“What’s your worldview?”

Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Thoughts | 9 comments

I came across this poster while looking online for the March edition of Outreach Media’s poster campaign (unfortunately the poster is up, but the website hasn’t updated yet). It’s a pretty interesting chart, and worth a closer look. It’s a pretty good representation of how people can be categorised based on their beliefs (or lack thereof). It’s created by FEVA Ministries, who are a sister (brother?) group of Outreach Media. The chart starts with the question, or the assertion rather, that “GOD EXISTS”, and then asks a series of further questions to nut out what it is you believe (or don’t).

Worldview Survey by FEVA Ministries

The red boxes indicate a destination in the path, while the dark grey boxes ask, in a rather dead-ended fashion, leading questions in the hope that you will have to change your “worldview”. I don’t really care about the lack of care used here in the employment of the word “worldview”, because it’s not really of consequence. (Surely a definition of worldview has more weight on it than whether or not there is a god, right? Hmmm…) What is most interesting here is that, while the definitions are quite right, the destinations only point from atheism in it’s many forms on one end, to Christianity on the other end of the spectrum. What does this say about the intention of this poster?

Let’s look at The FEVA Ministries a bit closer and see. This comes from the “ABOUT” page on their website:

“The Fellowship for Evangelism in the Visual Arts (FEVA) is an independent and interdenominational missionary organisation started in 1992 to bring the gospel to the world of the Visual Arts. This ranges from the obvious such as painting, sculpture, printmaking through to such things as film, advertising and even the field of architecture where FEVA runs a ministry to working architects called ‘Christians By Design’ (CBD).”

Okay I have no problem with this. People are allowed to believe what they want right? I’d like to see more art and design in the atheist community too (seriously folks, the AFA logo and website is just plain butt ugly, sorry guys). And like I’ve pointed out previously, some religious art is among the most beautiful and awe inspiring work to have ever been created by man.

The chart is, however, blinkered to all the other possibilities, the different flavours of “worldviews” that being an individual allows us. I look at the chart and end up equally at “ATHEIST”, “RELATIVIST”, “NATURALIST”, and “HUMANIST”,  plus “EXISTENTIALIST” and to some degree I have to tick that old box of “AGNOSTIC”, though I really think that’s just being called out on a technicality. So I wonder, are the “CHRISTIAN THEISTS” also torn between some of the other destination boxes, or do those who believe in Christ all follow down the one path? I’d dare say that there would be both, but I’d like to know what sorts of percentages we’re looking at here.

The other glaring problem with the chart is that it doesn’t allow for any other interpretations than either being Christian or some kind of heathen. I’m sure a Hindu would rather be called a Hindu than be labelled simply a “PANTHEIST”. A Muslim would probably like to be called Muslim also rather than simply a “THEIST”. And of course with each subtle variation in levels of belief for each religion there are flavours, which aren’t accounted for.

But I am really just calling out a technicality here also. This poster was designed to be placed in a university where Christian missions are already in place, so I think I’d be safe to assume that these schools are already quite Christian.

What I don think this chart points out is a relative blindness among people to the massive diversity we see around us in the world. People are not as easy to pigeonhole as this chart may suggest, in fact the only people we ever hear from are those who are extreme in their views, very focused or blinkered, or those who shelter themselves from ideas of others because it challenges what they know. I think a lot of conflict in the world is cause by just this one tendency. It goes like this:

“If you are not A then you must be B. I hate B, so die!

Of course just about every individual you speak to will say it’s much more complex than that about themselves, but they can forget that this also applies to others as well.

Be honest. When you hear the impassioned cries from a Christian group, like Westbro Baptist Church, don’t you then associate all Christians with the extremity of ideas that the group holds? Even on a very small level, it’s difficult not to do so. Westerners still see an Islamic family as in cahoots with terrorism, though chances are they are here not to spread Islam, but to escape the hold of religion and religious fundamentalism gone wrong in their own countries.

I am not being an apologetic for ANY religion, and as you probably already know, I’m not afraid to throw punches at organised religion, but the simple fact is that we are ALL human, and our wants and needs all stem from our basic human and animal interests.

I do call myself an atheist. It’s only natural that I come to that conclusion. But remember, atheism in its purest form is not about belief, it’s about a conclusion reached from thinking about information presented to me through learning about the world around me. It’s as far from a religion as you can be, and I like it that way. I do wear the label of atheist with a certain amount of pride, but it’s only because i associate my actual worldview with those who have also arrived at the same conclusion. It’s not a club, it’s not a group, it’s a way to categorise people who have one thing in common; the lack of a belief in God. I don’t care about the whole argument about the idea of “dictionary atheists”, it’s all too sweeping a statement for me.

So what is your worldview? Where do you fall on this chart, and what are your thoughts on it?

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