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. indian-woman-carrying-water-11-26-10On 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.

What Is the Meaning of Life?

Today begins a new blog thread. Our topic is the meaning of life. It’s a vast subject that should take us well into next year. How will we find the answers? We’ll use science, logic, philosophy, and evidence—apologetics, if you will. Apologetics uses general revelation, the truths God buried in the world around us in science and nature. This is for the skeptic, for those with questions, and for those who just need to be shown. But our search will also rely heavily on God’s special revelation—in the book we call the Bible.

The answers to our questions are important. And let me say right here that the answer to the meaning of life is not “42”, as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy would have it. If only it were that simple…

meaningOfLife-MarkTwainEver since man first walked the earth he has known, deep inside himself, there was something greater than himself. And he has sought it. He’s looked for fulfillment, hunted for truth, and sought the meaning of life. In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says this: “Most people, if they had really learned to look into their own hearts, would know that they do want, and want acutely, something that cannot be had in this world. There are all sorts of things in this world that offer to give it to you, but they never quite keep their promise.”

Whatever you want to call it, mankind has been on an endless search for something lasting and true. Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NLT): “God has planted eternity in the human heart.”

We look at ourselves and realize we lack something fundamental and essential, that by ourselves, we are incomplete. We want to know whether there is meaning behind it all. We are mortal, yet we long for immortality. We are temporal, knowing that someday death awaits, yet we long for eternity. In the quiet of the night or the stillness of the day, we may feel the basic loneliness of the human condition. So we long for a love greater than ourselves that will end our loneliness forever. Yes, every human heart longs for something greater than itself.

Throughout the ages, this deep-set need has propelled storytellers, holy men, and novelists on one quest for truth after another. Ever since Adam, humankind has been seeking it. For a time Adam and Eve possessed it. Yet they let it slip away. And because of what they did, every descendant of theirs has been trying to regain what they once had, what was lost.

Psalm 42:1-2 (NLT) describes the longing this way:high-desert-mule-deer “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?”

Ah, now the psalmist has put a name to the quest. Is it then God we seek? Is He the object of this endless human quest, the center of mankind’s desperate search?

But too many will say, “No, it’s not God I’m looking for.” So they keep on looking in all the wrong places. And the world has no shortage of answers. The world promises happiness through sex, drugs, and alcohol. Before spiritually impoverished eyes, it dangles the prospects of career, power, wealth, and fame. It marches in the false prophets of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. It promises utopia on earth through Communism and Socialism, but forgets to mention the mass starvations of North Korea in the 1990s and the millions who died in Stalin’s Soviet Union and in Chairman Mayo’s China. And then, as if this weren’t enough, we get Madonna, Paris Hilton, and Justin Bieber. So much for the world’s answers.

So today we begin our search for the meaning of life, knowing that many who have gone before us have failed. But we have something they didn’t have. We have the truth given us by the God who created the universe, the truth preserved in an ancient book. We also have general revelation, the truth God reveals in the natural world around us. So let us begin. Note that for this blog I’ll be posting once a week.