My worldview

What is prime reality?

My prime reality is God, who exists trinitarily. My life and everything I do with it should be centered around Him, and if it’s not, then I must be doing something wrong.

What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

The world is created by God. Everything that exists exists because he brought it into being and allows it to continue that way. Everything in creation is in submission to God.

What does it mean to be human?

Humans were created by God just like the rest of creation except they are different because they are created in his image (Genesis 1:26). Like the rest of creation, humans are completely dependent on God. Because they can never be perfect, humans need God in order to obtain salvation.

What happens to a person at death?

There are either two outcomes that happens when someone dies. Either they go to heaven as a result of accepting God’s gift of salvation or they go to hell as a result of rejecting God’s gift of salvation.

How and why is it possible to know anything at all?

Since God is the creator of all things, he is the ultimate source of knowledge. He gives us this knowledge through a couple of ways. The most important way that God does this is through the Bible, his word. God also created humans with a reasonable mind to discover his creation. Lastly, God gives knowledge through special revelation, although this is not as common and not as important as the Bible.

Is there right from wrong and how do we know right from wrong?

God is our moral compass. We know right from wrong through him, and he gives us the Bible as a guide.

What is the meaning of human history if any at all?

Human history is important because it shows how God has worked throughout time, especially in the Bible.

What personal, core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

My goal is to give God glory in everything. Everything I do should reflect his glory. More than that I should also point others to him.

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Naturalism

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Part One

Naturalism has become a popular worldview in our culture and is evident in the movie Jurassic Park. Obviously evolution plays a big role in the plot. A common theme in the movie is that life is always moving forward and evolving. Although naturalism claims that God does not exist, they treat life itself as if it is some kind of force that chooses how the world should function, like a god substitute. At one point in the movie, this idea is discussed: “Life breaks free. Life expands to new territories. Painfully, perhaps even dangerously. But life finds a way.” This idea that life finds a way implies that there is some force that causes the world to act as it should. Throughout the movie, the characters debate whether or not the dinosaurs should have been brought back. Some think that it is an educational experience that can increase human knowledge while others think that it is an interruption of life’s path. In the end, they decide that life should have indeed been left alone. After all the praise of humans and human knowledge, they decide that humans are not at the top of the food chain, so to speak. This seems strange, considering that all of their knowledge and rationalization come from human knowledge and nature alone. Altogether, the worldview that Jurassic Park represents is inconsistent.

 

Part Two

Naturalism’s history extends back a surprisingly long way. The Ancient Greeks can be credited with most of naturalism’s beginnings. Greek philosophers decided that religion was too human focused. They believed that their worldview should be inclusive of all perspectives in nature. After rejecting these human centered gods, they started the beginnings of naturalistic thinking, especially in the Ionian school around 600 B.C. This is when naturalism first started to take root and science and reason became prominent in the world views of many across the globe.

So what exactly is naturalism? Stemming from the name, naturalism is basically the belief that nature is all there is. Nothing that is not seen or experienced with the senses can exist. The slogan at the top of the Naturalism website sums up this idea quite nicely: “Nature is enough.” According to naturalism, there is no need for anything outside of what can be seen and heard and felt. This includes any type of god or force acting outside of our external world. Basically, naturalism relies wholly on science and human reason.

Like in Jurassic Park, naturalism is found in many facets of modern society. It pops up in books, movies, and music everywhere. Whenever I think of naturalism, I always think of the author Jack London. Almost all of his works are heavily focused on nature and the wild. Many of his characters find a connection to creatures in the wild or even just nature itself, stemming from the view that the world is not human focused but is equally focused on plants and animals. In some of his books, nature even acts as a kind of force that is calling us back to our primal state (specifically in The Call of the Wild and Before Adam). This has the same inconsistency that Jurassic Park has, a god substitute while still holding the disbelief in God. Naturalism today has even become a part of our education system. Evolution is heavily taught in our school’s science classes. Naturalism is found in more places than one would think.

 

Part Three: Death and Afterlife

Death and what happens after it is a difficult topic to discuss. Obviously no one can say from experience what happens after death because once someone reaches it he cannot come back to tell of it. This dilemma is a sort of way to level the playing field when it comes to this debate.

Since naturalism only believes in the physical world that can be sensed, it follows the belief that life ceases to exist once the physical body has died. Of course, Christianity believes that life continues after death as the soul moves on to another realm so to speak. Naturalism might ask what kind of proof there is for that. One piece of evidence that Christians might offer is near death experiences. There are countless accounts of hospital patients experiencing a type of consciousness even though their physical body was deemed dead. Naturalists might refute this by saying that that is a phenomenon that happens when the brain starts to deteriorate and die, but some who have experienced this have recovered to full functionality, proving that their brain did not deteriorate. (More information found here)

Overall naturalism is the belief that “nature is all there is.” However many of their beliefs, such as their belief in no life after death, can be refuted through careful and considerate conversation.

Deism

In the conflict between naturalism and Christianity, deism seems to be a sort of compromise between the two. It has become increasingly popular in our culture today, especially among teenagers. Christian Smith discovered this trend when he interviewed a variety of teenagers from around America and asked them what they thought about religion (article found here). Many of their responses seemed to line up with deism quite closely. A lot of them believe that God exists but does not interact with the universe very much if at all. They also believe that as long as you are a decent person, there is nothing to worry about. Everything is as it should be and the world will work itself out. To understand How our modern culture fits so closely with deism, let us take a closer look at the principles of deism.

Deism holds the view that there is a God, but he was only necessary to create the universe. Now, they believe, he takes no part in the function of the world because the universe is a closed system. This kind of thinking is evident in the song “From a Distance” by Bette Midler (lyrics found here). The basic message of the song is that God is watching us, but only from a distance. It seems like he is always an arm’s length away. That is a reoccurring theme seen in deism: watching but never interfering, or even being able to interfere. This theme can be seen in the movie Hugo (summary found here). Hugo lives in a clock tower (a symbol in and of itself, which will be discussed later) in which he can look down upon the world and observe it, but he can never interfere with it. This depicts the idea that God is constantly observing the world, but never affecting it. But why doesn’t God ever interfere? The answer to this question is another key principle of deism.

From a deist point of view, the world works like a machine or a clock, much like the clock tower in Hugo. Deists believe that, like a machine, the world has working and moving parts, all of them perfectly fitted to complete their function. Nothing is out of place, missing, or extra. This is the reason that God does not interfere. Deists believe that if God were to interfere with the world, miracles being a sign of this, he would be claiming that he had made a mistake in its original creation. They believe that instead God created the world to work perfectly without him. Even more so, everything and everyone in the world has an intended purpose. All one has to do is figure out what their purpose is. Near the end of the movie, Hugo discovers that his purpose was fixing things. Once he realized this, he understood where and how he needed to fit in to the machine that he knew as the world.

As for morals, because everything has a purpose, deists hold to the view that “whatever is, is right” (explained more fully in The Universe Next Door). If someone does something that most people would consider wrong, it actually is not because it is that person’s purpose. By definition, the machine does not make mistakes. So when something and anything happens, that is how it should be. Whatever is, is right.

When comparing Christianity with deism, there are in fact a couple similarities, along with the more apparent differences. Obviously, we both believe in a God who is powerful enough to have created the universe. But the difference between these two beliefs in God is that Christians believe that God is acting and moving in our world, not just observing like deists believe. Exodus 3:7-8 says, “The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians.” This passage talks about how God is observing the world by seeing and hearing, but also adds action. “So I have come down”: God sees the affliction and interferes with the world to do something about it. Christians acknowledge that the world is not perfect and that God has to act in it because of that. The problem with claiming that everything that happens is supposed to happen is that the world is clearly not perfect. If the world is a perfect machine with no mistakes, why is there war or disease or death or heartbreak? How can a world riddled with such unpleasant things be considered perfect? I guess then the question that deists have for Christians is why doesn’t God stop it? This is a complicated question, and I can’t claim to be able to explain it in full detail, but I know that the imperfection of the world comes from the imperfection of human beings and our lack of ability to stay pure. The world is made a disaster because of our mistakes, not God’s.

Although Christianity and deism hold some similarities, their morals are completely different. They say that whatever is, is right, but Christians know that our morality is founded in God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Trusting in God is how we are made morally correct. Without him, we can only do wrong. The deist philosophy of morals does not seem to make much sense. I think everyone can agree that murder is wrong. There are even laws stating so. But according to deists, murder is not wrong because it happened, therefore it was meant to happen. The machine never malfunctions, so that person’s purpose must have been murder. Now most people would agree that murder is wrong. So where is the moral standard in deism?

I think the biggest problem with deism is the lack of hope. We are all just cogs in a machine working tirelessly for our purpose, whether we know it or not, until our definite and imminent end. Our job as Christians is to bring the hope of Christ and life after death to the hopeless. Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.”

Creation

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Where does the world come from? This question has echoed across human history, but it seems that we can never come up with an answer that everybody can agree with. Though there are many possible answers, the two that are most common are creation or Darwinism. Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” I believe this whole heartedly and here’s why.

Chance

The odds that a world that functions so perfectly well as ours would just happen to come into existence are very slim. Just think of everything that is necessary for our universe to exist as it is. Don Batton’s article talks about the absurdity of these odds. The odds of producing a single cell, with all of its necessary functions, is one in a number with 57,800 zeros. That number would take over 11 pages just to type out! Then imagine how much more ridiculous the odds would be to randomly create an entire universe! It seems difficult to think that people could believe in such odds, but people still do. Those against creationism point out that improbable things happen on a regular basis, so they could have also happened at the beginning of time in order to create the universe. For example, it is very difficult to win the lottery. With so many people participating the odds are very slim, but someone always wins it! Another example could be the rolling of dice. If you roll a die 500 times, you will end up with a sequence of numbers that is very rare and would be very difficult to repeat. But do you see the problem with these arguments and analogies? All of these things must have an outcome. The lottery requires a winner, and a die rolled 500 times will produce some string of numbers. But the making of the universe is not necessary. They claim that the universe came into existence by a big explosion, but why would it be necessary for that explosion to have resulted in any kind of outcome? How can that be necessarily possible? The evolutionist’s response to this is that we exist, therefore it is possible. But this is clearly circular reasoning! To me, the odds of a randomly created universe are to slim to believe in. It must have been created intentionally.

The Necessity of a Cause

Some people do not believe in creationism or evolutionism. They believe that the universe has always existed. They believe that there was no beginning to the universe but that its history stretches out into the infinite past. William Lane Craig lays out the argument against these ideas in three statements:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

The first premise seems obvious enough. Nothing in existence has ever been observed to have appeared out of thin air, simply coming into existence out of nothing. Even if the universe did come out of nothing, why did it only happen once? Would there not be other things throughout time that could magically come out of nothing? So from our observations, we know that everything that began to exist has a cause. This is where the question arises: what caused the Big Bang? How can an explosion come from nothing and be caused by nothing? What caused it to occur? Evolutionists might counter attack and ask what caused God. But a key distinction to be made about premise 1 is that it states that anything that begins to exist has a cause. God never began to exist, therefore premise 1 does not apply to him.

Some people will argue that the same objection can be applied to the universe, that it never began to exist. But this is unreasonable. This would suggest that an infinite past is possible, but that is absurd. The science of thermodynamics proves it wrong. Basically the second law of thermodynamics says that the universe will at one point reach heat exhaustion and will cease to exist. Scientists have proven this to be true. But if that is the case, then why has that not already happened if the universe really does expand into the eternal past? It does not make sense. If the end of the universe is going to happen eventually, it should have already happened if the universe has been in existence forever. This is how we can know that the universe does indeed have a beginning and that the second premise is true. (Here is a video that explains this argument with further detail.)

Finally, given that the first two premises are true, the third premise connects the dots and brings us to the conclusion that the universe does have a cause.

There are so many more arguments like these that can logically prove intelligent design. John 1:13 says, “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

 

 

 

COEXIST… or maybe don’t

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Coexistence is the new idea that is running rampantly across the United States and is finding itself plastered across countless bumpers and windows. What is this new idea and why has it become so widely popular?

The dictionary defines coexistence as “a policy of living peacefully with other nations, religions, etc., despite fundamental disagreements.” Well that does not sound so bad does it? It actually sounds like a good idea. But society today seems to have conjured up a different definition. Today, coexisting means accepting other world views and philosophies as our own, even if it goes against what we believe in. Coexistence calls us to reject our truth by declaring that ALL views are truth. Those who refuse to do this are viewed as hateful and stubborn.

Now this presents a problem. How can every worldview be the right answer? Surely there can only be one truth! Say there is a red balloon. It can only be a red balloon. Some may view it as a green balloon or even not a balloon at all, but it is still a red balloon. Some may argue about what shade of red the balloon is, but it can still be only one shade of red, regardless if people know what that shade truly is or not. There can only be one truth. On his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained this principle, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). What Jesus is saying here is that many people will try to find a way to eternal life, but will be wrong. Only a few enter through the one and only way.

More than that, we know that God wants us to spread the truth. He told us this in the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20) Clearly we are called to evangelize. We are called to tell people the one and only truth.

The problem is that people get offended when we attempt to carry out our mission.  They claim that we are trying to “shove our beliefs down their throats.” They say that our pursue of the truth is intolerant and insensitive. But this is not a surprise! Jesus knew that our evangelism would turn the world into chaos and told us so. He said in Matthew 10:34-36, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.'” In fact, this was predicted long before Jesus even came to earth. In his remarks, Jesus was actually quoting Micah 7:6. So this must be important! What Jesus is saying is that he knows that Christianity will stir controversy in the world, so much so that it will rip families apart. At first this verse seems harsh, but as we take a look around, we can see that its truth is ringing throughout the world today. Debates, arguments, controversy: all of these are running rampant throughout our society as people reject the gospel truth. We are not called to “conform to the pattern of this world” (Romans 12:2), or to coexist it is called today, but to share the good news and not be hindered.

The main objection people have to the rejection of coexistence as the world defines it today is love. Aren’t Christian supposed to love one another?

The answer is YES. A million times yes.

We Christians have gotten the reputation of sitting on our high seat and judging from afar. But those people are right. We are called to love. You may be thinking that rejecting coexistence and loving cannot work together. The subtle but very important detail here is that we are supposed to love the people not necessarily their beliefs. I think so many times we confuse these two things and focus on proving people wrong and boycotting them instead of loving them. This is where Christianity gets its bad reputation. How much more effective could our evangelism become if only we showed the love and compassion that Jesus Christ showed us ourselves!

 

Freewill vs. Predestination

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This problem has confused many Christians for centuries and has started many debates in the church. What’s the big deal? Why is the solution to this problem so difficult to find? Well first let’s explore why it is such a problem before trying to uncover the solution.

It is undeniable that God has given man free will to some extent. When he created us, he wanted to create creatures that were capable of choice, not mere unemotional robots or puppets. Many verses in the Bible talk about man choosing whether or not to follow God, some including Mark 8:34 and John 7:17. The Bible makes it clear that God does not force us to love him but that we choose to.

On the other hand, the Bible also seems to allude to the fact that God chooses who he desires to become believers. Ephesians 1:4-5 says that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world” and that he “predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ.” Jesus said in John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him,” and in John 16:15, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you.” The Bible clearly states that God chooses us to be believers in him. John 16:15 even says that we do not have the ability to choose him.

So do you see the problem now?

How can the Bible possibly say that we are free to choose Christ, but at the same time, only God can choose who will be saved? These two ideas seem to contradict each other.

First we must define exactly what we mean when we say free will. Most would define free will as every man’s ability to choose his own destiny, to be able to determine what his own fate will turn out to be. But we need to be careful because there is a distinguishable difference between free will and self-determination. Self-determination is the ability to be the ultimate deciding factor in one’s own fate. No one in all of creation is self-determining; only God is. Before we have looked at Scriptures that clearly state that God chooses who will be a member of the body of Christ. So really he is the only one who has the power and authority to decide one’s destiny.

We do not have self-determining free will, but we can still look at the Biblical definition of free will. John Piper defines free will biblically as this: “The human will is free when it is not in bondage to prefer and choose irrationally. It is free when it is liberated from preferring what is infinitely less preferable than God, and from choosing what will lead to destruction.” What exactly does that mean? Basically, this definition is claiming that before we become believers, we are unable to choose God’s way versus our own sinful nature. Many Scriptures can back this claim up. Romans 8:7 says, “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” Did you hear that? It cannot submit to God. Humans on their own cannot come to God. That is why we are described as once being slaves to sin (ie. Romans 6). We are stuck in our sinful ways and have no way to combat against is. But there is freedom in Jesus Christ! John 8:32 says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Only when we come to know the truth of the gospel is our will truly free, that we can choose God. So we do have a choice, but we are only able to make that choice when God frees us and allows us to know the truth.

Many objections to the idea of predestination comes in the form of, “Well that’s not fair!” People wonder how God can choose some and not others. Well I for one am grateful that it is not fair because if I got everything I completely deserve, I would be in a lot of trouble. And who are we to question God’s plan anyways? Isaiah 45:9 says, “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?” God knows and understands infinitely more than we can even imagine. We are his creation, and therefore cannot come even close to understanding his methods fully. Who are we to question him or demand an explanation for what he does? Rather, we should be forever grateful for his never ending mercy and grace.

Another common question when dealing with predestination is this: If only God can choose who is to be saved, why bother trying to evangelize? For one, evangelism is simply a command given to us as believers through the Great Commission. God as commanded us to tell others the good news, so we must obey. Second, God may have predetermined the end result, but we just might be part of the means. We could very well be part of God’s plan in order to bring others to him. He decided who would be in the body of Christ, and we help enact that plan through his will.

You may be thinking that none of this makes any sense. Well, frankly it is not supposed to. We can wrestle with this problem as much as we want, but we can never fully wrap our human minds around such a divine concept. But someday, when Christ returns, all these mysteries will be revealed to us!

The Secret Worldview of The Call of the Wild

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Being consistent in all of his writings, Jack London seems to have a well defined worldview. Many, if not all, of his pieces focuses heavily on nature. This means that nature is a prominent feature in his worldview. To look at this more closely, I have specifically chosen one of Jack London’s most famous works The Call of the Wild to analyze closely using common worldview questions.

What is prime reality?

In other words, this question is asking what is really and truly real, and how we know it to be real. Since The Call of the Wild focuses so heavily on nature, it seems that Jack London believes that which can be seen to be the true reality. However, he does give evidence in his novel of some outside force. There is a certain power, one may call it, that beckons Buck to come to the wild. Buck recognizes this force and is conflicted. Perhaps London is alluding to a force that binds the universe together.

What is the nature of the world around us — the external reality?

In The Call of the Wild, the world is wild, and in that particular region, untouched. Although it is dangerous, it is pure. London seems to allude to the point that the world has always been there. It is ruled by ancient, unwritten code. Even the dogs obey it, for instance when they eat or fight. This unwritten law brings order to the world.

What does it mean to be human?

In this novel, humans are depicted as cruel and harsh. They try to control the world around and take it for their own. Almost all of Buck’s masters abused him. Some were just cruel and beat him for no reason, while others were stupid and did not understand the wild, causing him and the other dogs much pain and suffering. Only one master was kind to Buck. He lived in solitude and lived off the land, not trying to conquer it. So London believed that the closer man was to the wild, the better off he was. Humans were meant to go back to what they came from and become wild. This is called naturalism, and is also evident in Buck.

What happens to a person at death?

Whenever a death occurred, that person or animal was simply gone. There is no mention of a life after death or any such sort of continuation. They simply disappear. The first death that Buck witnessed was Curly the dog. She simply disappeared in the frenzy of mad dogs, just like a couple of Buck’s masters disappeared under the ice into a frozen river. But life moved on without a skip of a beat. When buck conquered his foe Spitz, the rest of the dogs treated Buck as their new master like nothing had even happened.

How and why is it possible to know anything at all?

Knowledge, in The Call of the Wild, seems to come from instinct and from experiences. Buck learns the ways of the wild quickly because it seems to be written in his DNA. But he also learns the rules by observing. His first lesson came when Curly was killed. Her end came when she was knocked off her feet, so lesson number one: do not get knocked off your feet. So wisdom can only be found through observation, experience, and instinct.

Is there right and wrong and how do we know right from wrong?

The wild does not have much of a moral code. It goes by the law of the survival of the fittest and “every man for himself.” Only the strongest creatures and those who are able to adapt can survive. So “doing the right” thing did not have much place in the wild. At times throughout the novel, it seemed that the outside force of nature would inflict punishment on those who did wrong, like when Buck’s cruel and ignorant masters fell through the partly frozen river. Yet other times nature contradicted itself by allowing John Thornton, Buck’s kind and adored master, to be killed. So really, the universe does not follow any moral code: only survival.

What is the meaning of human history, if any at all?

Not much is said of human history in this novel. The most notable factor of it applies to all creatures: the survival of the fittest. This rule has been evident in all of history, according to Jack London, and is still seen throughout Buck’s adventures. Buck observes this through his experiences and learns that the only way to survive is by adapting.

What personal, life orientating core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

In The Call of the Wild, each person or creature clearly has one goal: survival. Each wants to make it to the top of the food chain. They must become the strongest and most adaptable to be on top. Even better, becoming close to the wild primitive state that all of nature was once in was the way to thrive the most. In the book, those most “civilized” were depicted as the weakest.

In conclusion, The Call of the Wild seems to align closest with Evolution. The idea of the survival of the fittest affirms this. This worldview varies widely with a Christian worldview. While Christianity believes in a strict moral code given by God, the worldview in Jack London’s novel follows no such code of any kind and no higher power. It could be argued that these two worldviews are strictly opposites.