Friday, August 26, 2005

Worldview and Justification

When it is recognized that systems of rationality belong to worldviews themselves (what is seen to be rational is determined by the beliefs of the worldview), then it is hard to see how one may justify holding one over the other, or arguing for one over another. Though it is still often seen this way (as the modern worldview is still alive and kicking), there is nothing that privileges a secular worldview, one governed by philosophical naturalism, over any other. A simple unawareness or lack of experience concerning the spiritual, coupled with a heavy does of naturalist biology, lends credibility to the naturalist worldview. But it need not be that we must take it as our starting point, as shaping our system of rationality, and then see if we can prove or justify the Christian worldview according to its canons.

Nevertheless, we still wish to affirm that holding the Christian worldview is not simply a choice we make, or the tradition we inherit from our ‘community’. It is the Christian contention that we have the truth and that it is not just another option among the sea options offered in our pluralist society.[1] We do not hold to it because it suites us, it is not simply our preference. But the Christian worldview is adopted because Jesus Christ bursts into our “worlds” and demands that we account for him.

Indeed, it is the ability of a given worldview to make sense of all of reality that confers on it justification over rival worldviews. The worldview is thus a ‘hypothesis’ concerning the world, and is verified along the lines of its ability to take in as much data as possible, and to make sense of it in a coherent, simple, and perhaps elegant way. If it is rather weak at the above, i.e. failing to account for some crucial data, or producing an explanation that although apparently coherent, is complex and "full of hoops", then we may suspect that it needs adjusting, or even abandoning altogether in favor of another which has less trouble with the above.[2] But if it achieves a sufficient degree of the above beyond that of rival worldviews, then it seems reasonable for one to hold to it, and to live by it.[3]

And so, as noted before, all worldviews must account for Jesus Christ, both on a historical level and on a personal one when one comes into contact with the Lord of the universe himself. This may mean, indeed it will mean the abandonment of the pior held worldview and the adoption of the new. For the gospel cannot be assimilated into any prior worldview (unless of course it is a Jewish one, such as with the first Christians) because it brings with it an entire account of God, humanity, the world, and history.


[1] Nor is it just another dish at the buffet of postmodernism where one can quite rightly pick and choose aspects of this and aspects of that, to create a personal belief system. Such activity often results in a lack of coherency, a quality that is demanded by for a good worldview. A worldview encompasses all as an interpretative framework, and so isn’t in the same category.

[2] I use the phrase “less trouble” because it is not hard to recognize that no system (worldview) will immediately be worked out to the degree that it clearly explains everything. This is not a problem however, because it is principally the “ultimate things” which are of direct concern for a worldview, and it is the “consequent beliefs” and so forth that do the rest of the explanatory work. Worldviews at their basic level are “broad brush”. The ability of the consequent beliefs to provide adequate explanation is vital however. But sometimes failure to do so may merely be the failure to work out appropriate consequent beliefs.

[3] One still has the problem of what amount of evidence constitutes proof or a sense of beyond reasonable doubt.

5 comments:

Sean du Toit said...

But the Christian worldview is adopted because Jesus Christ bursts into our “worlds” and demands that we account for him.


Yeah! I like that. Good thoughts.

Sean du Toit said...

For the gospel cannot be assimilated into any prior worldview (unless of course it is a Jewish one, such as with the first Christians) because it brings with it an entire account of God, humanity, the world, and history.

I'm not entirely sure this is accurate. The gospel is not assimilated into the worldview of 1st century Jews, rather it confronts the fabric of their worldview and offers some ontological shifts in both conceptual understanding of YHWH [Christological Monotheism] as well as a complete reworking of praxis [abandonment of Torah in favour of Jesus' praxis].

thoughts?

eddie said...

Yes, I see what you mean. But im talking the big picture here, which those things are of course a part. Still, I was thinking in terms of the Jewish belief that there is one God who acts in history and who has entered into covenant with Israel for the sake of redeeming the worlds and bringing it back to worship the one true God in a life of justice and righteousness. But i think you are right, and it depends where we draw the lines of fundamental stories and beliefs. It was a sloppy comment to make and I thought so when I wrote it. But this does mean that I need to think out worldviews some more...

Thnx dude

Sean du Toit said...

Nah, not sloppy. Just realise that community provides the 'checks' and 'balances' for statements and how they work out. We pay attention to what you're writing, and I like what you're doing. So keep up the good work...

Can't wait to be back in NZ in DECEMBER, sha, it's going to be fun. I'm getting "Jesus and His Death" by McKnight for my Birthday!

eddie said...

That has to be one of the most exciting birthday presents I can think of, short of new skates... yes im still heavily into it, although i dont skate that much...

I'l give you a call soon, although December isnt that close really.