We should note that all individuals and peoples have a worldveiw. This is not to say that all individuals are epistemologically self-conscious as to what their worldview is. Neither is it to say that individuals always live consistently with their worldview, nor is it to say that individuals don’t have significant contradictions within their worldviews. On a corporate level not all individuals living within a people group will accept the preponderant worldview, though the consequence of not accepting the preponderant worldview will always be some kind of social marginalization.
Second, it is important to note that any given culture is the visible clothing of a people’s unseen worldview beliefs. You can’t see beliefs but those who have eyes to see can see how those beliefs incarnate themselves into cultural arrangements.
Any coherent Worldview is sustained by its ability to answer what is called ‘the larger questions.’ These questions would include,
1.) Nature, destiny, & origin of the cosmos
2.) Nature, destiny, origin, & role of man
For example in the West these larger questions are answered as follows,
The origin of the cosmos is that something came from nothing. The nature of the cosmos is solely material. The destiny of the cosmos is eternal inhabitation.
The nature of man, compositely speaking is that he is matter. The nature of man ethically speaking is that he is basically good, being swept along by the inevitability of progress. The destiny of man is self achieved utopia in the long term with the grave being the final end for those who don’t endure to Utopia. The origin of man is time + chance + circumstance. The role of man is to glorify himself.
When one compares the above to the Christian worldview one begins to understand why their should be a great amount of tension and friction between epistemologically self-conscious Christians and epistemologically self-conscious materialists.
For the Christian the origin of the cosmos is that God spoke it into existence. The nature of the cosmos is that it is material in its outward expression but that it is governed and sustained by Spiritual realities (God). The destiny of the cosmos is renewal along with the rest of creation.
The nature of man, compositely speaking is that he is modified unichotomous being composed of matter and spirit, who upon death will experience, for a brief time, an unnatural division between his natural, and modified unichotomous existence. The nature of men, ethically speaking, is that man is inherently sinful, but is capable of Redemption. When such a redemptive eventuality takes place, ethically speaking, man’s nature is at the same time sinner and saint. The destiny of man is the Kingdom of God, and the role of man is to glorify God by fully enjoying Him forever.
Another thing that we hasten to add here is that sitting atop every worldview is a God from which the worldview descends. In the two examples given above the God at the top of the first worldview is man. All things exist for man and all things must serve man. In the second worldview the God of the Bible is what animates that worldview.
Such divergent worldviews make for conflict among their differing adherents as each seeks to loyally advance the cause of their God and their worldview. Increasingly we see that conflict in Western culture as these two worldviews continue to vie for supremacy.
We see this conflict manifest itself in a host of different cultural expressions of which I offer only a few,
1.) If man is only matter then he is disposable and therefore creating men to be replaceable parts through cloning or abortive pregnancy is acceptable. On the other hand if man is created in the image of God then all life needs to be esteemed and protected, especially life at its beginning and end.
2.) If man is basically good then any fault of man must be found in man’s environment. Therefore, man must take the initiative to control his environment through social engineering, endeavoring to create a cultural climate that allows man express his innate goodness. On the other hand if man is fallen then no amount of manipulation of his environment will heal his fallen-ness. Remedies for man’s fallen sin nature come not through manipulating man’s material surroundings or social engineering the way he thinks. Rather the remedy for man’s fallen-ness is spiritual and comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in keeping with the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
3.) If the chief role of man is to glorify himself and if there is no super-mundane God above to whom men must give an account or who gives men an absolute standard by which to adjudicate right and wrong then man is free to do whatever he, in his majority expression, determines will glorify himself. On the other hand if the chief role of man is to glorify God then obedience to God’s Law Word is the motivation of all that man does, and one thing that a redeemed man does in order to glorify God is to oppose the agenda of those who desire to glorify man.
Friction emanating from people living in the same geographic space who hold to these diametrically opposed worldviews will ripple, rend and tear all across the culture as the adherents of each worldview seek to implement their Worldview answers to the larger questions. Indeed, so stark is the combat that the Christian is taught to pray for the destruction of the opposing kingdom (‘Thy Kingdom Come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’ It is necessary to understand that the coming of one Kingdom implies the destruction of all that which opposes it) while the Materialist, in reference to the Christian can say things like,
If you (Christians) insist on teaching your children falsehoods … — that ‘man’ is not a product of evolution by natural selection — then you must expect, at the very least, that those of us (evolutionary Materialists) who have freedom of speech will feel free to describe your teachings as the spreading of falsehoods, and will attempt to demonstrate this to your children at our earliest opportunity. Our future well being — the well being of all of us on the planet — depends on the education of our descendants.
The division between those who are consistent in their answers to the larger questions is total and complete. Would that Christians would begin to awaken to that.