Worldviews ain’t what they used to be
If you don’t address the underlying worldview that a person brings to a discussion you’ll talk right past them on the topic of abortion.
Hello everyone, Scott Klusendorf here with the Case for Life podcast. We’re glad you’ve joined us. Our aim here is to equip you to engage the pro life argument more effectively. And today I want to talk about an issue that a lot of us don’t think about. What are the worldviews lurking behind the whole debate over abortion?
Maybe this has happened to you. You’re talking to somebody about the pro life issue, and they come back with a response that just has you scratching your head. You’re thinking, what on earth did I just hear? What planet, what world did they just step out of to make a statement like what they just did?
Very often, what’s happening there is you are talking at a worldview. It’s not necessarily something that someone has thought through. They maybe haven’t even… intentionally said, you know what, here’s my view of reality, and I’m going to communicate that in this conversation on abortion. Rather, what happens is, for a lot of people, they absorb the surrounding culture’s worldview, and they don’t even know it.
But it comes out when they start talking about abortion, and if you, as a pro life advocate, Do not engage that worldview and do so at a foundational level. You may find yourself talking right past the person. So what I want to do today, we’ll probably take three or four sessions on this to talk it through, but I want to talk about what a worldview is and what all worldviews have to do.
All worldviews have to answer five. key questions. It doesn’t matter whether your worldview is theistic, woke, uh, naturalistic, or postmodern. You have to work through these five questions and what we want to do is show you where people come from who embrace these worldviews so that you can understand their fundamental assumptions about life.
So what’s a worldview? A worldview Is simply a set of glasses think of it as a set of glasses through which you view reality It’s the way you look at the world. It’s foundational questions. It’s clusters of foundational beliefs that you bring to everything about life. It’s the way you see reality.
That’s a good way to think of it. They’re glasses through which you see reality. And like I said, all worldviews are essentially grappling, grappling with five key questions. And I’m going to use some big words here, but I’m going to define them for you. Don’t worry, we won’t leave you scratching your head going, I didn’t know I signed up for a PhD course.
You didn’t. We’re going to define the terms. All worldviews have to deal, first of all with what we call metaphysics. What is the nature of reality? What is ultimate being? And I’ll explain more about this in just a minute. All worldviews have to deal with epistemology. Another big word, don’t let that throw you.
Epistemology simply means how we know things. How do we know the world? What are the ground rules for understanding what we claim to be? Knowledge. Thirdly, all worldviews deal with anthropology. What does it mean to be human? What is human nature? Do we even have human natures? So think of that as a category of, of what it is that makes us human in the first place.
All worldviews fourthly have to deal with ethics. What’s right, what’s wrong. And by the way, how do we fix what’s wrong with us? What’s the fix for the problems that we identify as being wrong with us? And then finally. All worldviews are going to deal with cosmology. How did we get here? Where is history going?
What is this all leading up to? And what should we be looking for in terms of a culmination of history? That’s, those are the five categories all worldviews have to deal with. So let me just kind of walk you through how this might apply. And I’ll pick a particular worldview today. We’ll go with naturalism.
Naturalism is the Darwinian belief that the universe came from nothing and was caused by nothing. Think of Richard Dawkins blind watchmaker thesis. There was nothing in the universe that planned for you. You’re a cosmic accident. You came to be, the whole universe came to be through a blind random process of chemicals and physics.
and nothing but the physical world exists. So if you ask the question, what does metaphysics look like in a naturalistic worldview? What is ultimate reality? The ultimate reality is strictly a physical universe that came to be through blind random chance. What does knowledge look like in a naturalistic worldview?
Well, in a naturalistic worldview, knowledge is only what you can taste, touch, feel, see, or hear. If you can’t taste it, touch it, feel it, see it, or hear it, it’s not real. Only the physical counts as reality. So things like souls, Morals, which are not measured empirically, which are not physical in nature, they are mere preferences.
They’re subjective opinions, maybe they help aid with our survival, but they’re not true with a capital T. On naturalism, if it’s not physical, it’s not real. Uh, what does ethics look like in that kind of world? Well, ethics is illusory. If, if you have a situation where all we have is physical stuff, you can’t get objective right and wrong or objective truth.
All you get is stuff that contributes physically toward the survival of the species. Ethics doesn’t have any room in that kind of hotel. What about… What does it mean to be human? What does anthropology look like? Well, you, as a human being, have no, um, nature. There’s nothing about you that you are required to line up with.
Human beings don’t come with any kind of objective nature that they ought to fulfill. Rather, We are just an assemblage of parts, and just physical in nature, and the only thing that really seems to matter is getting the body parts in the right position for reproduction and keeping the species going.
But beyond that, you don’t have any intrinsic purposes, and even that one you can short circuit if you don’t want to do that. So on physicalism, or I should say on naturalism, You don’t have any intrinsic purposes as a human being that you ought to fulfill. What about cosmology? Where is history going?
Where are we headed? Well, uh, we’re headed basically into just a chance extinction or maybe a chance leap forward in our evolutionary development, but there’s no cosmological, no objective purpose that we’re heading for, and therefore we don’t need to worry about a future. That is really no more designed than our past was.
We came from nothing, we were caused by nothing, we’re headed toward nothing. Death is the ultimate when you die. That’s it. It’s extinction, nothing more. No judgment, no hell, no accountability for your life. That’s naturalism. Now think about this for a moment. If you’re a pro life apologist and you’re trying to talk to somebody about the pro life view, who is assumed or intentionally bought into the naturalistic worldview, and you’re talking to them about how precious life is and how every life has value, What does that mean to a person who embraces naturalism?
It means absolutely nothing because they don’t think human beings have intrinsic purposes. Now contrast this with a theistic worldview. The theistic worldview says, number one, that ultimate reality is found in a personal but transcendent God. He is the story giver of all of existence. It’s his story from start to finish, and we as human beings are part of that story by design.
What does knowledge look like on a theistic worldview? Well, knowledge is not merely physical, rather Knowledge are things we know to be true that may transcend the physical, things like morals that are grounded in the character of a holy god, even logic. Think about the rules of logic. The rules of logic are not things you measure empirically.
They are things we know to be true. that are outside of science. In fact, science presupposes philosophy in a number of ways. Number one, you have to presuppose that your mind can make accurate contact with the outside world before you can even do science. That’s a philosophical thought. not a scientific one.
You don’t measure that empirically. You have to assume that we should report data honestly. Well, that involves ethics and morality. That’s not something you measure physically. Uh, you have to assume that human beings are the kind of creatures that are able to make sense of all the data out there. That is a philosophical construct that pre presu or that philosophy presupposes.
So there’s Lots of things, and I could go on, but that’s just a sample of ways in which science presupposes philosophy. And even on the naturalistic worldview, the claim that science or, or physical stuff is the only thing we can know is self refuting. It’s kind of like saying my brother is an only child, or I can’t speak a word in English.
the minute you say it, it’s falsified. Why is that? Well, if I claim that science is the only thing we can know objectively, that’s the only thing that’s true with a capital T, I have just made a statement that’s not scientific. It’s philosophical. It’s a philosophical statement about science. It’s not science itself.
And so the statement is self refuting. How do you measure empirically that all truth that we know is strictly scientific. Well, you can’t measure it empirically. It’s a philosophical statement about reality, not a measurement of it. And that’s why I say it’s self refuting. What are human beings on a theistic worldview?
Well, we are creatures made in the image of God and we have intrinsic value because we bear his image. That’s the theistic worldview. Well, the, the, the naturalistic worldview, of course, denies that. So you’re talking to somebody about how the child in the womb. has value, that it’s precious. And even if you don’t use the word God, but you just start talking about the intrinsic dignity of the human being, whatever stage of development, fetus, newborn, adult, senior, doesn’t matter.
On a physicalist, naturalistic worldview, no living thing has intrinsic value. We’re all cosmic accidents. So, That person that you’re talking to, when you start using that kind of language, is going to struggle to follow your argument. You’re going to have to address their underlying worldview to help them see the problems of that worldview before you can make progress discussing this with them.
What does cosmology mean on a biblical worldview? Well, on a biblical worldview, We were created by a God, a transcendent God. We have intrinsic purposes as human beings that we ought to fulfill. We are not merely biological machines that fulfill urges. Rather, we are creatures that are supposed to fulfill our nature as human beings.
That there are intrinsic purposes built into what it means to be human. And we ought to fulfill those. We get our sense of ethics from those sense of fulfillments that we need to do. We get our sense of how we ought to order our lives. Well, on naturalism, all that gets tossed, of course. Uh, cosmology, where are we going?
Well, as Christian theists, we believe that we are headed toward a restoration of the Earth, that God one day is going to clear out All the sin and all the effects of sin, we will all give an account for our lives. We will have to explain where we’ve been, what God has given us, what have we done with our lives.
Most importantly, there’ll be, uh, a division of people into redeemed and unredeemed. The redeemed going to spend eternity with Christ, the the Unredeemed Knot. And there’s a sense of history is going somewhere. This is God’s story, and despite sin’s entrance into the world, history is headed somewhere that he is ultimately guiding.
In fact, this is what Paul talks about in Ephesians 2, when he talks about why did a sovereign holy God choose to make dead sinners who were rebels against him alive so that they could enjoy fellowship with him? Well, Paul gives the answer in Ephesians 2. So that in future ages, those who have been redeemed can be a testimony an example of his unfailing grace, his multiple riches of his grace to those that believe in him.
In other words, if you’re a believer in Jesus Christ, your story is really not your story, it’s God’s story. And your life is about fulfilling that intrinsic purpose of him putting you on display one day so that all of eternity can see an example of his matchless grace. That’s the Christian worldview. We are intrinsically bound up in a story bigger than ourselves.
Naturalism says there’s nothing beyond your physical body. That’s it. You die, no accountability. So again, you’re talking to somebody on the pro life issue and you’re trying to use language about intrinsic value, intrinsic moral purpose that we ought to fulfill, how each and every human life has dignity and value.
They don’t get that. So you want to show where their worldview might need to be re examined before you just start talking about abortion. And one of the things we’re going to do very soon here when the new book comes out, when the Case for Life second edition comes out shortly in another few weeks, you will notice there’s a whole section in that book on the worldviews idling behind the abortion debate.
That’s in there to help you engage people who bring these worldviews to the forefront of the discussion, whether they know they’re doing it or not. There’s also a section in there. about engaging the smart guys. Will the smart guys and gals on the other side also bring worldviews? You need to be aware of them.
So that’s in there. We also have this training in our course that will be available very soon that you can order online from our websites that, that you see this program on. And that course has three sections on understanding these worldviews. We look at Wokeism. We look at naturalism, we look at, uh, postmodernism.
Uh, just to give you another example of worldviews, suppose you’re talking to somebody who is thoroughly postmodern. In fact, our culture today is in the main postmodern. That’s where we are. We’re in postmodernism to just kind of get a sense of it. It’s the belief that even if there were objective truth, and a lot of postmodernists deny there is, but even if there were, We can’t know it because we’re trapped behind our own experiences, our own perspectives, and all we have are our own perspectives.
We have nothing beyond that, and therefore, because we are all trapped behind our own perspectives, any talk about objective truth or objective meaning is meaningless because we can’t get at it. Even if it did exist, we can’t get at it, and that’s what you see in postmodern writing. So think about this as it applies to abortion.
What does… objective ultimate reality look like to a postmodernist? Well, it doesn’t exist, or even if it did, we can’t get at it, so it’s up to us to construct it. We make it happen. What does knowledge look like on a postmodern worldview? Well, knowledge or epistemology looks like this. The only thing I can know is that which I construct myself.
I can’t know anything beyond my own perspective. What does ethics look like in that kind of worldview? Well, it doesn’t exist objectively. How can you say what’s right and wrong when we can’t get at ultimate reality and know what it is? Uh, what is, what is, uh, human, what are human beings in that kind of world?
Well, we are simply constructed socially. We are constructed beings either through language Or through social construction, but there’s no intrinsic nature, no objective nature with intrinsic purposes. We ought to fulfill what is cosmology in a postmodern world. Nothing really. Cosmology is we just continue to construct ourselves and that construction narrative keeps evolving over time is.
We contact with ourselves and understand ourselves better, but there’s no goal that history is heading to. We’re free to invent ourselves to be anything we want. Now think about how that applies to abortion. You’re talking to somebody and, again, you’re bringing your Christian, theistic worldview to this discussion and you’re saying, Listen, um, you should not have that abortion because that child in the womb is valuable, has intrinsic dignity just like you and me, and they look at you and say, Nothing has dignity unless I ascribe to it through language that it has dignity.
I create dignity in that outside thing. It doesn’t have it intrinsically. And you can imagine what this means. I mean, it’s absurd, right? You have two women standing next to each other. Both of them, let’s say, 36 weeks pregnant. The one woman wants her child and speaks of it as a baby and how they can’t await, they can’t await They can’t wait for this child to show up.
They had a great gender reveal party with a, you know, blue smoke and, or pink smoke exploding on the scene and everybody clapping, and they can’t wait for this child. This one, this woman over here does not want to be pregnant, thinks of her child as postmodern worldview, Even though the children in question are at identical stages of development, on the postmodern worldview, only the child that’s wanted by the parents has value and dignity, not the one that isn’t.
We construct and give dignity. based on our desires. And you can see where this leads. This leads to there being no objective basis for protecting one class of human beings over another. Those in power will decide who gets value and who doesn’t based on their own social constructions. So these are some of the things that come up.
when you deal with worldviews. The next time we get back together, I want to deal with one worldview in particular that is kind of a newcomer on the block that a lot of pro lifers are a bit stymied by, and that is the whole idea of critical theory or what some would call wokeness. How does that apply to the abortion issue?
And you’re going to be surprised it applies very dramatically to this debate and in some ways is changing. The nature of the debate at the street level because wokeness and a christian worldview do not align I know there are christians out there that try to say it does it does not and in our next session I want to talk to you about why it doesn’t align with a christian worldview And I think you’ll see it also doesn’t align with a pro life worldview as well Well, thanks for joining us everybody.
Be sure to visit us at thecaseforlife. com Or visit email@example.com or Life Training Institute. You can visit us firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be coming back soon with, uh, updates on our course, and I’m excited for the new book coming out. Can’t wait to share some of that with you. Look forward to seeing you next time.