Arguments and Fallacies: The Worldview Argument

In order to fight my ever present writers block, I have decided to start a series of blog posts on different arguments and fallacies that the atheist may run into in his/her dealings with religious folks, specifically creationists. The purpose of these posts will not only be to argue against these common points of contention, but to also to attempt to make sense of why these arguments seem conducive to the believer. I fully intend to use my experience as a former believer and apologist to explain what I now know to be illogical and unreasonable. In my experience with atheists there is a tendency to think, “how stupid are you?” when confronted with some of these arguments in favor of creationism, and the atheist is more prone to uncontrolled outbursts of anger and frustration, often leading to a worthless tirade against the opponent. Not only do these arguments give atheists a bad name, but they also ruin the environment of discourse. Though I, too, have been guilty of such dismissive tirades, these posts will attempt to give atheists a more involved and intelligent means of discourse when dealing with religious people and creationist worldviews.

I know that many current atheists are also former believers, and many were quite devoted to their faith. As true as this may be, I think that I represent a very rare breed of atheist in that I have, as I have explained many times before, experienced god in ways that seemed entirely logical at the time, yet I was able to comprehend my own psychological failings in order to reject my faith and the inane arguments of creationism. Creationists do not lack reasoning all together; they simply lack the desire or ability to accept a point of view that endangers their belief in god. I have been through such a dilemma myself, and as much as I regret the years I spent in service to god, I must pull from that experience in order to better defend a realistic understanding of the world.

The Worldview Argument

Some of the most visible proponents of Creationism use this argument tirelessly. Ken Ham, Dr. Jason Lisle, and others define a Biblical Worldview as a way of seeing the world, nature, and origins through the uncorrupted lens of the Bible (what they consider to be the “Word of God”). This worldview, more often than not, requires that the believer accepts Young Earth Creationism. This doctrine dictates that the earth is less than 12,000 years old and was created by God during the 7 days of creation as described in the Book of Genesis. It also requires that one believes that Jesus Christ is the son of god, and came to Earth to save mankind from the original sin committed in the Garden of Eden. The Worldview Argument is truly nothing more than a circular argument with the intent to use its premise as the proof of its conclusion. For example: My worldview is best because the Bible says it is, and everything the Bible says is true, therefore my worldview is best. Sadly, any argument based on the Bible will fall into the category of circular logic as it relies on a self important book to prove any point made. Rarely is any outside or unbiased evidence provided for said arguments.

Former Worldviews

As I stated previously, I have experienced this worldview in the utmost way. Just a few years ago these beliefs transcended my logical institutions. However, this self deceit, though entirely my fault, does not seem nearly as illogical when I take the time to remember how I felt at that period in my life, and how I understood my beliefs. My beliefs were emotionally bound to the Bible and my fear of god, and the possibility that the Bible could be wrong was intense enough to supersede any logical faculties I had. You see, religion in its essence is entirely based on emotion: you begin with the feeling of guilt because you are a sinner, you feel hope because Jesus is willing to save your wretched soul, and you feel a connection to god that very much feels real once you have “accepted” him into your life.  All of these things occur before one ever takes time to study or validate the claims of the Bible, and therefore the very root of your faith will be entirely founded in emotion. However, once you do start to pick up an apologetic study of the Bible and actually attempt to logically understand your faith, your worldview is so caught up in that emotional paralysis that you simply cannot accept any information that contradicts the Christian worldview. It is the fact that believers do not generally convert through apologetic means, instead converting through an emotional experience, that makes this worldview so difficult to overcome. New Christians come to the faith after an emotional barrage of guilt and the need for redemption, crippling their minds to the point that most never overcome it and therefore will never allow reasonable conclusions to prevail in their minds.

Believe me when I say that the devout Christian can indeed overcome this crippling mindset, but only after deciding for oneself to put away the emotional stimuli of their relationship with god and accept whatever argument comes at them after they have done so. This is very much the decision I was required to make when all I was trying to do was to better understand my god and further devote myself to him – the end result was a separation from the emotional cloudiness, resulting in a full acceptance of the facts I was so afraid to embrace for the duration of my Christian walk.

I encourage my Christian readers to attempt this. But I must warn you, the results can be painful until you become comfortable without that emotional attachment to god.

  • Alastair

    Good post! Creationism and Christian faith are not synonymous, though – having been chaplain at one of the world’s foremost scientific universities I know of plenty of believers who have the sense not to take non literal stories literally! Non literal/mythological doesn’t necessarily mean wrong in an absolute sense and for instance Genesis is not trying to be a scientific or literalistic account….

    Most Christians I interact with can discern that not every bit of the Bible is trying to be literal, or even to be right but is a record of people making sense of life and faith by struggling with the issues and realities of the world around.

    Sadly you also have lots of fundamentalist nuts trying to impose a stupidly restrictive worldview with no sense of discernment or perpsective either…. So again, good post – thanks.

  • Alastair

    Good post! Creationism and Christian faith are not synonymous, though – having been chaplain at one of the world’s foremost scientific universities I know of plenty of believers who have the sense not to take non literal stories literally! Non literal/mythological doesn’t necessarily mean wrong in an absolute sense and for instance Genesis is not trying to be a scientific or literalistic account….

    Most Christians I interact with can discern that not every bit of the Bible is trying to be literal, or even to be right but is a record of people making sense of life and faith by struggling with the issues and realities of the world around.

    Sadly you also have lots of fundamentalist nuts trying to impose a stupidly restrictive worldview with no sense of discernment or perspective either…. So again, good post – thanks.

  • Agreed. I think Christians would be taken much more seriously if there wasn’t this evolution dichotomy. Also, I would take young earth and ID advocates much more seriously if there was any reason for their arguments beyond proving the existence of the Christian God and therefore giving them a more scientific grounds for evangelizing the educated. The agenda throws their science out the window.
    Ever since the church opposed Darwin personally, the divide has existed. If only evolution could have started out on a different foot than “Hey, we came up with a theory of origin that doesn’t require God,” I don’t think we would have this problem.
    Until that goes away, ID will have few to zero arguments I’ll even bother listening to.

  • matt

    I was pleased to come across this post. I have been working through a very similar experience over the last eight months or so. Leaving my beloved reformed baptist community has indeed been a painful, frightening, and terribly lonely experience.

    I sometimes wish I had had a faith like Alastair described: one that is grounded enough in reality that it doesn’t completely collapse when its foundation in Genesis is removed.

  • This is good food- for thought…Hugh-huh..Hugh,hu-hu.. Good to see that people can discuss issues without each of them falling all apart ! “Hey ya’ll other christians! See? Ya don’t have to feel as though every single Atheist out here is like someone you’d rather not touch with a ten foot pole !” When people of different persuasions can communicate with each other and still come away from encounters without feeling as though they were threatened? Kudos! Kudoes… That’s one more straw in the hat of this great nation’s worthines! This is surely a thing that could be shared with Iraqians, Afganistanians and any others out there who just don’t know, or for whatever reasons- just can’t find it within themselves to pull off the great feat of listening and responding to each other without totally loosing it… “Ya’ll work hard now; discuss your phillosophies and ideologies in a mannor that shows your not all about trying to (((CHANGE))) one another. Work at simply sharing your individualistic selves. Remember we’re still in America- folks!!!” Have a good day, everybody! Talk @ ya latter! This is the Dream Dr. Out and over.. Bye.. .

  • “Hey Rev. can I get another one in here? For some reason or another I’ve discovered that I just feel so good after relating in this mannor ! Thanks Rev. For providing this format. Thanks for really allowing most anybody to get on here and express.”
    Thinking back on your latest post of ‘A World View’ …… You know, I guess everyone has sort of formulated up an idea of their own; inside of their heads- its like they’ve got this little world all their own, to where decisions are straightened out and organized into a self understanding of how things are. Planned order of certain historical occurences, facts, so called hearsays or roumers and such, all take part in the individual’s formulations of just all of what each person will take in as an acceptance of how he’s decided to let an understanding of realities be. Is this process much like assimilating a 5ooo pc. Jig Saw puzzel ? Most likely so, for those who wish to get into the deep dark sayings of the truths of realities. Are there opposite types? Are some people so shallow as to not even have troubled their own minds enough- to go there, with this ploy of developing their own understanding of our world and how they fit into it? Probably so. I will say though, even for these plain type of folk; you know- they must have some bit of world viewism stored away in there tower. Why do I think so? I think this simply because I know most people will click on a telivision set at each possibillity they get, and at each opportunity throuhgout their days ! They are fed a steady diet of ABC, CBS and NBC….Even the unfortunate illiterants of our society; wether they realize it or not- have had their mind working away..”Yeah, these minds have been turning and turning and processing information… I don’t know about folks who’ll turn loose of the controll over their private decisions on just what it will be that they’ll allow to become an accepted inside belief pattern.. I think our decisions have wide implications that surely will effect outcomes of future world events. So..Friend? What are you thinking? What’s on your mind? will you share? Thanks …….What we think plays important responsibillity upon how this world evollves.” Don’t ya think? “Out and over” Dream Dr….

  • Guy Vestal

    Ho hum…

    Nothing has changed here I see, still the same old “Trolling” strawman arguments.

    I was going to comment here before, but then I saw the FB post on your wall, and decided to do it today.

    Still the same old hooey, stuffing all believers of the Judeo-Christian Bible into all one category, when you know that all of them do not belong together.

    So is that the category I am in? The TBN watcher? I prefer that folks hold their offering just above the pew line so that those around them can see them donate? I only participate in community service around the time of “Christian Holidays” only? Sunday is a “Parade” to see who dresses and acts the “Holiest”? Really?

    Really? Is that the group you are really going to put me into? Really? Isn’t that like putting a Pitbull that you have starved and beaten for 5 days into a group of Porterhouse Steaks?

    ANd what bothers me even more, is that you actually know “The Truth” about Christianity and its groupies, yet you still want folks to think that there are no folks that answer to The Bible only, and not a “Pope”, or a Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention, or the head of the Church of England, or some other blinking tommy rot?

    Here is the Biblical Wordview according to the 66 books of the Canon that comprise the core of the Judeo-Christian belief system:

    Genesis 1:1 (kjv) In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

    Stop.

    Do you see the . (period) at the end of that very first set of words out of God’s mouth?

    There it is right there. That is the “Biblical Worldview” according to the Bible. The rest is just details.

    But it just gets better!

    That Worldview I hold (Genesis 1:1) is not “Because God said so.”, but because I said so!

    Ergo, the first amendment to the Constitution kicks in, and Dawkins plan of converting Christianity to Atheism fails by default in America, so all of you Atheists that MUST BE grouped into the same category as your hero Richard. (Where is the science in the bitter religion bashing in those books of his anyways?)

    And because I say it is true, then it must be, because I believe it, and that is what the Bible calls for. If “I” don’t believe it, then Matthew 7:21-23 kicks in, and all that “TBN/Sunday/Holiday/Church posing” described in those verses separates the Wheat from the chaff anyways.

    The Majority of Christianity falls into the Matthew 7:21-23 door to Hell. But there is still a segment that does not apply.

    I teach my children, not Matt Oxley’s, not the commenters here, not my neighbors, just my children. At home, not in Public School. Now what is wrong with that? Does Atheism seek to restrict the passing on of cultural, and academic thoughts and discussions between parent and child? Wouldn’t that include a restriction of the freedom to do so amongst the Atheists as well?

    Whose domino? Which theory?

    And you already know all of this, yet you never mention that “ALL of Christianity” is not the same. Are you that pissed off that you are stuck going to Heaven whether you like it or not, that you think you can somehow cloud the Word of God? LOL Brother! Is Hell really that attractive? LOL

    “Oppressing Minorities” or some tripe in your answer at the wall on FB? Really? Is that me? Really? I am a freaking minority in more ways then I can count, so lets add fuel to the fire, and burn down my neighbors house out of some kind of Pseudo-God hate? Now that sounds productive, lets just jump right on board that plane coming down in twisted flames!

    So when are you going to get a grip, and at least give credit where credit is due?

    At least if the majority of Christianity were Atheists, it would be easier to get the Gospel to them, then in the state they are in now. So hopefully you and “King Richard” can convert as many as possible, that way we can lead them to the “Lord”, and not that image in the mirror they are, and have been worshiping now. LOL

    • Matt

      I don’t think I ever applied a mass generalization to every Christian or to every religious person. I think that may be your church-bred instinct to jump to the defensive as if you are consistently persecuted by us.

      I think you know I respect and care for you much more than you are giving me credit for here…that kind of saddens me..

      You very well know who this post is directed at…One thing I can’t stand is when someone plays dumb.

  • Guy Vestal

    So anyways, since you approved the post, but have yet to contemplate a return trolling, how about the latest from ID? Still zero, yet that Discovery institute sure has a pseudo-Smithsonian feel when paying to get in huh?

    So where is the new post? Still got “Writers Block”? Does not my presence inspire you?

    LOL

  • Guy Vestal

    Welcome back Matt!

    Nice to see you again!

    So I should just keep chatting in the comments, or maybe a new post is coming? I must be able to inspire you in some way shape or form? LOL We can always parade our “Strawmen” around in a “trolling” fashion like this is Yahoo Answers? 🙂

    You can whip out millions of pages of “Science”, to prove your point, and I can laugh about how Christianity/God/Jesus/Holy Spirit doesn’t have one legitimate drop of science to back up its assumptions/claims/etc…

    How much easier of a target can you get then an X-Tian fool that has no evidence! LOL

  • Guy Vestal

    You really think I do not know that you care and respect for me? You do realize I feel the same way right? How many times have I said here that the ONLY FRIENDS I have on the internet are the Atheist crowd. The So-Called “Christians” think I am some sort of “False Prophet” sent to preach the lies of God’s dislike of the worship of money and self.

    Playing dumb? Really?

    Just because “I” know that you are only talking about %99.5 of Christiandom, doesn’t mean that the %99.5 know. LOL

    So how about a new post? Lemme get on FB and give you an idea of mine for a new post.

  • Guy Vestal

    So lets just say that "King Richard" Dawkins finally figures out how he can knock out at least %70 of christianity with some wonderful evidence? (You and I both know that God could never be "eradicated", because humanity has been trying for 6k some years, and has always failed. Even Satan failed, so non-believers could never hope to without a "rapture" of some sort to remove the active Church. Besides, the other %30 has no problem seeing them go, because they were on the wide road anyways, and now they have a chance to get on the right one, once detached from the "X-Tian Party Train")

    What gets accomplished overall? The entire society and population as a whole?

    Well, the folks you "convert" to the "truth" will be the "chri$tian$" only, so all you get for your effort is a money stream to Dr. Dawk, (Which is his true agenda) which means that the money stream removed from the "chri$tian organization$" when they left, will stop financing all the food, medicine, education, engineering, blah, blah help that they had in place to keep their "chri$tian $ucker$" from suspecting that they were being fleeced, so have a bunch of public charity enterprises running to show money spent.

    What of those people? Well, I am sure, that in time, the non-believers could get something in place to substitute. But when? The next day? You and I both know that is logistically impossible. More like a few years to get to half of them.

    How many die, go uneducated, go without medical help? Is part of being a "non-believer" mean that some MUST die, to benefit the whole? Survival of the fittest comes into play then? So now some humans are lower in the value of life because they cannot survive without help? Or are mentally ill? Gypsies? Dissenters? I could dribble on and on for hours on this example alone.

    Converting christians is a futile effort, because it never removes the existence of God, only his groupies. As long as there is one Bible left, somewhere on Earth, even if buried in a box in some backyard somewhere, the Word of God still lives and breathes, just like the Lord Himself.

    What about the logistics of removing God from the government? That is a lot of money to spend to erase His presence, and a huge battle to even get Him removed from documents, or documents removed, from the National Archives. Have you ever been to the NA? I have, good luck trying to sort out that mess above and below ground. The crosses, and Star of David's in the cemeteries everywhere? Removing the bulk of God's groupies does not remove God. Didn't even the Pharaoh's of Egypt try to pull the same stunt by erasing the names of past leaders from monuments, only to fail in the end, when the future folks of the world figure out anyways?

    The downfall with preaching the "Science gospel", is that the only true prize is the root of all evil itself.

    Money.

    Take it, please. I have no real use for it, except for a few foolish expenses like this computer and a service provider.

    Removing the "chri$tian$" from the Church, is the best possible thing that could happen to the Church. Get that money out of the Body of Christ, and God's Will finally gets top billing in the pulpit.

    You always seem to think that I am here to shoot you down, but it is the exact opposite! you and I are both in the business of separating the Wheat from the Chaff!

    I'll gather the Lord's Wheat, and you can grab His Chaff…

    LOL

  • Estevez

    Matt, I saw on Facebook where you commented on Hot House Miracle, where the girls leg grew instantly. What did you say for them to delete it?

    • I asked why there were so many short legged people in McRae and pondered whether or not there was something in the water down there.

      I also pondered that perhaps all this miracle working was in their heads…and that the video in question smelled of deceit, even if it was self-deceit. I said that I was sorry if his ministry was unwilling to accept criticism or speculation, but that alone makes me wonder about the validity of the claims being made.

  • Estevez

    I believe in God and I've actually been to the ministry a few times,but I also question some of the things that happen there. If that were the cause couldn't you bring a cancer-stricken patient/patients in there and cure most of them? I didn't see it in person but,oh well.

    • I don't have a problem with Tom and his ministry preaching about god…I get pissed when I see him deceiving people and I fully believe that he is…I'm not sure that it is intentional but it is most definitely happening. The video was obviously hyped footage of absolutely nothing happening to a person that had no problem in the first place.

      There is always a convenient reason for why some miracles happen and others don't when you deal with ministries like this…"not enough faith", or just "not God's will right now" are common practice excuses. I know this because I've been in these situations before at similar ministries.

      What you see happening, that seems like miracles, are simply highly ramped up emotional atmospheres being used to manipulate your sensibilities.The same thing happens every time Benny Hinn holds a "Healing Conference", they set the stage up so that the audience expects and relies upon miracles happening and when they don't they simply feel like they did anyway…once the emotions subside the problems come back

      What bothers me the most is the picture of the young girl in the wheelchair…she was asked to stand up and required assistance doing so, but her "miracle" wasn't completed that night and Tom had excuses for that too. She was given a partial miracle and lots of false hope and humiliation…I've been in a church that did that to a young wheelchair bound girl one time and I still feel massive amounts of guilt for what they put her through.

      Also, Kudos to you for doubting the claims you are seeing. Continue to question everything.

  • Estevez

    I try not to let peculiar things like that keep me from doubting God, I have my own faith and I can usually tell when something fishy is going on,but that's another story. I know it's well intentioned and it does keep a lot of teens out of trouble for the time they go there.On a side note, I saw one of those hyponists last week with a few friends,I didn't actually participate but I believe things like that are in the same vein as these actions.

  • You had me at the intro. I share a very similar journey and was blessed by the thoughtfulness and quality of your writing and thought process.

    I identify myself as a atheist/agnostic-christian. I have come to the believe that there is an important component to religious thought and ritual as evidenced through the evolution of humankind. There is something evolutionarily important in the development of the ‘religious man’.

    That being said, ‘religious man’ must not get lost in the repetitive nature of rite, ritual, and dogma that he can not further progress in the religious evolutionary process. In other words, keep what works and is rationally appropriate and throw out the rest.

    Now I should read the rest of the article. LOL

  • Now having read the entire post I can say that I was a little mislead by the title of the post. I was expecting a review and argument of the idea of there being any such thing as “worldviews” at all.

    That said I did enjoy the article. Although I do fully agree with your statements that religion is base on emotion. I think people like Mircea Eliade, James Livingston, Rudolph Otto and others would argue against such a definition. Although emotional or non-rational needs are met or experienced via religion there is far more to what religion is. However nebulous religion may be to define I think we can find rational meaning and importance to the human practice of religion.

    I practice religious humanism and believe that throwing out religion out with certain religious beliefs is unwise and harmful to our humanity.

    • Rob,

      Thanks for your comments – You may notice if you work your way through some of my work (some of which I’m proud of, some of which I’ll eventually take down) that I often start on one topic and end up on another entirely…I have a problem with chasing rabbit trails and never finding myself back to the beginning again…It’s not intentional bait and switch, just amateur writing.

      As far as the harm of throwing the religious baby out with the proverbial bathwater – I’m sure that there are many people that find a certain value in religion and religious practices – others, like myself, simply cannot abide them in our personal lives largely due to the harm already caused and a desire to completely disassociate from religion all together. I’m not one to tell people what they must do in order to be good or to find goodness in this world, but I don’t believe that religion is necessary as an ingredient to human goodness as a rule – but in exceptional cases can provide it’s own benefits.

      I really appreciate your thoughtful comments.