The best description that I’ve heard of a world view is that it is like a pair of glasses. If you have red lenses then you will see everything red. If you are using orange lenses then you will see everything orange, etc…
It is the same way with our beliefs. If someone is an atheist, they will view life through “atheist glasses”; if they are Buddhist, then they will see life through “Buddhist glasses”; and if someone is a Christian, then they will see life through “Christian glasses.”
Once you understand a person’s worldview it helps you understand their perspective and stance on life and religion. This is important when engaging in a conversation especially when it comes to discussing different views on religion.
There are three major worldviews that are prevalent today. Monism, Naturalism, and Theism are the most influential worldviews. Most of today’s religions funnel from one of these three perspectives. However, for a worldview to have any value it must answer four fundamental questions:
1. Where did the world and man come from?
2. Where do morals come from?
3. Is there any absolute meaning in life?
4. Where does man go after he dies?
If a worldview can’t adequately answer these four questions, it is really not worth believing in because it cannot help guide me through life. So, let’s look at these three worldviews in light of these four questions.
Monism is the belief that everything is ultimately “one.” There are absolutely no distinctions that can be made in life. Distinctions are actually just illusions that we must learn to overcome.
Where did the world and man come from? Monistic religions (Buddhism and Hinduism) generally believe that the world and the universe are eternal (has always been and will always be there.) They reject the consensus of modern science and do not mind believing in contradictory statements since logic is primarily a Western ‘invention.’
Monism provides no answer to question one.
Where do morals come from? Karma is the moral law that drives the universe forward within Monism. Within this moral system, you have both good karma and bad karma. However the big problem here is that if there are no distinctions in Monism, how can there be both good karma and bad karma? For that reason Monism fails to answer the question of morality.
Is there any absolute meaning in life? Again Monism has the same problem when it comes to finding meaning in life. If everything is ultimately one, then that means there are no true distinctions between things. If this were true, then there would be absolutely no meaning in life for individuals since individuals are a contradiction to oneness. Again no answer found.
Where does man go after he dies? The soul at death becomes part of the cosmos. The cosmos is one, eternal, and impersonal existence and your soul will become a part of the whole.
Here we find a possible answer but it doesn’t satisfy because of the unreliability of the first three answers. If your beliefs can’t provide a valid answer to questions 1-3 then it makes the answer to number 4 unreliable.
Naturalism is the belief that all that exists is the natural world. The only way we can ever know anything is through our five senses. There is no God, there are no souls, and heaven/hell does not exist.
Where did the world and man come from? Naturalists have to believe one of two things about the origin of the universe: 1) it has always been here (eternal) 2) it popped into existence out of literally nothing.
The problem here is that the consensus of science tells us that the universe is not eternal and that it did not pop into existence from nothing. No answer is found in either of these two options.
Where do morals come from? According to the naturalist morality is the product of evolutionary development. Since the world is purely the product of physical and biological evolution, then morals must have evolved as well.
According to the theory of natural selection only those characteristics that perpetuate a species survive. Therein lays the problem for naturalism and the evolutionary ethic because it cannot explain why we should be good. Just because something may have originated one way does not mean there is any obligation that we should have to do it.
Another point here is that evolution cannot explain such acts as the sacrificing of one’s own life for the lives of others. Evolution tells us to do whatever it takes to preserve our own life not sacrifice it for others. There is no answer for morality found here.
Is there any absolute meaning in life and where does man go after he dies? Meaning and destiny do not exist within naturalism because the physical body is all that truly exists. Once the body dies, the brain and consciousness die with it; therefore there is no ultimate purpose or end for living.
Theism believes that although the world exists and our senses can detect the world, there exists another dimension where God exists.
Where did the world and man come from? There is a definite beginning to the universe and God was the cause of it. Since the universe must have a cause and since it could not cause itself the only reasonable explanation is that something caused it. That is where Theist point to an all powerful God as the cause giving us an answer to the first question.
Where do morals come from? Because God exists and His character is unchanging, He has established certain morals that are absolute and unchanging.
If God did not exist the only reason stealing would be wrong is because society tells us so. But so what? Why is anyone obligated to listen to their societal laws?
God is the source of morality.
Is there any absolute meaning in life? Since man is made in the image of God everything he does matters to Him. Every act and every thought reflects our relationship to God and therefore every single act has meaning.
Where does man go after he dies? Heaven is described as a place where there is no sin, sickness, or death. Heaven is a reward for all of God’s children who have put their faith in Him and accepted Jesus Christ as their savior.
There is also an eternal destination for those who have rejected God and His love. It is described as a place of utter darkness and eternal torment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Not only does Theism answer the question of eternity but it is the only world view that adequately answers all four questions that guide a person through life. That makes Theism the only logical choice for a worldview.
Written with the aid of Walter Nusbaum’s “A Defense of the Faith.”