldview is the set of basic presuppositions, values, and commitments that we use to interpret the world around us. This post will look at the essential criteria for the selection of a worldview.
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Selection of a worldview
The globe is full of different worldviews jockeying for prominence and competing for adherence. Therefore, on what basis do we select one worldview over another? Two critical criteria for evaluating and choosing a worldview are: 1. Is it reasonable? 2. Is it applicable?
Is it Reasonable?
In selecting a worldview we should want it to be reasonable. In other words, we want it to be coherent and non-contradictory. We do not want to select a system of thought that is inconsistent with itself or the world. If we encounter a worldview that is internally self-refuting or externally false, we do not want to adopt it as our own. We should expect that the worldview we hold conforms to the basic laws of thought/reason/logic. What are the basic laws of thought (sometimes called the First Principles of Reality)?
- The Law of Identity– states that everything is that which it is. If a proposition is true, then it is true.
- The Law of Non-Contradiction– states that “being is not non-being.” A thing cannot at the same time be (this) and not-be (this). “Nothing can be and not-be the same thing at the same time in the same respect.” In other words, no proposition can be both true and false.
- The Law of the Excluded Middle– states that “a being either is (this) or is not (this).” Between being and non-being there is no intermediary.” A thing either exists or it does not exist. In other words, any proposition is either true or false.
With an understanding of these foundational laws of reality, it is possible to rule out several worldviews as false from the get go. Here are a few examples of some views that violate the law of non-contradiction.
- Relativism (in any form)- This view is expressed in such phrases as: “Everything is relative” Is that statement itself relative? “There is no absolute truth” Is that statement absolutely true? “What’s true for me is my truth, what’s true for you is your truth” Is that statement true for both of us? “Everything is culturally conditioned” Is that statement absolutely true or culturally conditioned? The point is that the Relativist wants to make a statement that is non-relative, but relativism by definition denies that possibility. It is self-refuting. It does not conform to reality and thus we reject it as false!
- Monism (in any form), which denies particulars, must deny the laws of logic- which maintain particularity. Adherents of Monistic/Pantheistic worldviews always put down “western” logic as something that does not apply to them. Monists deny the laws of logic but the fatal problem here is that in order to deny the laws of logic, one must use them to deny them. This is obviously self-refuting and thus does not conform with reality as it is.
- Naturalism (in any form) is inherently irrational and must be discarded as a worldview unworthy of adherence. Please see my article “Truth, Rationality, and the Existence of God” for a more thorough treatment of Naturalism’s fatal flaw.
Is it Applicable?
The second critical criterion for selecting a worldview is its applicability to real life. In other words, Does it match our experience? Can we live with it? Lets consider briefly a couple examples: Relativists are never consistent with their own views. I have not yet heard of a relativist who consistently lived according to her own views. For example, consider the person who says that there are no absolutes, or that what is true for you is true…, etc. That same person would probably consider it “wrong” if I were to walk off with their tv. Yet their worldview does not allow them to make any moral judgements. This is also a problem for Naturalism and Monism.
This post has briefly discussed the selection of a worldview. Both reasonableness and applicability are critical criteria for choosing a worldview in the marketplace of ideas. At this point I have suggested that non-theistic worldviews are not worthy of adherence by rational persons. However, this case was not exhaustive by any means and still leaves open the question: Which theistic worldview is true? Until next time I will leave you with the following quote to remind you of the importance of thinking worldviewishly to life.
“Then I learned that all moral judgments are value judgments and that value judgments are subjective and none could be proved to be either right or wrong. I even read somewhere that the Chief Justice of the United States had written somewhere that the constitution expressed nothing more than collective value judgments. Believe it or not, I figured out for myself even what the Chief Justice could not figure out for himself, that if the rationality of one value judgment is zero, multiplying it by millions would not make it one wit more rational. Nor is there any reason for anyone to obey the law. Like myself, who has the boldness and daring and the strength of character to throw off its shackles. I discovered that to become truly free, truly unfettered, I had to become truly uninhibited. I discovered that the greatest obstacle to my freedom, the greatest block and limitation was the inconsistent limited value judgment that I was bound to respect the rights of others. I asked myself, “Who were these others?” Surely you would not in this age of scientific enlightenment declare that God or nature has marked some pleasures as moral or good and others as immoral or bad.”
The argument of this individual is consistent with his relativistic-naturlistic worldview. It is an excerpt taken from a tape recording, which Ted Bundy made before raping and murdering a young woman. Before Bundy’s rape and murder of the woman, she asked him, “Don’t you think this is wrong?” He responded, “In any case, let me assure you my young dear lady, that there is absolutely no comparison between the pleasure I take in eating ham and the pleasure I anticipate in raping and murdering you. That is the honest conclusion to which my education has lead me.”
False worldviews spawn false actions and Non-theists are hard pressed to refute any other worldview claims or actions, even Ted Bundy’s. Why? because they have no rational basis for their own worldview! They have no basis from which to draw the line.