Greg Bahnsen’s Categorization of Worldviews

Notes from Greg L. Bahnsen’s lecture series, Faith, Facts and False Worldviews.

Any worldview you encounter will fall into one of these categories.

Spiritual Monism: Reality is made up of only one kind of thing. This thing is spiritual in character and not physical. The physical world is an illusion. It appears that there is matter, but in fact all is one.
Ex. Hinduism says that contrary to appearances, everything is one and there is no distinction between anything. This one is God. We are all part of God; it is a pantheistic religion. Because there are not genuine distinctions in reality, what you are doing right now, you are going through the wheel of life. In you don’t win on the wheel of life, you don’t come back and play again. You will come back in a lower form if you don’t live this life well. If you live your life well, you will no longer be distinct from anything; you will belong to the oneness of reality and stop being reincarnated. You will be one with Nirvana.

Dualism: There are two types of reality: mind and matter or spirit and body. Somethings are physical in nature and there is another reality that is spiritual, mental or of ideas. Among the dualists you will find two basic sub-divisions.
1. Idealism: There is a physical world, but it is organized and known by the ideas, types and concepts that govern the physical world and lie outside of it. “Duckness” is an idea. Huey, Duey and Luey are particular ducks. The idealist like Plato, said the idea of “duckness” exists outside of time and space in another reality. But this reality is the most important reality. This reality in some way controls this reality. Plato says the ideal and perfect triangle, human, love etc. exists outside of this world. All we have in this world are proximations. How do we learn about these ideals? The idealist says that we intuit them and apply them to everything.
2. Stoicism: The stoic tended to be moralistic and said in this world, you can’t help the circumstances in his life. We cannot change anything so we must accept the live circumstances that happen to us. There is a reason that flows through the physical world and we must abide by it.

Materialistic Atomism: There is an infinite number of bits of reality made of matter. Reality is made of material stuff broken up into tiny matter. What are the implications of this? If all is made of matter, then what is love? If you press a materialist what love is, they will back off their materialism or deny such thing as love. Two basic sub-divisions.
1. Determinism: There is no freedom in this world; everything is determined in advance. Everything in the world is theoretically predicatable if you knew all of the antecedent causes for it. There are two crucial forms of determinism.
a. Behaviorism: Human beings act as they are conditioned to act. All human behaviors is theoretically predictable because of antecedent conditioning.
b. Marxism: Focuses on historical and economic forces that determine the outcome of a society as a whole.
2. Free-will
a. Egoist: You should exercise your free-will for your own benefit.
Ex. Libertarianism
b. Utilitarian: You should do what is in the best interest of everyone else.
Ex. Socialism: the reason why the state should govern the means of production and there should be no private property, so everyone’s interest is taken into account.
c. Existentialism: Nothing governs what you will be. We come into this world as an existence and as we develop we determine who we will be.

Pragmatism/Skepticism: The only thing that matters is whether you are successful in this world is solving your problems. To be pragmatic means to forget about the theoretical issues and just get on to solving things. Skepticism says no one knows anything for sure, all that matters is getting by in society.

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