The basic tenants and worldviews of naturalism, postmodernism and Christian theism are explored and how these worldviews have had an effect on the American culture. The philosophical implications and the tensions manifested out of beliefs established from these worldviews and philosophies. What is a Worldview? Everyone has an outlook on life, a particular way they view the world around them, a way that they find meaning and purpose to life, a method to which we view reality, a worldview.
A worldview, according to Sire, in The Universe Next Door (2009), is essentially this: A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being.
Each person holds an individualized belief that serves as a type of lens in which to understand their reality and how they relate in it, their thoughts on their existence and how they came to be and these views are held whether or not they have been deeply reflected upon or not or whether the person has simply incorporated the values, morals and beliefs from their familial traditions and/or religious backgrounds. The route a person takes to acquire a worldview is varied and very individualized; however, every person comes to hold their very own.
Worldviews are reflected in societies and the once theistic Judeo-Christian worldview that served as the moral, ethical, and political framework of America began to shift in the early twentieth century. The emergence of secular ideas and teachings directed at these fundamental principles began weakening society’s commitment to their very foundations. Naturalism, secular humanism, materialism and most recently postmodernism have changed our traditional Judeo-Christian views on morality, politics, ethics, and served to create a culturally indifferent
America that is spiritually apathetic and theologically confused. (www. battlefortruth. org, March 8, 2012) Basic Tenants of Naturalism: The worldview from the perspective of a Naturalist is a system of thought that rejects all spiritual and supernatural explanations of the world and holds that science is the sole basis of what can be known, and that all religious truth is derived from nature and natural causes, and not from divine revelation. (“Naturalism,” 2012) Naturalism is a worldview, a philosophy, a general understanding of reality and humanity’s place within reality.
Naturalism is usually defined most briefly as a philosophical conclusion that the only reality is nature, as gradually discovered by our intelligence using the tools of experience, reason and science. (Shook, n. d. ). To better understand what naturalism is, we must break it into types: Metaphysical Naturalism and Methodological or Teleological Naturalism are the two types of naturalism that have had a profound impact on Western culture and have served to restructure the worldview of the twentieth century to present.
Methodological naturalism is a commitment to particular methods of inquiry for particular, limited purposes. Natural science methods are focused on uncovering physical facts and regularities without prejudging whether physical facts and regularities exhaust reality. (Bishop, 2009). This is the process commonly known in elementary schools across our nation as “the scientific method” and has allowed science to uncover and explain our natural world through testable, proven, physical facts that result in knowledge. The scientific community holds these findings as provisional until new evidence is discovered.
In contrast to methodological naturalism is metaphysical naturalism which makes a commitment to a picture of what really exists: namely only matter, energy and their interactions. (Bishop 2009). Metaphysical naturalists maintain that reality is exhausted by nature, containing nothing ‘supernatural’, and that the scientific method should be used to investigate all areas of reality. (Krikorian, 1944) (Kim, 2003). Truth, therefore, is relegated to what can be known by man through procedures that can be tested and retested with the same results.
The point is that as human beings we are simply a part of the cosmos. In the cosmos there is only matter and we, humans consist only of matter, the laws that apply to matter and we humans do not transcend the universe in any way. (Sire, 1976/? 2009). In a recent interview, noted Cambridge physicist, Stephen Hawking, stated that he rejected the idea of life beyond death and emphasized the needs of human beings to fulfill their potential on earth by making good use of their time. Hawking further commented that the human brain is comparable to a computer that will stop working when its components fail.
He continued: “there is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark. ” (Hough, 2011). The naturalist philosophy holds to the commitment that basic human nature, values, and purpose are widely shared by benefit of being rooted in our collective evolved nature; it is not imposed by a master designer or supernatural creator. Naturalism is an objective, self-reliant, self-deterministic philosophy that accepts sciences best understanding of human nature and morality and the human ability to form peaceful, orderly societies based on experience, data, reason, and science.
In short, the human experience is governed by free will and one’s own determination to find personal meaning and fulfillment in life. This widely held belief is accepted, either as a whole or at least in increments by Western societies presently. Naturalism is and has been the backdrop of modern literature, psychology, evolutionary doctrines, education, history, and politics and has eroded the foundational Judeo-Christian theistic beliefs in America to a more secularized amalgamation of morality that can be determined by physical laws and material changes. Smith, 1982) (Hodge, 1872) (Greene, 1898).
This wearing away of the Judeo-Christian worldview by the philosophy of naturalism appears to be a replacement of science as a “religion”, and devoutly held as a source to be worshipped for its merits of strength and certainty. Basic Tenants of Postmodernism: In a universe thought to be devoid of a creator, it gives rise to a multitude of significant questions, the predominating one, “what’s the purpose and meaning of it all? ” this query seems to take central focus, at some point in a person’s life.
The naturalist worldview has convinced many that humans consist of nothing more matter and that the examined life is not worth living; the horizons of our perspectives, our possibilities, and our worldviews have all but vanished. (Sire, 1976/? 2009). After all, it was Nietzsche that announced that “G-D is dead” (SparkNotes on Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), n. d. ). All that appears left in our modern world is that of cultural apathy, moral relativism and spiritual confusion.
A definition for the worldview of postmodernism is broad and varied belief system that is tied to philosophical and theoretical views of reality. Postmodernism proposes that reality is ultimately unreachable by human inquiry, that knowledge is a social constructs, that truth-assertions are political power plays and that the meaning of words are determined by the reader. In short, postmodernism view of reality is whatever individuals or social groups define that reality to be and that no one’s definition or story is more or less credible than another.
Postmodernism contends that there are multiple realities and multiple truths while rejecting the concept that reality is external and can be comprehended. (Corey, 2005/? 2009). Since the worldview from the postmodernist vantage point argues, at times loudly but seemingly always political, for multiple forms of truth, blurred, ambiguous boundaries, no single Truth, and for the necessity of subjective experiences we must draw attention to a few of the implications this has had on the moral, ethical and political climate of the American culture as a whole.
It seems that within the last fifty years or so that atheists, agnostics, naturalists, secular humanists and other opponents of Judeo-Christian beliefs have been working over-time to try to convince society that these values and belief systems are outdated, unenlightened and inexplicable, bigoted views, that are willfully held onto by unintelligent people. (Craven, 2012).
A Washington Post, writer Greg Paul, encapsulates this culturally acceptable worldview that has swept our country: “…As the irreligious best sellers-sell, and the scientific analysis gets published, it is increasingly clear that Western atheism has evolved into a forward looking movement that has wind at its back, is behind the success of the best run societies yet seen in human history, and is challenging religion as the better basis of morality. ” …”to be religious is to be stupid! ” (Paul, 2011) Basic Tenants of Theism:
Christian theology affirms theism, the belief in the existence of a supernatural G-D. Christian theism rests on two solid foundations; special revelation (the Bible) and general revelation (the created order). It’s the Christian position that history, theology, philosophy, science, mathematics, logic, and personal experience all point to the existence of a Creator and Redeemer. The Christian worldview affirms the existence of an intelligent, all powerful, loving, just and awesome G-D who exists in the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
From this perspective, the foundation of meaning is found in the first Scripture of the Holy Bible, Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, G-D” and the verse goes on to proclaim that the Sovereign, omnipotent G-D, who created all things in heaven and earth, is the same Holy, merciful, G-D who took upon Himself human form in the person of Jesus Christ to restore and redeem the fallen, sinful state of humanity by His death, burial, and resurrection. A thoughtful reading of this passage depicts a very literal sounding creation story, but we so often hear the forewarning, “You can’t take the creation story literally.
Genesis 1 speaks of the creation of the sun, the moon, the stars along with the birds of the air and the fish of the sea; all of these are physical, living and quite literal. Also mentioned in the passage is the day, month and year that are depicted as literal in conjunction with the beginning of humanity, Adam and Eve. The depiction of people in Genesis is real, literal and evidenced in the Bible by their descendants. If Adam and Eve were mythical, it would be hard to determine where myth ends and history begins in the genealogy of the human race.
As the Psalmist, King David marvels, “When I consider Your heaven, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O L—D, our L—D, how excellent is Your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:3-9).
Incredibly, the Creator of the universe has given mankind the power and authority over His physical earth. So, it stands to reason that there are the Creator would know best His creation’s needs. However, discipline doesn’t always “feel good,” and generally, it’s the “hard” choice to make so people have in essence, “given up” before they even try to discover the eternal hope that Christian’s hold so dearly. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the L—D! As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
The prevalent worldview was actually prophesied by the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy, written while imprisoned by Roman Emperor Nero, around A. D. 66. But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of G-D—having a form of godliness but denying its power. 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 1985/ 2002)
The text continues speaking about unbelievers with a profound accuracy in verse 7 that they “are always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. ” This passage, written centuries ago, sums up the current worldview of our culture, people are endlessly searching for knowledge, truth, love, forgiveness, appreciation, mercy, compassion, etc… but their search is in vain because of a refusal to come into the Creator’s perfect will and purpose of a committed obedience and trust in Him.
The charge that the Apostle Paul puts to Timothy and to every follower of Christ is in this: You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the L—D rescued me from all of them. In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and imposters will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you learned it, and you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise, for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is G-D breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of G-D may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. ” (2 Timothy 3:10-17)
The richness of Christian Scripture is alive and full of truths that speak to the very core of the human soul (a person’s mind, will, and emotions) and to the person’s spirit (the inner-man that is eternal and able to commune with the Creator); as a Christian counselor, I feel it is my responsibility to openly, reflectively, and empathetically listen to any client that I have the privilege to serve without passing judgment or transferring my Absolute Truth on to them.
It is my opinion that hurt and broken people need to feel the love, hope and acceptance of Christ that can shine through the life of a committed follower of Jesus Christ and to always be prepared to give an answer for the hope, the joy and the peace that I have found in the midst of a fallen and chaotic world.