In order to know if atheism is a worldview, we need to first define our terms. A worldview is a set of propositions, beliefs, and assumptions that a person uses when relating to and interpreting the world around him. If that definition isn't sufficient, please consider the following definition:
"The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group." (thefreedictionary.com, answers.com/topic/worldview)
So is atheism a worldview? Yes it is. Think about it. It is the Christian worldview to say that God exists and that He has given us our purpose and that we did not evolve and that there is right and wrong, which God reveals to us in the Bible. We Christians view the world though this basic perspective. Likewise, atheism is a worldview because it deals with the same issues. It says that God does not exist1, that we determine our own purpose and that we evolved and that we develop our own morals, etc. Atheism, or should we say atheists, have answers to the same questions that Christians do concerning the world, purpose, morals, etc., that are based on their not being a God and/or the denial of God's influence in the world, morals, existence, etc. Therefore, it is a worldview.
But some atheists might object and say that there is no book like the Bible from which they derive answers to various questions. But, they derive their beliefs and assumptions within the perspective that there is no God. This means that even though different atheists will have different answers to questions, the same as Christians can have different answers to questions, the common denominator of the denial of God, no ultimate purpose, and subjective morals are necessarily parts of an atheistic worldview.
Worldviews are important because within them very important questions are asked and, hopefully, answered. For example . . .
- What are we?
- Were we created or did we evolve?
- What is our purpose in life?
- Does God exist?
- From where do we derive our morals?
- Are there moral absolutes?
- Why is there suffering in the world?
How might atheists and Christians answer these questions based on their worldviews?
|1.||What are we?||We are one of the many species of life on earth that have evolved from lower life forms. We are here to enjoy life, be productive, and make the world a better place.||We are humans, created by God in his image. We are here to glorify God (Isaiah 43:7), making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19).|
|2.||Were we created or did we evolve?||We were not created. We evolved.||We were created. We did not evolve.|
|3.||What is our purpose in life?||Our purpose is self-determined, therefore, it differs among people.||Our purpose is determined by our Creator and is worked out in individual Christians' lives as is revealed in Scripture.|
|4.||Does God exist?||There is no God, and/or God is unknowable, and/or there is no evidence for God, and/or lack of belief in God.||Yes, God exists.|
|5.||From where do we derive our morals?||We derive our morals from our personal preferences, society, and/or reason.||We derive our morals from God's Word, the Bible.|
|6.||Are there moral absolutes?||There are no absolute morals to which all people are subject.||There are absolute morals to which all people are subject.|
|7.||Why is there suffering in the world?||There is suffering due to man's lack of proper concern and provision for people in the world.||There is suffering because of the effects of sin in the world which has blinded people and made them rebel against God.|
What do atheists say regarding a worldview?
In a recent discussion I had in the CARM chat room (10/21/11), I asked the atheists about their worldview. They said that atheism was not a worldview. I said that it was. So, I asked them to define what a worldview was. They refused and asked me to define it. So I did. I said, "A worldview is a set of assumptions, presuppositions, beliefs, etc., with which you relate to the world." They said that definition was too general. So I asked them to define what a worldview was, and they weren't able to come up with anything. So, I experimented and made some comments about God and the Bible to see what their reactions were and to see the manifestation of their atheistic worldview. I received the following statements.
- "What the Bible says is irrelevant to an atheist."
- "Because there is no physical evidence for the existence of God, therefore, He and your theology is irrelevant to my worldview."
- "I view the world the way I view the world. Theology has next to nothing to do with it."
- "A lack of belief in God has very little to do with how one views the world."
As we can see, the atheists themselves made comments about the Bible, God's existence, and theology (which includes morals, creation, man's nature, etc.). They are operating within the atheistic worldview, which is exactly why they made the comments they did.
Is atheism a worldview? Absolutely!
- 1. We know about the different definitions of atheism held by people, such as "lack of belief," "If God exists, he is unknowable," "There is no God," etc. Whichever the position, it is a denial of God's existence whether through active denial or passive denial.