What is Worldview?

We have strong convictions about reality. It's a rare thing to pause to ask yourself about the assumptions that underly our beliefs, values, and convictions. This is because we assume our understanding of the world around is correct and complete. People around the world, however, understand the world in very different ways. This is called worldview.

Let's start with a definition.

Worldview is your interpretation of reality based on your assumptions about the world, which are shaped by the story you believe about the world. This interpretation of reality determines your behavior. 

It may look something like this: 

worldview_def

You can trace this back starting with an action. For example, a police officer shoots and kills a dog that is attacking a small child. Let's ask the question that may seem obvious, but will reveal worldview. Why kill a dog to save a child? He may answer, "Because human life is more valuable than animal life." But, why? If he is a Christian, he may answer "Because humans are spiritual beings and special among all creation." But how does he know? He may recount Genesis 1, focusing especially on verse 27. Look at how this breaks down: 

  • Action: Kills dog to save a child. 
  • Conviction: Human life is more valuable the animal life. 
  • Assumption: Human are special among creation. 
  • Story: God creates the world and man in his own image. 

Try this with your own actions. Why do you do what you do? Chances are it's because of the story that you believe about the world. 

For more on worldview, see Paul Hiebert and James Sire. Or here's a bit of my dissertation dealing with this issue.