Thanks for posting such an interesting question.
Whenever a textbook bills itself as a “worldview” approach to science, I view that as a big red flag.
The vast majority of those who use the term “worldview” in apologetics do not use it correctly, in my opinion. Allow me to explain.
Have you ever worn glasses or contacts? If you have, you know that the vast majority of the time, you are not even aware that they are shaping your view of the world around you.
A worldview is like a pair of glasses. Even though you rarely know it’s there, a worldview strongly shapes how you view your family members, your economic obligations, members of your community, members of neighboring communities, members of distant communities, how you go about answering questions of medical treatment, and so on.
Moreover, a worldview is something that is shared, kind of like the air that all of a city’s dwellers breathe. Not everyone agrees in every last aspect of a worldview, of course. But the agreement is widespread enough that the members of a society are able to work and live together fruitfully.
Apologetics ministries have co-opted the term to describe it as an explicit and logical framework by which you can reason your way through specified evidence to come to a specified conclusion. I am familiar with this approach through the Truth Project (TP), which I attended in the summer of 2009 at my local church. TP identified atheistic science that excludes God as one worldview, and Biblical belief as the other. TP classified evolutionary biology into the “atheistic science” camp, and intelligent design into the “Biblical belief” camp. TP claims that both camps weigh the all the same evidence, but they come to different conclusions because of their different logical worldviews.
This approach is wrong to the very core, IMO. The fundamental error is that it equates methodological naturalism (MN) with atheism. MN is an important part of our cultural worldview because we use it all the time when we think about:
- The weather. Normally we explain storms as the outcome of meteorological conditions. In other words, our method of predicting the weather relies on natural rather than theological facts. When the weather journalist predicts 100% chance of rain based on cloud, humidity, and temperature patterns, we do not accuse him/her of atheism for leaving God out of the picture. Instead, we use our umbrellas.
Physics. If we’re on a mountainside and we see an avalanche starting, we understand the force of gravity and take evasive action or shelter. (While we pray!)
Astronomy. We see a cloud of gas called the Crab Nebula rapidly expanding. By calculating the center of mass and the velocity of the expansion, we can work backward to where and when a supernova appeared. We don’t characterize the astronomers’ as atheists just because their calculations of the date of the supernova do not incorporate any references to angels or miracles.
It makes no sense to accept MN for meteorology, physics, and astronomy, but to accuse biologists and paleontologists of atheism because they adopt MN to weigh biological and paleontological evidence. Biologists–Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and otherwise–have found that the theory of evolution makes predictions about genomic patterns, patterns of adaptations, and population dynamics that are borne out by tens of thousands of peer-reviewed research papers every year. Meanwhile, intelligent design makes no such predictions because it is, at its heart, a logical worldview that leads to a philosophical conclusion about the relationship between God and our world.
There is a better way. We can adopt MN in the field of biology, just as we adopt it in meteorology, physics, and astronomy, and at the same time affirm that God is the one who has authored this big, beautiful, sprawling, and sometimes bewildering world. There does not need to be a contradiction here–a contradiction that can act as a big stumbling block to kids and adults who become aware of all that scientific evidence that undergirds the theory of evolution.
I have described how the Truth Project erected a relationship between science and worldview built on sand that cannot resist the “storm” of scientific evidence carefully accumulated over decades of peer-reviewed science. It also has the very unfortunate effect of obscuring how worldview really works at the cultural level. Understanding how worldview works can give us insight into tough questions raised when we approach a sacred literature, the Bible, written in very different times and cultures than our own. TP’s profound misunderstanding of worldview deprives us of those insights, and instead turns the Scriptures into a set of propositions that are to be approached as a system of logic.
I am not arguing that we should abandon all logic: it is a very useful tool. But it is not the only tool in the toolbox; we should also be using genre analysis, how rhetoric is expressed in literary form, and other tools that are informed by a cultural understanding of worldview when we approach the Scriptures.