We are always inevitably building our worldview, and we are always inevitably disagreeing with others around us doing the same thing, though in ways that are different than ours. In a previous post it was noted that it is very important that we learn to disagree correctly. The prevailing tendency in our culture today seems to be to dismiss, to cut ourselves off, to pronounce the others as unreasonable radicals who are not even worthy of our consideration. And yet in this we are perhaps showing, more than anything else, our own radical pride and unwillingness to think and be challenged.
Another really important reason behind this divisiveness that was mentioned was our lack of understanding how worldviews work. This too offers important food for thought. When we think about our perspective, we realize that it is not a scattered collection of random thoughts. Reason is what enables our minds to function – we put ideas together in a certain way, we see connections, logical causes, and convincing arguments. Every worldview has its foundational tenets or principles, which function as the foundation for everything else. Every conviction we reach or idea we embrace is only connected to a deeper, more foundational principle that makes it possible.
For example, an atheist that is deeply committed to a secular evolutionary cosmology may believe that there is no such thing as right and wrong. At least not in any objective sense. This may at first seem like a totally absurd conclusion. But in order to see the rational behind it, we must see that he thinks this way only because he has embraced the more foundational idea that all of life is the product of slow and random biological change. This then leads him to conclude a number of other things, one of which is the fact that morality is totally subjective and arbitrary. This in tern leads him to conclude that right and wrong is whatever the majority at the time decides it is. This may cause him to decide that he should submit to the majority. Or it may cause him to think that, if he can sway the majority to his ideas he can create a new morality.
Now here’s the point – the further you climb up the worldview you go, the more extreme or ridiculous the ideas may sound. Yet you cannot measure the validity of a belief system on the basis of its peripheral conclusions. You have to look at the foundations that the whole thing stands. You have to look at the underlying propositions that make that idea possible or plausible. If we are merely the product of random biological processes, then yes indeed, you can invent your own morality.
True disagreement happens when we have taken the time to understand the foundational tenets of someone’s thinking, and the reason that lead them to say the things they say. Our tendency is to think that our own worldview is built on reason while everyone else’s is built on their passions and desires, and is indeed void of any validity. In reality, even the most opposing worldviews are often build on 99% good reasoning. They may simply be critically at error in their core assumptions. Even when we disagree with their foundational beliefs, we will find that their thinking, searching and questioning will expand our own point of view. We will see that they ask questions we have not thought to ask, and have observed and noticed things in our view that we have failed to see.