An overview of Mechanistic Humanism, New Age Pantheism, and Christian Theism allows one easily to see that each is built on an entirely different set of presuppositions. These presuppositions in turn lead to vastly differing views of how the universe originated and functions. This explains how two observers, with differing worldviews, can look at the same data and come to totally different conclusion. To make sense of the universe one can only use one worldview. People have their own worldview. Very few people can actually explain what their worldview is. Even fewer people can identify and explain other worldviews (Young, 1.9). One must begin the process of selecting a worldview by becoming familiar with the choices. Other articles on this web site discuss each of the three major worldviews, so the identification of the choices has been accomplished.
After seeing what the choices are, one can select the fundamental standards one expects to find in an adequate worldview. Once the standards have been selected, one may examine each worldview in light of the standards selected. The worldview that meets the standards the best is the logical choice. As on selects a worldview, one may discover that the worldview is limited in how well it explains things. The limitations of or worldview arise because man is a finite or limited creature. The nature of man prevents him from completely or exhaustively explaining all things (Sire 214).
The Criteria For A Valid Worldview
The first property that a good worldview must contain is internal consistency. This means that if we look at a worldview and find that the presuppositions that make it up are inconsistent with each other then it must be false (Yandell 185). For example if a worldview contains the presupposition that nothing is red and also contains the presupposition that all boxes are red, then this worldview is proved false because it contains a logical inconsistency. Internal consistency is not an unreasonable expectation for a worldview, for how can a worldview that is internally inconsistent provide a consistent explanation of the universe.
The second thing a worldview should be able to do is explain what we see in the universe. An adequate worldview can explain reality. A worldview should be able to explain the reality we encounter in our daily lives. In other words, it should be able to explain life. An adequate worldview should be able to explain what other people experience in their lives. It should have the capacity to be used to explain what we call the human experience. An adequate worldview should be able to explain the results of scientific findings (Sire 215).
For example, if a worldview says, “All boxes are colored red.” And we know, either through personal experience or someone else’s experience, of a green box then the red box worldview, being inconsistent with reality, is false. A common way that this argument of inconstancy is often challenged is by playing word games. A person advocating the red box worldview may argue that a green box, since it is green, is not actually a box. For this reason, it is important that terms be defined before one debates on issues based on worldviews, for often these debates com down to a debate of word meaning which rarely can be resolved.
Although we all use our worldview to give meaning to what we see, it is important that a worldview not contradict the basic findings of science. This is not to say that some aspects of a worldview may lie beyond the scope of observation and science. When one honestly addresses the issue of consistency with reality, the basic question to ask is, “Will I be able to live with this worldview?” Livability is indeed the ultimate test of a worldview.
Along with not contradicting with itself or our collective experiences, a good worldview should be able to explain the universe. Beyond just explaining the facts of the universe, an adequate worldview should be able to fit all those facts together in a non-contradictory manner (Geisler 73). Returning once more to the example of the boxes, a good worldview should be able to explain why we have both green and red boxes. The presence of the golden ration in both art and nature indicates intelligent design. This means that an adequate worldview should be able to give a valid explanation for intelligent design.
A worldview that successfully meets these three criteria can be used as the perspective from which we can give meaning to life and also provide a framework within which we can comfortably live. Worldviews are conceptual frameworks (built from presuppositions) that exist for two fundamental reasons. First they function as the perspective from which we can give meaning to the physical world. Secondly they provide the perspective from which we can choose our daily course of action (Young1.7). In this regard, worldviews ultimately determine the course of action taken by science. Worldviews that fail one or more of the above criteria are not adequate for giving meaning to the physical world or determining a course of action, and as such they must be disregarded as fundamentally flawed. With the criteria now in place, one may begin an examination of each worldview in order to select the most adequate worldview.
The Test of Internal Consistency
Beginning with the test of internal consistency, we start the process of selecting a worldview. Mechanistic Humanism has at least one major internal inconstancy. Mechanistic Humanism rests upon the presuppositions that man is at the center of all things and the measure of all things (Schaeffer 1981, 23). The mind of man sets all the standards. Humanism rejects any viewpoint that challenges the idea of relative standards (Schaeffer 1981, 112). When Humanism places man in the central position of setting standards, man becomes the absolute by which all values are to be measured. In humanism the majority dictates values and standards. The good of the collective or the good of society becomes the basis upon which choices are to be made. The humanist value system that results is also difficult to justify with life. Men used to define good by a moral code that limited seeking what was good for one to those pursuits that did not violate the rights of others. The relative values of humanism now allow the sacrifice of others and their rights for the sake of what the majority thinks is good. With this view, the majority may even take another’s property if it is deemed to be beneficial to the collective. The relative will of the individual is made subject to the absolute collective will of society (Rand 444). Thus humanism, which rejects anything but relative values, requires the acceptance of absolute values and becomes internally inconstant.
New Age Pantheism teaches that we are the creators of our own reality and should assume responsibility for doing so (Gawain 28). This is one of the consequences of us recognizing our divine nature, one of the central presuppositions of New Age Pantheism. At the same time, New Age Pantheism embraces the teaching of reincarnation. Reincarnation is an ancient belief that has come to the modern world a fundamental presupposition of the New Age Movement. Reincarnation connects all living things through a process that purifies the soul. The soul is purified when it becomes enlightened and recognizes its divine nature. Reincarnation teaches that the spirit keeps embodying itself until the body becomes enlightened (MacLaine 52). The New Age Movement further argues that the law of karma governs reincarnation. How can it be consistent that we control our own reality and existence (Gawain 28), and yet we are bound to be reincarnated until work out and achieve the purification of our soul in accordance with the law of karma (MacLaine 52). These two key presuppositions of the New Age Movement contradict each other, and disprove the validity of New Age Pantheism as an adequate worldview.
The Christian Theistic system is built out of a set of theological affirmations that form a non-contradictory system (Ramm 34). Those who argue that Christian Theism is internally inconsistent simply have not fully examined this worldview.
The Test of Reality
Next we may check the worldviews to see if they match with what we know about reality form our daily experiences. We may examine them to determine if they are livable. Humanism has one major disagreement with what we know of the universe. Each person feels he has some rights. Consider the Declaration of Independence of the united States of America, “… all me are… endowed… with certain unalienable rights” (Sanford 521). The founding fathers of America considered this a self-evident fact. If man has rights, this implies that man has some value or significance. Fundamentally, humanism lacks any basis for ascribing to man any dignity or significance. Humanism, reduces man to a rather minor bump in the evolutionary road or an insignificant part of the universal machinery. As such man becomes no more important than any other organism or part of the cosmos. Humanism reduces man to a biological machine, helpful only to society as long as he is productive. Once man stops producing goods or services he may be disregarded. Beyond the good one achieves for society man has no value (Young 5.2). Humanism, when taken to its extreme, declares, “… achievement is man’s highest moral purpose, that he can’t exist without it…” (Rand 572). When man is stripped of his intrinsic value he looses all rights.
The fact that a man stripped of intrinsic value looses rights is well illustrated in the famous U.S. Supreme Court Case of Dred Scott, a black man seeking freedom from slavery in 1857. In the Dred Scott decision Chief Justice Roger Taney and a majority of the court ruled that Scott was property and had no rights to even appear before the court. The humanistic value system in place at this time had removed from Scott any intrinsic value. Scott’s only value was seen as performing the duties of a slave.
New Age pantheism also is not consistent with the universe as we know it. New Agers argue that what we know as the physical world is a joint creation of the souls that inhabit it. Further they argue that all events that occur serve as a learning tool for that collective soul (Zukav 35). Physical reality is only what we think it is. Nothing exists but in our minds. Our perceptions and consciousness are simply manifestations of a larger spiritual reality (Kelly 22). The concept of reality only being a manifestation of our minds does not fit with what we experience every day.
One day Francis and Edith Schaeffer visited Cambridge University and met with some students in a college apartment to discuss ideas. As the discussion progressed, a young Hindu man from India began to challenge the Christian Theistic worldview. Francis Schaeffer decided to further explore this young man’s worldview, to show how it fails the test of livability. Schaeffer began by asking if the young man thought that all things reduce down to one reality. The young man agreed. Schaeffer continued his questioning by asking if that meant differences we see are only perceived by our minds. That ultimately good and evil and cruelty and non-cruelty are the same thing. Once more the young man agreed. This surprised others in the room when they began to contemplate what their Hindu friend’s beliefs could mean in a real life situation. One of the students in particular realized that these ideas did not match reality. Instead of arguing with the Hindu student, he reached for a teakettle that was whistling on a nearby gas burner. He took the teakettle and held it over the shocked Indian’s head. Everyone in the room was shocked, while the Indian student became petrified. The student holding the kettle proceeded to ask the Hindu student if their was any difference if he choose to pour the boiling water over his head or not. After an awkward moment of silence, the Indian student got up and left the room without saying a word. His worldview had dramatically failed the test of livability (Macaulay 28 – 29). This story pictures the consequences of a worldview, which fails to be livable. Clearly, New Age Pantheism’s presupposition of a singular reality, which has no distinction between good and evil and cruelty and non-cruelty, is a false presupposition. Thus, we can conclude that New Age Pantheism fails the test of livability, and becomes disqualified as an adequate worldview.
Through the experience of many people, Christianity and its accompanying Christian Theistic worldview have shown themselves to be a livable framework. Christian Theism consistently meets the daily needs of human nature. It meets not only the superficial need, but also those that arise from deep within the soul (Ramm, 233). Christian Theism fills the void spoken of by Pascal, as no other worldview can.
The Test of Explaining the Universe
The third and final criterion a worldview should meet to demonstrate its adequacy is being able to explain the universe. Most fundamentally, a worldview should be able to explain the existence of the universe. While humanism and pantheism cannot adequately explain the existence of the universe, Christian Theism avoids the problems that arise from them. Christian Theism gives us the only framework we can use to interpret observations of the universe (Young 5.14). Let us examine the problem of the existence of the universe. When it comes to the existence of the universe, one is left with one of two choices. Either the universe has always existed, or at one time the universe had to be in a state of non-existence. By purely natural causes both of these are inconceivable because of what we observe in nature.
Scientists recognize what is known as the law of conservation of energy, or the first law of thermodynamics [changes of heat energy]. The law states that the total amount of energy and matter in the universe stays the same (Morris 1985, 148). This law rules out the possibility of a universe coming from nothing by natural causes. The first law would appear to indicate that if the universe operates only by natural causes, it must have existed forever. Since a supernatural intervention in the creation of the universe lies beyond the scope of science, such an action would not violate the first law of thermodynamics. Only Christian Theism can offer a probable supernatural first cause of the universe.
The second law of thermodynamics, also known as the law of increasing entropy or disorder, states that systems progress toward disorder. Entropy is a mathematical measurement of the disorder in a system (Morris 1985, 149). The second law of thermodynamics meas that things run down in the physical world. In any given situation, one is more likely to find more disorder then order. While some parts of the system may appear to be moving towards higher order, the entire system is actually moving towards disorder (Thornley 47). This implies that physical things cannot be eternal.
Humanism and Pantheism clearly fail the tests of a valid worldview. Overwhelmingly, these two worldviews fail to present a system which one could hope to use as a perspective for interpreting the universe or living ones life. Logic shows the presuppositions of Humanism and Pantheism to be very inadequate worldviews. Logic forces one to conclude that Christian Theism is the only acceptable worldview for every day life and a scientific investigation. Christian Theism is the only adequate worldview to use while interpreting observations of the physical universe (Young 5.14). The three tests used above have shown us how Christian Theism is an adequate worldview. An abundance of evidence exists to verify the legitimacy of Christian Theism.