May 4, 2012 by
Nathan Sasser is one of the speakers at our upcoming worldview conference, The Clash, and to give you a little preview of the conference, Nathan has agreed to share some of his thoughts on worldview. Here's what Nathan has to say in response to the question "what is a worldview?"
People disagree about ordinary beliefs all the time: what’s the shortest way to the Smoothie King? Who will win the World Series or some political election? Is that guy in the airport terminal Bruce Springsteen?
When you want to defend your answer to questions like this, you tell people the other beliefs upon which you base your answer. So for example, you might say, “I know this is the shortest way because Google Maps says so.” Or, “I’ve tried both ways and this way took me longer.” Or you might say, “I think the incumbent will win the election because Americans tend to vote for the incumbent.” Or, “I know that’s the Boss because he exactly matches my memory of Springsteen.”
We can keep on asking these “why” questions: why do you trust your memory of Springsteen? Why do you think that Americans will follow the same voting patterns this year as they have in the past? How do you know that the shape of the earth didn’t change since the last time you clocked your route to the Smoothie King? If we keep on pushing the “why do you believe that?” questions further and further back, we eventually reach our most foundational beliefs, the beliefs on which we base all of our other beliefs.
Your worldview is the entire structure of your beliefs, a structure that rests on your ultimate foundational beliefs and supports your ordinary, everyday beliefs. This makes your worldview like a “house” or “pyramid” of knowledge.
If you think about this a little bit, it is probably obvious to you that not everyone has the same foundational beliefs about the world. In fact, if you think about it a little bit more, it may seem like there is an infinite number of foundational beliefs, and that might explain why there are so many different kinds of worldviews.
Some people aren’t sure whether they have any foundational beliefs at all. They are doubtful about all sorts of fundamental claims: is there really such a thing as right and wrong? Am I living in a dream? Isn’t everyone’s perspective biased?
But even the most skeptical among us don’t have a lot of doubts about what will happen if they jump off a bridge, or whether 1+1=2. What this shows is that everybody has some foundational beliefs that they don’t question, even if they’re simple ones like the belief in gravity or arithmetic.
My claim is that there are ultimately two kinds of worldviews: those based on the self-revelation of the God of Scripture, and those based ultimately on anything else—anything created. This changes not just how you think about your spiritual life, but how you think about gravity, math, the sun rising tomorrow, and whether or not you’re living in a dream.
If you want to find out more about the conference, visit The Clash's page on our website and start following The Clash on Facebook and Twitter.