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The diversity of worldviews: If unexamined,
these are the main source of many moral,
religious and social conflicts

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Overview of "worldview":

The term "world view" (a.k.a. "worldview") comes from the German word "weltanschauung." It means a person's fundamental "world outlook," or life perspective.  It refers to their perceptions of deity, humanity and the rest of the universe. "It represents our personal metaphysical outlook on life." 1

Understanding one's personal worldview is important, because it is a main source of one's moral code, their ethics and many other beliefs, their understanding of "truth" etc. As R. Wesley Hurd of McKenzie Study Center writes:

"Understanding one's worldview helps people make sense of their world and make choices for living their lives. It helps one realize how different individuals can approach a seemingly straightforward issue such as abortion [access], and end up with opposite opinions. 2

Barna Group, a leading conservative Christian polling organization has stated:

"A worldview serves as a person’s decision-making filter, enabling them to make sense of the complex and huge amount of information, experiences, relationships and opportunities they face in life. By helping to clarify what a person believes to be important, true and desirable, a worldview has a dramatic influence on a person’s choices in any given situation. ... The firm’s studies have also pointed out that a person’s worldview is primarily shaped and is firmly in place by the time someone reaches the age of 13; it is refined through experience during the teen and early adult years; and then it is passed on to others during their adult life. Such studies underscore the necessity of parents and other influencers being intentional in how they help develop the worldview of children." 3

Barna Group expressed concern that:

"... only 9% of all American adults have a biblical worldview." and

"less than one-half of one percent of adults in the Mosaic generation – i.e., those aged 18 to 23 – have a biblical worldview, compared to about [11%] one out of every nine older adults." 3

The United States is generally regarded as the most religiously diverse country on Earth. Because religion and worldview are so closely linked, the U.S. probably has the greatest diversity of worldviews as well.

One's beliefs about conflicts like: same-sex marriage, abortion access, homosexuality, gender identity, physician assisted suicide, the death penalty, corporal punishment of children, pre-marital sex, polygamy, stem cell research, inter-faith marriage and a host of other topics often flow logically from their worldview.

People with different worldviews often assign different definitions to words like "pregnancy" and "homosexuality." They may use different definitions for truth. Open dialogue and problem solving is often very difficult among persons with different worldviews -- particularly if they have no insight of the role that a personal worldview has in forming their own beliefs and those of the "other side(s)."

Successful problem solving and conflict resolution is often linked to effective dialogue. Successful dialogue requires a number of preconditions:

  • A solid understanding of one's world view,
  • An understanding of ones beliefs about the topic under discussion,
  • An understanding of why these beliefs are held.

  • A solid understanding of the world view(s) of the other side(s),
  • An understanding of the other side(s) beliefs about the topic under discussion,
  • An understanding of why the other side(s) hold their beliefs.

  • All participants must lay aside their natural desire to "win" by convincing the other side that they are in error.
  • All participants must make their prime goal the development of a consensus, or at least a path forward to a consensus.

These steps require great insight and a lot of effort. That is why dialogue is so rarely held and why it is often unsuccessful if it is tried.

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Topics discussed in this section:

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Reference used:

  1. Joseph Farinaccio, "Faith with reason: Why Christianity is true,"
  2. R. Wesley Hurd, "Me and My Worldview," McKenzie Study Center, at:  http://www.mckenziestudycenter.org
  3. "Barna Survey Examines Changes in Worldview Among Christians over the Past 13 Years," Barna Group, 2009-MAR-06, at: https://www.barna.org/

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Copyright © 2005 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally posted: 2005-JUN-02
Latest update: 2013-SEP-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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