IS YOUR WORLDVIEW WORTH EXAMINING? – by Dave Palcsak

There are only two worldviews. Numerous variations exist, but when boiled down you end up with naturalism or creationism. Naturalists believe that the universe and everything in it is a directionless cosmic accident, while creationists maintain it’s the result of purposeful action by a single entity or multiple beings possessing unimaginable intellect and power. One of these worldviews is true; therefore, the other is false. Some folks are passionately committed to their worldview while others barely consider the matter (pun intended).

As a Christian, my worldview significantly impacts every aspect of my life.  It hasn’t always been that way. I converted from agnosticism at a fairly advanced age (around 50). My personal faith journey began as a largely intellectual pursuit which included studying many different takes (religions) on creationism. I’m going to focus on Christianity, and for the most part ignore the myriad other possibilities under the creation umbrella because this is part of my testimony. I do feel it’s important to understand that I sought diligently until I found the truth. I never blindly accepted anything.

I was raised as a Catholic. My parents both grew in their faith late in life, but when I was growing up my home atmosphere was one of casual belief. It was necessary enough to go to the weekly church meeting and even attend parochial school, but it wasn’t important enough to regularly study the Bible. The most important thing to know was that if you didn’t attend the Sunday mass you would burn for eternity. That, and learn all you need to know from your priest, were sufficient theological tenants. For a time, that was enough. After all, what kid wants to spend eternity in the lake of fire?!

Eventually, the “burn in hell scare tactic” lost its grip on me and there was absolutely nothing left. I came to view faith as nothing more than a crutch that was passed from generation to generation for weak people who feared death. Let me be clear, I too feared death, but I found a “better” way to cope. In effect, I stuck my head in the sand by becoming agnostic. Operating with no firm conviction kept the afterlife plausible while also freeing me from any supernatural rule book. My agnostic worldview was consistently bolstered because I witnessed nothing but casual faith for literally decades. Virtually everyone I knew claimed that they believed in God, but no one seemed to have any real basis for why they held their belief. Conviction and passion were absent from religion. This convinced me that I was on the right path despite the fact that my path was literally no path at all. I couldn’t understand unexamined fealty to a seemingly mythical creature. It made more sense to think critically and dismiss mindless traditions. After all, when you are solely beholden to a god of your own creation, you are not beholden at all. It made more sense for me to invent my own worldview. The god of my mind was malleable. He changed with me. I was supremely moral in my own eyes, so if my morality shifted, my god shifted with me. And why shouldn’t he? I was the best, so I changed my god; he didn’t change me. Drugs, alcohol, putting my needs first and anything else were fine with my god. I made the rules and he dutifully obeyed them. This philosophy enabled me to pretty much abandon any consideration of deeper things. Why should I think about them? I already had it figured out. Since it was my call, the bar was low. I loved my kids, and they ate every day. I rarely missed work. That was enough. No need to consider my selfish attitude and destructive addictions. Those pesky details could be easily set aside.

If you’re reading this as a casual believer or as an agnostic/atheist, consider the danger of self-monitoring. If there is no transcendent source of objective morality, that source becomes you. Whatever parameters you use are subject to change. Opinions shift like sand and will figuratively smother you. Before I go further, I want to establish the fact that objective morality exists. It only takes one simple question to prove this… Is it wrong to torture children for fun? Of course it is, and it would be even if you found yourself among those who disagreed (a frightening thought in and of itself). Objective morality is absolute. I’m not drawing where that line is right now; I’m simply showing that line exists. Defining the line is a much more difficult task and it takes you into the “deep end” of the worldview pool. The scary thing is that, once you venture into that deep end, there is no going back to the comfortable shallow water. The pitfall of staying in the shallow end is the problem of false security. Nevertheless, if you’re not ready to leave comfortable unchallenged complacency, it’s best you stay put. I spent most of my adult life in the “baby pool” and I was hesitant to leave it. Thank God (quite literally) I did. It wasn’t easy for me, and it likely won’t be for you either. But seriously now, is anything worthwhile easy? And I submit to you, nothing you ever do will be more worthwhile. There is only one Truth and only one way to be set free, and that way is through Christ (see John 8:31-32).

I think everyone has something they need to be set free from. It may be anger, pornography, pride or who knows what else. For me, it was drugs and alcohol. I could usually rationalize that I didn’t have a problem because I didn’t miss work. But I was consumed with the pursuit and consumption of cocaine. Plans were subject to acquiring coke. I couldn’t go out until the powder came through. If my main supplier was out, I’d go to the backup. If the backup was out, I’d go to plan C. Partying basically became my religion. The problem was this religion came with brutal hangovers because coke keeps you awake and drinking all night and into the next morning. No one comes down from a bender thinking they made the right choice to go on a bender; but I still kept going back.  I tried to stop several times, but I eventually quit trying to quit. Why bother? As you can see, it’s actually very easy to slowly drown in the shallow end of the worldview pool. Masking pain and desperation with the cause of that pain and desperation is a vicious downward spiral. Resigning myself to the fact that I would just use until it killed me seemed to be my best play. Why worry about what I couldn’t change? It’s not hard to see that blowing off the “deeper things” had me on a dark road that was leading to nowhere but shame and death.

In John 10:10 Jesus tells us that he came so we could have life, and also have it more abundantly. He also tells us time and time again that we show our love for Him by obeying His word (John 14:21-24; Matthew 12:46-50). This obedience thing was a stumbling block for me and I don’t think I’m unique in that. I can see, looking back, that my commitment to agnosticism was rooted in my desire to be free from Godly rule. If I acknowledged God, I would have to seriously consider His commands. Our society celebrates individualism and “following your own heart.” God tells us that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Something has to give. Follow yourself or follow God. And you’re actually better off not believing than saying you do, but living like you don’t (see Revelation 3:15-16). C. S. Lewis said of God: “I can understand how people fervently believe; I can understand how people don’t believe; what I can’t understand is how people casually believe.” Take His name and walk the walk, or don’t take His name at all.

I was in the wrong camp for a long time and I know His way is far superior, but everyone must “count the cost” for themselves. It’s very much a risk/reward assessment (see 1 Corinthians 9:7). I believe that the Truth is worth changing your worldview for; and Matthew 7:7 promises us that if we seek the Truth, we will find it. God can do anything and I’m sure there are immediate “epiphany” conversions, but from what I know, those are very rare. It took me two years, countless books and hours upon hours of online studying from the beginning of my faith journey until I became convinced enough to called myself a Christian. I invested significant time and effort looking at science, other religions, Biblical inerrancy etc. Most folks don’t need all that, but genuine seeking usually requires diligence. If you aren’t convinced that His way is undoubtedly the only way, Biblical Christianity won’t take because trusting Christ and living for Him is a radical departure from any other worldview. Nothing is more rewarding, but it’s not easy. You must ask yourself: Does my current temporal existence offer more than the eternal promises that come with living for God?

Jesus asked: “For of what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Without Christ, there exists an enormous hole. Only He can fill it. Fame, fortune, sex, drugs, alcohol, power and anything else won’t do. If you trust Him and obey Him, He will free you. I was a completely, helpless and hopeless drug addict and alcoholic. Now, I’m recovered. Jesus took all desire to use away from me. He is a one-step program. I have several brothers and sisters I know personally who have their own deliverance testimonies (mostly, but not solely, from drugs and alcohol); no rehab, no meetings, no programs, just Christ. Studies show that recidivism rates in AA and other programs approach 90%. Among the many former addicts I know, who have been set free by Christ, it’s 0%. Do you want to put on a temporary ineffective band aid that can never heal you or do you want to be permanently cured and set free?  Take the worldview leap to Christ. I promise, you won’t regret it!

 

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