As quotable as C.S. Lewis is, my favorite quote of his has to be the following:
I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
As was his style, in this one statement he says so much. The Christian worldview is not without its evidence. However, multitudes of skeptics over the centuries, to include Lewis, have been convinced, not only by the truth they see in Christianity but also by the truth that it enables them to see.
We can categorize worldviews at the most general level by their concept of ultimate reality. They may be defined by how they answer questions about the nature of being, namely “What is there?”—what philosophers call ontology—and “Where did it come from?”—what philosophers call cosmology. Based on their answers to answers to these questions, every worldview essentially falls under one of three categories: naturalism, pantheism, or theism.
There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately physical. That is to say, “there is nothing more to the mental, biological and social realms than arrangements of physical entities.” These worldviews are often grouped in the category of naturalism.
There are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately spiritual. That is to say, there is only “a single spiritual entity, of which the physical world must be understood as a partial manifestation.” These worldviews are often grouped in the category of pantheism.
Finally, there are worldviews that affirm ultimate reality as ultimately “owed to one supreme Being, who is distinct from Creation.” That is to say, there is “a dualistic relation between God and the world,” typically asserting that God is both transcendent, existing outside of and being sovereign over the physical universe, as well as immanent, existing inside of and being involved with the physical universe.
These descriptions are massively oversimplified by necessity. Each category includes a long list of specific philosophies and religions, many of which have precious little in common with others in the same category. Some seem to be more viable options than others. Some have many more adherents than others. However, the one thing that unites them is their view of reality, what is ultimately ultimate.
The question we have now is, which one is ultimately right?
Many aspects of naturalism are attractive, especially in terms of the value of rationality and science. That is not to say that other worldviews are lacking in rational thinking or scientific understanding. But, when you believe the physical universe is all there is, you sort of have to become an expert on it.
Many aspects of pantheism are attractive, especially in terms of spiritual and emotional wellbeing. The wildly popular “mindfulness” trend claims marvelous physiological and psychological benefits. However, much of these practices take a page directly from Zen Buddhism and other Eastern religions.
In spite of all that we can appreciate about these worldviews, the problem lies in whether or not they have the ability to address the whole of reality and human experience.
But, here’s the thing…
Closer examination and wider application reveal a fundamental flaw in both naturalistic and pantheistic worldviews. While giving a substantial account of reality, they really only tell one side of the story. Both sides fall short when adherents are forced to live a reality that their worldview cannot explain.
Those who hold to a naturalistic worldview, with all of its scientific explanatory power, ultimately “bump into reality” in several ways.
Those who hold to a pantheistic worldview, with all of its spiritual experiential power, ultimately “bump into reality” as well.
Naturalism views physical reality as the only reality, denying the spiritual as an illusion. Pantheism views spiritual reality as the only reality, denying the natural as an illusion. Each side only tells one side of the story.
Theism, as with naturalism and pantheism, is found in a myriad of religions throughout the world. Much like the other two categories, each variation may be judged for better or worse by their explanatory power. However, despite whatever competition there may be between the many of theisms of the world, there seems to be only one contender. Christian theism rises to the top. It not only has what every other theistic worldview fails to have; it has what any other worldview fails to have.
Christian theism tells both sides of every story.
The Christian narrative begins with a God who is the ultimate reality, existing in timeless, spaceless, and immaterial transcendence. As a self-sufficient, non-contingent being, God creates a universe of time, space, matter, and energy. The pinnacle of that creation, made in God’s image, was humanity. The genuine relationship God desired required humanity’s freedom to choose—or reject—that relationship. Knowing this, God established a plan to set right what humans corrupted with their freedom. Humanity rejected the relationship, eternally offending the eternal God. Nevertheless, because only a human could pay for humanity’s offense, and because only God could endure God’s wrath, God became a human. The God-man took the place of humanity, paid for humanity’s offense, and beat the death punishment.
In Christianity, we have the equipment to tell both sides of every story.
That is what Christianity has, which no other worldview has: Jesus Christ. He, who created the physical universe, stepped into his creation to rescue it from corruption. Christian theism tells both sides of the story because Jesus Christ is both sides of the story.
Thanks for reading!
If you find that this post was particularly helpful, it would be a huge honor for you to share and pass it along to someone you think it would help.