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703, Introduction to Christian Philosophy: Nash, worldview thinking
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Teaching notes from LTCi in Siliguri - based upon the text of Ronald Nash's Life's Ultimate Questions

Teaching notes from LTCi in Siliguri - based upon the text of Ronald Nash's Life's Ultimate Questions

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    703, Introduction to Christian Philosophy: Nash, worldview thinking 703, Introduction to Christian Philosophy: Nash, worldview thinking Presentation Transcript

    • INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY LTCi Course #703
    • INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY LTCi Course #703
    • Does it matter how we think? Mickey Cohen was a famous Hollywood gangster. Cohen attended a Billy Graham Crusade and when Dr. Graham gave the invitation to step forward and accept Christ as Lord and Savior Mickey Cohen responded and did just that.
    • Later, when he was told by the Billy Graham follow up team that he needed to cut his ties with organized crime, Cohen became incredulous. "You never told me that I had to give up my career. you never told me that I had to give up my friends. There are Christian Movie Stars, Christian Athletes, and Christian Business Men. So what's the matter with being a Christian gangster?”
    • One might ask if religious converts are supposed to live “better” lives after their conversion? Would Cohen’s response be acceptable today? Does it show a lack of understanding of what the real demands (mental and practical) of the Christian life are? Did he fail to understand the Christian worldview? If someone calls themselves a Christian are they in fact meant to behave differently?
    • One might ask if religious converts are supposed to live “better” lives after their conversion? Would Cohen’s response be acceptable today? Does it show a lack of understanding of what the real demands (mental and practical) of the Christian life are? Did he fail to understand the Christian worldview? If someone calls themselves a Christian are they in fact meant to behave differently?
    • Our worldview is important Philosophy teaches us that our worldview is important. Often in society today we fail to examine the worldview of people who propose ideas - the way they think about things is important in helping form their ideas. Ideas have consequences!
    • Our worldview is important “A worldview contains a person’s answers to the major questions in life, almost all of which contain significant philosophical content. It is a conceptual framework, pattern or arrangement of a person’s beliefs. The best world views are comprehensive, systematic, and supposedly true views of life and of the world.”
    • Many world views suffer from incompleteness, inconsistencies, and other failings - the result is that the pieces of the worldview do not fit properly together. For example you might meet someone who has what you consider an obvious blindspot in their thinking which leads to (in your opinion) some strange thinking. Of course they might also think the same about you!
    • Many world views suffer from incompleteness, inconsistencies, and other failings - the result is that the pieces of the worldview do not fit properly together. For example you might meet someone who has what you consider an obvious blindspot in their thinking which leads to (in your opinion) some strange thinking. Of course they might also think the same about you!
    • Are these worldview inconsitencies? Manyinconsistent tofrom a vegetarian and have world views suffer be Is it incompleteness, inconsistencies, and an abortion? other failings - the result is that the Can you believe indo not fit Bible and in pieces of the worldview God, the evolution? properly together. For example you might love God and yet not share Can you claim to meet someone who has what Jesus Christ with everyone the good news of you consider an obvious blindspot in their you meet? thinking which leads to (in your Is it inconstant to believe it is important for opinion) some strange thinking. Of governments to help the poor in society and course they might also think the samenot honestly declare all of your taxable yet about you! income?
    • Philosophy helps us understand what a worldview is - it also helps us understand, and improve, our own worldview - it teaches us that some world views are better than others, not all views are equal - there are tests or criteria by which world views can be assessed - in fact these criteria are outlines in the next section!
    • Five Central worldview beliefs Worldviews have at least 5 central parts to them, their beliefs about; - God - Metaphysics (ultimate reality) - Epistemology (knowledge) - Ethics - Human nature There are of course other parts to a worldview but these are primary in helping identify differences in peoples worldviews
    • Five Central worldview beliefs Worldviews have at least 5 central parts to them, their beliefs about; - God - Metaphysics (ultimate reality) - Epistemology (knowledge) - Ethics - Human nature There are of course other parts to a worldview but these are primary in helping identify differences in peoples worldviews
    • 1. God What does your worldview say about God? - does he exist? - is there one or more gods? - what is God like, the nature of God - is God kind and loving, how can he act on the earth and in the lives of people? - Is God just a force or power? Christians believe in One God, other religions have two (daulistic), some are polytheistic (many gods), or pantheistic (the world is all divine in some sense)
    • 1. God What does your worldview say about God? - does he exist? - is there one or more gods? - what is God like, the nature of God - is God kind and loving, how can he act on the earth and in the lives of people? - Is God just a force or power? Christians believe in One God, other religions have two (daulistic), some are polytheistic (many gods), or pantheistic (the world is all divine in some sense)
    • 2. Metaphysics What is the relationship between God and the universe? Is the universe eternal? Was the universe created by an eternal, all powerful, personal God? Are god and the world co-eternal and interdependent beings? Does the universe have a purpose? What is its ultimate purpose?
    • 2. Metaphysics Is the cosmos material, spiritual or something else? Is the universe a self contained system - in that all events within it are caused by, and thus explained by, something within it? Can a being outside of nature act within it to affect change in some way? Can miracles occur?
    • 3. Epistemology A theory of knowledge - everyone has one, they just don’t know it! Do you believe knowledge about the world is possible? Can we trust our senses? What are the proper roles for reason and sense experience in knowledge? Do we understand our level of consciousness in other ways to these? Are intuitions reliable ways of perceiving the world?
    • 3. Epistemology Is truth relative or is it the same for all rational beings? What is the relationship between religious faith and reason? Can we know God? If yes, how? How does God relate to the human mind? Most people will not always be thinking about these questions - but if asked they will probably be able to formulate some sort of answer
    • 3. Epistemology Is truth relative or is it the same for all rational beings? What is the relationship between religious faith and reason? Can we know God? If yes, how? How does God relate to the human mind? Most people will not always be thinking about these questions - but if asked they will probably be able to formulate some sort of answer
    • 4. Ethics This is an area people are more readily aware of their belief in. We make moral judgements about ourselves, others etc. In this context we are interested in what we as individuals think. So we might believe Adolf Hitler was wrong in his actions ethics wants to know why we believe that his actions were wrong?
    • We are asking: are there moral laws governing human action? Are such laws the same for all people or are they subjective (like taste for pork) is there an objective moral dimension which means such moral laws are independent of our preference or opinions? Are these moral laws discovered in the same way that we know 7x7=49, or do we find them through human custom?
    • Is morality relative to a time period - e.g. slavery is not condemned in the Bible but most believers do not have slaves nowadays. Is the same action right in one time but wrong in another? Does our morality transcend cultural, historical and individual boundaries?
    • Is morality relative to a time period - e.g. slavery is not condemned in the Bible but most believers do not have slaves nowadays. Is the same action right in one time but wrong in another? Does our morality transcend cultural, historical and individual boundaries?
    • 5. Anthropology What do we believe about the nature of human beings? Are human beings free or simply subject to deterministic forces? Are humans only bodies, or more? Can we distinguish our mind from our body? What is the human soul? Does the person end with physical death? Are humans good or evil - do we get a reward for the way our life was lived?
    • Some good news The information given does not mean we have to agree about everything! We, as Christians, might agree on the major issues of our faith whilst disagreeing on human free will/the sovereignty of God, should the death penalty still be implemented today? etc. When we disagree we should be able to argue in love and try to persuade one another that our view is more consistent with the basic beliefs of Christianity.
    • Some good news There should be a firm foundation of underlying beliefs - however if the disagreement is on these matters then we have to consider if the person has left the Christian faith. For example, can you be a Christian and not believe in fallen human nature, the deity of Christ, the Trinity…?
    • We all have a worldview - often we have simply not thought about it, or expressed it. Our worldview helps us to explain why we see the world as we do and why we act in a certain way. When we have differing world views within our own system of beliefs it creates a clash. This also happens between individuals, groups or nations and can lead from a simple argument to full blown war. Having the right worldview will bring people, the world and God into proper focus - it is very helpful!
    • Worldview thinking and religion Christianity should not be viewed as a collection of bits and pieces which do not interact with one another - but as a conceptual system offering a total world and life view. This applies to all religions - and they can then be compared on the merits of these total systems. As a world and life view Christianity has much to say about the whole of human life - but this should be understood within the total context of our beliefs not by focussing on narrow issues
    • Our religious beliefs are not limited to one area of life they affect every other area too, all we believe and do. “All humans have something that concerns them ultimately, and whatever it is, that area of ultimate concern is that person’s God” Nash A person’s ultimate concern has a massive effect on the way they live. Zylstra suggests that no human is religiously neutral…
    • “To be human is to be scientific, yes, and practical, and rational, and moral, and social, and artistic, but to be human further is to be religious also. And this religious in man is not just another facet of himself, just another side to his nature, just another part of the whole. It is the condition of all the rest and the justification of all the rest. This is inevitably and inescapably so for all men. No man is religiously neutral in his knowledge of and his appropriation of reality.” Henry Zylstra,
    • In effect he is saying that the world does not have religious and nonreligious people but people who are all religious, but who all have differing ultimate concerns and differing gods - and who thus respond to the Living God in differing ways. Nash goes on to say, “All humans are incurably religious; we manifest different religious allegiances…
    • “This point obliterates much of the usual distinction between the sacred and the secular. A teacher or politician who pretends to be religiously neutral is not thinking deeply. Secular humanism is a religious worldview as certainly as are Christianity and Judaism. It expresses the ultimate commitments and concerns of its proponents.”
    • The role of presuppositions presupposition noun Augustine declared that before a a thingbeing can know anything, they human tacitly assumed (understood must believe something. stated) or implied without being beforehand at the we take Whenever we thinkbeginning of a something for granted - all our line of argument or course of beliefs rest upon other beliefs that we action presuppose or accept without support e.g. both men or evidence. from arguments shared certain ethical presuppositions about the Thomas V. Morris expresses it this way, universe.
    • The role of presuppositions Augustine declared that before a human being can know anything, they must believe something. Whenever we think we take something for granted - all our beliefs rest upon other beliefs that we presuppose or accept without support from arguments or evidence. Thomas V. Morris expresses it this way,
    • The most important presuppositions are the most basic and most general beliefs about God, man, and the world that anyone can have. They are not usually consciously entertained but rather function as the perspective from which an individual sees and interprets both the events of his own life and the circumstances of the world around him. These presuppositions in conjunction with one another delimit the boundaries within which all other less foundational beliefs are held.
    • The most important presuppositions are the most basic and most general beliefs about God, man, and the world that anyone can have. They are not usually consciously entertained but rather function as the perspective from which an individual sees and interprets both the events of his own life and the circumstances of the world around him. These presuppositions in conjunction with one another delimit the boundaries within which all other less foundational beliefs are held.
    • People from many fields make important assumptions: Scientists assume that knowledge is possible and that sense experience is reliable (epistemology), that the universe is regular (metaphysics), and that scientists should be honest (ethics). Without such assumptions scientific enquiry would soon collapse.
    • Basic assumptions and presuppositions are important because they set the method and goal of theoretical thought - like being on a train line with no side tracks - there is only one possible way to go, the direction and destination are determined. So accepting the presuppositions of a Christian worldview will lead to different conclusions to those drawn by someone who has naturalistic presuppositions
    • Paradigms Nash says that one of the purposes of his book is to help people to recognise the unseen, overlooked patterns that operate in and control much human thinking, including many of the most famous and popular philosophical theories. Nash says, “A paradigm is a habitual way of thinking. In a sense every worldview is composed of many smaller paradigms. A worldview, in other words, is a collection of paradigms”
    • Paradigms act in placing boundaries and filtering information within our thinking - they allow in data that fits in with the paradigm and exclude data that will not. Importantly they also screen data to see if it fits within the model. For example for many centuries the Ptolemaic model of the solar system was accepted until Copernicus came up with a model with the sun at the centre. It took time (and a battle against opponents) for the old model to be overtaken by the new. We experience many forms of paradigm: race, religion etc.
    • Paradigms act in placing boundaries and filtering information within our thinking - they allow in data that fits in with the paradigm and exclude data that will not. Importantly they also screen data to see if it fits within the model. For example for many centuries the Ptolemaic model of the solar system was accepted until Copernicus came up with a model with the sun at the centre. It took time (and a battle against opponents) for the old model to be overtaken by the new. We experience many forms of paradigm: race, religion etc.
    • Personal considerations Worldview is a personal matter and cannot on that basis be separated from who we are and how we are made up - our personal considerations. We have to ask if we are able to consider new data in a reasonable way, to give it a fair hearing, especially if it is going to threaten their system. Often non theoretical factors massively affect peoples theoretical judgments
    • Personal considerations Consider racial prejudice - often untrue beliefs and stereotypes are used to reinforce prejudice. These might be historical, personal or theoretical - whatever the case they affect the way you think. Nash also suggests some people reject God (Christianity) not on the basis of any properly held worldview but because of the way their heart (centre of religious affection) has been affected.
    • Personal considerations Consider racial prejudice - often untrue beliefs and stereotypes are “…it does seem that some used to reinforce prejudice. These people who appear to reject might be historical, what they Christianity on personal or theoretical - rationalthe case they regard as whatever affect the way grounds are you think. theoretical Nash also suggests some people acting under the influence reject God (Christianity) not on the of non rational factors, that basis of any properly held is, more ultimate worldview but because of the way commitments of their their heart (centre of religious hearts”” been affected. affection) has
    • Personal considerations Consider racial prejudice - often untrue beliefs and stereotypes are “…it does seem that some used to reinforce prejudice. These people who appear to reject might be historical, what they Christianity on personal or theoretical - rationalthe case they regard as whatever affect the way grounds are you think. theoretical Nash also suggests some people acting under the influence reject God (Christianity) not on the of non rational factors, that basis of any properly held is, more ultimate worldview but because of the way commitments of their their heart (centre of religious hearts”” been affected. affection) has
    • Two Challenges
    • 1. The contemporary philosophical assault on conceptual systems Nash describes how during the 20th century philosophers became increasingly hostile towards philosophical system building - because they saw the problems and inconsistencies within them. Instead they concentrated their efforts on understanding small, isolated issues, problems and puzzles.
    • 1. The contemporary philosophical assault on conceptual systems Some suggested this over specialisation was a weakness and stopped formation of comprehensive worldviews and avoided controversial questions. Nash suggests that, “No one in his or her right mind …believes that the choice between a conceptual system and philosophical analysis is an either / or situation”
    • 2. Confusion - and not seeing it Nash recalls an incident where a professor saw a Playboy bunny on the back of a car and a statue of the virgin Mary on the front dashboard - symbols that seem to be incompatible, one represents lust and immorality, the other purity and submission to God. Why were both in the same car? - two different people drove the car and each placed their identifying mark there?
    • 2. Confusion - and not seeing it Nash recalls an incident where a professor saw a Playboy bunny on the back of a car and a statue of the virgin Mary on the front dashboard - symbols that seem to be incompatible, one represents lust and immorality, the other purity and submission to God. Why were both in the same car? - two different people drove the car and each placed their identifying mark there?
    • 2. Confusion - and not seeing it - someone placed both in the car but had no understanding of why they were in conflict People are confused - and they do not even recognise it! They do not recognise that the different pieces of their worldview do not belong together - and possible they have never thought they needed to as there is no need to be logically cognisant of their incoherent beliefs.
    • Evaluating a worldview Is it intolerant to disagree with, and ask questions of, the views held by another person? Should we believe that all world views are created equal - whether created by Hitler, Stalin or Mother Theresa? In effect saying, “You have your worldview, I have mine, each is as good as the other” Nash suggests we should test worldviews and gives us four tests.
    • Evaluating a worldview Is it intolerant to disagree with, and ask questions of, the views held by another person? Should we believe that all world views are created equal - whether created by Hitler, Stalin or Mother Theresa? In effect saying, “You have your worldview, I have mine, each is as good as the other” Nash suggests we should test worldviews and gives us four tests.
    • 1. The test of Reason Also known as logic or the law of noncontradiction. “The law of noncontradiction states that A, which can stand for anything, cannot be both B and non-B at the same time in the same sense” So a proposition cannot be both true and false at the same time in the same sense - an object cannot be both round and square at the same time and in the same sense.
    • 1. The test of Reason The presence of a logical contradiction is always a sign of error So a conceptual system should be logically consistent in its parts and as a whole. Worldviews should always be tested in this way - inconsistency indicates error (which has to be addressed) This should not be the only test applied - it is a negative test looking for contradiction - but that alone does not mean the presence of truth.
    • 2. The test of Outer Experience Worldviews need to pass the test not only of reason but of experience in other words is it relevant to what we know of the world and ourselves. This will include our outer and inner world. Does the worldview conflict with what we know to be true of the physical world? The worldview helps us to understand what we perceive and experience. What of a worldview that claims;
    • 2. The test of Outer Experience Pain and suffering and death are illusions All human beings are innately good Human beings are making constant progress towards perfection In effect we ask can we trust a worldview that ignores or is inconsistent with human experience?
    • 2. The test of Outer Experience Pain and suffering and death are illusions All human beings are innately good Human beings are making constant progress towards perfection In effect we ask can we trust a worldview that ignores or is inconsistent with human experience?
    • 3. The test of Inner Experience Objective validation of a worldview is provided outwardly through experience - but what of inward, subjective, validation through what we know of our inner world? Does the worldview fit in with what you know of yourself ? I am a being who thinks, hopes, experiences pleasure and pain, believes and desires. I am a being who has some sense of moral right and feels guilt for failing to do what is right.
    • I am conscious of the present, remember the past and anticipate the future. I can think about, plan and execute my plans. I can act intentionally, not simply in response to stimuli. I can love. I can empathise, share emotions and know that someday I shall die. Although some of these are hard to evaluate this does not mean we have to ignore them.
    • “Worldviews that cannot do justice to an internal moral obligation or to the guilt we sense when we disobey such duties or to the human encounter with genuine love are clearly defective when compared to the biblical worldview”
    • 4. The test of Practice A worldview must be capable of being lived out - not simply theoretically thought out in the classroom. Is your worldview consistent with your life? Francis Schaeffer saw this as being important, his view is explained like this, “the external world with its form and complexity, and the internal world of the man’s own characteristics as a human being.”
    • Changing worldviews It is clearly possible for people to have a radical (or less radical) change of worldview. Consider Saul of Tarsus - great enemy of the church standing for almost the opposite of it in most things - then an experience led to a very dramatic change of heart and mind and action This happens with all sorts of people in society - religious become atheist, humanist become theist etc. and vice versa.
    • It is not possible to narrow down what the changes in peoples lives are caused by. For some who were unaware of even having a worldview change sometimes comes about through sudden life change or event. Change might involve a period of doubt and questioning - though to people on the outside the change might seem to have happened rapidly. It is also possible that a tipping point is reached where one factor is suddenly seen in a new light and change happens rapidly and dramatically