by Rob Lundberg
One of the best ways to help you understand the beliefs of others is by approaching a conversation with a worldview mindset. There are four core questions for evaluating a worldview (origin, meaning, morality and destiny). However this post is going to summarize the basic beliefs of seven major world views that are presented in books by Norman Geisler and fellow cowriters.
What are these world views? We will be looking briefly at the world views of theism, deism, finite godism, atheism, pantheism, panentheism, and polytheism. While finite godism and panentheism are not popular, these two world views do still linger covertly among philosophers and readers of the respective books by adherents of these two world views.
Let’s look at these world views, bearing mind that each worldview has its own defining characteristic and that these characteristics are embraced by various movements and religions.
The theistic worldview believes God exists as the infinite personal Creator of the world beyond and in the universe. Christians have adopted this worldview. It is important to remember that the theistic worldview is unlike atheism in that theism maintains God’s existence and that God can act supernaturally in the natural world. There are three religions that embrace a “theistic” worldview. They are Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Those who embrace a deistic worldview believe that God exists as the infinite personalCreator of the world beyond the universe, but is not active in it. Deism is like theism but without any miraculous intervention(s). God created the universe but remains distant from it. This view believes God simply wound up the universe like a clock allows it to run down on its own.
While we don’t hear a lot about this worldview, finite (think limited) godism is a worldview which claims that a finite God exists and beyond the universe, but is limited in power. Finite godism embraces a God who can create the world but does not have the power to sustain it or give an assurance for victory over evil. This perspective gives a picture of a struggling Creator who is engaged in a constant battle with His creation to overcome moral rebellion. Despite the fact that there is no major religion attached to this view, sometimes Christians’ view of God is no greater than a finite god.
Atheism is the belief that God does not exist anywhere in the universe or beyond it. The atheistic worldview denies God’s existence altogether. Unlike theism, which affirms God’s existence independent of human beings, atheism completely rejects the idea and believes man invented the reality of God. Within atheistic framework, evil is real, however, no devil or ultimate moral standard exists by which to live. When it comes to morality, morality is either situational or it is completely relative. Atheism views the universe as “all there is” and that there is nothing beyond the universe, believing that the universe arose purely by chance, without any intelligent cause.
In a pantheistic worldview God is the universe. This worldview asserts that God is identical to the universe; there is no distinction between the Creator and the created. Pantheists believe God is all, and all is God, including people. Because pantheists believe that people have forgotten or are ignorant of their real divine nature, they are encouraged to “remember” or “realize” it through meditation (TM or other means) — oftentimes to achieve the goal of “enlightenment.”
According to many pantheist, logical thinking can make one falsely believe there are distinctions instead of believing that all is one divine reality. Pantheism, with its emphasis upon the presence (immanence) of an ultimate reality, is recognized as the polar opposite of deism which stresses God distance (transcendence). Certain forms of Buddhism, Hinduism and even Christian Science and the New Age movements have adopted this worldview of pantheism.
While we do not see any particular religion embracing panentheism, this worldview asserts that God is in the in the universe. Although this worldview sounds much like pantheism, there are many differences. Unlike the pantheistic worldview, who believe God is all, panentheists assert that God is in all. They believe that God is in the world much like a soul is in a body or a mind is in the brain. In other words, God has two aspects of existence: finite and infinite. The finite world is God’s body and the infinite side is the immaterial aspect located beyond the world. In the panentheistic worldview if the world changes then God changes with it.
Finally there is the worldview of polytheism. This worldview claims that many finite Gods exist beyond and in the universe. This worldview is the only perspective that is compatible with pantheism.
In Hinduism there is the belief in an impersonal Deity (Brahman), which manifests itself in personal forms known by the names of individual gods. In the ancient world the Romans, Egyptians, and the Greeks believed in polytheism. In modern times, Mormons, Hindus, and witches also embrace polytheism.
Unlike deists’ distant and detached God, the deities that polytheists believe in are active in world to bring about either healing or harm. Polytheism takes on many forms. Some gods are said to have been birthed by the forces of nature (earth, wind, fire, water, Sun etc) and others possess characteristics of virtue (love, truth, light, compassion, etc. Each god is believed to have its own sphere of influence. In Hinduism, there are over 300 million deities which are responsible for certain events, such as war, creation, and preservation.
There are many aspects to the world views that I have just summarized. One of the major cultural objections to the Christian faith is that there is this push for religious pluralism and all religions being true. However looking at the major tenets for these seven world views, we can see the cultural assumption being problematic and totally false.
In the next few posts, I am going to lay out the problems of these world views, but also show why the theistic worldview, namely Christian theism is superior to all the other world views.
 Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks, When Skeptics Ask: A Handbook on Christian Evidences; Norman Geisler and Joseph Holden, Living Loud: Defending Your Faith; Norman Geisler, Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldviews all have summations of the Seven Worldviews chart at the feature graphic of this post.