Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Terminology Tuesday: Worldview

Worldview: Comprehensive set of basic or ultimate beliefs that fit together in a consistent or coherent manner. A full worldview would include answers to the following questions and more: What kinds of realities are there, and what is ultimately real? What explanation can be given of reality? What is knowledge, and how do we gain it? What is it to have a reasonable or justified belief? What is the good, what is the good life for a human person and how does a person achieve such a life? What is beauty, and how is it related to reality and goodness?1

1. C.Stephen Evans, Pocket Dictionary of Apologetics & Philosophy of Religion (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), p. 124.


  1. Joseph Patterson August 4, 2009

    Thanks for posting these terms. I think James Sires definition of WV in his book "Naming the Elephant" is more comprehensive.

  2. MaryLou November 13, 2012

    I have heard people debate whether atheism is a worldview or not. Any opinions?

  3. LittleGoose November 13, 2012

    Is consistency and coherence a part of the definition of a worldview? For instance, I don't think naturalistic humanism is consistent or coherent. Does that mean I should not think of naturalistic humanism as a worldview?
    eh, maybe I'm splitting hairs.

    Why wouldn't people think of atheism as a worldview?

  4. dgfisch November 13, 2012

    Mary Lou, Excellent question, which deserves a question: Is theism a worldview? If so, is atheism a worldview, or a denial of a worldview, but not a worldview per se? (OK, two questions)

  5. Brian Auten November 13, 2012

    It seems to me from the definition that everyone has a worldview. The question is, what does your worldview entail?

    If you don't believe there is a God, then your worldview is an atheistic one. If you do believe in God, then your worldview is theistic.

    There are other elements to one's worldview, but the question of whether or not God exists shapes so many other aspects of one's view of the world, it is a real central or core facet.

  6. Anonymous November 15, 2012

    To understand reality, we use concepts. Which concept of reality is the greatest conceivable concept is debatable, but to deny that one concept is greater than all others is to deny the human need to understand reality and it is to deny reason. We must believe that something exists so we all need concepts to understand reality. We cannot understand darkness without reference to light. We cannot reject opposing concepts of realty without having a concept of reality. If 'God' is that which no greater can be conceived, then even atheists have what might be called their 'God'.

    Atheists say that whatever does exist as the greatest conceivable thing is not theistic. The concept of that which no greater can be conceived is not a God.

    Atheism is the belief that no God or deities exist outside of whatever does exist. World views are about what does exist. Since atheism is a claim about what does not exist, it does not rise to the level of a world view. A world view makes claims about what does exist. If I am right, atheists have world views, but atheism cannot be a world view.

    Stanley Cook

  7. MaryLou November 15, 2012

    I agree, Brian, that what we believe about God is at the heart of how we view the world. I honestly think it affects EVERY aspect of our lives whether we realize it or not.

    I believe that atheism is a worldview. I have been on forums were atheists have argued that it isn't. Here's the opening paragraph of an article on the subject from Apologetics.net:

    "There is a concerted effort to repudiate the claim atheism is a worldview. Some say atheism is merely the belief in a single proposition, whereas a worldview is a set of propositions comprising a philosophy of life or a conception of the world. Others say atheism is nothing more than the rejection of all gods and any system of belief one might wrap around this view is diverse and independent. But are these claims reasonable, and if not, why all of the denial? And suppose atheism is a worldview, why does it matter?"

    Then the author goes on to answer those questions and give his opinions. You can read them here:


    I believe that atheists deny that atheism is a worldview because, if you look at the criteria for a valid, thorough and workable worldview, atheism fails far too often. Rather than admit it's an inadequate worldview, it's easier to insist it isn't a worldview at all.

    J.P. Moreland discusses "thick and thin" worldviews in his Kingdom Triangle and looks at the naturalist worldview and why it is a thin worldview. Because naturalism is part and parcel of atheism, I would use Moreland's term and call it a thin worldview whereas Christianity is a thick one because it does answer all the pertinent questions.

  8. MaryLou November 15, 2012

    A P.S. to Little Goose: Yes, I think we have to include consistency and coherence in a worldview. When we do, atheism doesn't measure up and that's why it isn't a defensible worldview — IMHO anyway!

  9. Achulotsela Tsela November 15, 2012

    Nice post!… and if i believe fairies exist, that's my worldview whether you like or not, and whether there are evidences to substantiate my worldview or not… Every human beings have their worldview, how they view and believe about the world. Atheism, thus, is a worldview as Brian rightly pointed out. It's a worldview that view and believe the world is all that there is, natural, came into being by chance, has no ultimate purpose, etc.