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Thoughts on “Worldview Thinking” (Part One)

I have a little problem with the current obsession with “worldview thinking” in Christian and classical circles. I believe that it subtly moves us from a framework that was used from creation until the mid-19th century. I also believe that in our attempts to build a comprehensive Christian “worldview” that we have de-emphasized our Christian narrative.

The concept of worldview finds it origin in the German concept of Weltanschauung – a word literally meaning “world view”. The concept arose from a problem. See, what modern man needed was a framework that would tie everything together, that allows him to find meaning in the world, and his place in it – that could help him make the purposeful decisions. In fact, that is absolutely what the modern world needed! However, modern philosophers tried synthesize the wisdom gathered in the different scientific disciplines, philosophies and religions – that is when the trouble began.

The value of “world view” thinking was that it moved man from focusing only on the particulars and tried to find some unifying principles. Rather than focusing on small sections of reality, some modern philosophers sought provide us with a picture of the whole.

One such thinker was the Belgian philosopher Leo Apostel who devoted his life to the development of such an integrating worldview. As he quickly understood, the complexity of this task is too great for one man – within the context of comparative religions and philosophies the attempt was futile. With the loss of theology as the ultimate source of all knowledge – the “queen of the sciences”, philosophy becomes speculative…the question is always: “by what authority?”, or “by whose philosophy?” Thus, the worldview thinking of the modern was never a successful enterprise.

In the next section, I will discuss the problems and dangers I see in the recent goals of many schools that seek to produce students who are “worldview thinkers”.

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