Two Worldviews

“Sanity does not mean living in the same world as everyone else; it means living in the real world.” – Frank Sheed


Everyone has a worldview; a concept of how things are. Personal experience and cultural values influence a person’s worldview. How we view reality has been largely handed on to us through the ambient environment we are born into, and we are rarely aware of most of the forces influencing our perception of reality. A worldview is like a map of reality. Like any map it can guide us as we make decisions about where to go and how to get there. Worldview determines how we choose to live.

Two very common worldviews in our time are scientific reductionism and incarnational spirituality. Incarnational spirituality goes something like this: The source of all things manifests in substance and form, bringing into being that which is first formed within itself as a desire, then embodied in matter, and made alive by the spirit which is breathed into it by love. In other words, there is an intelligent and personal source who creates heaven and earth and everything in them. Scientific reductionism goes something like this: “I am a collection of water, calcium and organic molecules called Carl Sagan. You are a collection of almost identical molecules with a different collective label.” In other words, you are nothing more than a collection of molecules with a name.

Whether we know it or not scientific reductionism is the default worldview for most of us. Although many of us retain some religious values and sentiments, the dominant worldview is scientific reductionism. Our automatic assumptions about how reality works are based on our faith in a few modern scientific maxims we accept as true. We believe these modern scientific assertions without question and without truly understanding them, just as some religious believers accept certain religious claims without question and without truly understanding them. I am a scientist, but I am not a reductionist. I am also a believer, but I am not a religious reductionist. Reality is much more subtle and beautiful than either of these extreme positions will allow.

What is the point here? This: incarnational spirituality embraces all phenomena, seen and unseen, in the context of a unifying source which is at heart pure relational love. The physical sciences fit appropriately and legitimately into this worldview and they enhance it. On the other hand, scientific reductionism can only include that which fits into its narrow criteria for what is real: the measurable and the visible. There is no ultimate grounding for meaning, purpose, morals, or love in this brilliantly flawed worldview.

There is a choice to make here. In one worldview, human life is the intended result of an evolutionary process in the mind that gives rise to reality through an act of pure relational love. Therefore, our deepest identity rests in this act of love. In the other worldview, we are nothing more than a collection of molecules going nowhere in particular and for no reason.

What is your decision? Are you (and your children) an intended act of love, or a meaningless collection of molecules? Your decision determines what you will intentionally or unintentionally pass on to the next generation. The map you unfold will determine where you are going and how you will get there.

2 thoughts on “Two Worldviews

  1. incarnational spirituality embraces all phenomena, seen and unseen, in the context of a unifying source which is at heart pure relational love.

    Well said my friend.


    • Connie, after living long enough to study many areas of knowledge and experience, to miss the pattern of unification under a single source which is love would be to miss the point entirely. I did not seek to reach this conclusion at the start; it presented itself to my scientist’s mind and I had to admit it was there. It was a simple moment of recognizing the pattern in nature and in human experience. I always tell anyone who will listen, it was science and the study of the natural world that brought me to a mature and evidence-based faith. I see this reflected in religion, although imperfectly. Religion is the map or the menu, experience and relationship are the meal. I choose primarily to eat the meal and not the menu.


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