If you've read Rethinking Worldview, you know that early on, I explore a series of common metaphors people have used to describe worldviews: eyeglasses, navigational charts, and so on. My goal is to illuminate the sense in which the metaphor is helpful, and also to suggest limitations. Sadly, no metaphor is perfect -- no matter how similar two things are in one respect, they're always going to be different in another, and sometimes the difference is more misleading than the similarity is helpful.
I was reminded of this while reading Eric Rauch's piece posted on AmericanVision.org, which quotes extensively from the first chapter of Rethinking Worldview. Rauch sees my discussion of the eyeglass metaphor as indicative of the problem with the "old" worldview thinking -- i.e., it intellectualizes what is really a spiritual process -- and says that what we need is not a new prescription but new eyes. Here's the heart of his critique:
But as helpful and necessary as his eyeglasses are for driving, Bertrand tells us that he really doesn't need his glasses to read. This is where I think the analogy for worldview breaks down. We typically think of glasses as something we need to help us do a particular task. Bertrand needs his glasses to drive and catch footballs, but not to read. But this is exactly the opposite of a worldview. A worldview is something that we are never without. There is no activity or moment in the day when our worldview doesn't filter "reality." The idea of glasses puts us back in control, deciding when and where to put on our "worldview corrective lenses." This completely misses the point that there are a multitude of times each day when we think we are seeing clearly, but in reality, we aren't. Like Bertrand, we assume that how we see the world is the objective standard, that we only need to get out our "worldview specs" when things begin to get fuzzy.Reading this puts me in an odd position. I agree with the point Rauch is trying to make. In fact, one of the aspects of worldview I'm attempting to "rethink" in the book is our assumption of objectivity, the view that we are detached, rational thinkers evaluating potential worldviews like diners at a buffet. But Rauch seems to think we disagree, and I suspect it's because my metaphor is being taken too literally. I don't believe for a moment that "how we see the world is the objective standard," and that whenever things get blurry we need to whip out our glasses. It's just that, well ... I don't happen to need my glasses to read.
In other words, the point of my narrative in Chapter 1 isn't to suggest that worldviews function in every way exactly like my glasses. All I'm saying is that, until you've had an experience like mine, it never occurs to you that there might be another way of seeing. There's a difference between saying reality exists and that we perceive it perfectly. I'm affirming the former while rejecting the latter. Rauch is right on when he writes that "the cold, hard facts of most worldview education leaves out the key component of the entire process: the heart." Which is why, if you keep reading to the end of Chapter 1, you'll find me saying this:
So the key to changing your worldview turns out to be, not some profound philosophical quest, but the fundamental journey to Christlike sanctity that every Christian is called to undertake. If you want to change your worldview, to make it a more consistently biblical worldview, then the first and most important thing you must do is work out your salvation in fear and trembling, knowing that it is God working in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. The concept of worldview is one that Christianity inherited from philosophy. We couch it in high-sounding words. But it would be a mistake to think that this intellectual language describes an essentially intellectual process.So all this to say ... while I naturally think Rauch has chosen the wrong bad example to illustrate his point, his point is very much worth making. It's part of what motivated me to write Rethinking Worldview in the first place. By the way, if you're reading Rethinking Worldview, and want to take this point further, I'd suggest taking a look at the "Idiosyncratic Aside about Knowledge" starting on p. 67.