Saturday, December 30, 2006

Worldview - Part 1 - Origin

The first question to be dealt with in a worldview is that of origin - where did we come from? The answer to this question has a lot of implications for how we live our lives.

From a Christian perspective, the answer is that we were created by a personal God who loves us and has a purpose for our lives. Using the Bible as our frame of reference, we see from Psalm 139 that God was intimately involved in the smallest detail of our formation. Genesis 1 tells that God gave each human being a living soul, designed for relationship with Him. This applies to every human being, and so affects the way Christians are to treat others. Jesus stated that all of God's law can be summed up in two commandments: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and then to love our neighbor (our fellow man) as ourself.

This view of origin changed the way that people treated each other right from the first days of Christianity. Christians cared for the outcasts of society, not because they could contribute anything, but because they were people created in the image of God. It was Christians like William Wilberforce and John Newton who eventually brought an end to the inhuman slave trade for the same reason. Today, still, Christians minister to the poor and the outcast of society because, in each of them, we see the "Imago Dei" - the image of God.

Critics would quickly point to the pogroms and the persecution of which the church has been guilty over the centuries - and that criticism is valid to a point. However, those who would perpetrate such evil in the name of Christianity go against the teachings of the God they claim to serve. In other words, they are living in a manner that is inconsistent with a Biblical worldview. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21). It would be akin to a medical doctor who, rather than healing, contributes to someone's illness, breaking his hippocratic oath.

On the other hand, a secular worldview would take as its view of origin that mankind evolved from a series of random occurrences in amindless universe. We are here simply because we survived while other species didn't. We are merely highly developed animals, whose final destiny is the dust. The logical outworking of this belief is the devaluing of human life. What, after all, is the justification for helping the disadvantaged when they have nothing to offer back to the species?

If we are only flotsam and jetsom in the universe and have no purpose beyond this life, why keep the unwanted child - abortion makes sense; why care for the severely disabled - they serve no purpose. It was this reasoning that led Hitler to destroy millions in the gas chambers of World War II. He was a staunch believer in the superiority of the Aryan Race and set out to destroy the "mongrel races." He believed, as he learned from evolutionary theory, in the survival of the fittest. He was merely helping nature along. The Nuremberg Trials were an eye-opener in that they had to appeal to a "higher law" in order to find the Nazis guilty of crimes against humanity.

While the criticisms of a sometimes violent church history are somewhat valid, as admitted above, what about the atrocities committed by those with a non-theistic view of the world? The worst tyrants in the history of the world have been those who denied the existence of God and therefore lived as though there was no-one to whom they must ultimately give account. I speak of men like Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Chairman Mao and those who have inherited his office. If you believe that we are all the products of a mindless process, on what grounds do you say that they were wrong?

What I've tried to demonstrate here is an example of how worldview does shape the way we live our lives and affects culture at large. We need to think about what we believe and why because ideas have consequences. We'll pick up on the second question tomorrow.

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