At first glance, worldview seems like an arcane topic reserved only for the more philosophically minded. Discussing worldviews can get tedious and sometimes downright arbitrary. However, worldview thinking is becoming increasingly necessary for Christians to understand the world around them properly. Continue reading “Say It with Me: Worldview”
…and What We Should Do about It
Only a Sith deals in absolutes.
I have never been much of Star Wars fan (please don’t unsubscribe), so when my student hit me this quote in the middle of a conversation about morality, my reaction was little more than an eye-roll. Fortunately, I was able to convince him that Obi-Wan Kenobi may have been strong with the force, but he was weak with philosophy, especially considering that his statement was absolute.
Consequently, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about the nature of morality.
It’s not who you are underneath, it’s what you do that defines you.
Now, Batman? I can appreciate Batman. So, when a student threw that one at me, I was a bit more receptive. As it turns out, much of the stress this student felt due to his underperformance in school was prompted more by fiction than fact.
As a result, it was one of the best conversations I have ever had with a student about identity and accountability.
In both situations, fictional characters had given these young people more answers to life’s big questions than any of the adults in their lives had. I was not surprised. If you are, you should know, this is typical.
Here’s the thing…
Our young people’s lives are more often than we would like to admit guided by the culture that surrounds them more than the adults that raise them.
So, what can we do about it?
We first need to recognize two facts: young people are asking questions, and they are getting answers. The question is, from whom are they getting those answers?
We then need to develop a strategy to answer their questions properly, meaningfully, and—most importantly—Biblically. Continue reading “The Questions They’re Asking and the Answers They’re Getting”
As quotable as C.S. Lewis is, my favorite quote of his has to be the following:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
As was his style, in this one statement he says so much. The Christian worldview is not without its evidence. However, multitudes of skeptics over the centuries, to include Lewis, have been convinced, not only by the truth they see in Christianity but also by the truth that it enables them to see.
We can categorize worldviews at the most general level by their concept of ultimate reality. They may be defined by how they answer questions about the nature of being, namely “What is there?”—what philosophers call ontology—and “Where did it come from?”—what philosophers call cosmology. Based on their answers to answers to these questions, every worldview essentially falls under one of three categories: naturalism, pantheism, or theism.
There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately physical. That is to say, “there is nothing more to the mental, biological and social realms than arrangements of physical entities.” These worldviews are often grouped in the category of naturalism.
There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately spiritual. That is to say, there is only “a single spiritual entity, of which the physical world must be understood as a partial manifestation.” These worldviews are often grouped in the category of pantheism.
Finally, there are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately “owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation.” That is to say, there is “a dualistic relation between God and the world,” typically asserting that God is both transcendent, existing outside of and being sovereign over the physical universe, as well as immanent, existing inside of and being involved with the physical universe.
These descriptions are massively oversimplified by necessity. Each category includes a long list of specific philosophies and religions, many of which have precious little in common with others in the same category. Some seem to be more viable options than others. Some have many more adherents than others. However, the one thing that unites them is their view of reality, what is ultimately ultimate.
The question we have now is, which one is ultimately right? Continue reading “Both Sides of Every Story”
The problem that the atheist has in the problem of evil is that in atheism there shouldn’t be a problem.
The problem of evil is a problem for everyone. It is a problem from the stage at a philosophical debate to the table at a corner coffeehouse. People struggle with the problem of evil because people struggle with evil.
Christians struggle with thinking and feeling our way through the problem of evil as much as anyone, and often more so. We are forced by reality to ask ourselves how we can believe in an all-good, all-powerful God that allows all this pain and suffering. Nevertheless, we understand a few things.
- Logically, there is no reason to believe that the existence of evil and the existence of God are contradictory.
- Emotionally, as terrible as pain and suffering are, Christianity offers the resources to find a peace that passes all understanding.
- Existentially, there is hope in the fact that Jesus Christ took on himself the consequences of evil and demonstrated his power to ultimately deliver us from it.
In Christianity, we have both definition for and deliverance from evil.
But, what about the nonbeliever? The problem of evil is typically offered as evidence that God does not exist. It is usually the atheist who leaves the problem at the feet of the Christian and demands an answer. However, “Criticism without alternative is empty.”
So, what answer does atheism offer for the problem of evil?
Here’s the thing…
It doesn’t, because it can’t. Continue reading “The Other Side of the Problem of Evil”
It is a riddle that philosophers have pondered, skeptics have flaunted, and theologians have debated for centuries. If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why is evil so rampant?
If God is all-powerful, then he would be more than able to rid the world of evil.
If God is all-good, then he would be more than willing to rid the world of evil.
But, there is evil in this world. Everywhere, it seems. So, what’s the deal?
Is God able but not willing? Then he is not good. Is God willing but not able? Then he is not powerful. Either way, he is not God.
Popularly attributed to 4th-century philosopher Epicurus, and popularized by 18th-century philosopher David Hume, this form of the problem of evil poses the question: How can we reconcile the existence of evil with the existence of God? In other words, if God exists, why is there so much evil? The philosophical/theological debate rages to this day.
However, the problem of evil is a problem for everyone, not just philosophers and theologians. We see horrific things happening every day. When we are on the receiving end of that evil, we find that no amount of philosophy can soothe, and no amount of argumentation can heal. In those movements, believers are left with their faith shaken, and unbelievers are left with their doubts confirmed. The pain and suffering leave us wanting, not an argument, but an answer.
So, is the evil we see in the world the indictment against God’s existence that so many for so long have said it is?
Here’s the thing…
Evil, both moral and natural, with all the pain and suffering it causes, does not drive us away from God. It drives us towards God.
Five problems with believing that it is
An idea has made its way from the halls of academia onto the pages of bestselling books and highly-followed blogs. The idea is that a person’s religious beliefs are largely determined by the culture in which that person lives. That is to say, religion is culturally conditioned. On a societal level, families are pressured by way of politics or economics to conform to a religious norm. On a personal level, children are pressured by way of indoctrination to conform. Many conclude, therefore, that religious belief is generally not so much about finding truth or trusting God, as much as it is about brainwashing and fitting in.
In his book The God Delusion, Dr. Richard Dawkins explained it this way:
If you are religious at all, it is overwhelmingly probable that your religion is that of your parents. If you were born in Arkansas and you think Christianity is true and Islam false, knowing full well that you would think the opposite if you had been born in Afghanistan, you are the victim of childhood indoctrination.
Many people in many places have addressed this issue, but their arguments always seem to boil down to two main objections:
A Modern Misconception
For many people, the term “blind faith” is redundant. The popular assumption is that a sort of blindness is inherent, and often intentional, in religious faith. This notion is prevalent in popular conversation on the topic. Famous quotes are thrown around, like that time that Mark Twain quipped, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Or there was that one time Ayn Rand wrote, “Faith is the commitment of one’s consciousness to beliefs for which one has no sensory evidence or rational proof.” In his book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, Peter Boghossian identified his two favorite definitions of faith as “belief without evidence” and “pretending to know things you don’t.”
By definition—at least by popular definition—faith is blind.
Consequently, faith and rationality are often seen as incompatible, mutually exclusive terms. They are treated as opposite approaches to truth. On a popular level, it is assumed by many unbelievers that if a person is rational, they have no need for faith. On a personal level, it is assumed by many believers that if a person has faith, there is no need for rationality.
But why do we assume that there is this great divide between faith and reason?
Here’s the thing…
I don’t know.
The Bible describes a marriage between faith and reason, not a divorce. Besides, everyone’s worldview at some point rests on accepting a foundational idea by faith, no matter how much rationality precedes it.