Saturday, October 08, 2016

Worldviews are like the sun; beliefs and hypocrisy

I got up this morning to see the odd anti-religion meme in my Facebook news feed. Rather than engage them directly, I wanted to take a step back with a favorite quote. Perhaps another time I'll spin off some of them. This quote by C S Lewis should get us thinking about worldviews. We might say we believe in x, but the way we live our lives says more about what we believe that often what we say.

A worldview consists of symbols we uphold, things we do, stories we tell ourselves and questions we ask about the world. I recently saw a meme that compared Donald Trump to a church building - both not paying taxes and both full of shit. Both these ideas deserves posts of their own, but it is interesting for my purposes here to evaluate the claim of what a church represents, or more broadly the variety of Christianities, and the function they play as worldviews. Indeed worldviews as a whole.

One of the things about worldviews is that they are rarely consciously or deeply examined. And they are rarely held consistently, i.e. most people are hypocritical. To consider the first point, anyone who thought it disgusting that Anthony Mundine called for people not to stand for the Australian national anthem hold a worldview with a narrative that excludes large parts of our colonial and present history. They can't even begin to evaluate their own reaction because they see the world in a way that cannot comprehend Aboriginal dispossession and suffering.

Likewise, there are many Christians who cannot see through their own worldview of say Christendom, the wedding of religion to political power (another time I'll talk about different views of this, just in case you think I believe the Church should have no voice in political issues).

On the second charge, it is very true that many religious people are hypocritical in that their behaviour doesn't match their beliefs. Some people conclude wrongly that being religious doesn't make you good or that what you do matters more than what you believe. What you really believe does influence what you do, it's just that you are often not aware of what you really believe. But what is often not thought through deeply is that atheism should lead to nihilism, and meaning means nothing, good and evil are a matter of choice. I'd have thought people who believe nothing rarely live consistently with what they truly believe - call it easy unbelievism if you will. Of course my major concern is lining up what I believe with what I do, not what you believe or do. But I just find it ironic as a fairly public Christian I can be called out by those who can't see they should be called out.

One of the things about "converting" is that you are forced to think through your beliefs. I certainly think rather different things in many areas of life than I did nearly 30 years ago when I first came to faith. But it isn't simply about a book of stories, or a list of statements, or even just about praxis, but about a whole way of seeing reality. Show me someone who has a fully developed, water tight way of seeing the world, and I'll likely see a fundamentalist of some stripe or other. C S Lewis outlines a process, a view of the world, but not a closed set of beliefs, set in stone for all time.

So for me, the journey continues with integrating the answers science gives, with personal experience, with theological understanding. And hopefully, I can avoid what I think would be the biggest hypocrisy in this journey; a lack of humility.

No comments: