What do you believe and why do you believe it? Such a question is basic to our very existence and all people must answer it in some way whether consciously or unconsciously. To answer the question unconsciously is both to answer it and to ignore it at the same time. To ignore the question is to answer it along these lines, “I only believe what I feel like believing at any given moment.” In other words, this individual has no coherent philosophical grid by which he approaches life in general except that he acts merely upon circumstantial feelings. This individual will live with philosophical inconsistencies and contradictions within his own mind without really caring or perhaps even knowing such to be the case.
Some take a more thoughtful approach and attempt to develop some sort of belief system. In other words, they know what they believe and are often very committed to those beliefs. Yet, they are not so different from those who ignore the question, though they may conceive themselves as being different by virtue of the fact that they at least answer the first half of the question: what do you believe? They are not so different because setting forth what one believes is not enough. What one believes is irrelevant if he does not know why he believes it. If one does not know why he believes something then he is his own authority and has relegated himself to a position of relativism, or, to put it more aptly, arbitrariness. That is, he is philosophically uncertain about anything because he has no ground for what he believes. He simply believes it because he believes it.
Others are more thoughtful still. Not only have they answered the first half of the question, but they have wrestled with the second half as well. These individuals know what they believe and offer some justification for it. In other words, they have attempted to answer the question: why do you believe it? They have consciously committed themselves to a particular worldview. Of course, those who ignore the question and those who answer only the first half have committed themselves to their respective worldviews to be sure. The difference between those individuals and the one who wrestles with the “why” question is that the former are unconsciously committed to their worldviews and the latter is consciously committed to his worldview. The latter is attempting to make some sense out of his world.
There is yet another category to be brought forth momentarily. The concept of “worldview” must be dealt with first. A “worldview” quite obviously has to do with the way a person looks at the world. In one sense, it is the totality of what one believes. In another sense, it is the lens through which a person views the world or ultimate reality. It consists of one’s presuppositions or assumptions about the nature of our world. A worldview is made up of those presuppositions that individuals believe without evidence or outside support; they are merely taken for granted or on faith. Then there are those presuppositions or beliefs that persons hold to based on some kind of rationale. A person will always speak from his particular worldview whether he is conscious he is doing so or not, whether he is consistent or not, or whether he has determined to do so or not. Everyone brings his worldview to the marketplace of ideas.
To pick up on the opening question once again is to put these issues in sharper focus. It is not difficult to see that the individual who has ignored the question has no ground for what he believes. And, it is perhaps quite clear that the one who has only set forth what he believes without asking why he believes it has no ground for what he believes either. And yet, it is also true that the one who has answered both sides of the question, the one who knows what he believes and why, has no rational, philosophical ground for what he believes if he holds to any worldview other than a biblical worldview. In other words, the one who does not presuppose the God of the bible has no ground for believing what he believes about anything. He has relegated himself to a life of intellectual futility and philosophical inconsistency.
By way of example, one committed to an evolutionary/naturalist worldview must live with philosophical contradictions. He conceives of the universe as a box. The only things that exist are those things within the box. One may not go outside of the box to search for answers to anything or to explain anything. There is only the physical universe in which we live. There is nothing metaphysical. Thus, he says there is no God.
Yet, there are a number of things that he cannot justify on his worldview. He presupposes laws of logic to engage in scientific method or have a conversation, etc... But laws of logic are immaterial, that is, metaphysical and cannot be justified on his worldview. He cannot justify concepts like honesty on his worldview though he presupposes those concepts in the reporting of data or in formulating hypotheses or theories, etc. He violates his own worldview by presupposing the uniformity of nature though he says the origin of the universe was a random chance accident. He posits a natural law that says matter and energy cannot come from nothing yet he says just that: the universe came from nothing. He posits a natural law that says that life cannot come from non-life yet in the beginning life did in fact come from non-life says he. On an evolutionary worldview, we are but an accident with no real purpose for being here. On that worldview, values mean nothing and there is no life after death. Evolutionists do indeed attempt to inject meaning into our existence. But, they have no justification for doing so on their worldview.
Let me take it a step further. The evolutionist says there is no God. The question must be put to him, “how do you know there is no God?” On his worldview, one of observation and data, he does not know. He has not searched every corner of the universe. He has limited knowledge and limited investigative ability. He posits a statement of absolute fact concerning the existence of God but he is relegated to a position of complete uncertainty on his worldview. He cannot justify his claim.
Suppose he says, “You’re right, we cannot know there is no God.” Once again he falls into a philosophical dilemma on his worldview. Has he searched the universe to know that he cannot know there is no God? The point is that by rejecting the reality of God, he has rendered himself to a position of futility in the area of knowledge.
[Part II on Monday]
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About Paul Dean
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
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