project WORLDVIEW worldview theme info copyright 2009 Home
Related Words, Beliefs, Background
|Worldview Theme #10:
alphabetical listing: A to K
|alphabetical listing, continued: L to Z|
Worldview Themes #10 and #8A -- these themes
involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less)
Contrast Worldview Themes #10 and #8B -- these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!
Contrast Worldview Themes #10 and #9A -- these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!
Contrast Worldview Themes #10 and #14A -- these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!
Contrast Worldview Themes #10 and #36A -- these themes involve orientations, beliefs or behavior that are (more or less) diametrically opposed!
absolute moral code -- absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong. For many religious people, particularly fundamentalists, the word of God as it appears in sacred texts, provides this absolute moral authority. The opposing belief, that no such absolute or universal standards exist, is termed ethical or moral relativism.
agnosticism--with respect to the question "Does God exist?" agnostics feel that they no relevant knowledge so they are neither believers nor skeptics--they simply don't know!
atheist--a person who doesn't believe in God
term coined by evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins
describing people whose "worldview
is free of supernatural and mystical elements." Dawkins
feels religion is dangerous because it leads people to choose faith in
"The God Delusion" (the title of his recent book) over
reason--a choice which he sees as a first step down a "slippery
slope" to hate and violence.
brotherhood -- an idealized situation in which people treat each other in a highly considerate way as if they were members of the same family (brothers or sisters)
democracy -- government by the people, typically controlled by majority vote of the people as a whole, as opposed to government controlled by a particular class, group, or individual. Democracies can be direct--where citizens' votes directly make decisions--or representative--where citizens elect individuals to politically lead and represent them in a legislature with those representatives casting votes on their behalf. Direct democracy is the type practiced in Athens, Greece nearly 2500 years ago. It is perhaps better suited for governing smaller institutions (communes, workplaces, communities, cities)--although ballot issues decided in recent California referendum elections provide an example of its large scale application. Use of referendums also illustrates that representative democracies sometimes allow the people to directly decide certain matters. A democratic government where a constitution guarantees individual rights and civil liberties, along with providing a legal framework, is known as a liberal democracy.
discrimination-- prejudicial treatment of people based on their being different (in race, religion, appearance, ability, etc.) In some jurisdictions certain forms of discrimination are outlawed; elsewhere they can lead to policies and practices that harm particular groups.
ethical (or moral) relativism -- the belief that ethical guidelines or moral rules cannot be evaluated outside of the particular cultural / ethical setting to which they belong. It holds that there are no absolute or universal standards of what is ethically or morally right or wrong. Fundamentalists abhor ethical relativism. For them, the word of God as recorded in sacred religious texts provides not only rules to live by, but an absolute authority on moral questions.
evil, the problem of-- this problem has plagued philosophers at least as far back as the ancient Greeks. Epicurus (341-270 BC) appears to be the first to consider it at some length. Simply put, it has two aspects, one religious, one secular, that can themselves be stated as questions. First, why does an all powerful, all knowing God allow evil to exist in the world? Second, how should society fight human’s wicked and evil acts -- won’t fighting them with evil (violence, vengeance, capital punishment, etc) just result in more evil? Those who embrace non-violence, forgiveness, and oppose capital punishment basically feel that good can not come out of evil. Others argue that if evil is left unchecked and unpunished, and not countered with strong action, then more evil will result.
existentialism -- a philosophical orientation that emphasizes individual choice, decision-making , and responsibility -- including the responsibility to put meaning into a seemingly irrational world that has no discernible purpose. Existentialist thinking is much concerned with the human condition. One can distinguish between "atheistic existentialism" and "theistic existentialism"--the former having no room for God, the latter perhaps realizing, in the words of Christian author James Sire, "whether or not God exists is a tough question to be solved not by reason but by faith."
faith -- firm belief, complete confidence and trust in something for which there is no proof, often associated with religion and typically linked more to the one's feelings / emotions than one's rational / analytical side. Some give this concept a deeper meaning. Christian philosopher Paul Tillich connected it with "ultimate concern" as in what should be the ultimate concern to which one's life should be devoted. In his book Stages of Faith, James Fowler views finding faith as ultimately finding "an overarching, integrating and grounding trust in a center of value and power sufficiently worthy to give our lives unity and meaning."faith vs. reason—essentially the distinction here is between belief supported by facts and concepts, ultimately linked to observation and experience, which fit together in a coherent way as part of a useful, logical framework (reason), and belief for which there is no such basis, but instead only one’s unshaken feeling of confidence, trust, and willingness to believe (faith). When one’s knowledge and experience is limited, belief can be extended based on trusting the authority of someone else, rather than doing one’s own investigation into the rational basis for belief. Sometimes, there is no way to rationally or scientifically decide and anyone holding such belief holds it through faith. In this way faith can be connected with belonging. Some see faith as a valid basis for knowledge, others say it provides no such basis. Some see reason as threatening faith--meaning as one increasingly relies on it, one’s reliance on faith diminishes.
God, arguments for existence of--from classical philosophy come three such arguments, summarized as follows: 1) cosmological--based on the assumption that every event has a cause, one looks back for causes behind events to the first event: the beginning of the universe. This "first cause" is linked to God. 2) ontological--based on defining God as a perfect being, realizing that such perfection requires God be complete and lack no attributes, certainly God must exist! 3) teleological--given obvious evidence of design in the universe, it must have had a designer. William Paley (1743-1805) provided the famous watch / watchmaker analogy often used here.
God, omniscience and omnipotence of -- many conceive of God as all knowing and all powerful, with infinite knowledge and power. Use of infinity, in both mathematical and philosophical conceptions, can lead to difficulty and contradiction. Here's a relevant one, provided by cybernetic pioneer Norbert Wiener: "Can God make a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it? If He cannot, there is a limit to His power...if He can, this seems to constitute a limitation to His power too." Those who value free will have qualified God's omniscience by restricting it to knowing everything that can be known--excluding the free choices human agents will make in the future. Restricting God's knowledge in this regard can be avoided, but it comes at the expense of restricting His power: by assuming God knows everything that is to happen in the future, but lacks the power to doing anything to alter that future.
history, philosophy of--considers such topics as what can be learned by studying history, what should be the focus of such study, what patterns can be discerned, what purpose (if any) lies behind it, the causes of events, and biases in historical records (writings of "victors" may be more propaganda than truth!)
humanism--a philosophy that affirms the dignity and worth of human beings, their ethics, values and capacity for self realization through reason.
humanism, religious--brings together religious rituals and humanistic philosophy in an effort to meet human spiritual needs. Secular and religious humanists, and even those who call themselves religious humanists, differ most notably on their positions with respect to supernatural beliefs.
humanistic religious naturalism--unlike traditional humanism, whether secular or religious, which are human-centered (anthropocentric), humanistic religious naturalism is natural world centered. Perhaps Carl Sagan was describing it when he wrote, "A religion that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by traditional faiths."
ignorance, two types of -- -- a distinction between types of ignorance: problems vs. mysteries (first made by linguist Noam Chomsky). A problem solving approach can be employed to better understand what we already know at least something about, whereas those things that are totally bewildering can be considered unfathomable mysteries that we can only stand in awe of. Whereas the scientific method focuses on problems, mysteries are the stuff of religion. A long-term goal of science is to steadily incorporate more and more phenomena once considered mysteries into its framework of understanding.
intellectual property / cultural rights--refer to an individual claiming ownership and associated exclusive benefits for works / products he or she has created or a whole culture making similar claims when outsiders seek to benefit from their cultural heritage.
kinship metaphors -- examples of these abound: brotherhood, sister cities, fraternities and sororities, mother country and fatherland, “Brother, can you spare a dime?”, “Our Father who art in Heaven”, etc. All of these seek to extend the natural love or special treatment that exists between blood relatives to those who are unrelated. Evolutionary biologists explain the special treatment of kin in terms of relatives sharing many more genes than nonrelatives and that natural selection can work to insure survival of common, favored genes by promoting favored (altruistic behavior) treatment of relatives.
|liberal education--the Association of American Colleges and Universities
describes this as "a
philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge
and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and
civic engagement ... characterized by challenging encounters with
important issues, and more a way of studying than a specific course or
field of study"
liberal religion--rather than being based on particular creeds or sacred books, it typically draws from many religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. It values tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect for individual conscience and religious expression. USA examples are Unitarian Universalist, Unity, and (perhaps) Friends / Quakers.
liberalism -- a rational, tolerant, generous, hopeful orientation that emphasizes individual freedom from restraint. Liberalism is often associated with progressive social change.
meaningless life--pointless, purposeless, futile existence, without rhyme or reason, an often cited example of which comes from the Greek myth of Sisyphus, who pushes a heavy stone up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down. He is punished by the gods and forced to continually and forever repeat this task. Is he attempting to build something that will last, perhaps a temple? Does he become reconciled to his plight and eventually accept it? Is he promised immortality in exchange for his toil? To what extent does your life resemble Sisyphus'?
multiculturalism--an orientation in which blending of cultures / cultural diversity is seen as beneficial to the larger society / nation since it creates societal cohesion.
nature vs. nurture -- refers to the ongoing debate over the extent to which human behavior is largely innate / preprogrammed by our genetic heritage or is chiefly shaped by the environment in which we are raised, what we learn from it and from those who care for and teach us as we grow. Experimental support emphasizing the importance of heredity comes from studies of identical twins (sharing the same genes) raised apart, whereas ongoing studies of the brain -- in particular findings that show how the brain can “rewire” itself in response to environmental pressures (including head injury) -- illustrate that despite the complex, innate structure of the mind, the learning environment fundamentally shapes human behavior.
perfectionism -- in a big picture sense, the belief that anything short of something being perfect is unacceptable; in small tasks, making sure that every last detail has been attended to and that the final product is perfect.
personal responsibility, accepting -- Before an individual can overcome some personal difficulty or solve a personal problem, he or she needs to acknowledge that the difficulty or problem exists, by saying something like, “This problem is mine and I must solve it”. In this context, taking personal responsibility means that you don’t ignore difficulties or problems, expect others to solve them for you, or shift the blame to others. In a family or social context, taking personal responsibility can mean voluntarily limiting your choices or restraining yourself for the good of the family, tribe, village, community or whatever. Richard Critchfield refers to this as “the freedom to choose self responsibility”.
pluralism--a societal state in which people of diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds all live together, both preserving aspects of their heritage and traditions and living together under the same national government.
Postmodernism -- an intellectual and artistic movement based on the belief that the modern historical period, one built on reason, the reality of objective truth, and an attitude of hopeful progressivism with respect to the human condition, has passed. Postmodernism questions whether these ideals and others still have meaning. Countering the belief, which dates from the 18th century Enlightenment period, that humans are capable of knowing everything, postmodernists argue that they really know nothing--arguing that the reality humans have constructed is a state of mind contingent upon particular cultural conditions, historical accidents, etc and lacking in objective existence. They deny the existence of universal truth, promote the common good, tolerance, and a cultural relativism in which different societies' truths, beliefs, values and morals are equally good. Some link postmodernist cynicism with the steadily increasing grip that media conglomerates and multinational led forces of globalization have on the world.
racism -- a negative attitude toward members of a particular race based on stereotypes and belief in the inferior nature of members of that race in comparison to other human beings (and in racial superiority of some races over others in general)
rationalism -- a philosophical orientation that links finding ultimate truth to employing reasoning
secular--relating to worldly or temporal--rather than religious and eternal (non-worldly)--matters.
seekers vs. believers--In his book The Seekers, Daniel Boorstin makes the distinction as follows. "...we are all Seekers. We all want to know why. Man is the asking animal. And while the finding, the belief that we have found the Answer, can separate us and make us forget our humanity, it is the seeking that continues to bring us together..."
self actualization -- the ultimate personal development state as studied by Maslow and other psychologists. Self actualized people, according to Maslow have achieved, “the full use and exploitation of talent, capacities, potentialities, etc.” They are self confident but also possess humility that allows them to listen carefully to others and admit their ignorance. They see life more clearly than others partly due to a better understanding of themselves. With this superior perception comes a better sense of right and wrong. Among their attributes, Maslow includes “honesty and naturalness, the transcendence of selfish and personal motivations, the giving up of lower desires in favor of higher ones.” Such people feel a strong bond or kinship with the rest of humanity. They typically seek important and meaningful work.
of church and
-- refers to keeping separate institutions of government and religion,
thereby minimizing or preventing the "meddling" of one
institution in the affairs of the other. Adherents to this doctrine
believe that it protects both freedom of religion and democratic
principles. In a theocracy such separation can disappear.
sexism--when one needlessly differentiates, discriminates, or even hates based on a person's sex.
spirituality--can be narrowly defined as the quality or state of being spiritual--which relates to matters pertaining to vital spirit or soul--or it can be much more broadly considered. Definitions that fit into this latter category are: 1) "the process and result of nurturing one's soul and developing one's spiritual life" (David N. Elkins), and 2) "one's spirituality is the range of one's emotional relationships to those questions that cannot be answered..."like 'What happens when you die?'"(Jaron Lanier). Some confine their spirituality to the boundaries provided by traditional religion; others look elsewhere to meet their spiritual needs.
teleology -- the idea that there is a design or purpose inherent in everything and belief that events unfold toward some divinely specified ultimate end or that everything strives to fulfill some purpose
theocracy -- government by those who claim to or are believed to be divinely inspired. In its most extreme forms, there is no separation of church and state.
theology -- the rational study of religious faith, experience, and practice
to or at least able to allow another individual’s indulgence in beliefs, values, practices, and behaviors that
differ from or conflict with one’s own.
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