by Lenny Esposito
Recently, Tom Gilson posted an open question on his blog. He asked those that identify themselves as atheist or agnostics, "What does your worldview explain better than Christianity?" Gilson was careful to distinguish an atheistic belief from a worldview, given that atheism is the denial of God's existence but isn't robust enough in itself to qualify as a worldview.
There have been many answers to the question received so far from atheists, but most have been disheartening. It isn't because I may or may not disagree with them. They are disheartening because none of them describe a worldview. They each take on one aspect of understanding the world, namely the scientific enterprise, but leave so much more out of their answers.
I've explained before that a worldview is the way one sees and interprets the way the world works. It's basically a framework for understanding and interpreting the various facts we encounter in our lives. That's why any attempt to outline a worldview must account for at least the following five things. I'd like to go over each of these quickly.
1. One's understanding of origins
The concept of origins is central to interpreting many things in the world. Some of the key questions of origins include: Where did we come from? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is reality? Where do good and evil find their foundations? These are all crucial when seeking to make sense of people and situations. For example, if you hold that human beings bear God's image, you are going to have a different perspective on the nature and dignity of issues like assisted suicide, abortion, and the equality of all people.
2. One's understanding of rationality
Reason is a key component of understanding our world, so providing an account of rationality and why or if we can rely on our reasoning skills is important. How does reason work in the world? Is it a reliable way of knowing things? How can one know that?
3. One's understanding of purpose
Another primary factor in interpreting the world is identifying if there is any kind of purpose to our world and if so, how can one discover that purpose. The understanding of telos—that there is a design or an ultimate end to the cosmos, humanity, or even to each individual will play a huge part in how one values others, the environment, and many other areas…
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