In the course of my translation work of Dr. HG Stoker, I am struck by the valuable work he did in analyzing the principles of life- and world views. Every human being has a worldview, and as such cannot stand neutral when it comes to questions like:
- Who is man?
- What is his origin, purpose and destination?
- Why do we have love and happiness, but also hate and sorrow?
- What is the world?
- What is man’s place in the world?
- What is the universe ruled by? Laws and order, or chance?
- Where does evil come from?
A person’s worldview also addresses questions around the existence of God. Who is He? How can man know Him? What is the relationship from God to man, and man to God?
Dr. Stoker defines life-and worldview as follows: “A life and/or worldview is the whole set of answers or beliefs of a person regarding fundamental questions about the origin, purpose, meaning, destination and value of man and world, and their relationship to God, or something that is substituted for God.”
This point is well borne out in the context of Dawkin’s “God Delusion”. Dawkins blames religion for dividing societies into groups, the included and the excluded. He further laments about the evils of religion. The inaccuracies aside, he misses the fact that he himself is guilty of the same. On the one side, one has the irrational, those devoid of reason and logic, and on the other side, those enlightened ones, like himself, who are coolly and logically considering the empirical and drawing inevitable conclusions about reality.
Stoker’s point is well substantiated. Discussions about the points mentioned above center around God, or something substituted for God. Dawkins, for example, substitutes his own brand of materialistic humanism for God, while other beliefs range from directed panspermia to empiricism.
But no-one stands neutral.
It is appropriate then, to investigate the viability of each world view in its own context, i.e. an internal critique. When mounting internal critiques, one should be careful to understand the complexity and foundations of the world view under critique. Furthermore, one cannot partially mount an internal critique, it requires the assumption of all the core beliefs and axioms of the belief system. Furthermore, should one wish to mount an external critique, the basis of the external critique must be well-founded and presented as a logical starting point.
Logical precedence is important in discussions about worldview. Assertion, while it may rhetorically powerful, serves no purpose in foundational discussion. Grabbing arguments out of mid-air is meant to confuse and score cheap points, while no advances are made towards the investigation of the validity of underlying world views.
Stoker and the other scholars of his era tried diligently to avoid unsubstantiated argument, and made axiomatic arguments of necessity their starting point. It would serve the scholars of non-Christianity well to attempt the same.