Worldviews Shaping Culture: Can You Name America’s Top 3?

You’ve got a worldview. Everyone does.

What’s a worldview? It’s everything you believe about what’s real and what really matters in life. Ronald Nash defines it like this in his book, Worldviews In Conflict:

A worldview is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (either consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world.

J.P. Moreland observed that there are three major worldviews dominating the debate in our culture today. Here’s a quick rundown of America’s top three:

1. Historic Christianity

This is the main version of something called ethical monotheism. This is the idea that God’s real; that God created us and gave us a real moral law. And all people everywhere are obligated to obey the moral law—whether they want to or not. Some things, like loving your parents, are really good. Other things, like hurting a little girl for no reason, are really wrong.

The next two represent the major movements of the opposite camp.

2. Scientific Naturalism

What’s this? Think X-Men. No matter how out there something might seem (like bending metal just by thinking about it), absolutely everything can be boiled down to physical processes (like a genetic mutation). This view says only the physical world is real. You’re pretty much just your brain. And everything you do is just the result of things like your genetics and how you were raised.

Another key idea: Science is the only way we know things. If you can’t measure something in a lab or use science to prove it, you can’t know it. So you can say you know Advil will help with your headache. But you can’t say you actually know God exists.

3. Postmodern Relativism

For this one, think Oprah. All truth and reality is relative to you or your community: “That’s true for you but not for me.” It’s supposed to be a feel-good, politically correct worldview where no one’s perspective is ever wrong about anything—especially when it comes to spiritual things (unless you happen to think Christianity is actually true).

Another key idea is words don’t really mean anything. You decide what words mean to you. For example, it doesn’t matter if this post is about worldviews. Maybe to you, this article means I’m giving away iPads to everyone who shares this post on Facebook! I’m not.

Really, I’m not.

These two worldviews agree you can’t know things about stuff you can’t see, touch, taste, hear or smell. This directly challenges historic Christianity and Jesus’ teaching that we can know the truth (John 8:32). J.P. Moreland says: “We are in a struggle for the hearts and minds of the American people against scientific naturalism and postmodern relativism…Our religion is a religion that is based on knowledge.”

Like this?

Watch J.P. Moreland talk about these Worldviews and the Christian Knowledge Tradition. This presentation was given during my first collaborative project with faculty from the Christian Apologetics Program at Biola University: J.P. Moreland, Craig Hazen & Clay Jones. It was recorded live at Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California.

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12 Responses to “Worldviews Shaping Culture: Can You Name America’s Top 3?”

  1. Tor Constantino June 13, 2011 12:58 PM

    Mikel – great insight! I completely agree that worldviews (whether we define them as such) drive our lives. I read Nash’s book as well and like how you accurately captured his definitions of the differing perspectives. Glad I found you on Christian Bloggers group on FB!

  2. Apologetics Guy June 13, 2011 3:01 PM

    Awesome. I’m new to the Christian Blogger’s group and I’m glad you got to check this out. Thanks for the comment, Tor!

  3. Greg West June 16, 2011 9:14 AM

    The thing that gets me Mikel, is that someone like Oprah, (not trying to pick on her, she’s just a good example) can hold to the post modern relativist view while claiming to be a Christian, but if she was a Christian, then she should (and I think would) know that these two worldviews are not compatiable.

    • Apologetics Guy June 16, 2011 11:23 AM

      I hear you. It just takes a little critical thinking to see how this feel-good, “nobody’s wrong/ it’s all good” worldview actually rejects Jesus’ exclusive claims. Sadly, people in the church (and most in our culture) are often too busy rushing from distraction to distraction to ponder (let alone evaluate) these things. Let’s keep doing our part to turn the tide in our local churches. Thanks for the comment, Greg!

  4. A.Marie June 16, 2011 9:32 AM

    Hi there, Mikel. I came over to read some of your posts!! :)

  5. Apologetics Guy June 16, 2011 11:14 AM

    Thanks, A.Marie. I appreciate the visit!

  6. Arthur Khachatryan June 16, 2011 12:23 PM

    Great post Mikel! Many people don’t pay attention to how they interpret reality.

  7. Apologetics Guy June 16, 2011 1:32 PM

    Very true. I appreciate you checking this out. Thanks, Arthur!

  8. Stephen McAndrew June 17, 2011 8:07 AM

    Great, clear presentation. Many people adopt worldview 2 to excuse themselves from worldview 1. Then they move on to worldview 3 as the reason they didn’t like worldview 1 in the first place was because they want to do whatever they want.

    Keep up the good work.

  9. Apologetics Guy June 17, 2011 8:59 AM

    Very true. I’ve found many who reject #1 do so for emotional reasons, but feel better about themselves if they say their rejection’s based on intellectual reasons. You hit the nail on the head in terms of the ultimate reason for rejecting the Christian worldview: Accountability. #2 and #3 may have a tougher time making sense of morality, ethics, law, etc… but ultimately, these don’t require obedience to an objective moral law or a Moral Lawgiver. BTW, I checked out your blog and appreciated your assessment in “A Post-Modern World?” Good stuff. Thanks for dropping me a comment here, Stephen.

  10. Aaron June 19, 2011 5:04 AM

    ‘…the want to do whatever they want…’ I’ve found is most folks reason (conciously or not) why they never stick to Historic Christianity. People don’t want to give up COMPLETE control of their lives.

    Sadly it is also this reason why most will have to reach the very bottom to realize their error.

    Great post Mikel!

  11. Apologetics Guy June 19, 2011 6:35 PM

    You’re right, Aaron. Reminds me of an an atheist friend who’d been attending church for about 5 years. He told me, “I’m at the point now where I’ve basically got all my questions answred.I guess the only question left is ‘Do I want to give contol of my life to someone else?'” I was impressed with his honesty. Thanks for checking this out, Aaron. I appreciate your taking the time to comment.