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What are humans, why are they here, and what is their purpose in life? What are our goals for life? When you make decisions about using time, is it about the stuff life is made of? What are the various values and priorities that pertain to such? These are some of the many questions each person asks themselves in a quest for self-discovery and self-identity. What can we know, how and how much? Does reality include only matter or energy, or is there more?
“We begin creating our worldview as we become aware of ourselves and our surroundings. As we learn about ourselves, our caregivers, and our environment, we form an opinion as to who, what, where, how, and why we are. The experience is the beginning of our mutual journey. But personal experiences with the “who, what, when, where, and how” are not perceived in precisely the same way by any other person”.
To begin with, a worldview is a network of ultimate beliefs, assumptions, values, and ideas about the universe. Our perceived place in it shapes how a person understands his or her life, experiences (and the lives and experiences of others) and how that person acts in response. A worldview by definition is how someone reacts, resist, agrees and/or aligns with how the world appears from his or her point of view. A worldview is a system in place that tells you how you should or could be, and more importantly couldn’t and shouldn’t be.
Sire in his book acknowledges that a worldview is culturally shaped and multidimensional. He notes that worldview is two dimensional in that it applies to both the individual (that is, private, narrow, specific) as well as the group (public, broader, vaguer). He recognizes his approach in dealing with worldview is Western, having delineated worldviews: Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern pantheistic monism, the New Age and postmodernism existing in North America and Western Europe.
As a contrast, Noebel in his expansive work contrasting three major worldviews (Christian, Marxist/Leninist and Secular) suggests that worldview refers to any ideology, philosophy, theology, movement or religion that provides an overarching approach to understanding God, the world, and man’s relations to God and the world. Specifically, a worldview should contain a particular perspective regarding each of the following ten disciplines: theology, philosophy, ethics, biology, psychology, sociology, law, politics, economics and history.
Nash simplifies the defining process, suggesting that every worldview encompasses five key dynamics, namely a sense of God, ultimate reality, knowledge, ethics and humankind. At the same time, he stresses that, even though there may be disagreements among followers or critics of a given worldview as to the details, these basic categories still apply in principle. Indeed, commenting on these disagreements, he points out that: whether we know it or not whether we like it or not each of us has a worldview. These worldviews function as interpretive conceptual schemes to explain why we ‘see’ the world as we do, why we often think and act as we do. Competing worldviews often come into conflict. These clashes may be as innocuous as a simple argument between people or as serious as a war between minds and nations.
A worldview, therefore, can be understood as a theory or an assumption of the world, used for living in the world. A world view is, in fact, a mental model of reality, a framework of ideas and attitudes about the world and spheres we live in. This includes how this framework of ideas affect us is affected by us, and life; a comprehensive system of beliefs with answers for a wide range of questions.
A worldview defines what we call truth or false. Just as every worldview has a distinctive take on truth and knowledge; it also has a distinctive take on goodness and morality. To borrow from the title of a book by Francis Schaeffer every worldview has something to say in answer to the question, “How should we then live?’
As far as I can tell, we each have a worldview; and though it has been vastly influenced by the thoughts of those we read, watch or associate with, we each have a unique perspective on what is going on. This worldview is framed by the time we live in, things we have been taught and have learned over time. The knowledge we have acquired through associations or by belonging to a specific paradigm. What kind of world would someone create if they knew they could? What kind of world would anyone create if he or she knew they couldn’t lose? Is now the time to have all of what someone would have and acknowledge ones gifts, talents, and capacities to create a different world? These questions help us discover what perceptions or lenses someone views the occurrences of life. The places one lives and how they view the quality of life someone enjoys and how they respond to these aspects will also aid the formation of ones worldview.
Some worldview questions are about the mystic, the supernatural and faith as well as an approach to the reality of God. Can we know whether God exists? Does God exist? If so, what characteristics does God has and what relationship with the universe? Have miracles at all occurred in the past as claimed in the Bible, and do they ever occur now or is it all a facade? Are natural events produced and guided by God? Was the universe self-creating or did God create it? Was it totally self-assembling by natural process or did God sometimes create in miraculous-appearing ways? Does God communicate and talk with us as some people would want us to believe? Does He speak (mentally and spiritually) in everyday life, through written revelation such as the Bible? Is the Bible ever a verifiable source of truth and really God’s word? What is God’s role in history and does it matter at all? Is there a purpose and meaning in history for each of us individually and for all of us together, or is life just a long string of things happening haphazardly? What happens after death?
Knowledge is widely viewed as a very useful and important thing. Knowledge is certainly more valuable than mere opinion or assumptions. Suppose I walked up to you and said that eating a raw egg every day would add a decade to your life, it would matter to you whether I really knew that to be true! Knowledge would dictate that you investigate and really prove my assumption and inquire how well I knew that to be true. Similarly, if I told you that drinking huge amounts of water would make your skin look 3 years younger than your actual age, it would matter to you whether this was true.
There seems to be an invisible link between knowledge and a given worldview. A worldview will typically have something to say about our knowledge, about what we can know and how we can know it. It will also have things to say on closely related subjects such as truth, logic, reason, experience, intuition, and revelation.
Worldviews can and do change; and in general, worldviews have been somewhat most influenced by religion and science. Assuming science was teaching us that the planet was part of a closed system, and the earth’s clock is slowly timing out with limited resources and in time will simply use itself up. Then a worldview of scarcity is likely to result.
Suppose science was teaching us that the Universe is alive and the earth is part of living infinitely abundant universe. Furthermore, the energy being used up is matched by energy being created in a dynamic of expansion and contraction. Assuming that this energy can be tapped cleanly and harmoniously to provide for all people everywhere, then we may be likely to believe that evolution is ongoing and there is plenty to go around. The key point to note is that our belief system determines what we think is possible, and what we think is possible in turn influences the results we create or allow in life. The interactions of all our individual worldviews shape the condition of humanity and therefore, given our technologies of planet Earth.
So what creates a Worldview? Walking barefoot on the sand at the beach when the sun is blazing hot informs our future behavior. In an extreme sense, touching an exposed or naked electric wire informs you of how fatal that can be. When our parents told us what to eat and what not to eat; ended up shaping our early diets. Being abused triggers avoidance and kindness engenders trust.
A person’s worldview is affected by many factors such as their inherited characteristics, background experiences and life situations, the values, attitudes, and habits they have developed, and these vary from one person to another. Therefore, even though some parts of a worldview are shared by many people in a community, other parts differ for individuals, so worldviews of different people are shared yet unique.
It is not strange to actually see how people identify themselves as their belief systems or equally with their belief system. If they think they are their reputation; and they have a setback or get slandered, they might decide life is not worth living. If they think of their position in the power structure and assume that it is threatened, they might sell out their core values to keep their status. If they are scientists who have believed something all their lives and a more compelling argument or evidence challenges their theoretical foundation, they might become hostile or think they are going to die.
Each moment’s experience gives us feedback for adjusting our lens on life and how we view it. On another larger scale, however, our beliefs can be predominantly determined by those who control our access to information (media) and our social structures, (including schools), because these institutions dictate what beliefs and behaviors are rewarded and which are punished. In the advent and prevailing worldview of the 21st century, in which war or power or assumed peace is considered a viable or necessary means of problem-solving, starvation is inevitable for some people, and that it is right for some people to tax and control others against their will while convincing them it’s a necessary good for all, this in itself can be a result of well-organized elitist who owns the systems through which information and values are disseminated. Historically, people got their beliefs from tribal leaders, chiefs, by the royal rulers, Social Systems, the Church, then the government and then the corporations that control them and now the major banks who control the corporations who are in this position. At the top of these assertions are very few individuals or organizations who use the media, education, pharmaceutical and they control to shape our thinking, and therefore our behavior, ideally through a subtle mind manipulation but if necessary through coercion and violence. It is vital to consider the motivation and finding sources of those who are shaping our worldview: news sources, role models, scientific and religious organizations, employers, schools etc.
A social example examined by some social scientists is the assumption that if you were intimidated as a child and taught that you were either going to be in control or be controlled, it would make some sense that you would choose control, and devote your life to getting and staying in charge over others. Human beings somehow appear to have an innate cost and benefit assessment tool operating all the time. Only when there is a sufficient combination of compelling evidence, emotional completion, and an adequate sense of future security do we then as human beings, let ourselves actually change our minds. And these compelling issues have to outweigh the perceived cost of changing “who we thought we were.”
In conclusion: our era is intensifying on the almost daily choice for each of us faced with a moment of unknowing, a new challenge such as do I try to look good, be “right” and keep my old self intact, or do I allow true curiosity, open my mind and heart and go for what’s true, and for being more alive and thriving? ‘When an honest man discovers he is mistaken, he will either cease being mistaken or cease being honest.’ We all know the powerful addiction of money, power, career, and ego needs of every type. This momentum has kept suffering alive despite the enormous changes in human existence from age to age. Against this momentum the soul provides a means of solving every cause of pain; Such as ignorance of reality is solved by delving deeper into the mind while awareness dives deeper than the material level to find its roots. Identification with ego is solved by learning to identify with these deeper levels meanwhile, attraction to outside objects and repulsion from them is solved by valuing the inner life above all. Fear of death is solved when the soul is experienced directly since the soul is never born and never dies. Just as with the five causes of suffering outlined, the five solutions all grow from the first one. If you explore the true nature of reality, all pain will eventually come to an end.
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