What’s Your Worldview?
Whether we know it or not, we all have a worldview. Buried within every ideology or religion is this thing called worldview. What, you ask, is a worldview? It’s the filter through which we view reality. It’s the deepest level of what we assume to be real, the foundation upon which we order our beliefs and values and base our allegiances. It’s what we use to interpret the universe. And it’s the base upon which we build our lives and our culture.
But a coherent worldview—one based on truth, logic, science, and evidence—is also something more. Such a worldview will provide the answers to why we are here. It will give us the meaning of life. So our search for meaning is also a quest for a coherent worldview.
Why does our worldview matter? Because ideas matter.
Consider the picture of a woman walking the streets in Mumbai, India in 2010. On her head and in her arms she carries heavy jugs of water.
So we ask: Where are the aqueducts or pipes to bring the water from the river? Why, in modern day India, is she still carrying water on her head?
Vishal Mangalwadi is a Christian apologist and lecturer. He was born in India and lived there until adulthood. He asks this question, and because he knows the Indian culture well, he gives us an answer. In India, and indeed in much of Asia, the culture does not view individuals as beings created in the image of God. (An important aspect of the Christian worldview.) So Indians put little value on how people spend their time. They also tend to have a lower view of women than of men. Mangalwadi says that in India it’s just not important for anyone to build the pipes to carry the water, even though the technology is readily available. The root cause of this situation, and many others like it, says Mangalwadi, is that the Indian (and Asian) worldview is not grounded in Christ.
Let’s take another example: the Belbaltlag Concentration Camp in Soviet Russia. In 1931 the Soviets resolved to build a canal between the White Sea and the Baltic Sea, a distance of 136 miles.
For the task they employed prisoners from Siberian labor camps. But their only tools were axes, shovels, and wheelbarrows. Prisoners worked up to fourteen hours a day. Daily rations were a loaf of bread and a plate of thin broth. If a worker fell behind schedule, his rations were cut. Seven hundred people might die in a single day, so transports continually brought new workers. They simply buried the dead beneath the concrete at the bottom of the canal. It took two years and 280,000 prisoners to build the canal. But in the process, 100,000 men died.
Who were the prisoners? Many were petty criminals. Some were political prisoners. In fact the feared NKVD could send anyone to a gulag if they even spoke a wrong word against Stalin or the Soviet government.
What caused men and women to turn in their neighbors and send them to such harsh conditions? What caused a view of human life to become so low that those who ran this camp and others like it treated people worse than they’d ever treat a cow or a horse?
It was their worldview. It was their beliefs, values, and what they perceived to be truth. Stalin and his communist cohorts subscribed to a Marxist ideology that promised utopia on earth. But his reign brought about the deaths, in peacetime, of twenty million Soviet citizens.
Yes, ideas matter and matter a great deal.
So the meaning of life is wrapped up in our worldview. We have seen what happens when we subscribe to two non-Christian worldviews. This underscores how important our search is becoming. Following a worldview based on lies will have catastrophic consequences for society and for us as individuals.
Next we’ll contrast our two non-Christian worldviews and that of Stalin with one held by a Christian who changed the world.