Creationism v. the Other Worldviews
Apologia publishes Creation-based science curricula. I hope you realize just how unique this is in a world saturated in Darwinism and the teaching of evolution. The perspective from which you teach science will have a profound influence on the understanding, interpretation, and worldview of your students. I believe that all subjects—science, math, language, history, and so on—can and should be taught from a Christian worldview. So why Creationism-based science? There are other options, of course, but let’s take a closer look to determine whether a Creation-based, theistic, biblical, Christian worldview is really the best model for understanding reality and teaching science.
Everybody has a worldview whether or not they realize it or can explain it. Your worldview is the sum total of your beliefs about the world—the “big picture” that directs your daily thinking, decisions, and actions. Think of your worldview as the corrective lenses through which you see and interpret the world. The closer your worldview aligns with reality, the better it is for recognizing and understanding truth.
With nearly eight billion people in the world, it’s not surprising to find there are several thousand religions and belief systems in the world. And yet these can be broken down into just a few categories characterized by their major tenets and principles. I’ve chosen to apply the model John Stonestreet uses in Making Sense of Your World, a book co-authored with Bill Brown and Gary Phillips. Stonestreet organizes worldviews into four categories that we will consider here.
Materialism (a.k.a. Naturalism or Atheism)
Anyone born or raised in the Western hemisphere can probably relate to this worldview. That’s because it is highly science-oriented. If you ever watched Carl Sagan’s television series Cosmos, then you’ve heard his summary of this worldview: “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” In other words, according to this belief system, matter and energy are eternal. They’ve always been around. They weren’t created by a being who exists outside the natural world. Although this is an Atheistic worldview (because it kicks any and all deities to the curb), matter and energy are, in a sense, the gods of Materialism.
Proponents of this worldview believe we can only know things by means of 1) our senses and 2) scientific observation. And it is true that science and our senses can reveal to us some of the truth. Unfortunately for Materialists, science cannot reveal all truth.
Charles Darwin had a tremendous influence on much of the thinking of modern-day Materialists. Darwin hypothesized that species evolved over time as a means of survival. Given enough time, he said, living beings would evolve from one kind to another. Taken to the extreme—i.e., millions or billions of years—the Materialist view is that it’s possible for a single-cell organism to develop into a more complex life form. The classic example is an amoeba turns into a fish, a descendant of the fish becomes a frog, a descendant of the frog becomes a lizard, and so on until we have an ape and eventually a man.
Darwin realized that the fossil record would be critical for providing evidence that would strengthen or weaken his theory. He expected that a “missing link” would one day be discovered as proof that transitional life forms existed. However, after almost 200 years of biological fieldwork, no such fossil records have been found. Thus, the theory of evolution is technically too weak to stand today, yet proponents continue to hold to this view of life as though their very existence depends on it!
If you carry Materialism to its logical conclusions, you end up in a pretty dismal place. If there is not a transcendent, moral God who created all things, then there can be no definitive standard of right and wrong, good and evil. As Dostoevsky observed, if there is no God, everything is permissible. This may “solve” the problem of evil, but it clearly does not account for human suffering. And it provides no basis for debating what is good, right, or moral.
In addition, because humanity is merely the product of random movements of countless atoms and chemical reactions, life itself has no purpose. It’s all a cosmic fluke, and so everything is meaningless. Yet no one seems to be satisfied with this explanation. Why? Because deep down inside, all of us desperately crave a sense of meaning and purpose.
Therefore, many Materialists also embrace moral relativism, the idea that there are no absolute rules to determine whether something is right or wrong. They choose to assume that human nature is intrinsically good by nature. This, however, fails to explain how supposedly “good” people are capable of committing evil acts.
Bertrand Russel summed up Materialism well when he wrote, “Unless you assume a God, the question of life’s purpose is meaningless.”
Many people born or raised in the Far East grew up surrounded by the messages of this worldview. Transcendentalism says that the physical world—i.e., matter and energy—is a dream, an illusion, not real. Therefore, we cannot trust our senses. And so those who subscribe to this worldview place very little value on studying the natural world. If the physical world isn’t real, why bother?
You’ve seen this worldview in action when you watch a movie about a person who travels to Nepal or Tibet to separate his soul—the real part of his existence—from his body, the physical part getting in the way of reality. After intense study with a Buddhist monk, he is finally ready to face his foes with some slick martial arts moves.
Reincarnation is another aspect of this worldview. This cycle of living, dying, and living again in another form adds to the futility of life and its lack of purpose. In the end, for the Transcendentalist, the goal of life is to become one with the nothingness. Not very inspiring!
For most of us, this worldview is the water we swim in every day. So, tread carefully; it’s possible you may not even know you’re wet.
According to the Postmodern view, there is no absolute truth. We can’t really know anything. Truth is nothing more than a social or cultural construct, therefore everything is relative.
Postmodernists tend to be skeptical of science, language, morality, and reason. Their worldview throws off the constraints of religion and tradition so that all ideologies can be reduced to man-made struggles between classes, genders, races, economies, religions, or politics.
As for truth, good, evil, meaning, and purpose, these are all fluid and defined by one’s self and preferences. In his book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, Carl Trueman manages to describe this worldview with two words: Expressive Individualism. In other words, you decide what is true; if tomorrow this definition becomes inconvenient, simply change your mind. Do it again the next day and so on. But it doesn’t end there. Postmodernists, determined to stand firm upon this shifting sand, also require others to agree and even promote their constantly changing position, no matter how radical or nonsensical.
Creationism (a.k.a. Theism)
Now let’s take a look at Creationism, also known as Theism. Either term works because this worldview believes that a Creator God—or other Causing Agent existing outside of space, time, matter, and energy—designed and created everything seen and unseen in the universe. In other words, this God is the ultimate reality.
Notice that I said “everything seen and unseen.” This is important because a Creationist or Theist believes that what we see is real (much like a Materialist), and they also believe that what we do not see is real (much like a Transcendentalist). However, people with a Creationist/Theist worldview also believe that Truth exists and is knowable. And because they believe a God exists, then good and evil also exist and are knowable because God is the perfect standard by which one can measure and define good or evil.
When it comes to the “problem of evil,” Theism provides much more defensible answers than the alternatives. For one, good and evil are believed to exist. Second, both good and evil can be defined and recognized. And third, God gives mankind free will, which allows humans to make moral decisions, including the choice to love. I think we can agree that love isn’t real unless it is freely chosen.
Many great advances have been made by scientists who were Creationists. For example, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the laws of gravity and motion and developed calculus to mathematically explain how the physical world works. Newton desired to understand God through both of the books He gave us—nature and Scripture.
Anselm said that he did not seek to understand in order that he may believe, but he believed in order to understand. This is in contrast to Carl Sagan the Materialist, who said, “I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”
Don’t be fooled. Creationism isn’t the only worldview that requires faith. Frank Turek and Norman Geisler titled their book of apologetics I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist because, as they argue, Creationism is the most reasonable of all worldviews.
It’s true that no one can prove or disprove the existence of God. That’s because no one else was there at the beginning, and an experiment can’t be designed to test either position. Yet a Creationist/Theist view of the world makes more sense than Materialism, Transcendentalism, or Postmodernism. Creationism is the most reasonable since it best conforms to reality—the goal of any worldview. And there’s more good news. This worldview concludes that there is a purpose to life and a reason for living: It is to glorify God, our Creator, and to enjoy Him forever.
As you have probably observed on your own, there is a very real culture war raging, and it is a cosmic struggle between competing worldviews. And that’s why Apologia publishes Creation-based science, math, Bible, and worldview curricula—to fulfill our mission of providing resources that help your students learn, live, and defend the Christian faith.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation- based science and Bible curriculum. He is the author of five illustrated children’s books designed to help parents instill a biblical worldview in the hearts and minds of their preschoolers. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can hear more of what he has to say at the Let’s Talk Homeschool Podcast.
© 2021 Davis Carman