Wednesday, 6 June 2012
03:35:19 PM (GMT)
Almost everyone has some sort of opinion or speculation about the universe and
existence and life and humanity. For example, I believe that the Earth, the universe
and the existence of "life" are all around six thousand years old. A person's
opinions or beliefs on these subjects are part of their world view. A world
view is like the lens a person looks through when observing and evaluating
information and other people's ideas. For example, if your world view is a
Naturalistic one, and you believe that the world is some 4.5 billion years old, then
you would conclude that my world view, that the Earth is only some six thousand years
old, is incorrect.
World views can be incorrect. For example, let's say a young child and her
parents are watching a magician preform a "magic" act. The parents watch the magician
make a woman disappear. Because, in their world view, they know that it is impossible
for a person to simply vanish, they won't even consider the idea that the trick is
real. Instead, they will begin to speculate on how the magician might have performed
the trick; a trap door, perhaps. But the child, being younger, will have a different
world view. She may not know that it is impossible for a person to simply vanish. She
might believe the trick is real, because her world view is ignorant.
A world view is inescapable. Our world views consists of our most basic assumptions
and presuppositions about reality. Out most foundational axioms can not be proved by
something else (otherwise they would not be the most foundational), yet we hold them
to be unquestionable. We use these assumptions (often without realizing it) to help
us interpret what we observe in the world. We cannot avoid this; without a number of
foundational presuppositions about reality we could not make sense of anything.
Here are a few assumptions that a typical person might include in his or her world
1.) I exist.
2.) There is a reality beyond myself.
3.) I have senses which I can use to observe and explore that reality.
4.) There are laws of logic.
5.) I can use the laws of logic to draw accurate conclusions about the universe.
Most people would hold to the above assumptions (and many others as well, of course).
We cannot actually prove them without making other assumptions, and yet we could not
function without them.
Imagine you see a small rock on the side of the road and you decide to pick it up.
You have assumed quite a lot in this small action; you must have reasoned that (1)
you exist --- otherwise you couldn't pick up the rock. You assume that there is a
rock --- it is a part of (2) a reality beyond yourself. You have concluded that the
image passed on to your brain by your eyes in an accurate representation of reality
(3). You have used logic to draw the conclusion (5) that you can pick up the rock;
this also means you have presupposed that there are laws of logic (4). These
assumptions are automatic; we don't even have to think about them. Yet, without them
we could not know that it is possible to pick up that rock. There presuppositions
(and others) constitute a person's world view. Clearly, a world view is essential in
order to know anything about the universe.
But how can we be sure that our world view is accurate? Is there any reason to think
that our most basic assumptions about reality are correct? Although most people would
agree on the five assumptions listed above, many people disagree on other very
foundational ideas. These include the existence of God, the nature of truth, the
origin of the universe, the origin of life, morality, etc. When people disagree on
their most bases assumptions, how do we determine who has the most accurate world
Some world views cannot be entirely correct because they are internally inconsistent.
Consider the beliefs of a materialist. Such a person believes that all things are
physical; nothing immaterial exists. The materialist uses reason and the laws of
logic to support his beliefs, but he does so inconsistently. In his view, there can
be no laws of logic since they do not exist physically. There is no place in the
universe where you can "see" the laws of the logic; they are intangible and thus
cannot exist according to the materialists' professed beliefs. His reasoning is
An evolutionist who believes that all life is merely an accidental by-product of
chemicals, mutations, and natural selection has an internal inconsistency. Such a
person must (by his own professed beliefs) accept that the human brain has developed
accidentally. So why should we trust the brain's conclusions? We have no reason to
accept assumption (5) in the list if evolution is true. The evolutionist world view
is therefore internally inconsistent. The evolutionist accepts assumption (5) to
support his world view which does not comport with assumption (5).
The evolutionist might respond that natural selection has guided the brain so that it
can determine the truth. There is no reason to assume that that is true, because it
does not logically follow that survival value equates with the ability to determine
truth. Actually, some incorrect beliefs might have survival value. For example, the
belief that is it morally acceptable to do whatever I want (lie, steal, murder, etc.)
as long as it increased my chances of survival.
Many world views lead to conclusions which are incompatible with the behavior of the
persons who profess them. For example, a naturalist has no basses for an absolute
moral standard, and yet most naturalists would hold to a moral standard, and
would be outrages if someone else were to violate it. If the universe is merely an
accident, then what is the basis for right and wrong? What distinguishes a good
action from an evil one in the naturalist's view?
For example, most naturalists would believe that murder is wrong. But why should
they? By a naturalist's own assumptions, a human being is merely an accident of the
universe. Why should one accident eliminating another be considered wrong? The
naturalist can make up an arbitrary standard for morality (perhaps morality is the
determined by majority opinion, or inborn "feelings") but has no absolute basis for
one. He also has no basis for imposing his mere opinion or right and wrong on others.
Only a creation-based world view allows for the existence of absolute morality. If
there is a Creator to whom we owe our existence, then that Creator can set the
Often, when people observe someone else's world view that is inconsistent with their
own, they attempt to use their own world view to disprove the other. He might argue
that his world view is accurate because it can explain the scientific evidence, but
all world views can do that --- that's what they're for. External evidence can never
prove or disprove a person's world view in an absolute sense. The reason is simple:
evidence is always interpreted through the lens of that person's world view. The
evidence doesn't speak for itself towards one world view or another. It's the
interpretation that is significant, and the interpretation is bound to be compatible
with the world view that produced it. This is inevitable.
For example, we know that comets cannot last millions of years, and thus their
existence supports the biblical age of the solar system. Does this refute the
naturalist's world view (which claims the age of the solar system to be about 4.5
billion years)? The naturalist would say, "Of course not. It simply means that there
must be an as-of-yet undiscovered Oort cloud, or genuine Kuiper Belt with numerous
actual comet-sized objects, which produces new comets to replace the ones that
decay." The naturalist has proposed an additional hypothesis which brings the
evidence into line with his world view. Both creationists and evolutionists can do
this with any evidence. Therefore external evidence that is contrary to the
expectations of a world view cannot strictly disprove that world view, because one
can always add on additional auxiliary supporting conjectures to bring the evidence
For example... Centuries ago, there was a widely accepted belief called
"geocentrism." (This idea states that the sun and all the planets revolve around the
Earth.) The geocentric model was strongly promoted by the Greek astronomer Claudius
Ptolemy. Today we believe the heliocentric model (that the planets, including Earth,
orbit the sun). You might suppose that it would be easy to distinguish the real and
the false between these two models, simply by watching how the planets move,
examining the evidence.
The motions of the planets in the night sky are fully compatible with heliocentrism.
The planets, including Earth, do appear to orbit the sun. Such motions were well
known in ancient times, but Ptolemy was able to explain these motions within the
geocentric framework by adding supplementary assumptions.
Ptolemy postulated that each planet orbits in a little circle which orbits a larger
circle centered on the earth. The little circles are called "epicycles" and the
larger circle is the "deferent". In his view, planets orbit the Earth in a
spirograph, making little circles which move along a larger circle.
Amazingly, Ptolemy's geocentric model of the solar system is able to predict the
positions of the planets with a fair degree of accuracy, despite the fact that is
By carefully adjusting the size of the epicycles and the speed at which the planets
circumnavigate them, the observations can be explained within a geocentric framework.
Of course, the heliocentric model can also accurately predict the position of
planets. Both models can explain the evidence and correctly predict future
observations. The difference is that the heliocentric model is far simpler. It does
not require any epicycles at all, and this is the lesson: the incorrect model
required additional assumptions and adjustments to make it fit the facts. The correct
model did not.
My world view includes, among other things, the belief that God exists and that He
created the universe, life, and existence itself, because this is what I have
found requires the least additional assumptions. It's the only concept that stands on
its own, without needing anything else to make it plausible. Everything within the
universe points toward a Creator, and everything declares His power and majesty.
Last edited: 6 June 2012