Christian World View and Its Contribution to the Scientific Enterprise

4.1 Christian Theism, Monism, and Dualism

We have seen that the naturalistic explanation of the origin of life has left much to be desired. It seems that the age-old question of man's origin cannot be satisfactorily answered by the scientific method that can only document observable and repeatable events. One has to approach this question from a historical perspective.

If there is a record of the history of people and the universe that has been demonstrated to be a reliable historical document, it is logical to examine that record to find the answer to the question of origins. The Bible is just such a record. It claims to be the inspired Word of God as written by humans under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Although the historicity and the authenticity of the Bible have been attacked in the nineteenth century by the school of higher criticism (see III.8.7), the able defense by numerous biblical scholars such as Green (1), Harrison (2), and Bruce (3) has caused critics to modify their views. The historicity of the scriptural account has also been verified by other historical records such as recent archaeological findings (4). The Bible is thus taken by Christians as the only ultimate guide of faith and conduct and has become an influential force in shaping the outlook of the world and its destiny. The Bible also has an intimate relationship with the inception of the modern scientific era.

Ever since the dawn of human history, the advent of civilization has been shaped by people's perception of the world and the universe. Human civilization is actually a product of people's comprehension of reality and the application of this knowledge. People's awareness and appreciation of their existence helps them to develop a system of beliefs, [234] attitudes, and values that culminate as the "Weltanschauung" or world view—the philosophical outlook explaining history in general or the purpose of the world as a whole. Although the concept of a world view was developed only during the nineteenth century, it has found expression from the beginning of human civilization. The many diverse world views in human history can be summed up in three main philosophical systems: Christian theism, monism and dualism. Figure 4.1 illustrates the differences of these three systems.

Christian theism is based on the assumption that the world and the universe were created by an eternal personality who sustains His creation by His providence. The world exists moment by moment only because of direct intervention of God the Creator. The task of the creatures in the world is to glorify the Creator in every way. The smaller circle in Figure 4.1 represents the Creation, and the arrow leading from God to creation represents the asymmetric dependence of Creation on its Creator. Both the Creation and the Creator are part of an external reality. This view is fundamental to biblical teaching.

Figure 4.1. Diagrammatic representation of three leading world views.

Monism does not differentiate between God and creation. Everything in the world is treated as part of the eternal existence of reality. Therefore, to a monist, the only truth finds its expression in everything everywhere. Humans are reducible to but one of the many forms of the expression of this eternal truth. Materialism, as well as naturalism (see Part III), extrapolates the monist assumption that matter is eternal and therefore cannot be created. The idea of a personal Creator is easily eliminated. Monism also expresses itself in the various Eastern pantheistic religions (i.e., Transcendental Meditation, Divine Light Mission, Zen Buddhism, etc.).

Dualism assumes that there are two eternal realities—the material and the nonmaterial realms. They are coequal and they coexist throughout eternity as symbolized by the identical sign in Figure 4.1. Gnosticism is a classic example of dualism. To a Gnostic, the material world is evil, but the nonmaterial (spiritual) world is good. The human needs to be liberated from the evil material world and to attain the spiritual world by way of knowledge. However, the nature of this knowledge is poorly defined and has remained mysterious to many.

Each of these world views is pluralistic. Each has found its expression in different forms throughout human history, and all three play important roles in the unceasing quest for truth.

References 4.1

1. Green, W. H. The unity of the book of Genesis. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons; 1901.

2. Harrison, R. K. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans; 1969.
3. Bruce, F. F. The New Testament documents: are they reliable? 4th ed. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press; 1953.
4. McDowell, J. Evidence that demands a verdict. Arrowhead Springs, CO: Campus Crusade for Christ International; 1972.