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Friday, June 5, 2015

Faith Steps: Why making up our own worldviews invites irreconcilable conflict

Part III in a series of excerpts from my new book, Faith Steps, which encourages and equips people of faith to engage with friends and in the public arena on vital issues.
From Chapter Two, How Worldview Impacts Public Policy:

If someone has deserted the Christian worldview–namely, that God created us and reveals Himself and His truth through nature and His Word–then that person is not left with much to go on. If we do not receive truth from God, the only option remaining is to make up our own worldview.
If we are each making up our own truth, each arriving at different conclusions, what do we do when our individually made-up worldviews conflict?
One of two things can happen: coexistence or domination.
Conflicting worldviews may coexist in tension for a time, especially if the holders of the worldview are willing to compromise with holders of conflicting worldviews. Key to such coexistence is the assumption, aggressively enforced if necessary, that all worldviews are equally valid.
After all–the unspoken assumption goes–if we each are making up our own worldviews, who is anyone to say that their worldview is superior to another's? On what basis could anyone possibly make such a claim?
If we claim our worldview is superior on the basis of logic and reason, then someone who sees life as random and meaningless will say, "What are logic and reason but your own vain constructions?"
If we say our worldview is superior because it is based on respect for others, then someone will say, "Fine–while you respect others, I will conquer and subjugate you to my will, for my worldview boils down to this: survival of the fittest."
Who will referee this dizzying mix of vastly differing worldviews?
No one. Since there are no objective rules in our self-made worlds, there can be no referee. How can you referee without a rulebook?
When everyone makes up his or her own worldview, only one alternative universal ethic remains: autonomy. Literally, self-law. A society based on autonomy boils down to, "If you let me do my thing, I will let you do yours." Sound familiar?
Unfortunately for modern America, autonomy–self-rule–is a grossly ineffective foundation for a society.
The trouble with adopting autonomy as the only guiding "rule" is that while compromise and avoidance may work for a while, conflicting worldviews inevitably produce an irreconcilable conflict. By definition, autonomy is utterly incapable of resolving an irreconcilable conflict. The rule of autonomy can only avoid judgment; it cannot make a judgment.
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