Like most Americans, I’ve been keeping up with the hurricanes that have recently wrought so much destruction to the shores of Texas and Florida. And I have found three hurricane-related news stories particularly interesting because they have approached this weather phenomenon from three completely different worldviews.
The first worldview statement was found in this Tennessean headline: “Science Explains Why Hurricanes Even Exist.” The article went on to say, “Simply put, hurricanes are the atmosphere’s attempt to move heat from the warm equatorial regions toward the cold polar regions.” This is naturalism, the worldview that says everything can be explained in terms of purely natural causes. There can be no supernatural element to the phenomenon we experience and observe.
But the article only explained what hurricanes do; it didn’t explain what produced the conditions that caused the hurricanes.
In this regard, as C.S. Lewis wisely observed in God in the Dock, the laws of nature relied on by scientists to explain hurricanes only describe “the pattern to which the movement of [something] must conform. Provided, of course that something sets [it] in motion. And here comes the snag. The law won’t set it in motion. . . [H]owever far you traced the story [of the movement] back you would never find the laws of Nature causing anything.”
At least pantheists are smart enough to see the limitations of science when it comes to ultimate causes, and it was actress Jennifer Lawrence who articulated that worldview. She said, “You know, you’re watching these hurricanes now, and it’s really hard . . . not to feel Mother Nature’s rage and wrath.”
This is a classic statement of pantheism. Nature is divinized by using capital letters in reference to nature (“Mother Nature”) and by ascribing to it purposes and personality through the words “rage” and “wrath.” The very notion that nature could exercise judgment is to attribute to it a uniquely human capacity.
But real pantheists—who are consistent with their worldview—have no basis upon which to distinguish good from evil or God from the physical world, because all is one. And, thus, Ms. Lawrence really has no basis upon which to judge any aspect of the hurricanes as good or bad in any real or meaningful sense or to differentiate between the physical effects of the hurricanes and God’s ultimate purposes.
And, finally, actor Kirk Cameron gave expression to the theistic worldview that sees God as Creator, distinct from His creation, but sovereignly controlling and directing all things toward an end that reveals and is consistent with the moral perfections He is.
Cameron said, “When he puts his power on display, it’s never without reason. There’s a purpose. And we may not always understand what that purpose is, but we know it’s not random and we know that weather is sent to cause us to respond to God in humility, awe and repentance.”
Scripture bears this out. In Psalm 147:17-19, notice that the psalmist draws no distinction between the “word” that provides the cause for acts in nature and the “word” of revelation in the laws given to Jacob (Israel): “He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold? He sendeth out his word, and melteth them: he causeth his wind to blow, and the waters flow. He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel” (KJV).
Sadly, many Christians are embarrassed by the clear import of such verses. They seem so unenlightened in our scientific age, but as Lewis noted, science can’t show how things “get a move on.” And, unlike the pantheist, whose worldview makes no differentiation between God and nature, the Christian can judge the physical effects of the hurricanes as actually and really horrible while still believing “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NASB).
The point, however, is that we all have a need to explain and make sense of what goes on around us. And, in these three stories, we find the only three worldview explanations of ultimate reality that are available to us. So, if you want to know what your worldview really is, just find the explanation you would be willing to defend in public.
David Fowler served in the Tennessee state Senate for 12 years before joining FACT as President in 2006. Read David’s complete bio.
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