Coherent, Consistent, Livable by Wes Widner
Christianity is a worldview, a way of viewing the world we live in. This encompasses metaphysical beliefs such as the origin of the universe, meaning and purpose of life, and what happens to us after we die. It also encompasses things like how we view family, marriage, and careers. It even encompasses mundane decisions such as what we choose to wear, what entertainment we prefer, and how we spend our leisure time.
Most people don’t really think about their world-views and, as a consequence, their world-views end up being a hodge-podge collection of beliefs. Very few people take the time to critically think through the beliefs they hold and examine whether their world-view passes three basic tests: (MP3 Audio | RSS | iTunes)
Is it coherent?
The first question of any world-view is whether it offers any explanation of the world around us and how accurate that description is. Not all world-views are concerned with accurately describing the world around us. In Buddhism and Hinduism, for example, reality is seen as a myth so that naturally the descriptions these world-views offer are not intended to provide an accurate description of the world. Naturalism/materialism (held by many atheists) contain descriptions of the world which break down at the point of origin and fail to explain how something can come from nothing.
Christianity is unique in that it not only offers reasonable explanations regarding the origin of the universe, but it also offers a reasonable explanation of well-established historical events such as the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Is it consistent?
The next question we should ask about a world-view is whether it contains contradictory statements. Such statements would pose a logical problem for us as they would violate one of the foundational laws of logic, namely the law of non-contradiction.
Some worldviews such as Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, Wicca, Islam and Mormonism embrace paradoxes as part of their standard doctrine and therefore don’t hold a pretense of being consistent in regards to their teachings. Rather, the focus in worldviews such as these is more experiential than it is informative. Christianity, however, is concerned with both.
Eastern religions rely heavily on contradictions in order to draw adherents into deeper meditation. Zen Buddhism, for instance, has an entire category of teachings known as Kōan which are expressly designed to combat rational thinking and discourse which is often seen by eastern mystics as a western invention.
Islam embraces contradictions both in the teachings from their holy writings, the Bible, Qur’an and Hadith, and in their ritual practices. Adherents are asked to believe that both the Bible and the Qur’an were given by Allah even though both contain mutually exclusive claims. In more recent times adherents have also been told that Islam is a religion of peace and is tolerant of opposing world-views which contradicts both history and the words of the founder (Muhammad).
Naturalism/materialism embraces the inherent contradiction of infinite regress when it comes to the origin of the universe as supernatural explanations are categorically rejected out of hand. This also poses a problem of where morals, meaning, and purpose are grounded in a purely naturalistic world view.
Christianity is unique in this area in that it does not pose any inherent contradictions either within the text believed to contain the inspired revelation from God or in the practices prescribed therein. There are certainly difficulties which require some effort and study, and certainly many Christian teachers have managed to introduce foreign philosophies into Christianity making it appear to be logically inconsistent or contradictory. While many followers of Jesus Christ have failed to live consistently, nevertheless the teachings of Christ found in the New Testament are in perfect concert with what we find in the Old Testament.
The Christian, unlike adherents of competing worldviews, does not need to accept a logical paradox in order to harmonize any teachings found within Christianity with other teachings or with history or scientific findings.
Is it livable?
A worldview may be internally consistent and offer a comprehensive explination of the world and yet, not be livable. Atheism, for example, offers a succinct view of the world wherein we are merely cosmic accidents: flukes of nature whose existence has no purpose or meaning. Some, like Friedrich Nietzsche, accepted the nihilism that logically accompanies a naturalistic view of the universe. Unfortunately, Nietzsche ended up going insane attempting to maintain a consistency with his beliefs.
However many choose, instead, to continue believing that life is worth living. That it has meaning and that what we do here on earth matters and echoes in some form into eternity. Such stubborn beliefs are not livable within a naturalistic view of the world and must be borrowed, instead from somewhere else.
Coherent, consistent, and livable
Christianity is the only worldview that passes each of these tests with flying colors and I highly encourage anyone who is serious in their search for truth to consider Christianity. You might just find that the truth you seek has been expecting you with outstretched arms.