I recent enjoyed reading James W. Sire's classic book The Universe Next Door. It turns out that I am the only who has never read this book! But better late than never! Every chapter is a gold mine, especially the chapters of eastern and new age worldviews. But without doubt the most useful part of the book are these eight questions he provides that helps us unpack any worldview (and how different worldviews may answer) :
1) What is the prime reality - the really real? To this different worldviews give different answers e.g. God, or the gods, or the material cosmos.The answer here is the most fundamental.
2) What is the nature of the external reality, that is the world around us? The answers point to whether the worldview sees the world as created or autonomous, as chaotic or orderly, as matter or spirit, etc.
3) What is a human being? To this different worldviews may answer : a highly complex machine, a sleeping god, a person made in the imade of God, a naked ape.
4) What happens to a person at death? To this different worldviews may answer : personal extinction, or transformation to a higher state, or reincarnation, or departure to a shadowy existence on "the other side"
5) Why is it possible to know anything at all? Sample answers include the idea that we are made in the image of an all-knowing God or that consciousness and rationality developed under the contigencies of survival in a long process of evolution.
6) How do we know what is right and wrong? To this different worldviews may answer: we are made in the image of a God whose character is good, or ight and wrong are determined by human choice alone or what feels good, or the notions simply developed under an impentus toward cultural or physical survival.
7) What is the meaning of human history? To this different woldviews might answer: to eealise the purposes of God or the gods, to make a paradise on earth, to prepare a perople for a life in community with a loving and holy God, and so forth.
8) What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this world view? Every world view as a commitment or a matter of the heart. It involves a life-commitment.
We can ask these questions not only of worldviews directly but also "life commitments" or "stories" in general. For example, if we watch a movie and want to know its "message" we can interrogate it based on these questions and then compare to with what the Bible teaches. We can do the same for music, art and indeed anything!
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013
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