“Ideas govern the world or throw it into chaos” Auguste Comte
This site’s mission is an exploration of the core ideas behind some of the predominant worldviews of our century: Atheism, Christianity, Islam, New Age.
Worldviews are tremendously influent. They influence all spheres of human behavior and interaction, affecting every area of life, from money to morality, politics to art. The comparison between their sets of beliefs and values seems therefore fundamental not just for our own search for meaning but also for an increased understanding of everything that surrounds us.
What we believe determines the way we live, ideas have consequences, consider 9/11 versus Mother Theresa and the range of actions in between.
As the main focus of this century increasingly shifts toward meaning and significance, it seems essential to explore how every system of belief answers the four main questions that define any worldview: origin, meaning, morality and destiny.
OBJECTIVES OF THE SITE
Compare ideas, respect people.
The purpose of the site is to be a useful and friendly, easy to understand source that helps readers compare intelligently -in rational, logical, argued ways- the ideas and principles behind some of the most important worldviews existing in the world.
Considering the subject, this initiative is based on a list of essential values and also on an unconditional respect for the fundamental human right of freedom of belief. Every human being is entitled to choose his/her own worldview freely and consciously.
Increase tolerance through education and understanding. Stand against irrationality and ignorance.
A consequent purpose is to stir conversation and increase understanding and therefore tolerance within and across categories of beliefs. The particular dramas of the 21st century – economical, ecological, political, cultural – are emphasizing the need for an increased education regarding what the different worldviews teach.
If the values behind the site are respected, then constructive discussions about the subject of worldviews can happen, and ideas can freely be exchanged, analyzed and judged (critically evaluated). Ideas are meant to be critically evaluated (humans have and should use their critical thinking), while people are to be respected. Conflicts appear only if these values are disregarded.
Avoiding the topic leads to ignorance and fake unity rather than true tolerance.
The purpose of the site is also to expose the irrationality and deceptiveness that stand at the basis of our postmodern times’ relativism and its popular statements that there is no absolute truth when it comes to worldviews or that all worldviews lead to the same results.
A basic knowledge about the different worldviews currently existing in the world should be enough to convince any rational person that these worldviews contradict each other deeply, not just regarding the concept of ‘God’ but also regarding some of the most fundamental life questions, as well as values and ideas they are built upon. Despite a limited number of similarities, each worldview out there is radically different from any other in what it teaches.
In a very brief manner, Buddhism is pantheistic, similar to the New Age movement or to Hinduism, and says there is no personal God, everyone can reach “godlikeness” on his own. Islam says that Muhammad, not any other person, and the Qur’an, not any other book, lead to the only real God. Atheists believe mainly in what can be seen, what can be rationally and scientifically explained, stating there is no such concept as God and nothing happens after humans die. Christianity says that there is a personal God and that the only way to Him is through Jesus, his son, who wasn’t just a prophet.
If these different paths all lead to the same place then why do they contradict each other on fundamental matters of the human life- human destiny and salvation, the character of God, the origin of evil, to name but a few? What is the evidence for this statement that makes it rational or logical to believe?
Exploring these worldviews, using the work and studies of some of the most recognized scholars, anyone will find plenty of evidence that it isn’t rational or logical to believe such a statement. (See more on the main differences here)
Further to not being based on evidence, this popular statement also contradicts itself. The idea that all beliefs are equally true implies its own denial, the belief that not all beliefs are equally true.
One cannot say “all claims about religions are historically conditioned except the one I am making right now.” “Our cultural biases make weighing competing truth-claims harder, yes. The social conditionedness of belief is a fact, but it cannot be used to argue that all truth is completely relative or else the very argument refutes itself.” Sociologist Peter L Berger.
Finally, and ironically, the insistence that all worldviews teach the same things and are equally valid is in fact a worldview/doctrine itself and one that is increasingly intolerant of other views.
This site also stands by a couple of other fundamental ideas:
1. The first one is that truth must exist in the realm of worldviews. Reality, science, rational thinking all attest not just that truth exists but also that truth is exclusive by definition (see more here).
2. Truth can be discovered by all human beings.
There are five tests for truth commonly agreed upon in both philosophical and scientific milieux (see more here).
We should all understand the context we live in, we should all make informed choices. Our choices, especially in terms of what worldview we choose and believe is true, are really high stakes not just for our lives here but potentially for anything after- in case there is anything after. Also in this particular realm of worldviews, not making a choice may actually mean making one.
Fighting the rising popular ignorance and prejudice in this particular area of worldviews, the site is built upon the belief that avoiding to compare ideas and share opinions and reasons why is equivalent to stopping human progress or putting our minds willingly on the neutral in regards to some of the most important questions related to human existence. As one comedian put it, ‘if your mind is too open, your brain will fall out.’ In other words, being open-minded does not mean that we must empty our minds and suspend critical judgment. On the contrary, it seems critical to rationally examine any idea, any claim, in the light of what we can evaluate as true, logical and reasonable.
Therefore the site encourages people to seek information and knowledge before forging opinions and make informed decisions. The majority of people aim to make informed decisions in almost any other area that is important to them. So reason and logic should not just apply in our daily activities but also when it comes to the philosophies, worldviews of this world, which influence us considerably. Nobody should fall into the trap that ignorance is bliss because reality clearly proves it never is.
While it is certain there are many intrinsic and extrinsic factors that make conversations on the subject of worldviews difficult, none can actually justify irrationality or ignorance.
As reality often attests, it seems particularly difficult for people to engage in conversations regarding their own worldviews, in fair, reasonable and gracious ways. Respecting values like the ones above has been revealed challenging. Some of the reasons why include:
= A lack of self awareness and/or knowledge regarding the worldviews we hold and especially why we hold them
= Human tendency for prejudice and bias, for ‘seeing’ only what we want to see
= Human tendency for not always translating worldviews into practice
= Emotionally charged worldviews
Worldviews are often ‘inherited’ through family members and traditions.
= The concept of revelation
As argued throughout the site, when it comes to worldviews not everything is related to revelation. All belief systems and religions have clear philosophies, principles, values that make their core essence. While in some cases people start adopting their worldviews because of revelation there are many others who start by exploring and evaluating ideas before searching for or receiving any kind of supernatural understanding. Furthermore, to continue to hold a certain worldview and also translate it into practice requires an alignment of all three aspects of the human soul- mind, heart and will.
= The fear of standing against current trends
It is known that once some ideas reach the mainstream and become part of what is commonly referred to as ‘politically correct’ standing against these ideas requires courage. Many people prefer to avoid exposing themselves to any type of criticisms or rejection.
= The fear of confrontation
Confronting well requires effort and also strong values like love, compassion and tolerance of diversity as well as a high degree of emotional intelligence.
= Confusion regarding the notion of judgment.
There are different types of judgment. There are judicial judgments, factual assessments as well as hypocritical, arrogant condemnations. The first two -as well as discerning between right and wrong and using one’s critical thinking to evaluate ideas- are not just good and necessary but also radically different from the third and from any other form of disdain, condescension or arrogant condemnation.
= The radical privatization of religion.
Some influential thinkers have argued that religion must remain a strictly private affair and must never be brought into the public sphere. While some hold this position to avoid divisiveness, it is a position that cannot sustain itself when put under scrutiny.
The idea that religious based positions are sectarian and controversial while secular ones are universal and applicable to all implies that secularism doesn’t take sides when it comes to fundamental aspects of human existence. But the evidence is that it certainly does. Secularism is based on the idea that the material world is all there is, that we are here by accident and when we die we all disappear. These ideas certainly have consequences on how people choose to live their lives, how they view love, truth, marriage, social dilemmas etc
“All moral positions are at least implicitly religious so secular grounds for moral positions are no less controversial than religious ones.” Michael J Perry observes. It is logically impossible to leave religious views behind when we do any kind of moral reasoning. “When it comes to the public square it is impossible to leave your convictions about ultimate values behind. An increasing number of thinkers, both religious and secular, are admitting that the call for the exclusion of religious views from the public square is itself religious.” Tim Keller
The above are only some of the main reasons why it is difficult to exchange ideas in a fair, logical, gracious way and why it does indeed require efforts.
Still those efforts seem certainly preferable to irrationality and ignorance. The complexity and difficulty of the above purposes cannot justify the latter.
Agree to disagree- the disregarded, though valuable, art of confronting ideas respectfully.
Another argument in favor of dialogue comes from our daily lives where we all have to learn how to agree to disagree while still respecting each other. We all have to use our minds to not put tolerance above truth- or vice-versa for that matter, but give them equal importance and use them with discernment: tolerance for people, truth for ideas. Confronting ideas respectfully is an art that seems more than necessary for any kind of progress and fulfillment at both individual and collective levels.