The Shape of Reality

Anthony Weber —  April 19, 2013 — 3 Comments
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“Any benefit that people get from religion – any power it has to fulfill them emotionally or motivate them morally – comes from the conviction that it is first of all true.”  Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo

The Christian worldview claims to provide a rational, compelling presentation and defense of the Christian faith. Through reason, revelation (of the natural and supernatural world) and experience, we search for knowledge about God and His creation. This accumulation of knowledge is not simply a process of absorbing dull facts; it’s the way in which we access foundational, transformative truth.

Christian theologians and philosophers claim to say something profoundly true about human experience. The message is both explained and confirmed in numerous ways: archaeology; historical documents; eyewitness testimony; deductive, inductive, and abductive arguments; philosophy and transcendent personal experiences. But if the truth claims of the Christian faith don’t actually explain our existence truthfully and meaningfully, none of these things matter.

“Your worldview has to have the same shape that reality does.” – J. Budziszewski

There are many significant questions that all belief systems have to address in their attempt to fully engage with the reality of our existence:

  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • How did the universe start?
  • How did life begin?
  • Why does there appear to be design in the universe?
  • Does free will exist?
  • Do moral truths exist?
  • What does it mean to be human?
  • How do we explain pain, evil and injustice?
  • Why is there beauty?

All worldviews have something to say about these issues, and they all claim to speak truth. The question is whether or not their claims actually match our experience and knowledge of the world, giving fulfilling answers to the deepest questions in life. Those who embrace false views of reality will live and believe in a way that simply does not match the shape of reality.

“The purpose of a worldview is to explain the basic data of human experience, not to deny it.”   Nancy Pearcey, Saving Leonardo

A worldview carries quite a burden. It must offer a serious explanation for the world as we know it; it must be existentially satisfying to the individuals who adhere to it; it should be free of self-contradiction; it must be practically livable; and it should seek the simple explanation over the complicated when plausible.

Here’s a practical example. In “Evolutionary Naturalism and the Fear of Religion,” Thomas Nagel writes the following:

“I want atheism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are religious believers. It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God. I don’t want there to be a God. I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

It’s a bold and honest acknowledgment. But what if God is part of the shape of reality? Will Mr. Nagel’s worldview adjust to fit reality, or will it reality be forced to conform to what he wishes to be true?  Christianity is not exempt from these demands. Suppose a Christian had written the following:

“I want theism to be true and am made uneasy by the fact that some of the most intelligent and well-informed people I know are not religious believers. It isn’t just that I  believe in God and, naturally, hope that I’m right in my belief. It’s that I hope atheism is false. I want there to be a God. I want the universe to be like that.”

The same challenge would apply. Do Christians believe in God simply because they want His existence to be true? Or do they have good reason to believe that God’s existence is part of the shape of the universe as it really is?

It’s important that our worldview match our world.

In the series that follows, I will attempt to show why I believe Christianity offers compelling reasons to believe that truth is found most fully and consistently within the framework of a Christian worldview.

PART TWO: “The Shape of Reality: Identifying Evil”

Anthony Weber

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Anthony graduated from Cedarville University in 1995 with a degree in English Education, and from Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary in Newburgh, Indiana in 2004 with a Master's Degree in Theology and Philosophy. Anthony is a husband and father of three, an author ("Learning to Jump Again"), high school and college teacher, pastor, blogger (tcapologetics.org, empiresandmangers.blogspot.com), and co-founder of etcetera, a "street-level philosophy group" in Traverse City, Michigan.