Friday, August 19, 2011


I presented the  following paper to the faculty of Crown College on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 (The paper is just a broad overview. The endnotes contain more depth).

A Brief Survey of Worldviews
Dennis Ingolfsland
August, 2011

This paper will present a summary and critique of what I think is one of the best popular level introductions to worldviews in print.[1] For those who have read the book, this presentation will provide a review of the most current edition. For those who have never read the book, I hope this will encourage you to read it.
James Sire originally wrote The Universe Next Door in 1976. It is now on its fourth edition and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. I’m quite sure Dr. Sire would not remember me but I had the unique experience of being kicked out of a restaurant with him.
It happened during an annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society which I was attending as a member of the Bible department of Bryan College. My colleagues and I invited Dr. Sire to join us for a late night discussion at a local Waffle House. Not many people were there at that time of the evening and our discussions just went on and on. We were quite surprised and embarrassed when the manager came over and asked us to leave. We had become so engrossed in our conversation that we were completely oblivious to the fact that the place had become packed and there was a waiting line for the tables! Worldviews is a fascinating topic! [2]
In The Universe Next Door, Sire defines a worldview[3],[4] as:
…a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart,[5] that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being (Sire, Universe 17).[6],[7]
 Sire lists seven basic questions to determine someone’s worldview[8],[9] First, “What is prime reality—the really real?”[10] Second, “What is the nature of external reality?” Third, “What is a human being?” Fourth, “What happens to a person at death?” Fifth, “Why is it possible to know anything at all?” Sixth, “How do we know what is right and wrong?” Seventh, “What is the meaning of human history?” (Sire, Universe 20).
Sire discusses Christian Theism first,[11],[12] but since Dr. Hustad covered theology in his presentation, I will jump directly to Sire’s second worldview: Deism.

Deists were generally less unified on some of the major issues than theists. For example some but not all denied divine revelation. Some but not all were hostile to Christianity. Some believed in a personal god and immortality of the soul. Others denied both.
So how did deists answer Sire’s seven basic questions? The prime reality is a transcendent God who created the universe as a “uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system” and then left it to function on its own. This god is not fully personal and is not sovereign over human events. Miracles are not possible in this worldview (Sire, Universe 49). In this system, people are just part of the clockwork. How is knowledge possible? Since deists denied the Fall of man they considered the universe to be in a normal, unfallen state. That being the case, the universe can be known simply by studying it.[13] The next question is how can people know right from wrong? Since there is no Fall and the universe is normal, “Whatever is, is right.” If this is true, however, good becomes indistinguishable from evil (Sire, Universe 53). Some deists believed “that Jesus’ ethical teachings were really natural law expressed in words” but from a deist perspective, this would appear to be inconsistent since Jesus often taught contrary to what “is.”
            Although Deism didn’t last long it was necessary to include it, because it was an intermediate step between theism and naturalism.


In deism, God loses some of his power and personality; “In naturalism God ceases to exist.”[15] Naturalism’s response to Sire’s first question would be that the prime reality is matter. In the words of Carl Sagan “the universe is all there is, was or ever will be” (Sire, Universe 61).[16]
Naturalism answers the second question regarding the nature of external reality by saying that “The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system” (Sire, Universe 62). In other words, there is no outside intervention either by God who doesn’t exist or by human beings who are part of the system.
Naturalists’ answer to the third question is that “Human beings are complex ‘machines’; personality is an interrelation of chemical and physical properties…” (Sire, Universe 64). In answer to the fourth question, naturalists assert that people are composed solely of matter so when that mater “is disorganized at death, the person disappears” (Sire, Universe 67).
How do we know right from wrong? Sire argued that while many early naturalists continued to hold to ethical values, they had no basis for doing so since in naturalism, ethics can be no more than a human construct. Finally, history is only what we make of it and has only the meaning people give to it.
Unlike deism, naturalism is alive and well and continues to dominate academia. Even some naturalists, however, soon began detecting problems with their worldview. Chief among these problems was a question of epistemology. If the human brain is nothing more than an evolved electro-chemical thinking machine, how can anyone trust their own ability to know anything for certain?[17] This skepticism led to Nihilism.

            Nihilism denies the possibility of knowledge and meaning. So, Sire asks, how did some people go from naturalism’s remarkably optimistic outlook in the “assured results of science,” to the despair of nihilism?
            First, if matter is all that exists and the universe “operates with a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system,” the logical conclusion is that man is nothing more than a highly complex machine that is just part of the system.
            Second, if people are just the result of impersonal forces, they have no way of knowing whether what they think they know is truth or merely illusion. Naturalists, of course, use the scientific method to determine truth but they cannot escape the fact that ultimately it is the brain that constructs the method and interprets the results. Even Darwin once wondered whether the convictions of a mind developed from lower animals could be trusted. He asked, “Would anyone trust the conviction of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?” (Sire, Universe 98).
            Third, although many naturalists are moral people, naturalism cannot provide a basis for morality. “Summing up the position reached by Nietzsche and Max Weber, Allan Bloom remarks, ‘Reason cannot establish values, and its belief that it can is the stupidest and most pernicious illusion” (Sire, Universe 102). Cultural anthropologists may argue that values are relative to one’s culture but that is just another way of saying “is” equals “ought.”  What about those who rebel against their culture? Why is their “is” not considered “ought”? The only way true ethical values are possible is if we have a frame of reference outside the box. This frame of reference is provided by theism but not by naturalism for which nothing exists outside the box.
            If, therefore, we take seriously the non-existence of God and the closed nature of the universe, naturalism leads logically to nihilism.  Socrates is reported to have said that the unexamined life is not worth living but for nihilists it is the examined life that is not worth living because it is a life of despair.[18] In fact, the nihilist worldview cannot be lived consistently. Every purposeful step nihilists take, every time they trust their own thinking, they are violating their own philosophy.
Not only that, but for those who think life is absolutely meaningless, absolutely nothing has meaning.[19] One could choose to commit suicide but that is no more or less appropriate or meaningful than watching a Disney movie. Since people cannot consistently live as nihilists, existentialist philosophers stepped in to provide a solution.
            Existentialism’s major goal was to transcend nihilism. Existentialism comes in both atheist and religious forms. Neither form is a full-blow worldview; both are parasites on naturalism and theism respectively. “Atheistic existentialism affirms all propositions of naturalism except those relating to human nature and our relationship to the cosmos” (Sire, Universe 114).
On the question of prime reality, existentialists, like naturalists, believe the universe is composed solely of matter. Existentialists, however, argue that when conscious beings came into existence two kinds of entities were now in the universe: 1) The objective world of cause and effect, and 2) The subjective world “of mind, consciousness and freedom” (Sire, Universe 114-115). While naturalism emphasized the unity of these two, treating people as objects, existentialism emphasized the disunity and the idea that people can have value. In existentialism, “existence precedes essence.” Sire explains:
The objective world is the world of essences. Everything comes bearing its nature. Salt is salt; trees are trees; ants are ant. Only human beings are not human until they make themselves so. Each of us makes himself or herself human by what we do with our self-consciousness and our self-determinacy (Sire, Universe 116).
For example, John is a soldier who fears he is a coward. But he only becomes a coward if he acts like a coward. Like John, each person is free to create their own value. Our dreams and intentions, however, run up against an absurd universe that doesn’t care about our wishes. For example, gravity doesn’t care how badly you wish, or need to float down from a high building.
In opposition to “the absurdity of the objective world, the authentic person must revolt and create value” (Sire, Universe 118). For the existentialist, ethics is a matter of choosing. “Sartre writes “to choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil” (Sire, Universe 119). Sire asks, but what about the Unabomber, or the Oklahoma City bombing or 911? Sire points out that even Sartre, rather inconsistently, sided with various moral causes.
There is also a theistic version of existentialism, first developed by Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) in response to the dead orthodoxy of the Danish church. Several generations later, Karl Barth (1886-1968) responded to “a watered-down gospel of morality and good works” in his day by “refurbishing Christianity along existential lines” (Sire, Universe 127).[20]
            Although theistic existentialism (neo-Orthodoxy) brought God back into the picture, it differed with traditional theism in at least two significant ways. First, theistic existentialists generally sided with the higher critics in denying the accuracy of the Bible. This could have resulted in the loss of faith. Instead it led to the conclusion that the Bible’s facts were not important—the important thing was the Bible’s timeless moral truths and positive examples. Meaning was important; facts were not. For example, the question of whether Jesus actually rose from the dead was not important. What was important was the meaning of that event, which was the reality of a transformed life.[21]
            Theists point out that significant evidence has emerged since Barth’s time to support the reliability of the Bible, but existentialist theologians have generally ignored or marginalized this evidence. Theists also point out that in order for an event to have meaning, the event must have actually occurred! [22] How can something that never occurred—the resurrection, for example—be the symbol of hope, new life or anything else?[23]

Eastern Pantheistic Monism
Sire’s survey showed that reason led logically from naturalism to nihilism.  To avoid this, we could abandon reason altogether. Existentialism followed this path in part. Maybe we should go all the way and look to the East for answers.
            Pantheistic monism is “the notion that only one impersonal element constitutes reality” (Sire, Universe 144). In this worldview, Atman[24] is a person’s soul or essence. Brahman is the soul or essence of the entire cosmos.[25] In pantheistic monism, “Atman is Brahman.” In other words, every human soul “is the Soul of the cosmos” (Sire, Universe 144). Every person is God and nothing exists that is not God. In fact, anything that appears to exist that is not God is only an illusion or “maya.”
            Although “Ultimate reality is beyond distinction,” reality exists as a hierarchy of appearances ranging from mineral, to vegetable, to animal to humanity. There is also a hierarchy of humanity since some people are closer to unity with the “One” than others. Becoming one with the “One” is not a matter of right doctrine but being on the right path, and there are many paths or orientations. For example, some paths may involve meditation, chanting a mantra, or constant repetition of prayers.[26]
In Eastern thought there is really no distinction between good and evil since “all actions are merely part of the whole world of illusion.”[27] “The concept of karma, however, is almost universal in Eastern thought,” but karma is not like sin. There is no personal God to sin against or from whom to seek forgiveness. “Karma is the notion that one’s present fate, one’s pleasure or pain, one’s being a king or a slave or a gnat, is the result of past action, especially in a former existence” (Sire, Universe 152-153).[28]
            Although this may sound like a moral system, there are differences. If good works are done, they are not done to help others but to attain unity with the One. In fact, since the law of Karma requires that each soul suffer the consequences for past actions, relieving someone’s suffering does not ultimately help them.
            On the question of death, Hindu monism is slightly different than Zen Buddhist monism. In Hinduism the Brahman (the One) emanates the cosmos like a light bulb emanates photons into the darkness. Personal existence ends at death.[29] Atman, or the soul survives, but Atman is impersonal.
            In Zen Buddhist monism,[30] on the other hand, the “Void” is the ultimate reality. The Void is not “nothing”[31] or “something.” It isn’t a thing at all, even though it is the origin of everything.[32]
            This difference over ultimate reality is important because it “leads to a different understanding of human beings” (Sire, Universe 159). In Hinduism “a soul (Atman)…has substantial (spiritual, not material) reality because it is an emanation of Brahman” (Sire, Universe 159). In Buddhism “there is no namable nature at the core of each person” (Sire, Universe 159).[33] So while Hindus strive toward their goal of godhood, or unity with the One, Zen Buddhists strive to reach a state of non-being.
            So how can we as Westerners respond to all this? If we say this worldview is irrational, Easterners will reject rationality as a valid category. If we say Eastern monism eliminates morality, they will deny the “duality that is required for the distinction” between good and evil. If we point out that Easterners are often inconsistent when they deny morality but behave morally, they will reject the importance of consistency. Sire concludes, “No wonder Western missionaries have made little headway with committed Hindus and Buddhists” (Sire, Universe 160).

The New Age movement[34]
Eastern religion offered a way out for those in the West who were disillusioned by naturalism or nihilism. The problem is that Eastern thought is so radically different than the way Westerners perceive reality. The New Age Movement provided a slightly less radical option. The New Age movement is no longer the big news it was in the 80’s only because it has lost its novelty, not because it has gone away.[35]
In the New Age Movement the self is the prime reality, though New Agers often disagree on what the self actually is. For John Lilly, the self is “in control of all reality.” Lilly exclaims that “All and every thing that one can imagine exists” (Sire, Universe 180). Similarly, Shirley MacLaine[36] actually writes that she created her own reality including everything she “saw, heard, touched, smelled and tasted.” MacLaine asks, “Did that also mean I had created God and I had created life and death? “She concludes that for all practical purposes that was the case” (Sire, Universe 180-181).[37]
Many New Agers, however, have had to deal with the reality of bad drug trips involving visions of the demonic and hell. To avoid such terrifying experiences New Age leaders often urged that new believers consult a guide in their initial attempts to pursue cosmic consciousness. Sire points out the inconsistency here. If imagination or “seeing” is reality, then the “hell” and demons new agers experience in bad drug trips must also be reality.
            So “What is the nature of external reality?”  According to New Agers, the cosmos exists on at least two dimensions. First is the visible universe that we access via the five senses. Unlike Eastern monism, New Agers believe the visible universe actually exists and is not just illusion.
The Second dimension is “the invisible universe…accessible through altered states of consciousness” induced through a variety of methods like “drugs, meditation, trance, biofeedback, acupuncture, ritualized dance…” etc. (Sire, Universe 183-184). In this second dimension the laws of nature do not apply. “The…self can travel hundreds of miles…in the twinkling of an eye” and time can go backwards (Sire, Universe 185). This universe is also populated by special beings New Agers call “allies,’ ‘helpers,’ ‘guardians’ and ‘entities of the night” (Sire, Universe 188).
Sire argues that the New Age worldview is riddled with inconsistencies. In fact, almost all New Age ideas are often accepted by New Age proponents as equally valid even if they are contradictory. The New Age movement also ignores the problems posed by nihilism or Eastern monism. Finally, Sire comments that there can be no effective argument against those who think they are their own god and who create their own reality. Sire likens this to a psychotic state in which people completely withdraw from the world and live in their own universe.[38]

Postmodernism is characterized by “incredulity toward metanarratives”[39] or worldviews: “With postmodernism no story can have any more credibility than any other” (Sire, Universe 214).[40] “The first question postmodernism addresses is not what is there or how we know what is there but how language functions to construct meaning.”[41] In postmodernism the emphasis has shifted from ontology (premodern), to epistemology[42] (modern), to constructing meaning (postmodern).[43]
This shift was first most evident in Nietzsche who took Descartes’ skepticism to the next level. Descartes concluded, “I think, therefore I am” but Nietzsche asked:
“What if it is the thinking that creates or causes the I rather than the I that creates or causes the thinking? What if the activity of thinking does not require an agent but produces only the illusion of an agent” (Sire, Universe 218-219)
If these and similar questions cannot be answered, “The truth about reality is,” therefore, “forever hidden from us. All we can do is tell stories” (Sire, Universe 219).
            Even the stories we tell, however, are problematic because our stories can easily be misread and misinterpreted. “Texts and statements mean only what readers take them to mean” (Sire, Universe 223).[44] Not only that, but all narratives are power plays and metanarratives are oppressive.[45] “To reject oppression,” therefore, it is necessary “to reject all the stories society tells us” (Sire, Universe 224).
            In postmodernism, “Ethics, like knowledge, is a linguistic construct.[46] Social good is determined by society, or more specifically, it is determined by what the power brokers of society decide to make it.
            Sire makes several positive observations on postmodernism.[47] First, he argues that postmodernism’s critique of naturalism is often accurate in that “Too much confidence has been placed in human reason and the scientific method” (Sire, Universe 235).
            Second, he agrees with the observation that language is often related to power. Sire says we should be more discerning of people’s motives—and even our own motives—for using language as we do. On the other hand, Sire cautions that if “all linguistic utterances are power plays,” then the postmodernist’s utterances can be dismissed as power plays as well (Sire, Universe 236).[48]
            Third, Sire acknowledges that it is important to be aware of social context as we seek to understand the world, but he warns that “if we are only the product of the blind forces of nature and society, then so is our view that we are only the product of the blind forces of nature and society (Sire, Universe 236-237).
            Sire then proceeds to more critical comments. First, he argues that the postmodern rejection of metanarratives is itself a metanarrative.[49] Second, if we can know nothing about reality, then we can know nothing about postmodernist truth claims either.[50] Third, if the postmodernist deconstructionist is right about our inability to know an author’s intent, then we can’t know the intent of postmodernist authors either.[51] Finally, Sire points out that postmodernism’s attack on human reason is based on human reason.[52] Although postmodernism is self-refuting on several levels it does tend to pull “the smiling mask of arrogance from the face of naturalism” (Sire, Universe 241).[53],[54]

Sire’s Conclusion: the Examined Life
            In conclusion Sire poses the question of how to decide among the finite worldview options.[55],[56] He suggests four characteristics of an adequate worldview. First, although no worldview is completely free of inconsistency, there should be an inner coherence and consistency in the major elements. Second, an adequate worldview should be able to honestly account for all types of data, from personal experience to critical analysis, to scientific investigation, etc. “Third, an adequate worldview should explain what it claims to explain.”[57] Finally, a worldview “should be subjectively satisfactory” (Sire, Universe 247).[58] Sire argues that only theism can meet these criteria. He insists, however, that:
To be a Christian theist is not just to have an intellectual worldview; it is to be personally committed to the infinite-personal Lord of the universe. [59] And it leads to an examined life that is well worth living” (Sire, Universe 250).[60]

My concluding observations
First, I think Sire has done a commendable job helping us to think through worldviews from a logical perspective. Nothing in the following critique should be understood to negate the importance of Sire’s work. In fact, my main fear is that my brief summary has made the book’s argument appear much less sophisticated than it really is.
Second, I agree with Sire, and especially with Naugle, that one’s worldview is not just a matter of intellect, but is fundamentally a matter of the heart. That being the case I think the whole issue could be simplified. From a Christian worldview perspective—and Naugle persuasively demonstrated that even the way one looks at worldviews is affected by one’s own worldview—from a Christian perspective, worldviews can be broken down into just two categories: 1) A Christian worldview (in all of its variations) stemming from a heart that has been regenerated by the Spirit of God, a heart that loves God and desires to please him, and 2) All other worldviews which ultimately stem from an unregenerate heart that is in in rebellion against God. The fundamental orientation of the heart is the core issue in all worldviews (Naugle 267-274).[61]
Third, it is perhaps not at all surprising that someone like me would find nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism, the New Age movement and postmodernism to be so absurd as to fall under the category of “professing themselves to be wise they became as fools” (Romans 1.22).  Since deism has rightly been abandoned by everyone, only theism and naturalism remain as reasonable options.
Recent authors—scientists like Gerald Schroder[62] and Stephen Meyer[63] for example--have convincingly argued that the simplest and earliest forms of life were so incredibly complex, and appeared so early in the evolutionary time frame, that it is scientifically (statistically) impossible that  such complex life evolved as a result of natural selection and chance alone. Even assuming that natural selection and chance were capable of producing such complexity, there just wasn’t nearly enough time from the Big Bang to the appearance of life on earth for this degree of complexity to have appeared.[64] Schroder’s arguments were so convincing that the world-renowned, atheist philosopher, Anthony Flew, has abandoned his atheism![65]
I agree with Sire, therefore, that the only viable worldview is some form of theism. But Sire only discusses Christian theism. Islam is also a theistic worldview and yet fundamentalist Islam and fundamentalist Christianity[66] regularly produce diametrically opposite behaviors.[67] After all, if you honestly believe that God demands that you bring the entire world into submission to God—peacefully if possible, but violently if necessary,[68]—your behavior is likely to be different than if you believe that God calls you to make disciples of all nations, loving even your enemies. This is an aspect of the theistic worldview that really needs to be addressed in future editions of Sire’s book.
Fourth, I am a little concerned that the worldview we are beginning to see in a few of our students is a form of postmodern theism. My concern is with professing Christian students who seem to believe in a god of their own preferences; often a warm, fuzzy, grandmotherly kind of god who is completely non-judgmental and infinitely tolerant. Some of my students have admitted that their own personal revelations from God are more authoritative for them than Scripture.
This worldview may work something like this: I don’t like the idea of hell. No problem. My god doesn’t have a hell.[69] It is not compassionate to deny homosexual couples the right to marry. My god supports loving homosexual relationships.
What about lying, cheating, illegal downloading of music, or sex before marriage? My god is a tolerant and compassionate friend who understands and loves me no matter what I do. Just as I am, without one plea, except that god would let me be—until I need Him or Her, that is.[70]
I am tempted to blame this view of an all-tolerant God on the influence of postmodernism,[71] but that may not be entirely fair since people have treated God this way since Old Testament times. I fear, however, that in modern times Evangelical churches have placed so much emphasis on the love of God[72] and on our personal experiences with God, that we have neglected the biblical teaching on the holiness of God and the biblical foundation on which that doctrine rests. I think this unbalance needs to be corrected with a renewed emphasis on God’s holiness and on the Bible as the ultimate revelation from God and the final authority for all faith and practice. As the Crown College and C&MA doctrinal statements both assert:
The Old and New Testaments, inerrant as originally given, were verbally inspired by God and are a complete revelation of His will for the salvation of men. They constitute the divine and only rule of Christian faith and practice.”[73]
This is the foundation for a Christian worldview. The extent to which we drift from this is the extent to which our worldview begins to slide off its foundation.
Finally, if Christian college faculty are to integrate “faith and learning,” that is, if we are to ensure that we are teaching biology, business, communication, psychology, music, etc. from perspectives that are consistent with a biblical worldview,[74] we must be firmly grounded in a deep understanding of that worldview.[75] Although it can be a struggle just to keep up in one’s own discipline, Christian faculty must also regularly read in the areas of Christian philosophy,[76] theology[77] and biblical studies.[78] My impression is that overall Crown’s faculty is much more biblically grounded than faculty at many other Christian colleges. My exhortation would be—as Paul instructed the Thessalonians, albeit in a different context—that we “increase more and more” (1 Thess. 4.10).

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[1] In my opinion, one of the best scholarly worldview books in print is Worldview; the History of a Concept by David Naugle which is why I have quoted from it extensively in the footnotes below.
[2] The term “worldview” “is a translation from the German Weltanschauung and was first used by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), but only in passing.”  Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911) was the first to use it “as a major focus” (Sire, Naming, 23). The importance of worldviews is argued by Gordon Clark, “…if Christianity is to be defended against the objections of other philosophies, the only adequate method will be comprehensive. While it is of great importance to defend particular points of interest, these specific defenses will be insufficient. In addition to these details there is also needed a picture of the whole into which they fit” (Gordon Clark as quoted in Naugle 14).
[3] Some philosophers have rejected the notion of worldviews but David Naugle comments, “The irony, of course, is that Wittgenstein, like Husserl, Heidegger, and any others who have sought to jettison the necessity of a worldview, is unable to escape some reasonably fixed position on what reality and the world is really like” (Naugle 161-162).
[4] It is important to note that even the concept of worldview is worldview dependent. As Naugle writes, “…any theory or definition of ‘worldview’ is itself a function of the actual worldview of the theorist or the definer” (Naugle 253). Naugle cites the third edition of Sire’s The Universe Next Door as an example: “His volume is structured around the answers of eight different worldviews to seven big philosophical questions. The questions begin with a metaphysical or ontological query about the nature of ultimate reality or being; move on to interrogations about the cosmos, humanity, death, knowledge and ethics; and conclude with an inquiry about history…Critics pointed out that the way he presented the issues to be investigated at the outset of his volume determined the scope of his analysis…His ‘metanalysis’ revealed that the order of his interrogatives was premodern and theistic, commencing with metaphysics or ontology as the primary and all-determinative category to which the other concerns about humanity, knowledge, history, and so on were subordinated” (Naugle 255). “As a Christian and ‘premodernist,’ he bagan with being; but had he been a modernist, his analysis would have likely begun with epistemology; and had he been a postmodernist, it would probably have commenced with language and/or meaning” (Naugle 256). Sire acknowledges this in the fourth edition of his book. Naugle points out that Kierkegaard, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Husserl, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein all did the same thing (Naugle 256). Naugle warns that the whole concept of worldview is not native to the Bible but has been imported from elsewhere and is loaded with modern and postmodern baggage. He asks, “are believers aware of the relativistic and privatized connotations that ‘worldview has acquired over time?” His answer, “Probably not.” But just as Augustine appropriated pagan ideas for use in the church, Naugle believes that the concept of worldview can be purged of modern and premodern baggage and used in the church as well (256-258).
[5] Naugle agrees that the core issue in a Christian worldview is the heart, “I propose that the heart and its content as the center of human consciousness creates and constitutes what we commonly refer to as Weltanschauung” (269-270).
[6] In his book, Naming the Elephant; Worldview as a concept Sire makes four revisions to his definition: “First is a recognition that a worldview is not just a set of basic concepts but a fundamental orientation of the heart. Second, is an explicit insistence that at the deepest root of a worldview is its commitment to and understanding of the ‘really real.’ Third is a consideration of behavior in determination of what one’s own or another’s world view really is. Fourth is a broader understanding of how worldviews are grasped as story, not just as abstract propositions” (Sire, Naming 13).
[7] The Blackwell Dictionary of Sociology defines worldview as “Within a culture, a worldview is a general way of looking upon the universe and our relation to it, a general set of assumptions about the meaning of life, about what is important, and about how things work.”
[8] Sire admits that the worldviews covered in this book, “are ideal types outlined for heuristic purposes, not because anyone, including myself, holds precisely the worldview described” (Sire, Naming 93).
[9] Authors come up with different questions for assessing worldviews. For example, Walsh and Middleton suggest the following, “(1) Who am I? Or what is the nature, task and purpose of human beings? (2) Where am I? Or, what is the nature of the world and universe I live in? (3) What’s wrong? Or, what is the basic problem or obstacle that keeps me from attaining fulfillment? In other words, how do I understand evil? And (4) What is the remedy? Or, how is it possible to overcome this hindrance to my fulfillment? In other words, how do I find salvation? (Walsh 35). One’s worldview can even affect the questions one asks to assess a worldview. The book by Walsh and Middleton is a good example. The questions they ask are clearly presupposing a Christian worldview. For example, in response to the question, “What’s wrong” a Deist may respond saying that the question presupposes that something is wrong when many deists would say that nothing is wrong—this is just the way nature is. In response to the fourth question about how to find salvation, a naturalist may say that this question presupposes that we need to be saved in the first place.  While Sire has also been attacked for developing questions from within a Christian worldview, I think he does a much better job at being neutral than, for example, Walsh and Middleton..
[10] The order of questions is important. Sire explains, “Ontology must precede epistemology in worldview formation. If it does not, we are basing our worldview on the fragile structure of the human ego, that is, on the autonomy of human reason, which really means the autonomy of each person’s human ego or each person’s sense of reason” (Sire, Naming 72-73).
[11] “…a Christian worldview is not the same thing as a Christian theology. Both deal with the same or similar issues. A worldview includes a consciousness of a pretheoretical dimension. A theology normally assumes this dimension rather than inquiring into the nature of its presuppositions” (Sire, Naming 70). For an extensive philosophical discussion of a “Christian Worldview” see Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J.P Moreland and William Lane Craig.
[12] Naugle does an outstanding job summarizing a truly Christian worldview in his chapter on “Theological Reflections on ‘Worldview” (Naugle 253-290).
[13] Sire argues, however, that deists can’t have it both ways. “Either (1) all knowledge comes from experience and we, not being infinite, cannot know the system as a whole, or (2) some knowledge comes from another source” which would tend to undermine deism (Sire, Universe 52-53).
[14] See also Ronald Nash’s discussion of naturalism in his book, Worldviews in Conflict.
[15] It is important to note that naturalism, no less than theism, begins with faith—faith in the presupposition that God does not exist. If God were shown to exist, the entire system of naturalism would immediately be exposed as absurd. The arguments of scientists like Gerald Schroder, Stephen Meyer, et al show that naturalism takes an enormous, not to mention unscientific, leap of faith.
[16] Naturalists tend to approach science as if scientific investigation were an entirely neutral and objective endeavor. Thomas Kuhn, however, “made intellectual history and changed the course of modern thought” by showing that science “is conditioned by various scholarly traditions and a host of more or less intangible historical and human factors.” Nicholas Wolterstorff, reacting to Kuhn, said, “When I first read…The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,…my main reaction was, ‘Well of course.”  Naugle summarizes Worlterstorff’s reaction saying, “Since a faith always precedes and governs understanding (Augustine), since original sin has noetic implications (Calvin), and since spiritual regeneration, or the lack thereof, affects the total constitution of a person (Kuyper), this theological tradition would deny theoretical autonomy and affirm its ‘worldview’ dependency” (Naugle 207).
[17] James Spiegel summarizes Alvin Plantinga on this topic saying that Plantinga, “…begins by noting that the naturalist must embrace Darwinism. This is because, in ruling out the supernatural, there are no alternatives to explain living organisms. For the Naturalist, Darwinism is the only game in town. Now if the Darwinist story is correct, then everything about us formed through natural selection; every trait of every living thing is the result of survival of the fittest. Characteristics are preserved only if they provide a distinct competitive advantage in the struggle to reach reproductive maturity…. Given Darwinism, even our cognitive faculties must be the result of natural selection. Every aspect of human brain physiology and psychology was entirely fixed by its survival value. This means that nowhere along the human evolutionary path did a concern for truth necessarily come into play…There is no necessary connection between the survival potential of a cognitive system and the truth of the beliefs it produces.” “This means that if naturalism is true, we have no reason to believe it is true. If there ever was a self-defeating worldview, this is it” (Spiegel 58, 59).
[18] Existential philosophers, describing the nihilism that comes from a naturalistic view of life “have depicted life in the cosmos in…alarming terms as a ‘plague’ (Camus), or as the experience of unmitigated ‘nausea’ (Sartre). Despair, anxiety, and boredom are the emotional companions of life” (Naugle 232).
[19] Or, as Stanley Rosen says, “If nothing is real, the real is nothing; there is no difference between the written lines of a text and the blank spaces between them” (Stanley Rosen as quoted in Naugle 320).
[20] What this means in practice can be seen in the life and works of Jesus scholar, Marcus Borg. Borg attends church with his wife, an Episcopal priest, where he worships, prays, and recites the creed, which affirms the virgin conception, the resurrection and fact that Jesus was the Son of God. Then he goes to teach at Oregon State University where he denies all of it. For Borg, the “Jesus of history” that he proclaims in his classes, was a Jewish mystic who was not, and did not believe himself to be, the Messiah or Son of God. In church, however, Borg takes an existential leap of faith and worships the “Christ of faith” of the creeds.
[21] Marcus Borg, is a perfect example of this. Borg writes, “believe whatever you want about whether the [resurrection] story happened this way; but now let’s talk about what the story means” (Borg 57). Borg is quite clear that he does not believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus. For my review of this book, see: originally published as “A Summary Critique: The Gospel according to Borg” in the Christian Research Journal. 28:6 (2005): 44-46.
[22] On one level, Sire is absolutely right. Paul argued that if Christ has not been raised from the dead, our preaching is in vain, your faith is in vain, you are still in your sins, and dead loved ones have perished (1 Corinthians 15:12-20). But Sire seems to have misunderstood the argument. For example, theologians who deny the bodily resurrection of Jesus would respond saying that the world is overflowing with stories that never happened but are filled with meaning, e.g. Grimm’s fairy tales, many of Shakespeare’s plays, or Star Trek movies.
[23] An example of an existential treatment of Jesus is found in a book by Luke Timothy Johnson. Johnson does a good job defending Jesus from the attacks of naturalist and deconstructionist critics but takes an existential leap of faith when he concludes that our “faith is confirmed, not by the establishment of facts about the past, but by the reality of Christ’s power in the present” (Johnson 143). Traditional theists would agree that our faith is supported by the power of Christ in the present, but would add that if our faith in Jesus is not also supported by facts, then faith in Jesus may not be much different than faith in Santa Claus!
[24] Or “Atma.” A term that comes from the Rig-Veda meaning “breath” (Kingsland 47).
[25] Venika Kingsland, a Hindu author, explains, “Hindus believe in one God—Brahman—the Supreme, One without a second, the Singularity. Brahman is described as nirguana—without any attributes. However, just as all human beings have their own perspective, they may also have their own personal or individual god. These gods are described as being saguna—with attributes” (Kingsland 17).
[26] Kingsland describes one of these rituals called an “arti ceremony “which consists of waving a lighted lamp in front of the murti (image of a deity) as an offering of light. Before worship, a small amount of water is taken in the palm of the right hand and sipped, invoking the name of Vishnu.” This is done three times and is sometimes followed by a hymn. If done in a temple, as opposed to a home, it is then customary “to walk once clockwise around the murti” (Kingsland 67).
[27] Steve Hagen, a Zen Buddhist priest says that there are no absolutes. There is no “unchanging ‘good’ and ‘bad.” These are just value judgments and beliefs “based on limited knowledge.”  The solution is to act out of “Wholeness.” How we are to act out of “Wholeness” when, by Hagen’s own admission, we can’t see the whole, is not clear. (Hagen 42).  
[28] Kingsland explains that Karma “is synonymous with the consequences of any action—be they right or wrong. There is no concept of guilt or sin in the way it is commonly perceived in the West…Everyone has to accept responsibility for their own actions” (Kingsland 46).
[29] Sire’s explanation seems to be a bit different than the explanation given by Kingsland who says that “For Hindus, religion is not an alternative to the world, it is primarily the means of improving their existence in it. Hindus believe that the individual reincarnates under conditions created through the history of their own past behaviours. Each incarnation provides an opportunity to be born into a higher varna and better circumstances” (Kingsland, 46).
[30] Steve Hagen is a Zen Priest. See my critique of his book, “Buddhism, Plain & Simple” at
[31] Someone once quipped that “Nothing is the sort of thing rocks dream about.”
[32] “Zen proclaims that because consciousness is always conscious of change and never of permanence, change is all that is permanent; in other words nothing is permanent. This is raised to a philosophic principle. The only permanent ‘thing’ is not a ‘thing’ at all. It is an absence of ‘thingishness.’ It is the Void” (Sire, Naming 150).
[33] Hagen discusses disputes among Hindu philosophers regarding the nature of Atman. Some thought atman to be eternal, “an everlasting core in each of us, temporarily housed in a body that is subject to death and decay. Others argued that there was “no such entity as the atman” and that there is no “enduring self.” Haden adds, “Furthermore, if we buy the notion of a creator, beyond the bickering this belief engenders, we face the problem of determining what, if anything, might be expected of us by such a being…” Hagen says that the Buddha came up with a “middle way” which holds that “both the assertion of an eternal self (atman) and the denial of such a self (anatman)…are merely concepts we construct out of our longing, loathing, and ignorance.” The problem is our conception of the self as an “entity that doesn’t change.” By holding on to this unchanging concept of self “we live in defiance of Reality” which is one reason we suffer (Hagen 119-127).
[34] Ronald Nash also includes a discussion of the New Age Movement in his book Worldviews in Conflict 130-146).
[35] Leffel argues that the New Age Movement, “Having evolved rapidly along with the rest of culture…has now moved almost completely into the sphere of the postmodern. Today, New Age consciousness and postmodernism share and overlapping philosophical base” (Leffel, Jim, “Postmodernism and ‘The Myth of Progress’: Two Visions” in McCallum 50.
[36] See my review of Shirley MacLaine’s view of reincarnation as presented in her book, Out on a Limb, at my personal blog:
[37] Leffel and McCallum quote New Age author Gary Springfield as explaining, “The visualization process creates out of etheric matter something in fact. That is the beauty and power of visualization—we are creating out of etheric matter. As we create that powerfully enough within etheric matter, it becomes reality” (Jim Leffel and Dennis McCallum, McCallum 210.
[38] I can’t help thinking of the old story about a psychotic patient in a mental hospital who thinks he is a poached egg. The psychologist tries to reason with the man by asking if eggs bleed. After thinking about it for a while the man concedes that poached eggs do not bleed. The psychologist then takes a needle and pricks the man’s finger. The man is shocked and exclaims, “I guess poached eggs do bleed!”
[39] This phrase in Sire apparently originated with Jean-Francios Lyotard. Naugle writes, “What remains for the postmodern denizen is a plethora of socially and linguistically constructed meaning systems, each unprivileged, nonhegemenous, and thoroughly tolerated” (Naugle 174).
[40] One expression of this in education is the shift from teacher as the “authoritative transmitters” of knowledge to teachers as “facilitators and ‘co-constructors’ of knowledge.”  In postmodernism “the knowledge constructed by learners, teachers, or scientists are all of equal worth” (DeLashmutt and Roger Braund, “Postmodern Impact: Education,” in McCallum 99, 97). We see this most clearly in the strong emphasis many educators now place on group learning .
[41] Sire explains, “But apart from our linguistic systems we can know nothing. All language is a human construct” (Sire, Universe 221). Jim Leffel responds to the postmodern challenge saying, “Postmodernists, remember, begin by asserting that all human thought is rooted in language. Consequently, they say, no reasoning is possible without the ability to understand and use words. But here we find helpful insight from developmental psychology. In surveying key research in infant psychology, Donald McIntosh states that infants recognize a world of objects and events. He shows how research indicates infants can think even at a prelinguistic stage of development. That is, before they can speak. Research indicates that children want to acquire language because of an already existing framework of thought. How different these findings are from postmodern speculations. Instead of our thoughts being shaped by the words we learn, research actually shows that what we learn motivates us to acquire language” (Leffel, Jim. “Postmodernism and ‘The Myth of Progress’: Two Visions” in McCallum 54.
[42] In his discussion on epistemology, Naugle relates the joke about three umpires in a bar discussing the game when “one says, ‘There’s balls and there’s strikes and I call ’em the way they are.’ Another says, ‘There’s balls and there’s strikes, and I call ’em as I see ’em.’ The third says, ‘There’s balls and there’s strikes, and they ain’t nothin’ until I call ’em.”  Naugle likens the first position to what he calls, naïve or commonsense realism—the idea that “comprehension of the cosmos is direct and accurate, unaffected by worldview presuppositions or any other subjective influences.” The last position Naugle likens to “creative antirealism” in which “Worldviews…are all there all, belief systems that are reified and sustain no real connection to the cosmos.”  Naugle likens the second position to “critical realism” (the position he advocates) which “posits an objectively existing world and the possibility of trustworthy knowledge of it, but also recognizes the prejudice that inevitably accompanies human knowing and demands an ongoing critical conversation about the essentials of one’s outlook” (Naugle 322-324).
[43] “Much of postmodernism—Derridean deconstruction in particular—is geared to the task of enabling individuals and societies to realize that they have created their own worlds, and that there is nothing transcendent, permanent, natural, or supernatural about them.” This would mean that all worldviews are merely human fabrications (Naugle 179, 180).
[44] This nonsense has devastating consequences especially in the fields of biblical studies (when the objective is no longer to determine what the author intended to communicate, any interpretation is possible!) and constitutional law (where original intent is replaced with the idea of interpreting the Constitution as a “living, breathing document”). When the Constitution is divorced from its original context and interpreted solely in light of modern culture, for all practical purposes, we no longer have a Constitution and, therefore, we no longer have the protection from government that the Bill of Rights was designed to provide.
[45] Naugle summarizes Foucault’s thinking: “Every human discourse is a power play, every social arrangement oppressive, and every cultural setting tyrannical” (Naugle 183). “In skeptical Foucaultian terms, worldviews are merely the linguistic constructions of a power elite” (Naugle 184).
[46] Psychologist Jim Fidelibus describes postmodernism as “culturally determined linguistic constructivism.” Constructivism, he says, “is the theory that the mind doesn’t possessively take in reality, but actively ‘constructs’ reality in its process of understanding….‘Linguistic’ constructivism implies that this assembly process is determined by language,” therefore, “In its purer forms, postmodernism promotes the idea that language not only influences perceptions but creates it. For all intents and purposes, since culture creates language, and language is our only means to perceive reality, culture creates reality” (Fidelibus, Jim. “Being of Many Minds: The Postmodern Impact on Psychotherapy” in McCallum 46-147).
[47] Dennis McCallum, though very critical of postmodernism (and rightly so), discusses six important observations by postmodernists:  “1. Without the infinite-personal creator God of the Bible, knowledge and reason do indeed become uncertain.” “2. Modernists’ faith in human ‘progress’ is misplaced.” “3. People are more subjective than they like to admit.” “4. Our culture can, and often does, blind our eyes to truth obvious to other cultures and which, in retrospect, may also be clear to us.” “5. “People are social beings, and our social or cultural setting shapes and informs our values and thinking.” “6. Blind faith in our legal status quo is unwarranted.” McCallum adds, however, that “even if we admit postmodern scholars have demonstrated some valid points…Seen in the larger picture, postmodernism is nothing less than the death of truth.” What follows is an excellent critique of postmodernist thought (McCallum 241-258).
[48] For a brief, but good discussion on “self-referential absurdity” see Nash 84-88.
[49] I would add that it is also a power play designed to discredit all other metanarratives.
[50] For example, Naugle observes that Wittgenstein “uses language which presumably connects with reality to suggest that no use of language really connects with reality” (Naugle 162).
[51] Deconstructionism abounds in Jesus Research but a prime example is Robert Funk in his book, Honest to Jesus. Funk argues for a methodology which isolates Gospel periscopes, ripping them from their contexts and re-interpreting them (often very creatively) apart from any context and often in contradiction to the Gospel context. In Jesus and Empire, Richard Horsley cogently points out that if a book on Martin Luther King were written based solely on isolated sayings taken out of their social and literary context we would not have an adequate understanding of the great civil rights leader or know why he was important (Horsley 56-58).
[52] Psychologist Jim Fidelibus is much more direct. After his review of postmodernist influence in psychology he warns, “Postmodernism is a stealth destroyer. It may seem open-minded and tolerant on the surface, but with its denial of the individual and its fascination with power, the makings of manipulation are all present. People may not recognize its danger until it’s too late” (Fidelibus, Jim. “Being of Many Minds: The Postmodern Impact on Psychotherapy” in McCallum 157).
[53] A prime example of postmodernism in Jesus research is the work of Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza. She makes no attempt to hide the fact that she is attempting to “reenvision” Jesus along feminist lines. She argues that because of the dominant, oppressive, patriarchal culture of the time, the male Gospel writers deliberately suppressed the work and status of women in Jesus’ group. We must, therefore, reimagine what the status and contributions of Jesus’ earliest female followers must have been. For Schussler Fiorenza this re-imagination is as good as history (Schussler Fiorenza 2000).
[54] Naugle asks several questions of postmodernity: “(1) Does not postmodernism assume a naturalistic worldview as the basis of its assertions? (2) Is not the postmodern denial of the cogency of any worldview itself a worldview, and therefore self-defeating? (3) What implications does the Christian Weltanschauung have upon understanding the nature of language and the accessibility of a transtextual reality, especially with the aid of revelation? (4) On the basis of this revelation, does not Christianity have a much better story to tell than postmodernism, indeed a true one, especially in announcing the good news of the existence of God, the sacramental nature of the cosmos, the dignity of human persons as imago Dei, and the hope of a comprehensive redemption in the work of Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit?” (Naugle 186).
[55] Since everyone has their own personal worldview and their worldviews often change in various ways as they grow older, the number of personal worldviews could be, for all practical purposes, described as infinite. Sire argues, however, that there are only a limited number of answers that can be given to his worldview questions—for example, Sire writes, “to the question of prime reality, only two basic answers can be given: either it is the universe that is self-existent and has always existed, or it is a transcendent God who is self-existent and has always existed” (Sire, Universe 243). So in a broad sense, Sire argues that the number of worldview options is finite.
[56] Geisler and Watkins provides helpful discussion on some worldviews that Sire does not cover, like the finite, evolving god of process theology, in which the universe is not created by God but is like God’s body; or the limited god of “Finite Godism” who is not powerful enough to deal with evil; or the multiple gods of polytheism (Geisler, 107-146, 187-253). It seems to me, however, that these could be subsumed under the broader topic of theism.
[57] Ronald Nash suggests three criteria for testing a worldview: 1) The test of reason, i.e. consistency and the law of noncontradiction, 2) The test of experience divided into a) “The Test of the outer world,” i.e. “We have a right to expect worldviews to touch base with our experience of the world outside us” and b) “The Test of the Inner world,” i.e. worldviews “need to fit what we know about ourselves,” e.g. “I am a being who thinks, hopes, experiences pleasure and pain, believes, desires…is often conscious of right and wrong….” 3) The Test of Practice, i.e. “can the person who professes that worldview live consistently in harmony with the system he professes?” (Nash 55-63).
[58] Naugle suggests the following questions for evaluating a worldview: First, “Do the propositions that make up a Weltanschauung agree with each other? Are they rationally coherent and non-contradictory.” Second, Does the worldview fit with reality, and is it capable of offering cogent explanations or interpretations of the totality of things?” Third, “Does the worldview work? Is it livable?” (Naugle 327).
[59] Sire doesn’t mention John Calvin in this context, but I have to think he would have agreed with Calvin’s statement that faith “is more of the heart than of the brain, and more of the disposition than of the understanding” (Calvin, Institutes, III.2.8). 
[60] Phillips and Brown provide a more simplified version of worldviews than Sire. In Making Sense of Your World they categorize worldviews in terms of their belief about what Sire would call the really real. With regard to beliefs in God, the primary choices are: 1) theism (God or gods exist), 2) naturalism (God or gods do not exist) and 3) what they call transcendentalism (everything is god). Theism would include Judaism, Islam, Christianity and polytheism. Transendentalism would include Hinduism, Buddhism, and the New Age Movement. Naturalism would include its offshoots such as nihilism and existentialism. In the second version of their book, edited by Stonestreet, they include postmodernism as a separate worldview but I think postmodernism could be classified as just another offshoot of naturalism. Dooyewerd had simplified it even further arguing, “Thus at the basis of philosophy and theory, there is no historical pluralism of worldviews but only two ‘religious’ ground-motives in antithetical opposition. This ‘religious’ antithesis, i.e., of man converted to God versus man averted from God, is decisive for all life and thought (Herman Dooyeweerd as quoted in Naugle 26).
[61] Naugle surveys the biblical meaning of heart saying, “The preponderance of biblical passages, however, speak of the heart as the central, defining element of the human person…It occurs approximately 855 times in the Old Testament, where it stands for ‘all aspects of a person.’ In Hebraic thought the heart is comprehensive in its operations as the seat of the intellectual (e.g., Prov. 2:10a; 14:33); Dan. 10:12), affective (e.g., Exod. 4:14; Ps 13:2; Jer. 15:16), volitional (e.g., Judg. 5:15; 1 Chron. 29:18; Prov. 16:1), and religious life of a human being (e.g., Deut. 6:5; 2 Chron. 16:9; Ezek. 6:9; 14:3).” Naugle continues, “According to various New Testament authors, the heart is the psychic center of human affections (Matt. 22:37-39; John 14:1, 27; 2 Cor. 2:4), the source of spiritual life (Acts 8:21; Rom 2:29; 2 Cor. 3:3), and the seat of the intellect and the will (Rom. 1:21; 2 Cor. 9:7; Heb. 4:12)”  (Naugle 268-269).
[62] The Hidden Face of God. By Gerald Schroeder. For a brief example, see my blog post at
[63] Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer. For my brief review of the book, see http://dennis-ingolfsland .blogspot .com/2010/09/signature-in-cell-by-stephen-c-meyer.html
[64] For example, Schroeder writes, “When a specific protein is needed by a cell, a chemical messenger is sent from the outer cell, through a pore in the nuclear membrane, into the nucleus. How the messenger knows to go to the nucleus remains a mystery. This messenger finds the needed chromosome (one of the twenty-three pairs), locks onto that chromosome, and moves along, nucleotide by nucleotide, until it comes to the specific sequence of bases that marks the beginning of the gene that codes for the desired protein. At this stage, the signaling molecule changes shape, and in doing so allows—or causes—and enzyme called DNA-dependent RNA polymerase (I’ll call it RNA-P) to join the action. The RNA-P opens the helix, reads each nucleotide base, selects the correct complementary base from among the four types floating in the intracellular slurry, concurrently selects…the molecules that make up the spine of the lengthening strand of mRNA being manufactured, trailing behind the RNA-P, joins the just-selected base to the spine, takes the portion of DNA that has just been read and reseals it to the parallel DNA strand which it was separated, opens the portion of DNA to be read next, reads it, and continues the juggling act til it reaches a coded stop order…And RNA-P does this manufacturing at fifty bases a second…Keep in mind, this entire sequence is performed by molecules reading molecules, molecules selecting molecules, molecules walking along with other molecules. Don’t project too much brain power or body power into this system. It’s not little people in there. It’s simply molecules that somehow seem to act like little knowledgeable people, as if they had a wisdom of their own. Which they do. This is only one small part of a much more complicated process that takes place in what was once called the “simple cell.” At one time scientists used to imagine that, given enough time (billions of years) simple cells could evolve by themselves purely by chance or natural selection. The kicker here is that “it all developed so very rapidly, almost simultaneously with the appearance of liquid water on earth. We have absolutely phenomenal complexity, not after billions of years of evolution, but at the very beginning of the entire process!” (Schroeder 193-194).
[65] See There is a God; How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind by Antony Flew.  Anthony Flew is like the ideological and intellectual grandfather to modern atheist apologists like Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris.
[66] I am referring to “fundamentalist Christianity” in the broad sense of those who believe in the historic doctrines of the Christian faith, e.g. the inspiration of Scripture, the Trinity, the bodily resurrection of Jesus, the second coming, salvation by grace through faith, etc.
[67] See my Amazon kindle book: Jesus, Muhammad and Fundamentalism. See also my blog post on “Understanding Fundamentalism”:
[68] For example, see the Qur’an suras 2.190-193; 2.244; 3.149; 4.91; 8.59; 9.5; 61.4; 66.9. 
[69] This is not a slap at scholars who honestly wrestle with the problem of hell and attempt to come to grips with the problem from what they believe is a biblical perspective. My comment is criticism of professing Christians who would simply dismiss the entire doctrine simply because they don’t like it.
[70] None of this is new, of course. When Nietzsche proclaimed that God was dead, he did not mean that a literal god had died. He meant that the idea of God was “no longer having an effect on how people behaved. People might say they believed in God, but their thoughts and actions betrayed their functional atheism” (Sire, Naming 27).
[71] “Religion based only on personal experience and ‘what’s true for me’ is perfectly compatible with the postmodern worldview” (Jim Leffel and Dennis McCallum, “Postmodern Impact: Religion,” in McCallum 203.
[72] It is instructive contrast Paul who began his gospel in Romans by devoting the first three chapters to the sinfulness of man in falling short of God’s holiness; with Campus Crusade for Christ which began their “Four Spiritual Laws” with “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” Whether through the Four Spiritual Laws or through other means, Americans (Christian and non-Christians alike) have been thoroughly indoctrinated in idea of the love of God, but they often seem to give little thought to the holiness of God. But apart from a deep sense of the holiness of God, we will not be confronted with the awfulness of our sin. Unless we are personally convicted by the awfulness of our sin we will not repent. Unless we repent, we will not be saved from the wrath of God (Rom. 1.18) regardless of how loving we believe God to be. “Francis Schaeffer in his book, Death in the City, dealt with the question, ‘What would you do if you met a really modern man on a train and you had just an hour to talk with him about the Gospel?’  Schaeffer said, ‘I would spend forty-five or fifty minutes to really show him his dilemma; to show him that he is even more dead  than he thinks he is; that he is morally dead because he is separated from the
God who exists. Often it takes a long time to bring a person to the place where he understands the negative. And unless he understands what’s wrong, he will not be ready to listen to and understand the positive” (quoted in “The Motive for Evangelism” by W.C. Champion,
[74] “Christianity is more than a church polity, theological system, or pietistic program, but is in fact a view of the entire cosmos with something significant to say about everything” (Naugle 251).
[75] Of course they also have to be aware of the worldview assumptions of their own discipline. In psychology, for example, Naugle comments, “any program of psychotherapy—Freudian, Jungian, or otherwise—is established upon fundamental worldview assumptions, and philosophical underpinnings as such are extremely influential factors in the overall psychotherapeutic process” (Naugle 222).
[76] For Christian philosophy, a good place to start would be Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview by J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig.
[77] For Christian theology, a good place to start would be Introducing Christian Doctrine by Millard Erickson, edited by Arnie Hustad.
[78] For my area of New Testament studies, I would recommend:  The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever,  Survey of the New Testament by Robert Gundry, Jesus and the Gospels by Craig Blomberg, The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel, Fabricating Jesus by Craig Evans, The Jesus Legend by Paul Eddy and Gregory Boyd, The Case for the Resurrection by Gary Habermas, The Resurrection of the Son of God by N.T. Wright, Paul, Apostle of the Heart Set Free by F.F. Bruce, Paul; Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity by David Wenham.