The Worldview of Worldviews

Recently some of my blog posts have been used by a teacher at St. John’s University to introduce the idea of “worldview” to one of her classes. Specifically her students have been reading and commenting on my two posts “Test Drive a Worldview” and “Why do Worldviews Clash?”  I decided to add an extra post to my blog this week so that I could respond collectively to all of the thought-provoking feedback that has been provided in their comments.

One thing I noticed about the comments is that most of them reflect the recognition that different people hold different worldviews and that the clashes between worldviews occur when anyone assumes that their worldview is the only reality. Then of course you end up in an argument that inevitably goes like…

“Hello, this is the way the world is.”

“No, you are wrong; this is the way the world is.”

“No you are wrong; this is the way the world is.”

“No you are definitely wrong because the world is like this.”

(This continues until one person gives up, a fight (or war) breaks out, or someone converts to the other person’s worldview.)

All of you who have added comments seem to easily realize that as long as people believe that their worldview is the only “right” worldview clashes will be inevitable. In fact many of you pointed out the folly in these kinds of arguments, and expressed your own frustration in the fact that a lot of people don’t see that we all come from different backgrounds and all worldviews deserve to be respected.

Problem solved. Right?   …not quite

You see, the understanding that different people have different worldviews that should all be respected is itself a worldview. It is sometimes called the post-modern worldview, or Relativism. It is the recognition that all truth is relative and that no truth is absolutely true for everyone but only relatively true for some people under some circumstances. Something might be true for you and not for me, another true for us and not for them. My truth or our truth isn’t truer just because it is mine or ours. All truth is relatively true and has to be honored as such.

Again, the belief that all truth is relative is itself also a worldview and when it comes into contact with other worldviews it tends to clash.  Imagine a post-modernist talking to a fundamentalist.

“Hello, your fundamentalist truth is great and true for you, but not for me or them. We all have our own truth and none of them is any truer than any other.”

“No, you’re wrong. My truth is the truth and everyone else’s truth is wrong.”

“No, you’re wrong. Everyone’s truth is equally valid and your belief is not any more valid than anyone else’s.”

“No…” (You get the picture.)

Why is this? because Relativism can also be absolute. Think about that for a minute. If you believe that all truth is relative and that every truth needs to be respected, that belief is an absolute position. Absolute positions are positions that are always true no matter what. Relative positions are positions that are sometimes true but not always. The position that all truth is relative is an absolute position. It is a worldview, an absolute belief about what is real.