What is a worldview?
A worldview is a person’s view or understanding of the world. It’s your framework for working out what is real and what is not. In other words, a worldview is a set of beliefs, assumptions, and values that arise from a narrative about the world and produces individual and group activities that shape human behavior or culture. One’s worldview is primarily their unconscious intuitive response to any given circumstance.
Every person has a worldview whether they think so or not; whether they are religious or not. One may also borrow beliefs from other worldviews. For instance, one may participate in cultural rituals, like the holy fire, and genuinely take part. At another time, the same person may become an advocate of the theory of micro-evolution (specie to specie). Yet again, two worldviews may share some form of common ground, agreement in some terms. This should be expected since human origin is based here on earth, this is one global village. Hence, it is possible that one’s belief system is a mixture of worldviews. But, the point is here, everyone has a worldview, which is ultimately one’s truth claim.
Why study such a subject?
Is there a need to learn what worldviews are or what my worldview is? Yes, it is important because you cannot run away from it. You are part of a worldview, and those around you have a worldview either like yours, similar to yours, or different from yours.
However, this study is important firstly because of the truth. For the sake of pursuing truth, a worldview must be examined because it claims to be true. Even the belief that there is no absolute truth, truth is truth for you or how you want the truth to be. Not believing in absolute truth is in itself a truth claim called relativism. The question is, is that really true and can you live in a society like that? So the discourse on worldview ought to first allow you to examine your worldview and determine whether it is true and based on reality. Are your actions in line with your assumed beliefs? If not, then what does that say about your ‘claimed’ worldview?
Thinking about worldviews is important secondly because the world is a global village. We are not as far from one another as we think. We will run into each other, relate to one another, fight with one another, and share with one another. Hence, empathy for the next person should be our inevitable response, particularly when we can figure out their belief system.
The point is here: Everyone will have answers to the big-picture questions about our world which will slope their view toward or away from the truth. Let us consider these big-picture questions next.
The Big-Picture Questions
These questions help to isolate one’s set of beliefs and what is assumed.
The key ones:
- Origin: Where do I come from?
- Identity: Who am I?
- Meaning: What is my purpose?
- Morality: How should I live?
- Destiny: What happens when I die?
- What counts as knowledge of reality?
- Who is a “really good” person?
- What is the nature of the world around us?
- What is a human being?
- Why is it possible to know anything at all?
- How do we know what is right and wrong?
NB: It is imperative that answers should be consistent with each other, non-contradictory, and logical to reality, for the truth to the established.
Examples of Worldviews
- Secular worldview
- Scientific worldview
- Postmodern worldview
- Religion worldview (Theism, Atheism, Pantheism, Panentheism, Deism, Polytheism)
- African (Others) Traditional worldview (This may also be a sub-group of religious worldview)
Under each category many sub-groups may be derived, e.g. under Theism there is a ‘Biblical worldview’. Worldviews are affected and influenced by other things, e.g. art, culture, literature, economics, and politics.
Although there may be many worldviews, the question of origin (where do we come from? where is this world from?) helps centralize the argument. From it, all other notions and assumptions are built around. Hence, one’s worldview will primarily center on ideas of a divine being, or it will move away from the idea of a divine being.
How to determine your worldview
Your beliefs, actions, and perspective of the world all define your worldview. Here are but three but not least of the questions to ask when defining your view of the world:
- What is the big story of the world?
- What are your basic beliefs?
- What do my actions say about my beliefs?
Here at Grace to the Nation we advocate for a Biblical worldview. Our stance is that the world must be interpreted through the lenses of Scripture. Our goal is to show what makes this worldview a truth claim and how it is consistent with reality and logical. In the coming months, we will explore the Biblical worldview and in fairness contrast it with other popular worldview claims.