“The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being.” —Socrates
Taking a page from the doomed Greek philosopher’s book, RTB’s own philosophy expert, Kenneth Samples, asserts that “the unexamined worldview is not worth believing or living out.”
Worldviews provide us with both an interpretive lens through which we see the world and a road map that guides how we live in and react to the world. Culturally, I interpret things through an American lens, specifically a Southern Californian lens. For example, when my husband, Darren, and I honeymooned in Virginia, we encountered okra for the first time at a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. Our SoCal perspective caused us to misidentify the chunks of green vegetable floating in Darren’s stew as spicy jalapeño. He proceeded to remove it, until the Southern couple sitting near by told him it was okra and encouraged him to try it.
A person’s worldview shapes his vision of what is real, true, right, and valuable. It is the prism through which one makes sense of life and death. Controversial issues such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and war are powerfully impacted by worldview considerations. Therefore it is critical to have a view that is genuinely clear and distinct.
- Coherence Test: A worldview’s tenets must be logically consistent, avoid being self-defeating, and account for rationality.
- Balance Test: A worldview must maintain adequate balance between simplicity (not too much explanation) and complexity (not insufficient explanation).
- Explanatory Power & Scope Test: A viable worldview must provide an efficient (in power) and sufficient (in scope) explanation for the facts of reality—the physical world included.
- Correspondence Test: Science and personal observation provide empirical facts and experiences through which we understand reality—a good worldview must correspond to these facts and experiences.
- Verification Test: All worldviews make truth-claims (e.g., Jesus Christ is the Son of God). Can these facts be verified or falsified through studying and testing? Keep in mind that a claim that cannot be falsified, at least in principle, can neither be verified.
- Pragmatic Test: Is the worldview livable—does it produce results relevant and practical for its adherents?
- Existential Test: Does the worldview answer humanity’s big “why” questions and address our need for purpose and meaning?
- Cumulative Test: There’s strength in numbers and that goes for worldviews, too. Multiple converging lines of evidence increase support for a worldview’s validity.
- Competitive Competence Test: Finally, a worldview must stand up to the competition from other perspectives and arguments.