Jim Burkett teaches, “Everyone has a worldview or ‘belief system.’ A belief system is a worldview. A worldview is a set of presuppositions, (that may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold about the makeup of the world.”
There are many different worldviews or philosophies that influence people’s thoughts and behaviors. Some people are liberals, others are conservatives; some are Christians, others are atheists; some choose to follow Mohammad, others follow the teachings of Buddha; some are vegetarians, others eat meat. In any given philosophy of life, it is important to interpret facts consistently across an entire system of belief. Each person looks at the world through a particular paradigm. The paradigm through which you see life is like a pair of tinted glasses that colors everything you see. If you wear a pair of green colored sunglasses, everything you look at becomes green.
Every person develops a life paradigm (lenses) through which he or she interprets life, arguments, and experiential evidence. The more studious the person, the better his life philosophy will be articulated. The more creative the person, the better her life philosophy will be seen as something new and worthy of attention in the world at large. The more honest the person, the more he will try to live consistent with his own paradigm.
Most people do not create a life philosophy from nothing; instead they borrow thoughts and ideas from others. Who you choose to believe determines how you live your life. For example, if you read the books of a certain author, you begin to wear the sunglasses they are wearing and the way you see the world is reinterpreted through that author’s paradigm. The true disciple adopts his mentor’s paradigm.
There are as many paradigms as there are people. Some paradigms can be dismissed easily. Others are clearly copies of another’s paradigm. But, occasionally, you run across an original paradigm that helps you understand the world in a clearer way or a different way.
Every legitimate paradigm that is clearly communicated on a broad enough platform eventually becomes common knowledge and everyone accepts that paradigm as truth. Future generations build on that revelation with their own creative ideas, often working overtime to plug up the holes in any given paradigm with a newly modified paradigm. Unfortunately, every paradigm is incomplete and has holes. But, all paradigms hold truth as well.
Each person views life through his or her own colored sunglasses. Many people will go through multiple paradigms over the course of their lives. Each new idea corrects the holes in a previous paradigm. The truth is that no one paradigm is completely accurate or internally consistent with itself or externally consistent with experiential evidence. Paul said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).
Your paradigm (the glasses you are wearing or your worldview) determine what you see. To see how this works, let’s compare the Christian viewpoint with the worldview of an atheist.
What is the difference between a Christian and an atheist?
The difference between the Christian and the atheist is that each one has a different paradigm through which he or she interprets life. Because I believe in the Bible, I see everything through a pair of Christian glasses, but the atheist sees everything through a pair of atheist-tinted glasses. Because we have different sets of glasses on, we can look at the exact same evidence and come to two totally different conclusions.
For example, I see God everywhere; the atheist sees God nowhere. Once there was a philosophy professor who wrote on the chalkboard the topic of his lecture, “GODISNOWHERE.” The atheist students in the class might read the phrase as, “God is No Where.” But, a Christian student raised his hand and said, “Amen! God is Now Here.” The glasses we wear determine what we see. The presuppositions one brings to the discussion determines how one interprets evidence for God's existence.
I see creation and think of a Creator; the atheist peers through his evolutionary glasses and sees random chance. I see a miracle; the atheist witnesses the same event and remains skeptical. The problem is that we are wearing different colored glasses. It does little good for me to try to convince the atheist the world is tinted green when he feels he can clearly see it is tinted red.
The atheist and I could spend all day arguing about the evidence, but at the end of the day we will both be frustrated with the other because we both interpret the evidence differently. No matter what supposed inconsistencies or inaccuracies from the Bible or his life experience that the atheist throws at me, I can come up with a good theological explanation to explain away his arguments. Of course, he won’t accept my arguments because he is looking at them through a different colored pair of glasses.
For example, no matter how many arguments he throws at me that says that morality is evolutionary, or that belief in God is simply a gene, it will do no good. If the atheist rejects the concept of God, then he is forced to look for another explanation for what he sees. But I don't need another explanation, because I already have an explanation (i.e. God is the source of morality) that fits the facts perfectly well.
The point of my soon coming book about apologetics is to get you to remove your old glasses and to put on a pair of Christian glasses. Strictly speaking, I don’t think the Christian has any glasses on. To the extent that he believes the Bible, the Christian is the only one who sees the world as it truly is.
So, instead of putting on any new glasses, I invite you to take off the glasses you are wearing and see the world in its untinted condition for the first time.