Eight Worldviews and Their Ethics

Adapted from The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire

Description

Ethics

1. Christian Theism

A.  God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.

B.  God created the cosmos ex nihilo to operate with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.

C.  Human beings are created in the image of God and thus possess personality, self-transcendence, intelligence, morality, gregariousness and creativity.

D.  Human beings can know both the world around them and God himself because God has built into them the capacity to do so and because he takes and active role in communicating with them.

E.  Humans beings were created good, but through the Fall the image of God became defaced, though not ruined as not to be capable of restoration; through the work of Christ, God redeemed humanity and began the process of restoring people to goodness, though any given person may choose to reject that redemption.

F.  For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.

G.  History is linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for humanity.

God is the source of the moral world. Ethics is transcendent and is based on the character of God as good (holy and loving). There is an absolute standard by which all moral judgements are measured. People make, live by and violate, moral judgements. God is the measure of morality.
2. Deism

A.   A Transcendent God, as a First Cause, created the universe but then left it to run on its own. God is thus not immanent, not fully personal, not sovereign over human affairs, not providential.

B.   The cosmos God created is determined because it is created as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system; no miracle is possible.

C.   Human beings, though personal, are a part of the clockwork of the universe.

D.   The cosmos, this world, is understood to be in its normal state; it is not fallen or abnormal. We can know the universe, and we can determine what God is like by studying it.

E.   History is linear, for the course of the cosmos was determined at creation.

Ethics is limited to general revelation; because the universe is normal, it reveals what is right. Since the world was created by the omnipotent God and is unfallen, it must be what God wants, or what he is like. Sin does not exist, if one believes that whatever is, is right.
3. Naturalism

A.   Matter exists eternally and is all there is. God does not exist.

B.   The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system.

C.   Human beings are complex “machines”; personality is an interrelation of chemical and physical properties we do not yet fully understand.

D.   Death is extinction of personality and individuality.

E.   History is linear, but is not predetermined.

Ethics is related only to human beings. Ethics is autonomous and situational, stemming from human need and interest. Ethics are manmade, personal and chosen.

Description

Ethics

4. Nihilism

A.    The first 2 tenets of naturalism are accepted:

1.     Matter exists eternally and is all there is. God does not exist.

2.     The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system.

B.    Human beings are conscious machines without the ability to effect their own destiny or do anything significant; therefore humans beings (as valuable beings) are dead.

C.    Knowledge can not be known.

D.    Nothing is valuable, nor is anything meaningful.

There is no constant, unchanging measure of ethics. Ethics are chosen. Since there are no moral laws, there is only guilt when one contradicts one’s ethics.
5. Existentialism – two forms:
A.    Atheistic existentialism:

1.     The following tenets from Naturalism are accepted:

A.    Matter exists eternally and is all there is. God does not exist.

B.    The cosmos exists as a uniformity of cause and effect in a closed system.

C.    History is linear, but is not predetermined.

2.     The cosmos is composed solely of matter, but to human beings reality appears in two forms — subjective and objective.

3.     For human beings alone existence precedes existence; people makes themselves who they are.

4.     Each person is totally free as regards their nature and destiny.

5.     The highly wrought and tightly organized objective world stands over against human beings and appears absurd.

6.     In full recognition of and against the absurdity of the objective world, the authentic person must revolt and create value.

A. Atheistic existentialism:The good action is the consciously chosen action. Passivity, through not choosing, is evil. Ethics are not measured by any standard outside the human dimension. Each person determines what is valued for himself. Without an external moral referent, there is no common ground for discussion. There is but one conviction versus another.
B.    Theistic Existentialism:

1.     These tenets of Theism are accepted:

A.    God is infinite and personal (triune), transcendent and immanent, omniscient, sovereign and good.

B.    God created the cosmos ex nihilo to operate with a uniformity of cause and effect in an open system.

C.    Human beings are created in the image of God.

D.    Human beings can know both the world around them and God and can act significantly. god can and does communicate with us.

E.     Humans beings were created good, but are now fallen and need to be restored by God through Christ.

F.     For each person death is either the gate to life with God and his people or the gate to eternal separation from the only thing that will ultimately fulfill human aspirations.

2.     Human beings are personal beings who, when they come to full consciousness, find themselves in an alien universe; whether or not God exists is a tough question to be solved not by reason but by faith.

3.     The personal is valuable.

4.     Knowledge is subjectivity; the whole truth is often paradoxical.

5.     History as a record of events is uncertain and unimportant, but history as a model or type or myth to be made present and lived is of supreme importance.

B. Theistic Existentialism:Ethics is transcendent and based on God’s character.

Description

Ethics

6. Eastern Pantheistic Monism (Hindu monism holds that the One, God, is final reality, and a follower seeks to ascend toward godhood. Zen Buddhist monism holds the Void is final reality and a follower seeks to realize the root of his nonbeing):

A.    The soul of each and every human being is the Soul of the cosmos. God is all that exists; nothing exists that is not God. God is one, but we do not realize out oneness. God is impersonal.

B.    Some things are more one than others. Reality is a hierarchy of appearances.

C.    Many (if not all) roads lead to the One. Eventually religions lead to the same end.

D.    To realize one’ oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond personality and enter the undifferentiated One.

E.     To realize one’s oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond knowledge. The principle of noncontradiction does not apply where ultimate reality is concerned. Truth disappears as a category.

F.     To realize one’s oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond good and evil; the cosmos is perfect at every moment.

G.    Death is the end of individual, personal existence, but it changes nothing essential in an individual’s nature.

H.    To realize one’s oneness with the One is to pass beyond time. Time is unreal. History is cyclical.

Reality is beyond differentiation, beyond good and evil. Distinctions between good and evil disappear. Morality disappears. Everything is evil. Everything is good.
7. New Age

A.    Whatever the nature of being (idea or matter, energy or particle), the self is the kingpin – the prime reality. As human beings grow in their awareness and grasp of this fact, the human race is on the verge of a radical change in human nature; even now we see transformed humanity and prototypes of the New Age.

B.    The cosmos, while unified in the self, is manifested in two more dimensions: the visible universe, accessible through ordinary consciousness, and the invisible universe (or Mind at Large), accessible through altered states of consciousness.

C.    The core experience of the New Age is cosmic consciousness, in which ordinary categories of space, time and morality tend to disappear.

D.    Physical death is not the end of the self; under the experience of cosmic consciousness, the fear of death is removed.

E.     Three distinct attitudes are taken to the metaphysical question of the nature of reality under the general framework of the New Age:

1.     The occult version, in which the beings and things perceived in states of altered consciousness exist apart from the self that is conscious,

2.     The psychedelic version, in which the things and beings are projections of the conscious self,

3.     The conceptual relativist version, in which the cosmic consciousness is the conscious activity of a mind using one of many nonordinary models for reality, none of which is ‘truer’ than any other.

Many New Age proponents believe the category of morality disappears. However, even for those who do not agree with the previous statement, since you are both God and the universe, you create morality.

Description

Ethics

8. Postmodernism

A.    The first question postmodernism addresses is not what is there or how we know what is there but how language functions to construct meaning itself. In other words, there has been a shift in “first things” from being to knowing to constructing meaning.

B.    The truth about the reality itself is forever hidden from us. All we can do is tell stories or have wishful thinking. Truth is whatever we can get our colleagues (our community) to agree to.

C.    All narratives mash a play for power. Any one narrative used as a metanarrative is oppressive.

D.    Human beings make themselves who they are by the languages they construct about themselves.

E.     The cutting edge of culture is literary theory.

Ethics, like knowledge, is a linguistic construct. Social good is whatever society takes it to be.

To answer the question of the relationship between worldview and ethics one only has to look at the worldviews described in the above chart, and their respective ethics. One can easily see that whether one believes in a personal God determines whether ethics have an external measure or not. Upon further observation, one also sees that how one views God, humanity and self, determines whether ethics are relative, absolute, or whether they matter or exist at all.

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5 Responses

  1. […] Blogger friend, WB, has kept himself busy these past few weeks, dealing with Christian Ethics, starting here. […]

  2. hi?
    my name is billy from mongolia. i am korean missionary. right now i am writing tesol research paper.

    the table above is very useful in writing my research paper. could you please let me know that from which page to which page you adapted from The Universe Next Door by James W. Sire?

    thank you.

    in christ
    billy

  3. do you have the book above?
    did you read the book or just copied from another net?

    if you have the book, you can check it out. right?

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