On “Redeeming Truth” at www.blogtalkradio.com/pastorbrianchilton, I recently aired a show titled the “6 Major Worldviews.” We discussed the 6 major worldviews that exist in the world today. They are the following: atheism, agnosticism, pantheism, panentheism, deism, and theism. In case you missed the show, here is a brief description of the six worldviews. You do not have to learn every religion and philosophy. If you learn these six major worldviews, you will go a long way in understanding where a person comes from in their belief system.
Atheism comes from two Greek terms: “theos” which means “God,” and “a” which is a negation. Therefore, “a” “theos” literally means “no God.” This is the worldview held by those who claim that they absolutely deny God’s existence. Naturalists, who hold that the physical universe is all that exists, and secular humanists, who believe that man is the measure of all things, are two such groups that comprise the atheist worldview. Although atheism makes up a very low percentage of the world’s population, militant atheists (or anti-theists, those who oppose belief in God) are the loudest. Atheism can be discounted if there is any chance that God could exist. If there is only a one percent chance that God could exist, then atheism becomes futile.
Agnosticism also comes from two Greek words: “a” a negation, and “gnosis” which means “knowledge.” Therefore, the agnostic is one who claims to have “no knowledge of God’s existence.” It is claimed that Siddhartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, was an agnostic, however this is debatable. In my opinion, agnosticism is more honest than atheism. Most who claim to be atheists are actually agnostics at heart. Some agnostics come to the point that they give up searching for God, or claim that God’s existence is beyond the scope of human knowledgeably.
Pantheism can be difficult for many Westerners to understand because it is rooted in Eastern tradition. Buddhism in its’ purest form can be accepted as pantheistic thought. Pantheists believe that God is in the universe. Pantheists would see God as being restrained by the universal laws. Some would see the universe and God as being the one and the same. For this reason, the ultimate in Buddhist thought is that of Nirvana. Nirvana is an escape. It is when one becomes one with the universe.
Panentheism is a little different than pantheism. Instead of believing that the universe is God, or God is in the universe, panentheists believe that the universe and everything in it is in God. This would mean that you are God and I am God. The rocks in your backyard are God. The birds flying in the air are God. The mosquito that bites you is God. In essence, everything is God. Panentheists make God more personal than their pantheist counterparts.
Deists believe in God’s existence and believe that God is separate from the universe. However, deists do not see God as personal in any way. Deists believe that God designed the universe and all of its’ laws, but does not interact with creation. Therefore, the deist would not believe in personal revelation, miracles, and some would not believe in an afterlife. Some famous deists are: Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and perhaps Albert Einstein.
This brings us to the sixth and final worldview: theism. Theism comes from the root Greek term “Theos” which means “God.” Theists believe that God exists, that God created everything, that God is separate from the universe, and that God is personal with the universe and human beings. Theists would have no problem believing in personal revelation, miracles, and an afterlife. Classical Christians, Muslims, and Jews are theists. When we show the design found in the universe and the necessity of God’s existence, we do not necessarily prove Christianity, unless we show Christ to be savior.
Not every worldview can be correct. If God exists, then the atheist and agnostic can not be correct. If God is personal, the Deist could not be correct. If God is separate from the universe, then the pantheist and panentheist cannot be correct. It is not nice in popular society to claim that not all religions are true, but at the end of the day, we have to ask ourselves if it is true. Study these worldveiws closely. This will help you understand bias in society. It will also go a long way in helping you understand why some act the way they do. Undeniably, I believe that the evidence seems to favor a theistic worldview.
Pastor Brian Chilton