Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Testing Worldviews

One of the tests of any worldview is whether one can live consistently with it. On this test the worldview called naturalism, i.e. the view that nature is all there is, falls short since many, if not most, naturalists find that they have to give up some beliefs and assumptions that are very difficult to let go of. Among the things for which there is no room in a naturalist ontology are the following:

1. ultimate meaning in life
2. free will
3. objective moral right or wrong
4. intrinsic value of human beings
5. mind/consciousness
6. an adequate ground for beauty, love and truth

On the other hand, not only do each of these fit comfortably in a classical Christian worldview, it could be argued that they're actually entailed by that view. The logic of naturalism, however, compels one to regard them all as illusions, but few naturalists can live consistently with that. They find themselves constantly acting as if their lives do have meaning, as if there really are objective moral rights and wrongs, as if they do have free will.

They can only deny the reality of these things at the theoretical level, but in the way they live their everyday lives they affirm their reality over and over again. They find themselves forced, in a sense, to become poachers, helping themselves to meaning, morality, free will and the rest from the storehouse of 2000 years of Christian heritage, because their own worldview cannot provide them.

But when one has to poach from competing visions of reality in order to make life bearable one is tacitly sacrificing any claim to holding a rational, coherent worldview. To be consistent a naturalist should be a nihilist and accept the emptiness and despair entailed by nihilism, yet even though some naturalists see that, few can bring themselves to accept it. For those who do, the loss of the aforementioned crucial existential human needs is more than compensated for, in their minds, by the liberation from God that naturalism requires.

For many others, though, who long for that same liberation, the nihilistic consequences either don't occur to them, or if they do, they're often simply ignored as though they don't matter. Naturalists are free to embrace this schizoid view of life, of course, but they're not free to live as if they can hold onto those existential needs while denying the only adequate ground for them and at the same time declaring their worldview more rational than the Christian alternative.