Worldview versus Worldview


As of late, I’ve been trying to re-visit the concept of a worldview. That is, I’ve been trying to look at approaches to life as a series of answers to the questions presented all of us, wondering which set is most satisfactory.

This seems to be my point of departure from nearly all of the discussion on religious matters to be found online. It seems to me that the conversation seems to lend itself to religious individuals citing their own scripture as evidence for its truth, to atheists claiming that their position is somehow the default set of answers until others can be so proved, and agnostics claiming that the whole subject is so thoroughly outside the reach of human understanding that we should simply abandon the search for answers.

ImageThere are, of course, thoughtful people within all these groups. Still, I don’t think it is too much to say that the general tone is one of circular reasoning. Yes, if we believed a particular set of scriptures were inspired, we’d accept the religion it describes. If we believed that materialism is the position to take until some other one can be proved, we would be atheists. If I believed it were possible to live life without answering questions of ultimate origin, meaning, ethics, and so forth, we would be agnostics.

However, it seems that very little is being done to show that any of these three basic claims are true. As such, people mostly talk past one another in an increasingly angry fashion. Though I am a strong opponent of scientism, we’d do well to take a cue from science. That is, we should ask the big questions of life, then ask ourselves which “theory” gives the most satisfactory answers to those questions.

If the debate begins here, I expect that there will be much more potential for progress. It would end this process of comparing apples to oranges and encourage each of us to, at the very least, take a look at the potential weaknesses of our view.

8 responses to “Worldview versus Worldview

  • Tafacory

    Peculiar things worldviews are.

  • mtemples

    It strikes me that “approaches to life” might better be considered removals from life. Life will spite our philosophies as soon as bolster them. It goes on while we stop to think how to think about it. I don’t really consider atheism or agnosticism to be approaches to life as they don’t actually offer philosophies. Rationalism and realism seem to me to lead us to a morality that brings the good things to life more surely than supernaturalism. To me, supernaturalism just clouds the issue, while religionists see it just the opposite, that supernaturalism clarifies the issue. Truth, with a capital T, is overrated. It is no more than what is real. We either think the supernatural is real or we don’t (a tautological truth). In either event, we have to fill that thought up with things that are important to us – our moralities and our stories. It is lamentable, isn’t it, that we continue in our one-upmanship by claiming that my stories are better than yours. Better just to share our stories without publicly making fun of the other guy’s. The trouble comes about because want others to have the truth we find in our own stories and moralities. Then, to yoke that to religious or political fervor, and well, . . . you know what happens.

    • debilis

      I definitely agree that ridicule and judgmentalism have no place in reasonable discussion.
      Still, what you are calling “rationalism and realism” are as much approaches to life, complete with philosophical underpinnings, as any other worldview.
      All this is to say that there is no getting around having a philosophy, our only choice is over whether or not we are going to have a good one. That being the case, I am personally very concerned about what metaphysical assumptions are being made by any given position.
      The most difficult, of course, are the positions that are so deeply ingrained in our thinking and culture that they seem self-evidently correct. Many have a hard time even recognizing that these positions are metaphysical assumptions.
      So, that gets us back to comparing theistic views, not to atheism or agnosticism, but to secular approaches to life – trying to determine which best explains one’s experience of the physical, the moral, and the meaningful.

  • c emerson

    How do we accomplish this?

    • Debilis

      You do ask tough questions, and I’m grateful for it!

      The best I have at the moment is to study as many views as one can. My personal opinion is that this is the most valuable part of studying history. It offers other views, and largely side-steps my prejudices in doing so (as it introduces views that I don’t have strong opinions about).

      But, from which “higher” perspective can we determine which view best accounts for what we experience? That’s where I’m completely stuck.

    • c emerson

      Exactly. Just thinking out loud here, consider these ‘sources’:
      – sacred scriptures (assumes revelatory explanations)
      – natural world (assumes either immanence or a physical limit)
      – metaphysical or artistic construction (assumes the capacity to rationally construct, intuit or otherwise apprehend a ‘correct’ understanding or model of what lies outside of scientific inquiry)

      Of course we routinely draw from all three sources, without necessarily examining the relevant constraints. This should give both of us something to chew on. Have I missed any obvious other sources – or subcategories? Thoughts?

    • Debilis

      I think those are very good categories.
      They would definitely be the list of things we’d be trying to explain. I’ll have to think on subcategories, though. I really should write up a list of things to put in.

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