World and worldviewMay 4, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
I’m going to skip ahead just a bit in my outline of the evidence against Christianity and give a brief overview of the matter of world versus worldview, relative to the Myth Hypothesis versus the Gospel Hypothesis. One of the consequences of the Myth Hypothesis is that, since God does not exist in the real world, He is restricted to “existing” within a particular worldview—that is, within a particular individual’s subjective perception and interpretation of reality. This in turn produces a number of related consequences, because of the inevitable conflict between the believer’s worldview, in which God does exist, and the real world, in which He does not.
One of those consequences is the perpetual friction between world and worldview. Believers will feel pressure on their worldview because their dealings with reality will continually confront them with facts that are inconsistent with their beliefs, producing friction and even erosion of the Christian worldview. This in turn will produce the need to find some way to counteract the erosive effects of contact with the world and reinforce the worldview. Believers will experience a need to take their faith in for frequent “scheduled maintenance” by meeting together to encourage one another in the faith, and to exhort and admonish one another. Unmaintained faith will tend to weaken over time, and produce backsliding.
They will also need to actively defend their worldview in the broader arena of cultural perception. And once again, the Myth Hypothesis imposes distinctive restrictions on the form this defense will be able to take. They won’t be able to reinforce their worldview by pointing to how God Himself shows up in the real world, because His non-existence will prevent Him from showing up. They won’t be able to provide verifiable, objective, real-world evidence consistent with their worldview, because the chief difference between world and worldview will be the fact that God only exists in the latter. Consequently, their worldview defense will need to resort to techniques that have less to do with science, and more to do with politics and indoctrination in the beliefs and worldviews of men.
Notice, and let me emphasize once again, that this is not an arbitrary, ad hoc imputation of known “predictions” based merely on knowing what Christianity is like today. These consequences are necessarily driven by God’s absence, as proposed by the Myth Hypothesis. If God is indeed non-existent, then His lack of reality will inevitably impact the Christian worldview as described above. God’s failure to exist outside of a Christian worldview will force Christians to give their worldview preeminence above the world, or risk losing their worldview—and thus their God, Who depends on worldview for His “existence”—through the constant erosion of credibility produced by the conflict between world and worldview.
This constant tension, continually threatening God’s existence, will necessarily have another consequence: Christians will need to respond to this threat in some way, but will have difficulty confronting it directly. When we propose that our God is real, it becomes rather awkward to admit that reality is the chief antagonist against our belief. We need a scapegoat, a stand-in that we can accuse of fomenting rebellion against God and of attempting to subvert the worldview in which He has His existence and power. Who we blame isn’t really that important, except of course that it will be easier to get away with if we blame an unpopular minority (Jews, witches, atheists, scientists, “Darwinists,” etc.).
There are other ways the Myth Hypothesis would impact the world v. worldview situation, but the above are some of the most obvious and inevitable consequences. So let’s turn now to the Gospel Hypothesis and see what consequences would naturally and logically proceed from its assumptions.
If there were to exist an all-wise, all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful deity Who loved us enough to become one of us and to die for us in order to achieve His supreme goal of drawing each of us into a saving, personal, faith-based relationship with Him, what consequences would this have for the question of world versus worldview? As with the Myth Hypothesis, there would be many consequences indeed, though they would be markedly different. God’s existence in the real world would effectively erase the conflict and inconsistency between world and worldview, and would render the worldview almost irrelevant.
For example, it would be possible to teach the truth about God without violating the First Amendment: just present the objective, verifiable, real-world facts about Him without expressing or endorsing any particular worldview in which He played a significant role. The teaching of verifiable fact is not a violation of anyone’s freedom of speech, conscience, or religion, it’s just accurate information. And since God’s supreme goal is for each of us to know the real-world truth about Himself, He is both willing and able to show up in real life so that we can have access to objective and unbiased information about Him, independent of the fallible worldviews of men.
Thus, we would expect the Gospel Hypothesis to produce an obvious and unmistakably different set of consequences from the Myth Hypothesis, due to the tremendous and undeniable difference in God’s real-world status. God’s existence or non-existence necessarily forces a different manifestation of the relationship between world and worldview, and of the conflict (or lack of conflict) between them.
I’m running short on time today, so I’ll let Chuck Colson explain which of these two sets of consequences correspond to what we actually find in the real world. But you can probably guess: Christians do give worldview a preeminent position over the world, and feel pressured, by real-world facts, to defend and promote their worldview, through careful indoctrination and political influence, which they see as a defense against liberals, atheists, and other real-world scapegoats. And thus, once again, they demonstrate how consistent their own beliefs and actions are with the consequences predicted by the Myth Hypothesis.