31
Dec

Is Christianity the Best Worldview?

sssChristianity is often touted as the way to “save” men – not in the ultimate sense of their souls, but in the sense of fixing what’s “broken” in them. A person “finds” religion and reforms, putting behind them some of the temptations of the flesh.  Often times, connecting with the ultimate source of good can help people who are struggling – but not always. And so, sometimes the apologist is challenged with a question like one I was asked not long ago:

There are many people out there who hold other world views that are perfectly satisfactory to them. I’m sure there are others who don’t have any world view at all and are fine with that. Christianity claims to have all the answers, but if that’s the case, why are there so many people who seem perfectly content without it? In other words, why should I adopt your worldview”

This is a challenging question, because it is quickly apparent that success in the material or worldly sense does not require one to be a Christian, or even to act like one. After all, selfishly pursuing one’s own interests can work to one’s advantage for quite some time.  So, if this present life is all there is, then Christianity has nothing to offer that the world does not already have. But to a thoughtful person, there is more at play than simply what pleasure he might obtain today. An adequate worldview must answer more than how to maximize one’s earnings, or one’s pleasure. It must make sense of the tough questions that haunt us in the still and darkness of the night, questions such as: “why are we here?” “what’s next?” “how should we live?” and “what is required for salvation?” Many people today live lives not of reflection but of hyper-stimulation. They may never have taken the time to examine their worldview, and as they bounce from one activity to the next, they push away the nagging sense that something is missing. So it is that they may not realize, at least not for a very long time, that they are operating on a very “stripped down” view of the world, one that highlights pleasure and power, but ignores those things that endure.

But a worldview is not like a car. A driver may be perfectly satisfied with a stripped down model because he doesn’t want comfort or elegance, just the ability to go fast. But there are no “stripped down” versions of reality. A worldview that can’t answer the important questions of life is misguided, regardless of whether one realizes it at the time. A good worldview is one that corresponds well to reality. It’s worth adopting because it approaches the “true.” We see this, of course, when we consider life’s necessities, things like food, shelter and companionship. Following a view of reality that is false will bring pain and misfortune, as each of these good things can be dangerous if not chosen wisely. The importance of avoiding poisonous food or disloyal friends is apparent to all, but a worldview goes beyond simply the basics. The best worldview to adopt, then, is the one true one, the one that completely conforms to reality.

Given our limited abilities, no one can know with clarity if their worldview is that perfect one. In the end, though, a worldview either corresponds to truth, or it doesn’t. To the extent that it doesn’t, it is inadequate and one should keep looking. This investigation can be difficult, because knowing anything with certainty is itself difficult, but it’s worth the trouble.  As a person continues to investigate, they should start to be able to draw some conclusions about the historical reliability of the  events – the truth claims – upon which Christianity is based. They should see as well the soundness of Christian doctrine, as it makes sense of the human condition in a way that other worldviews cannot. Christianity doesn’t promise a perfect life in the here and now. Indeed, following Christ is guaranteed to bring trials and hardships.

But if what you want is a worthy life now – a life well-lived – and the guarantee of being made perfect by the One who defines perfection, then the Christian worldview will be your ultimate destination. 

Posted by Al Serrato

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5 Comments

  1. JM says:

    You wrote, “A worldview that can’t answer the important questions of life is misguided,” but what if no one has the answer? What if no human being can possibly comprehend the truth? In that case, any worldview that answers these important questions is false! The true stance should be to acknowledge our ignorance.

    If certainty is impossible, then it’s futile to keep looking. And the worst thing of all is to pretend you know with certainty.

  2. TW says:

    “The best worldview to adopt, then, is the one true one, the one that completely conforms to reality.”

    Seems that it might be good to be suspicious of any worldview that, among other things, requires you to accept it or suffer the consequences of Eternal Damnation. And how exactly does this belief in Eternal Damnation find its foundation in reality and what we know to be true? It might be a lot of things, but to claim that this belief conforms to reality seems to be a stretch.

    This is just one of many that seems to have very little foundational footing in reality.

    Just a thought.

    • Al says:

      Thom, information about eternal damnation, and other things beyond the realm of our senses, comes from Jesus. I can neither prove nor disprove the existence of such a place using my own personal knowledge or using science. Consequently, for me to know what reality consists of beyond the phyical universe, I need access to an intelligence that itself transcends this creation. Jesus is that source, and the historical evidence of his resurrection authenticates his message. If he could fulfill prophecies and conquer death in the manner that he did, he is worth listening to, as it appears he is who he claimed to be.

      John, you say that it is futile to keep looking where certainty is impossible. But there are very few things we can know with complete certainty. Acquiring knowledge takes time, effort and collaboration. The process of learning, testing, and revising one’s views is how the scientific method operates, and how research (whether historical or scientific) is conducted. To abandon the effort because doubts exist would be quite shortsighted, it seems to me.

  3. TW says:

    Al,

    Of course you are left with no other recourse than to appeal to Jesus and what you think he said or apparently said about certain matters to which we have absolutely no knowledge of in any way. Left with that you must appeal to your belief in his Resurrection, a belief which can be disputed and contended against on many levels. Once again, Belief alone is the engine that drives your worldview and it ultimately rests on the Resurrection.

    The significant question to ask is this: What is more important, the Truth or what you can get people to believe? Any appeal made to the New Testament documents as a source for Truth must immediately be questioned because of the tendenz of the authors. We even find in John 20:30-31 the expression of this bias when the author writes, “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.

    Given this bias towards belief and wanting people to believe do you think it possible that this author simply invented stories and accounts to achieve this end? It becomes a legitimate question given the numerous stories that appear only in this gospel.

    What methodology do you employ to distinguish between those things that you consider to be true beyond a doubt and those stories that you are willing to dismiss because they seem to smack of bias and are agenda driven?

    This becomes important especially since much of worldview is founded upon Jesus and his Resurrection. If you believe in the Resurrection what parts of the New Testament are you willing to dismiss, because they lack methodological foundation, and still arrive at a belief in the Resurrection? This becomes of primary importance because of the numerous stories and accounts that appear only in one gospel and are found nowhere else. Are you willing to eliminate all such stories and still come to a belief in the Resurrection and to argue for its historical nature? Or, do you conveniently include them in your argument because it serves your purpose and the Belief you already embrace? These are no small matters and questions. Methodological consistency is important at this point.

    What are your historical, indisputable “facts” to the Resurrection upon which you base your Belief? After all, your entire worldview rests upon this event, as you yourself have said.

    As always, thanks.

    • Al says:

      Thom, to say we have “absolutely no knowledge” about matters relating to the resurrection is a mischaracterization which leads you to your mistaken conclusion. There is indeed evidence relating to that event, and yes, the evidence is subject to being disputed. That should come as no surprise, as all evidence and all belief is subject to at least some argument. The point is that Christians do not appeal to Jesus’ words as proof to support their belief in the resurrection; they view Jesus’ words as reliable because they are satisfied that the proof of his resurrection is worthy of acceptance and belief. The passage you quote in John demonstrates why the writer (and others like him) felt that it was important to provide evidence. Any witness testifying to an event would want to be believed, if they cared about truth. While you would test for bias, and for false statements, the fact that they cared about what they were saying is not a disqualifier of their veracity. Do I think they invented the stories? No, since they would have no reason to invent stories that did not benefit them in any way, but did quite the contrary. It would be roughly similar to a rational person (which these writers clearly come across as) inventing crimes to confess to that he never actually committed. Yes, it’s possible in the abstract, but I would have no reason to believe it occurred. The problem with your approach, in the end, is that you have imposed upon the research a false dichotomy between “evidence” and “belief,” concluding that these past events are “mere” beliefs. That is not how history is done.

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