Because of the extended conversation sparked from my last post (See the comment section), I thought I would respond here as to the last two comments from my intrepid interlocutor where he brings up the idea of “world-view.”
First of all, let me speak to some specifics as to the last two comments in the post “The Faith of Science”: I admit to nothing “irrational” as to any claim regarding faith (properly understood) nor do I claim to have “freely” admitted “irrational” views regarding faith. That both the theist and atheist proceed by faith has nothing to do with “rationality”; it has to do with reality and the simple fact there is no other way to proceed. Rationality is the tool wielded by faith. Faith is the whole man; reason is simply one of the many tools employed by man. It is no more employed by an atheist than a theist. Both employ reason; they arrive at different conclusions because of their faith.
Now, on to the idea of world-view. World-view and faith are two sides to the same coin and inseparable. I frankly don’t care which term is used, although I think Jamie Smith has given us a better way to think about world-view by talking about our loves and desires. Here is a good review of his book, Desiring the Kingdom, which basically states that we are what we love and desire and those twin edifices are what color our beliefs and create our view of the world.
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. This vision may be so internalized that it goes largely unquestioned; it may be greatly refined through cultural-historical development; it may not be explicitly developed into a systematic conception of life; it may not be theoretically deepened into a philosophy; it may not even be codified into credal form. Nevertheless, this vision is a channel for the ultimate beliefs which give direction and meaning to life. It is the integrative and interpretative framework by which order and disorder are judged, the standard by which reality is managed and pursued. It is the set of hinges6 on which all our everyday thinking and doing turns.
For each adherent, a worldview gives reasons and impetus for deciding what is true and what really matters in our experience. In other words, a worldview functions both descriptively and normatively. It has what Clifford Geertz calls a dual focus:7 it both tells us what is the case (and what is not the case) and tells us what ought (and ought not) to be the case. A worldview is both a sketch of and a blueprint for reality; it both describes what we, see and stipulates what we should see.
To put it another way, a vision “of” life and the world is simultaneously a vision “for” life and the world. The “of” and “for” capture the dual focus. Visions are descriptive models which shape themselves to our experience. Our lives are defined and described in terms of our worldview: “this is the way life and the world are.” At the same time, visions are normative models “for” life and the world, models which shape life and the world to themselves. Our lives are formed and led onward by the worldview: “this is the way life and the world ought to be.”
In both moments of its dual focus, a worldview purports to give the true picture of reality. For its adherents, their worldview is the truth about history, life, and existence, and it reveals the way to salvation and healing. These claims to ultimacy, I suggest, point to the rootedness of worldviews in faith, in matters of “ultimate concern,” as Tillich would have it.
At the same time there is much more motivating a worldview. As we have already noted, Marx, Freud and Nietzsche have unmasked for all of us the role that socioeconomic interests, rationalizations, personality types, and the unconscious play in worldview formation. Worldviews – it seems undeniable – depend for validation and correction on both the commitment of faith and all the other modes of human experience.
How can worldviews claim ultimacy and at the same time reflect their historical-intellectual, psychosocial contexts? Here my model of worldviews suggests itself. I believe that a worldview functions as a vehicle of mediation and integration in a two-way movement between faith commitment and all the other modes of human existence. It is a medium through which the ultimate commitment of faith plays out its leading and integrating role in daily life. Simultaneously, a world-view is a medium by which daily life experiences can either call faith into question or confirm it.
Having faith, living for something, belonging somewhere, searching for final meaning and permanent bliss – this is essential to human existence.8 Believing in, entrusting, committing oneself – to have faith – is to give self, to put for safety, to give in charge, to give over, to let go” to God (or a pseudo-god). For Christians, faith is an entrusting of self to God in which we receive certainty, connection, and ground for our existence, an entrusting in which we meet God in ourselves and in creation even as God meets us. We are graciously renewed, experiencing connection with self, others, creation, and God. Henceforth God is the healing power and sustaining ground of our lives, the final ground and ultimate power of and for all other grounds and powers.
The risk of faith is unavoidable; it is also existentially terrifying. For if faith proves futile, life falls apart. “Our ultimate concern can destroy us as it can heal us. But we can never be without it.” 10
The faith mode of being in the world “can be phenomenologically described as an ultimate or grounding dimension or horizon to all meaningful activities.”11 It is through faith that we explicitly affirm (or deny) our relation to the Ultimate. 12
The key point here is that what Olthius is describing is true of all world-views. And, in a way, that was what Davies was pointing toward as well. So we come full circle. Whether we want to call it “world-view” or “faith” it is that thing which is intrinsic to the human person and is the very condition for the possibility of knowing.