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Lecture 1: What is a worldview?. Welcome to Philosophy. What is a worldview?. Everyone possesses a worldview. A worldview is the “sum-total” of one’s fundamental assumptions about God, reality, truth, knowledge, humanity, ethics, and evil.

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Lecture 1 what is a worldview l.jpg

Lecture 1: What is a worldview?

Welcome to Philosophy


What is a worldview l.jpg
What is a worldview?

  • Everyone possesses a worldview.

  • A worldview is the “sum-total” of one’s fundamental assumptions about God, reality, truth, knowledge, humanity, ethics, and evil.

  • A worldview is a habituated way of seeing and doing


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Ground-floor assumptions include:

  • Our view of God;

  • Our view of Reality;

  • Our view of truth;

  • Our view of knowledge;

  • Our view of humanity;

  • Our view of ethics;

  • Our view of evil.


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  • Informally (we fail to be strategic and non-tactical in Christian education).

  • Uncritically (we don’t teach people how to think methodically);

  • Inter-generationally (i.e., what is passed down from parents to children);

  • Intra-generationally (organizations, clubs, or “special interest” groups that communicate ideas, beliefs, and activities);

  • “Because so many elements of a worldview are philosophical in nature, it is vital that Christians become more conscious of the importance of philosophy. Philosophy matters. It matters because the Christian worldview has an intrinsic connection to philosophy and the world of ideas. It matters because philosophy is related in a critically important way to life, culture, and religion. And it matters because the systems opposing Christianity uses the methods and arguments of philosophy. Though philosophy and religion often use different language and often arrive at different conclusions, they deal with the same questions about what exists (metaphysics), how humans should live (ethics), and how human beings know (epistemology).”

  • ~ Ronald Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 21.

  • Over time. Habits (we form habit-

  • beliefs).

How are worldviews formed:

  • Informally;

  • Uncritically;

  • Inter-generationally (i.e., what is passed down from parents to children);

  • Intra-generationally (organizations, clubs, or “special interest” groups that communicate ideas, beliefs, and activities);

  • Over time;

  • Habits (we form habit-beliefs);

  • Community (shared beliefs).


The strength of our worldview is shaped by the following l.jpg

  • Informally (we fail to be strategic and non-tactical in Christian education).

  • Uncritically (we don’t teach people how to think methodically);

  • Inter-generationally (i.e., what is passed down from parents to children);

  • Intra-generationally (organizations, clubs, or “special interest” groups that communicate ideas, beliefs, and activities);

  • “Because so many elements of a worldview are philosophical in nature, it is vital that Christians become more conscious of the importance of philosophy. Philosophy matters. It matters because the Christian worldview has an intrinsic connection to philosophy and the world of ideas. It matters because philosophy is related in a critically important way to life, culture, and religion. And it matters because the systems opposing Christianity uses the methods and arguments of philosophy. Though philosophy and religion often use different language and often arrive at different conclusions, they deal with the same questions about what exists (metaphysics), how humans should live (ethics), and how human beings know (epistemology).”

  • ~ Ronald Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), 21.

  • Over time. Habits (we form habit-

  • beliefs).

The strength of our worldview is shaped by the following:

1. Presuppositions: fixed biases that do not change unless they are placed under extreme duress.

2. Pre-understandings: moldable influences that come and go.

3. Faculties of the mind. Is your mind “working properly?”


Our view of god an underlying presupposition that governs actions and behavior l.jpg
Our View of God: An underlying presupposition that governs actions and behavior:

  • Atheism: there is no God.

  • Agnosticism:

    • Hard agnosticism: one cannot know whether God exists.

    • Soft agnosticism: one does not yet have enough information to know whether God exists.

  • Pantheism: God is the universe.

  • Panentheism: God is in the universe.

  • Finite godism: A finite God exists beyond and in the universe.

  • Deism: God is beyond the universe but not in it.

  • Polytheism: there are many gods both beyond and in the world.

  • Monotheism: An infinite personal God exists both beyond and in the world.


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Our view of reality: An underlying presupposition that governs actions and behavior:

  • Reality (Metaphysics):

    • The question of the ultimate nature of reality

    • Is reality both physical and spiritual? Only material? Only spiritual?

    • What lies beyond physical aspects of nature?

    • How do (did) things come into being?

    • What does it mean for something to be?

    • Is there a realm of being which is not subject to change?


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What is real? governs actions and behavior:

  • Materialistic Reality (reality is nothing but matter; there is no such thing as something being spiritual or immaterial; there is no God, no devil, no miracle);

  • Illusionary Reality (world is an illusion; e.g., Matrix program; evil is not real; cosmic game). 


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What is real? governs actions and behavior:

  • Extensional (Cultural) Reality… “reality is in the eye of the beholder, an extension of one’s personality!”

  • Materialistic/Spiritual Reality (e.g., God created this real world where miracles, divine intervention, and spiritual warfare occur, and where God’s divine providence is expressed as He directs history, people, and nations in His plan for the ages.


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What is real? governs actions and behavior:

  • What is the relationship between God and the universe?

  • Is the existence of the universe a real fact?

  • Is the universe eternal?

  • Is the world best understood in a mechanistic, non-purposeful way?

  • Is there a purpose in the universe?

  • Can God act causally within nature?

  • Are miracles possible?


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Our view of truth: Everyone has a concept of what is true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

  •  Consider these questions asked by thinking people?

    • What is truth?

    • Can we even define truth

    • Can we know truth?

    • Can we know truth with certainty?

    • Is truth merely opinion controlled by the dominant forces of our society?

    • How is it that so many people have so many different views of truth?

    • Is truth relative?

    • How can we say something is “false” if we have not conception of what is “true.”


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Our view of truth: Everyone has a concept of what is true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

  • Pragmatism: truth is that which works. If something works, then it must be true.

  • Coherence: internal harmony of ideas. If something does not harmonize with the ideas that already cohere, it may not be true.

  • Correspondence: truth corresponds to reality, identifies things as they actually are.


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Our view of truth: Everyone has a concept of what is true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

  • Poststructuralism is an intellectual movement in various fields of continental philosophy that whole heartily rejects “binary oppositions” such as truth/false; right/wrong; good/evil and formulates views following that rejection. They argue that these concepts are rooted not in reality but in modernistic philosophy that has “scripted” Western thought and culture.


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Our view of truth: Everyone has a concept of what is true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

  • Postmodernism rejects the belief in universal absolute truth that transcends culture, time, and space by redefining it to say that truth is that which is created, defined, and articulated by local (sub) communities. Interestingly, present statistics show that young people today are choosing a postmodern worldview over and against all other worldviews.


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Our view of knowledge: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

1. Reason alone to the exclusion of faith.

2. Faith alone to the exclusion of reason.

  • Faith + Reason (God created people to think rationally).

  • Intuition.

    5. Empiricism.

  • Rationalism.


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Our view of knowledge: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

Consider these questions asked by thinking people:

Can we trust our senses?

What are the proper roles of reason and sense experience in knowledge?

Are our intuitions more dependable than our perceptions?

What is the relationship between faith and reason?

Is knowledge about God possible? If so, how?

Should we appeal to “mystical downloads” for spiritual knowledge?


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Our view of Humanity: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

  • Strictly Materialistic (i.e., all life is biomechanical machinery; there is no soul, no spirit, no immaterial aspect within humanity).

  • Material/Spiritual (humanity includes both material and immaterial elements).

    1. Life is intrinsically valuable.

    2. Quality of life vs. inherent dignity of life.


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Our view of Ethics: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

A. Virtue Ethics: An action is right if and only if it is what the virtuous person would do.

B. Deontological Ethics: An action is right if and only if it is in accord with a moral principle or command.

C. Consequential Ethics: An action is right if and only if it promotes the best consequences.

D. Situational Ethics: majority or elite determines what is right or wrong.

E. Situational Contract Ethics: two parties agree what is right from wrong.

F. Reflective Equilibrium: we use our intuitions to formulate principles to live by and formulate principles from our situational setting. Then, these two levels engage each other (i.e., reflect or feedback) to sharpen, refine, or even change our justifications for moral choices as time and culture changes and more information is added.


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Our view of Evil: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

1. Inherent evil with the tendency to sin.

2. Evil is simply making a wrong choice (we are innately neutral or good, not evil.).

3. Evil is illusionary.

Consider these questions by thinking people?

a. Why do good people do bad things?

b. What is evil?

c. What is good?

d. Why do good people suffer?

e. What is good vs. evil?


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Questions to ask when examining a person’s worldview: true/false. This underlying presupposition governs behavior, decision-making, and actions:

a. What are we? Where do we come from?

b. What has gone wrong with the world?

c. What can we do to fix it? [redemption].

Or we can ask these questions:

a. What is real?

b. What are the nature and limits of knowledge?

c. Who is well-off? What is the good life?

d. Who is a really good person?

e. How does one become a really good person?


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