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Worldview Glasses: Can We See Things As They Are?

The biggest news coming out of New York’s recent Fashion Week had nothing to do with the clothes the models were wearing. Instead, the buzz was all about their glasses: Google’s “augmented reality” eyewear.

It’s called “augmented reality” because when you look through them you’re not seeing the world as it actually is, but instead, how certain programmers interpret it. You’re seeing what the software mandates that you see.

Apart from supermodels and Google employees, virtually no one else is wearing Google’s $1,500 interpretation of reality glasses.

Now that doesn’t mean just because you’re not wearing the glasses that you’re seeing the world as it truly is. Quite the contrary. Everyone has a worldview, and worldviews function as Google’s project does, only without the supermodels.

An ongoing example is the fallout from the 2011 Arab Spring. In the wake of anti-government protests and revolts, western governments, including our own, offered encouragement and sometimes even aid to those pushing for democracy in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The hope was that dictators would be replaced by democratic governments.

Well, that’s what their Western secular worldviews led them to believe. Reality, as we have learned the hard way, has proven to be very different. The choices are not limited to tyrants and would-be Thomas Jeffersons. As we have seen in places like Egypt, Libya and Syria, Islamists are ready, willing and able to take advantage of the instability created by the collapse of the old order.

Yet judging by their reactions, world leaders, including many of our own, seem to be genuinely surprised at this turn of events. As Secretary Clinton, referring to the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens, said, “How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction?”

Where that question comes from is the blind spot in the modern Western worldview. That blind spot sees religion as, at best, a private matter, and at worst, something societies outgrow on their way to full “maturity,” which of course, means “like us.”

This worldview denies — in fact, cannot even see — the role that Christianity played in the development and shaping of the Western ideas of freedom, human rights and, especially in the U.S., democracy itself. It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that they don’t understand why you can’t simply export Western democratic values to places like Egypt and Libya and expect them to work in anything resembling the manner that they do here.

Nor can they understand why Islamic societies, to whom the Western idea of separating religion from politics is literally foreign, might support Islamist parties like the Muslim Brotherhood. For them, religion isn’t a private matter, and it certainly isn’t something you outgrow on the way to aping the West.

The blind spot is not limited to foreign affairs. I remember in the wake of the Columbine shootings there was no shortage of “explanations” for why the shooters did what they did. With one exception, virtually every possible theory was thrown against the wall to see if it stuck.

The exception was the shooters’ often-professed and well-documented nihilism. The pundits for the most part ruled out this possibility that what the shooters believed actually affected what they did. Not because of the evidence but because, like the software for the Google eyewear, the pundits’ worldview wouldn’t let them see it.

Folks, as Chuck Colson said over and over again, worldview matters. And it affects how we see all of reality: from New York to Cairo and back again.

And to deepen your worldview, join me this weekend on "BreakPoint This Week." I’ll be speaking with Dr. Glenn Sunshine and Jim Garlow about Pulpit Freedom Sunday. If you can’t tune in, just come to and click on the “This Week” tab.

As the host of The Point, a daily national radio program, John Stonestreet provides thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.

BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.

Publication date: September 21, 2012

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