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Major Worldviews: How we see our world

 Major worldviews: How human consciousness sees the world?

There is an ancient Indian tale. Six blind men went to see an elephant. Each one grabbed it from the wrong end. So, none could draw a full picture. To one it resembled a rope, to another it appeared a fan. Same is the tale of the worldviews. There are six of them where each one has a different point of view. Each one sees and seeks God differently. God is always a difficult query. Even religion and culture are deep things. There are several cultures in the world and several religions with their own deities. It is why a modern person who believes in things like technology, development and internet may find himself touched by religion and culture at points that confuse him. Still, most of us hold the same faith in our hearts. So, for many of us religion becomes relief. However, the entire tale is of the difference between perception and reality. Religions perceive God differently and when you seek His reality personally, you have to caste a different glance. Personally too we have our own perceptions of Him. There are worldviews that we can consider our outlook of the world.

Literature, philosophy and religion, all are full of assumptions regarding God. Satisfying human curiosity is not possible for any of them. Man’s curiosity regarding the paranormal has never seen an end.  At points, people feel that the complication is over, and then it restarts. All these worldviews try to satisfy human curiosity of God in their own ways. In the modern world, there are several cultures and religions that come in touch with each other. There are some distinguishing features of these cultures and religions. Apart from the differences, there are commonalities. There are different ways of looking at the same world and the growth of IT and communication has made us aware of these differing worldviews.

There are six major worldviews apart from New Consciousness:

Monotheism:  The most basic belief of Monotheism is that there is a God who is separate from and still involved with the Universe. This is also the most complicated fact about Monotheism that it shows separation and involvement as one. The three monotheistic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These religions believe that God is an eternal spirit who created the world and made natural laws according to which it would operate. These religions share some common beliefs. They tell the story of the human rebellion against God, the separation of the two, God’s counsel and guidance of the manly affairs and then His promise of reconciliation and the promise of peace and justice He made. So, these religions too talk of the unique bonding between the human race and God and how God’s children rebelled from Him. God gave them a separate home where they could dwell in love and peace.  So, He is bound by our love and keeps away from us but is still involved with our affairs. Monotheistic religions believe in one God who watches all of us. This is how separation and involvement are possible together. These religions have basic similarities and are marked by big differences. Judaism draws from the First Five Books of Moses and Christianity builds on the Jewish scriptures. The third monotheistic religion is Islam that builds upon the Jewish and Christian scriptures. Still, Islamic beliefs are much different from the other two. Koran according to it is the Supreme Law and the infallible word of Allah. It believes that Jesus was the Messiah but not equal to God and does not find truth in the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.

Deism:  The beliefs of Deism match with Monotheism in the regard that it too believes in the existence of a God who created an orderly world that could operate on its own. Deism also says that God’s intervention in the human world is minimal. It was born of the progress of science and philosophy that took place in the 17th century.    Now, the focus was more on humanity than divinity and human logic than the paranormal. The stress was now on the value of human reason. The world was imagined as an automatic machine which operated on its own and since it could operate on its own God did not need to intervene in its operation. John Locke and Voltaire were two champions of this philosophy and even Sir Isaac Newton’s works supported this philosophy. Deism does not believe in blind faith and instead is based on personal reason and experience.  Jefferson too had rejected the ideas of Godly intervention and that of miracles.

Naturalism: Naturalism came in 18th century and brought the focus on the creation than the creator.  The change had come with Darwin’s publication of the Origin of the Species. As science and knowledge progressed the world’s view of itself and the creator as well as his creation changed. Darwin gave a scientific explanation of evolution that how under the right conditions and given sufficient time life could be born of non-living matter. Life has developed over countless eons and then came man whom we say that was drawn in God’s own image.  Till before it, Creator was believed to be the First Cause of the Creation and onwards people started knowing that it was them for whom the Great Creator wrote the entire drama. Scientists like Newton and Darwin have continued to bring the focus of people on humanity and reason.

Nihilism: Nihilism brought stronger focus on reason. As per Nihilism the objective truth and positive values were to be questioned and dismissed. However, Nihilism is less of a philosophy and more of an attitude.  The question was that of rationality and its use to determine the validity and relevance of facts. So, Nihilism believed that objective truth was to be questioned and considered arbitrary. It also found traditional ideologies inadequate. Nihilism is skepticism in the regard that it does not accept objective truth or moral beliefs. The Nihilists do not accept even the most respected of the truths. Nihilism believes in deconstruction. It believes in recreation through rejection. Moral and spiritual beliefs are not to be accepted without interrogation. To make way for improvements, traditions need to be destroyed and new traditions established.

Existentialism:  Significance has to be created subjectively in life since it does not have an objective meaning. The focus of the existentialist theories is on the meaninglessness of life and that how isolated individual is. Both atheistic and theistic existentialist theories stress on the same fact. The reality is grim and existentialists believe in the creation of their own meaning. By making his own choices, he authenticates himself. It is a person’s   personal choice that makes him meaningful by authenticating him. However, something that is meaningful to one may not be just as meaningful to the others.

Pantheism:  Pantheism finds God in all that exists and matter for it is an illusion. Vedas are some of the oldest Pantheistic texts. Their influence was initially limited to the East and has now spread to the West with technological progress. Pantheism believes that man’s spirit is a part of the world’s soul. According to it there is an internal world and an external. The external world is just an illusion. There is nothing real about it. The reality lies in the internal world and God is the only thing that exists. He is spirit of the real world that exists inside us. Meditation is the way to connect with the internal world. Maharishi Yogi had popularized the view with his relaxation technique of transcendental meditation.  The attraction of the meditation practices grew as the health benefits of these techniques started being known. Several celebrities had become the disciples of Maharishi Yogi to learn the transcendental techniques of meditation from him.  

New Consciousness: According to New Consciousness comprehending the reality is not possible without altering the mind. It was a period of experimentation when hallucinogenic drugs were used to go beyond things like truth and data gathering. This also led to several social changes. It would be strange to believe that drugs can cause positive alterations but they did. Dr Timothy Leary was one of the representatives who experienced the truth of the other world after having read of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Leary had to suffer because he was fired from Harvard. Though Leary suffered, he agreed that reason alone could not suffice and that thought processes should be opened to new categories of thinking that helps move beyond the bounds of logic. It was something like moving into a new dimension.   

However, this is not the entire story of worldviews. There is more to it and we also use personal combinations to understand our world. So, it is more a matter of human logic and understanding and how we like to see our world. One thing that can be marked is that as time moved focus has kept shifting towards human logic.

Source: https://web001.rbc.org/pdf/discovery-series/windows-on-the-world-a-comparison-of-major-worldviews.pdf

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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