From Aristotle vs. Plato a panoply of world views evolved in four main epochs.
The following are characteristics of each epoch:
Classical Theism Pernicious gods involved in human affairs
Christian Theism Loving God involved in human affairs
Modernism Faith in science
Post-Modernism Faith in experience; suspicious of science
Within these epochs are the following world views:
Most of you have not heard of this particular world view paradigm. It is called a cultural world view paradigm (as contrasted to a socio-political paradigm). Both are useful. Both are accurate. However, most Americans obtain their world views from culture, not from scholarship and education.
While socio-polical descriptions of world views are completely accurate, they are not used by American universities or the media at all. When have you hear the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cosmic HumanistÃ¢â‚¬Â used on television? In a movie? Very few people use this terminology in the real world. Therefore, if Christians wish to be involved in apologetics they must use a language that the unsaved can understand. Chesterton once lamented that Evangelical Christians are like Americans who visit France. Chesterton generalized that Americans, by and large, speak their words slower, articulate their words more carefully, and speak fewer words to complete a thought. However, what they should do, Chesterton argues, is to speak French in France! If we believers want the world to hear us we need to speak their language.
Here is a short sketch of the seven major world views with examples:
Theism: God is personally involved with humankind. Theism argues that the universe is a purposive, divinely created entity. It argues that all human life is sacred and all persons are of equal dignity. They are, in other words, created in the image of God. History is linear and moves toward a final goal. Nature is controlled by God and is an orderly system. Humanity is neither the center of nature nor the universe, but are the steward of creation. Righteousness will triumph in a decisive conquest of evil. Earthly life does not exhaust human existence but looks ahead to the resurrection of the dead and to a final, comprehensive judgement of humanity (adapted form Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief). This is the only viable world view until the Renaissance. Examples: Homer, Virgil, C. S. Lewis, A. J. Cronin, Tolkien.
Modern people conclude that history really has no meaning. . .The biblical view is that history had a beginning and will have an end and that both the beginning and the end are in God’s hands. Therefore, what comes between them is invested with meaning and purpose.–from Herbert Schlossberg, Idols For Destruction.Deism: God was present, but is no longer present. The world is like a clock wound up by God many years ago but He is now absent. The clock (i.e., the world) is present; God is absent. Still, though, Deism embraced a Judeo-Christian morality. Godâ€™s absence, for instance, in no way mitigated His importance to original creation. He was also omnipotent, but not omniscient. His absence was His decision. He was in no way forced to be absent from the world. He chose to assume that role so that Socratic empiricism and rationalism could reign as sovereign king. Speculative Theism replaced revelatory biblical Theism. Once the Living God was abandoned, Jesus Christ and the Bible became cognitive orphans (Carl H. Henry). Examples: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson.
Romanticism: Once Americans distanced themselves from the self-revealing God of the Old and New Testaments, they could not resist making further concessions to subjectivity. Romanticism, and its American version, Transcendentalism, posited that God was nature and â€œitâ€ was good. The more natural things were, the better. Nature was inherently good. Nature alone was the ultimate reality. In other words, nature was the Romantic god. Man was essentially a complex animal, too complex to be controlled by absolute, codified truth (as one would find in the Bible). Human intuition replaced the Holy Spirit. Depending upon the demands on individual lives, truth and good were relative and changing. Romanticism, however, like Deism, had not completely abandoned Judeo-Christian morality. Truth and the good, although changing, were nonetheless relatively durable. Examples: James Fenimore Cooper, Goethe.
Naturalism: If God exists, He is pretty wimpish. Only the laws of nature have any force. God is either uninterested or downright mean. All reality was reducible to impersonal processes and energy events (Carl F. H. Henry). All life, including human life, was transient. Its final destination was death. Truth and good, therefore, were also transient. They were culture-conditioned distinctions that the human race projected upon the cosmos and upon history (Carl F. H. Henry). This maturation, as it were, of the human race, necessitated a deliberate rejection of all transcendentally final authority. Examples: Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane.
Realism: Akin to Naturalism is Realism. Reality is, to a Realist, a world with no purpose, no meaning, no order. Realism insists that personality has no ultimate status in the universe, but is logically inconsistent when it affirms an ethically imperative social agenda congruent with universal human rights and dignity. Realism, then throws around terms like â€œdignityâ€ and â€œhuman rightsâ€ and â€œpower.â€Â What Realists mean, however, is that these concepts are real when they fulfill a social agenda that enhances human dominance over the universal. Thus, Realism believes in a world where bad things happen all the time to good people. Why not? There is no God, no ontological controlling force for good. The world is a place where the only reality is that which we can experience, but it must be experience that we can measure or replicate. Certainly pain and misery fit that category. If an experience is a unique occurrence (Example: a miracle) it is not real. Examples: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Absurdism: A modern movement where there is neither a god, nor any reason to have one. Everything is disorganized, anarchy rules. There is a compete abandonment of explaining the cosmos and therefore an abandonment of being in relationship with the deity. It is not that Absurdists are unsure about who creates everything, or in control of everything. Absurdists simply do not care one way or the other. Examples: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Existentialism: The submergence of God in overwhelming data and in experience is the first step toward putting God out to die. Truth is open to debate. Everything is relative. A very pessimistic view. Examples, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, and Jean Paul Sartre.