Thursday, August 4, 2011

As The Worldview Turns

At the last book club meeting I attended, we reviewed the book, "There Is A God" by Anthony Flew. At one point in the discussion, we began to discuss worldview. I described how my Christian worldview no longer fits well with either the data before me or my personal experience. However, the atheist worldview doesn't fit very nicely and neatly either. A friend made an analogy that describes my current state well. It's like recognizing that both quantum physics and Newtonian physics furthers our understanding of the world, despite their conflicting ways of describing the universe, but restlessly looking for some unified theory of everything that integrates all our knowledge and makes the best sense of the world. I really don't have an expectation of developing a satisfyingly complete narrative for the life of the universe, but that won't stop me from continuing to search.

We are wrapped in a worldview by our parents at birth. Typically we understand the world through it, but sometimes it becomes so difficult to do so that we actually stop to examine our worldview rather than examining everything else through it. It can be a perplexing, confusing, and disorienting experience. Our brains hardly know what to do without a way to create narrative out of our experiences. As Michael Shermer has stated, our brains are wired to believe.

I realize that a worldview is exactly what I am seeking. No framework will explain everything, but some will make better sense than others. How to decide? Is it which one explains the most? Or is it which one can explain some vital question? Or should the criteria be more pragmatic, such as which one gives me better quality of life (whatever that exactly means)? How have you decided which world view to adopt? How well does it fit?


  1. I think finding a worldview is what is causing a lot of us doubters angst. The ultra-conservative worldviews we once held are no longer viable and we don't swing to an ultra-liberal worldview. Without the Bible telling us what worldview to hold we struggle to formulate our own.

    With that comes a loss of community. We no longer fit in with our ultra-conservative friends and we don't fit in with complete left-wingers. Given that, at least for me, all of the community I had built around me was Bible believing, inerrancy espousing, Christians I'm realizing just how narrow and one-dimensional my life had become. I have no place to belong and that's scary, but I'm learning to navigate it.

  2. I suppose that part of being finite is learning to live with ambiguity. For my part, I am committed to using reason and logic to navigate my way through life. Sometimes it makes us uncomfortable to follow reason to its logical conclusion. Accepting the probable absoluteness of death was probably hardest for me. I really like being alive.

  3. Here's a question. What is an atheist worldview?

    I've seen this concern over and over again through the years and each time I scratch my head and ask, "What does an atheist worldview involve &/or look like?"

    For you DoOrDoNot, what is the atheist worldview? Do you mean simply that you aren't sure about the supernatural? Just trying to understand. :-)

  4. DMA ,
    We don't belong anywhere together. :)

    Doug, I like life too!

    Zoe, I laughed when I read your comment because I asked myself the same thing when I wrote the post. I probably shouldn't have use the term atheistic s it's so vague. Maybe deterministic, mechanistic, reductionistic, materialistic (one of those is tics). It's a lack of explanation at this point in time for abiogenesis, a universe springing from a void, free will, consciousness, among others.

  5. Ditto what dmsa said. I think I would be more at peace if I wasn't homeschooling...and in fact, I often consider giving up homeschooling due to the socialization issue. (but we cant right now b/c we want to move to a different school system when the housing market picks up). I love the diversity of public schools. Homeschoolers can be so polarized and fundamentalist on both extremes.

  6. Rats. I was hoping you had a good answer DoOrDoNot. LOL! I'm on the hunt now for a concise answer to the question: What is an atheistic worldview? *grin*

  7. Apparently this topic is popular. You should check out Michael Mock's post on it.

  8. Thanks D'ma for the link, it was interesting. I agree with Michael that atheism isn't really a worldview. The strict empiricism that many atheists adopt is not what I can subscribe to. There are too many ways of knowing and I'd rather not ditch them.

    Doug, would you describe yourself as a strict empiricist and if so, how does that square with pantheism?

  9. No, I wouldn't so describe myself. Strict anythingism is a bit stifling to me.

  10. Community is good, I think we all need community. Finding like-minded folks on-line only goes so far.

    As for worldview and how did mine come about? Hmmm interesting question.

    In terms of what I like, how I behave and what makes me the person I am. I'd say that's pretty much unchanged from my days as a YEC. I certainly hope I am no less kind and no less likeable.

    One area where I have changed is my attitude towards science, that's come about through realisation that what I thought was wrong was right and vice versa. So now I hunger for knowledge and information of the scientific kind in a way I didn't before and I have very little patience for those who deny the realities of scientific study and evidence.

    How I view the world is still much the same. I still wonder in awe at the world around me. Its just what its directed at thats changed.

    Whereas before my Christian worldview dictated how I thought about the world. Now what I think about the world comes from a fresh understanding of how nature works. My worldview is likely changing in that respect but as a person I hope to remain mostly unchanged.

  11. Limey,
    Thanks for stopping by. I think I am more in awe of nature now than before myself. Are there any changes as a person that you have experienced that are positive? It seems like a worldview would lead to some type of behavioral change.

  12. Very good question DODN. Its one I am still sorting out myself and will eventually put a blog post about it on my own site as its relevant to my own story.

    I did go through a stage of wondering what sins I could now get away with, but that did last long. This was during a short period where I moved from the belief that morality comes from God to the realisation that morality is evolutionary.

    Now that's over I safely report that I am pretty much the same guy. What I like, what I respect, how I behave, how I talk, are all essentially the same now as before. I'm not aware of any significant changes in the sort of person I am.