Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Disconnect

What I originally planned for this post was a recap of my questions on worldview, what I have been thinking and where I stand right now with each question. But this turned into ten pages of disjointed ramblings (my wife says this is too much for a blog, that when she started reading it, she got depressed), so I decided maybe it would be best to do one question at a time. I think may be able to break my 10 pages of rambles into about seven posts.

At any rate, I have been picking everyone else’s brain for so long, I thought maybe it was time I shared some of my thoughts.

It started with the following passage from How Should We Then Live:

“People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By Presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic worldview, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring forth in the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions.”

QUESTION 1 [“The Disconnect”]: If we assume that what Schaeffer said above is true, why do we so often see such a disconnect between what people say and the way they actually think and live? All of the following are explanations of the disconnect depending on the circumstances, but only some of them are correct when/if Schaeffer is correct on this point.

I have come up with several answers/reasons:

ONE POSSIBILITY: Schaeffer is wrong.

PSEUDO ANSWER 1 (“Hypocrisy”): The first and most obvious reason, one that several people have suggested, for the disconnect is hypocrisy. What Schaeffer says is that people do act consistently with their worldview. So this cannot be an answer if we are assuming that Schaeffer is right, but would mean Schaeffer is wrong.

PSEUDO ANSWER 2 (“It’s difficult”): Living a moral life is hard; through human weakness we fail to live up to our worldview. This is my neighbor’s explanation and is interesting for a couple of reasons.

First, it would seem that the correct worldview would be the best life. It is my belief that God does not simply make up rules, but rather the moral law is a road map for the best life. A thing is wrong/a sin because it hurts us. So I wonder about whether the moral life is really hard, or whether perhaps it isn’t easier than an immoral life. Or maybe the life that cuts corners is easier only in appearance.

Second, I wonder if some worldviews aren’t impossible to live, including what might pass for a Christian worldview, and I wonder if it isn’t sometimes a blessing that some do not live their worldviews consistently. Aren’t there certain things we believe we should do or certain ways we believe we should act, which if laid down as an absolute rule would lead to inhuman and ridiculous results?

Nevertheless, this answer won’t work if we are assuming that Schaeffer is correct, but would mean that Schaeffer is incorrect, since Schaeffer says that in fact people do live in accord with their worldview.

ANSWER 1: (“Fragmentation”): Many people hold fragmented worldview that are pieced together from more than one of the worldviews Sire describes. This answer was suggested by Ron at Universitas Veritas and by David at The Bird Proofer.

ANSWER 2 (“Out of touch”): One’s true worldview may not be what he thinks it is. This answer has been suggested by several people, and is what I read Schaeffer to imply. This happens to be the answer that intrigues me the most and leads to another question, one that will be discussed in a later post.

ANSWER 3 (“Façade”): Sometimes consciously, most of the time subconsciously, a person’s professed worldview is a façade. This is related to Answer 2 (the true worldview is something other than the professed worldview) and Pseudo Answer 1 (it is something like hypocrisy, but I would say it is hypocritical only when it is conscious). There are two ways that this happens that I can think of right now.

The first is the search for identity and meaning in life. We see this especially in youth. In High School we might find identity in being a “skater” or “head banger” or “good ole boy” or a hell raiser. In college we may go through stages where we see ourselves as “a writer” or “a businessman” or whatever (and change our major accordingly). I guess this is due to insecurity. Sometimes we aren’t satisfied with being an ordinary human being, so we look for some label. I think this type of façade is temporary. Maybe we could say it is part of growing up: you have to “find yourself.”

The second reason for a façade is to hide something, like a deeper insecurity or guilt. A person may try to find meaning by being a “philosopher” and may hide their insecurities and their feelings of inadequacy behind their ability to parrot some philosopher or dazzle people with their clever arguments. A person who wants to be better than the next guy, but who is not the best looking, doesn’t have money and isn’t very popular, might resort to trying to be the “better man” and turn to Christianity or Marxism or Atheism or environmentalism or feminism as a means to feel better or more on the ball than everyone else. So also, person who has problems with the moral teachings of the Church, may list theological reasons for having left it.

Just a reminder and a little plug for other blogs who discuss worldview, you can check out the discussion that has taken place at Universitas Veritas, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (note the link "Next" at the bottom), Blah Blah Blah, and Confessions of a Seminarian. In Confessions of a Seminarian see "Dear Legalism", "Extreme Apologetic Approaches" and "Apologetic Approaches".

5 comments:

Ando said...

Hi Civis, thanks for commenting on my blog.

I read through some of your posts and comments. Very interesting stuff. I'm more than willing to discuss it further.

A few thoughts on the little I read so far...

In the case of Sire, I think his definitions of the various categories of world view were meant to be a description of them at close to their purest. One of your commenters, David I thinnk, talked about how people tend to take a little of this and a little of that when forming their own worldviews. Coupled with the fact that most people don't seem to actually read up or study a whole lot on what they say they believe, folks don't always appear to live by their own professed codes.

I think Sire does generalize, but in a way, I think that he recognized that and it was understood. Whenever one tries to label a group with a finite (at least sounding) tag, its easy to point out the flaws in such a generalization. Example: a friend of mine is often referred to as liberal politically because he's very environmentally conscience, outspokenly opposes the Iraq War, and has never voted for a Republican. But he's also pro-gun rights and favors very strict immigration legislation.

Another reason for the disconnect, I think, is that above every claimed worldview, most everyone has the worldview of Self. Doing what benefits me at the time trumps everything. I may say that I believe in something, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty am I going to act on that stated belief if I have the option of self-benefit by not acting on it? I don't mean to sound overly cynical, certainly there are many examples of those that are truly selfless, but if we were all so noble would we live in the kind of world we do? I doubt it.

It boils down to the main issue I suppose, at least as I see it from my own worldview, that man is ultimately sinful and lost without Christ.

Lol. After reading that last bit I just wrote and given your original question, I may have just invalidated myself. Afterall, even those that claim Christ don't always live up to those claimed standards. But again, man is a sinful creature. Just claiming Christ, with words, doesn't make one a Christian. Well, it does but... Ok, that's a whole different discussion for a later date.

The Dawn Treader said...

re: "If we assume that what Schaeffer said above is true, why do we so often see such a disconnect between what people say and the way they actually think and live?"

What are two or three examples of this disconnect you are referring too? What have you seen people say that contradicts how they think and live?

Ron said...

Just a note to let you know that I have not bailed on the worldview blog. I've been very busy with my business and it has been difficult to keep up.

Civis said...

Ando,

Thanks for stopping by. I think you have added something to the discussion with "the worldview of self". I want to think about that.

Also what you said about people not reading up is important. Thinking about that, it ties together two things that have been on my mind. The first is that people's worldviews are not what they may think. The second is that, classical thinkers belived that you should progress from understanding (grammar) to being able to connect concepts (logic) to being able to communicate them (rhetoric). But today the focus of education is to jump right to rhetoric. We don't learn the facts, we don't learn the rules of consistent reasoning, but we are taught to have an opinion.

Not a bunch of people who have been discussing this with me are going to want to shoot me, because they have been saying this all along, but here is cause of the disconnect under the heading of "it ain't what he thinks it is": People take an opinion/worldview without understanding it thoroughly and without think about whether it is consistent or leads to ridiculous results. A couple of people have said this, but I guess it just clicked.

Dawntreader,

There are a lot of examples. What I have in mind is not so much anything hypocritical or anything that is offensive, but just inconsistencies. One example is that I might ask someone, “If I am in a wheel chair, does that mean God is punishing me or that I deserve it? What if I’m poor, or unattractive?” The person will say “No, of course not.” If I press them they will become emphatic, and might even express anger that anyone would think such a thing. But if I observe him, I find that his actions would indicate otherwise. More than merely being attracted to people who are healthy, attractive, and successful, he makes fun of people who are not, wants to have nothing to do with them, and when I catch him off guard and ask, “Don’t you feel sorry for X?” he says “Well.......” and then gives a reason why the person deserved it, or makes reference to some moral fault.” Why does he automatically come out of the box with something the person did wrong or something about the person’s spirituality?

Another example is the role of works in justification. People who believe in justification by faith alone are so obsessed with works, yet those who believe that justification ordinarily requires certain works have few hangups with regard to works.

Ron,

Good to hear from you. Actually I was getting worried about and was half a centimeter away from sending you an e-mail to see if you were alright! I can relate. I think I have been devoting more time to blogging than I can sustain, so I may have to pace myself a bit.

David Howard said...

Civis,
I commented to your previous post instead of this one. Whoops! shot right past it.