What is a Worldview?

A “view of the universe and theory of the cosmos”

— G. K. Chesterton

“The whole manner of conceiving of the world and humanity’s place in it, the widest possible
view which the mind can take of things.”

— James Orr

A “life-system,” rooted in a fundamental principle from which was derived a whole complex of ruling ideas and conceptions about reality.

— Abraham Kuyper

A “perspective on life, a whole system of thought that answers the questions presented by the reality of existence.”

— Francis Schaeffer

“A set of presuppositions or assumptions held consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently, about the basic make up of reality.”

— James Sire

“A vision of God, the universe, our world, and ourselves rooted and grounded in the embodied human heart as the seat and source of our worship and spirituality, ideas and beliefs, loves and affections, and decisions and actions.”

— David Naugle

Illustrations and concept of worldview.

Illustration of what a worldview is:

A worldview is like lenses or a pair of eyeglasses through which we look at the world: Depending upon the lens prescription, worldview glasses will make everything blurry or clear or somewhere in between.

Similarly, a worldview is like a pair of sunglasses. They color everything we see: Someone has said: it’s not so much what we see, but what we see with!

There is, indeed, one universe, one world, one reality, one human existence.

But how we see it, understand it and live in it depends upon the worldview lenses, glasses or sunglasses through which we are viewing it, whether well or badly


Similarly, a worldview is like contact lenses: they affect everything you see, but you don’t notice them! Worldviews are often taken for granted, unnoticed, just like a fish does not realize it is wet.

Illustrations of what a worldview does:

Map and compass: a worldview guides, directs, orients; where we are, where we are going, and how to get there, personally, culturally.
According to the author and scholar James Sire, “A worldview is a map of reality; and like any map, it may fit what is actually there, or it may be [very] misleading. The map is not the world itself, of course, only an image of it, more or less accurate in some places, distorted in others. Still, all of us carry around such a map in our mental makeup and we act upon it. All our thinking presupposes it. Most of our experience fits into it.”4 There is only one map that accurately reflects reality as it truly exists. This “map” is the biblical worldview. The entire world is the Lord’s. He created it all. Loving God with your entire mind means understanding everything in light of God’s revealed truth in Scripture. It means “understanding God’s ordinances for all of creation, for the natural world, for societies, for businesses, for schools, for the government, for science, and for the arts.”5 It means developing a biblical worldview, and this is a rewarding, enriching journey for a disciple of Christ.

Filter and framework: a worldview shifts and sorts, accepts and rejects, and gives context to life; it interprets, explains and imparts meaning to things – God, universe, our world, ourselves. It enlightens our mind about the world and our place within it.

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