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Regent University Faculty Retreat August 2005


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Title: Regent University Faculty Retreat August 2005

Regent University Faculty RetreatAugust 2005
  • Michael Palmer

Workshop Format
  • General Topic Worldview
  • Part I Setting the Stage
  • Break
  • Part II Small group discussion
  • Part III Plenary review and discussion

My Approach to the Topic
  • In general, I prefer to approach the topic
  • Descriptively rather than prescriptively
  • Inductively, using examples from a wide variety
    of sources historical, literary, biblical,
    cross-cultural, personal
  • Interactively conversation, not lecture

GoalsBy the end of the workshop you should
  • The main components of a worldview
  • The primary functions of these components
  • How the various components fit together to form a
  • Some of the key challenges we face in
    transmitting our worldview to younger generations

What is a Worldview?Some Preliminary Definitions

15th Century Catalan map of the world
  • A worldview is the widest view which the mind
    can take of things in an effort to grasp them
    together as a whole from the standpoint of some
    particular philosophy or theology.
  • James Orr, The Christian View of God and the
    World (1890)

  • A worldview is the central systematization of
    conceptions of reality to which the members of
    the culture assent (largely unconsciously) and
    from which stems their value system.
  • Charles H. Kraft, Christianity in Culture (1979)

  • A peoples world view is their way of thinking
    about life and the world, coupled with the values
    they set for themselves in the context of that
    way of thinking.
  • Nicholas Wolterstorff (1984)

  • For our purposes worldview will be defined as
    the comprehensive framework of ones basic
    beliefs about things A worldview belongs to
    an order of cognition more basic than that of
    science or theory.
  • Albert M. Wolters, Creation Regained Biblical
    Basics for a Reformational Worldview (1985)

  • A worldview (or vision of life) is a framework
    or set of fundamental beliefs through which we
    view the world and our calling and future in it
    It is the integrative and interpretive framework
    by which order and disorder are judged it is the
    standard by which reality is managed and pursued
    it is the set of hinges on which all our everyday
    thinking and doing turns.
  • James H. Olthuis, On Worldviews (1989)

  • A worldview is a comprehensive framework of
    beliefs that helps us interpret what we see and
    experience and also gives us direction in the
    choices that we make as we live out our days.
  • Richard T. Wright, Biology Through the Eyes of
    Faith (1989)

  • In its simplest terms, a worldview is a set of
    beliefs about the most important issues in life
    A fancy term that can be useful here is
    conceptual scheme, by which I mean a pattern or
    arrangement of concepts (ideas). A worldview,
    then is a conceptual scheme by which we
    consciously or unconsciously place or fit
    everything we believe and by which we interpret
    and judge reality.
  • Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict (1992)

  • A worldview is a set of presuppositions
    (assumptions which may be true, partially true or
    entirely false) which we hold (consciously or
    subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently)
    about the basic makeup of our world.
  • James W. Sire, Naming the Elephant, Worldview as
    a Concept (2004)

Common Features of the Definitions
  • A worldview is principally a belief system
  • from the standpoint of some particular
    philosophy or theology
  • the central systematization of conceptions of
  • a way of thinking about life and the world
  • the comprehensive framework of ones basic
  • a framework or set of fundamental beliefs

A Broader Definition
  • A worldview may well be defined as ones
    comprehensive framework of basic beliefs about
    things, but our talk (confessed beliefs or
    cognitive claims) is one thing, and our walk
    (operative beliefs) is another and even more
    important thing. A lived worldview defines ones
    basic convictions it defines what one is ready
    to live and die for It is the vision that one
    gets from home or from the public square, the
    vision that one has assimilated for oneself with
    difficulty or grown up with, so much so that one
    almost takes it for granted.
  • John H. Kok, Learning to Teach from Within a
    Christian Perspective (2003)

Features of Koks Definition
  • Kok reaches beyond strictly cognitive language
    and categories
  • beliefs (talk) but also behavior (walk)
  • the lived world
  • a vision gotten from the public square
  • a vision one has grown up with

  • So if a worldview is more than just a set of
    beliefs (philosophical, theological, or
    otherwise), then what else makes up a worldview?
  • To answer this question, it is helpful to
    reflect on some concrete data.

  • Chaim Potoks 1967 award winning novel, The
    Chosen, offers several thought provoking hints.

What is a Worldview?
  • A worldview is a set of beliefs and practices
    that shape a persons approach to the most
    important issues in life.

  • Through our worldview we
  • determine priorities
  • explain our relationship to God and fellow human
  • assess the meaning of events
  • justify our actions

  • Our worldview even speaks to the most ordinary
    practices in everyday life, including
  • the types of things we read, view, and listen to
  • the types of entertainment and leisure activities
    we seek
  • our approach to work and leisure

Who Has a Worldview?
  • In the broadest sense, virtually everyone has a
  • Certainly anyone capable of understanding the
    question has a worldview.

  • But not everyone has a worldview in the same
  • Some people have a worldview only in the sense
    that they have inherited a set of beliefs and
  • Others have chosen their worldview.
  • Choice implies
  • reflection
  • deliberation
  • alertness
  • being present to the alternatives

(No Transcript)
  • An ideology is a set of authoritative beliefs or
    statements that form a central framework, or
    system, for explaining reality.

Our life is shaped by our mind we become what we
think. Gautama the Buddha
The indispensable and fundamental condition of
all action is the freedom of the acting being.
Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Functions of ideology
  • To bring order and coherence to our experiences
  • To provide a basis for assessing the values,
    insights, and beliefs of others
  • To define the community

The Apostles' Creed I believe in God the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.  And in
Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord who was
conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin
Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was
crucified, died, and buried he descended into
hell the third day he rose again from the dead
he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right
hand of God the Father Almighty from thence he
shall come to judge the quick and the dead. I
believe in the Holy Ghost the holy catholic
Church the communion of saints the forgiveness
of sins the resurrection of the body and the
life everlasting. AMEN.
  • Content of ideology
  • Background theory
  • The cosmos
  • God
  • History
  • Account of human nature

"The history of all hitherto existing society is
the history of class struggles..."  Karl Marx
Q. 1. What is the chief end of man?A. Mans
chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him
  • Worldview narratives are stories that tell
    something special about the worldview or about
    the people who hold it.

Don Antonio Lopez De Santa Anna
Battle of the AlamoMarch 6, 1836
Davy Crockett
  • Worldview narratives may be about
  • A famous person

  • The founding of a people or a nation

The Origin of the Iroquois Nations
Abraham, Genesis
"Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Quran 4829
  • The beginning or end of the world

Joachim of Fiore Three Circles,12th Cent.
The Apocalypse
Old Man and the Beginning of the World Blackfoot
Indian legend
Zoroaster, 1500 BCE
  • Someones interaction with God or gods

Job, the faithful servant of God, struggles with
the meaning of loss and suffering.
Krishna consoles and instructs Prince Arguna as
he is about to go into battle.
Odysseus returns to Ithaka with the help of the
grey-eyed goddess Athena.
  • Any event integrally tied to the worldview.

Boston massacre March 5, 1770
First Crusade 1099
Six Day War June 1967
  • Functions of worldview narratives
  • They reinforce and embellish central ideological
  • They provide patterns, or models, for the
    adherents of the worldview.

  • Types of worldview narratives
  • Sacred writings

  • Myths

How Coyote Stole Fire, Native American myth
  • Historical narratives

  • Literature drama

  • Visual art and architecture

  • Artifacts

  • A norm is a standard of some kind.
  • Examples
  • Legal standards 70 mph Interstate highway speed
  • Religious standards Sabbath keeping
  • Culinary standards French fries should be golden
  • Etiquette standards Greet acquaintances when you
    pass them in the hall

  • Typically, two of the most important norms in a
    worldview are its moral and aesthetic norms.

Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit
adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not
bear false witness against thy neighbor.
Egyptian Proportion Canon (rules governing
depiction of the human form)
  • Moral norms govern behavior and character
  • They are standards that require, prohibit, or
    allow certain kinds of behavior or the
    development of certain kinds of character traits.

The Master said, A young man should be a good
son at home and an obedient young man abroad,
sparing of speech but trustworthy in what he
says, and should love the multitude at large but
cultivate the friendship of his fellow men. If he
has any energy to spare from such action, let him
devote it to making himself cultivated.
  • Aesthetic norms are standards by which we judge
    what is beautiful, pleasant, or sublime.
  • Example Islam forbids image making, symbols,
    and most types of 3-dimensional sculpture. As a
    result, in architecture Muslims commonly use
    geometric or arabesque motifs.

  • A ritual is a ceremonial act performed
    periodically on special occasions to reenact or
    recall an important event, to memorialize a
    notable person, or to mark an important

African funeral dance Burkina Faso
  • Kinds of rituals
  • Rituals intended to renew bonds

  • Rituals that recreate an event, making it real in
    the present

  • Rituals that facilitate transition

Christian infant baptism
Thai wedding
ancient Egyptian burial
  • Essential features of all rituals
  • They provide an occasion for reflecting on the
    meaning of ones core beliefs
  • They are intended to evoke an affective response
    to ones core beliefs

Four score and seven years ago our fathers
brought forth on this continent, a new nation,
conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created
equal. Abraham Lincoln Gettysburg,
Pennsylvania November 19, 1863
  • Typically, when people embrace a worldview, they
    do so with their whole person.
  • This means that when they embrace a worldview,
    they commit themselves not just intellectually
    but also emotionally and spiritually.
  • Where this is so, the importance of certain
    affective and spiritual experiences will rival
    the importance of ideology, the rational element
    of a worldview.

Cambodian killing fields, mid to late 1970s
Sioux destruction of Custers 7th Cavalry at the
Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876, as recounted by
Black Elk. (Drawing by Standing Bear.)
Little Boy explodes over Hiroshima at 815 a.m.
on August 6, 1945.
  • Three important points
  • 1. Experience is not an incidental feature of a
  • 2. Experience is integrally bound up with
    ideology and norms.
  • 3. Although experience is commonly interpreted
    by ideology and norms, it often also shapes
    (reinforces, modifies, or undermines) them.

Social Element
  • The social element of a worldview refers to the
    network of social arrangements and institutions
    that constitutes the social setting of people who
    hold a certain worldview.

  • No worldview can survive apart from a social
    setting that permits and encourages the
    transmission of beliefs, stories, norms, and
    rituals from one generation to the next.

  • Every generation faces two tasks, which social
    arrangements and institutions facilitate

  • 1) Social arrangements and institutions
    facilitate transmitting to the next generation
    the accumulated wisdom and insights from earlier

Spiritual and moral wisdom
Folklore, legends, myths
Family history Cultural heritage
Proverbial wisdom
Techniques, routines, know-how
Moral principles
Aesthetic sensibility
  • 2) Social arrangements and institutions help the
    next generation cope with cultural (social,
    political, religious) trends in the present.

Family, religious, and cultural stability
Evaluative and interpretive skills
Strategies for dealing with problems
Parenting, nurturing, and life skills