Some people are nicer than me. Well, okay, to be honest a lot of people are nicer than me. Not only that, plenty of people are smarter and more accomplished than I am. I’m glad for them all because they make my life more pleasant. And, when I personally receive a kindness or personally witness an accomplishment of note, I give my thanks and commend the accomplishment. I’m pretty simple that way. I’m content with this arrangement.
Worldview, though, isn’t content with this arrangement. It wants me to take a different look at my neighbor. And that relationship gets complicated quickly, because I’m supposed to assess his spirituality and peer into the details of his epistemology. Popular worldview author Nancy Pearcey begins to tell us that “in reality very few people in the West are either completely amoral or completely skeptical.” then goes on to say
Why not? Because they “cheat” by borrowing ideas from the Christian heritage.. . . Are we convinced that concepts like freedom and human dignity have no basis outside Christianity? We need to press people to stop “cheating” and face squarely the bankruptcy of their own belief systems.”
Total Truth, pp. 320-21 hardcover. This is a standard worldview apologetic method and an explanation for the “problem” of unbelievers being nice, smart, or accomplished. Personally, I don’t see any such problem, so all this time I’ve been thanking my neighbors without fully realizing that they were cheating in a pernicious epistemological kind of way. Then, whereas my neighbors sometimes seem to have a largess of kindness or talent, I have failed to do the accounting that would establish the bankruptcy of their belief systems.
In a more serious tone, it strikes me as a regression to view our neighbor in this way, and it’s not a very congenial or grateful way of interacting with him. Worldview responds to our neighbor’s intellectual abilities and practical accomplishments by asking if he can live in the world of his thought-life, i.e., by doing a cross-examination on his epistemological consistency. That strikes me as inferior to “thank you” and “job well done,” and not especially stimulating for more good deeds and accomplishment. Anyway, if the point is evangelism, how about dealing with actual sin?
There’s a real question as to whether worldviewists themselves can consistently live in the world of their thought life. I can’t tell you for sure if I was in an epistemological frame of mind when I kissed my wife on the cheek this morning, and I’m not sure the quality of my kiss would have been enhanced by epistemological musings. Perhaps worldviewists have more profound marital kisses and this is one more example of others being on spiritual planes I’ll never reach. But I doubt it.
If the worldview examination of our neighbor is strictly a hypothetical academic exercise on paper, that’s one thing. But if we are really supposed to do it to our neighbor, I’ll go with simple: I wouldn’t want it done to me and I’m not inclined to do it to anyone else. So I think I’ll stick with doing unto others as I would have them do unto me. We can all live with that kind of view.