I had a lively debate with a seemingly well educated woman today. It all hinged on a single focal point, one she refused to acknowledge. And when it came down to it, we disagreed on the focal point of the debate due to differing world views. Something, I suggested, was in part due to religion; another point she refused to acknowledge.
Does religion help to shape one’s worldview. The answer is undeniably yes. Which is ironic considering that she denied the idea quite heavily. My guess is that she is an atheist and is under the illusion that she doesn’t have a “religion” and therefor has a much more clear rational. Really there are three categories of religions out there: Atheist/Agnostic (no god), Monotheist (one god), and Polytheist (many gods). Atheism is a religion type, everyone (and yes, I mean everyone) worships something. Jews, Christians, and Muslims are Monotheists. Christians are Monotheist while maintaining that our single God is a Trinitarian God, but still a single God. Polytheists would include religions like Hinduism and Mormonism.
Every religion (yes, I’m including Christianity which is more relationship based than a traditional “religion”) impresses a certain mindset. This mindset is something that each religion states that should be part of your whole life, not just a one time ordeal. For example, atheists believe there is no god and that once you die there is nothing. This mindset would then mean that the only thing worth living for would either be your own legacy (how you’re remembered), propagation of the human race, or saving the planet. You are worth nothing in this view, so a single human life is of no value when compared to the “greater good.” Where as Christians believe that every individual is important and loved by God. That Christ died not only for the community, but more personally for the individual as well. So the individual holds greater weight with Christian beliefs than with atheist beliefs.
While keeping with the above example; a woman is pregnant and there is a complication. The doctor comes out and says “we can only save one, and if we try to save the child, the child still might not make it.” What do you do? Most atheists would save the woman in labor in lieu of risking it on the child. Whereas most Christians would try to save the child. Why? Because, assuming that the mother is a Christian, the woman will be with her Father in Heaven, and the child deserves a chance to live. This might sound silly to some, but it’s a real scenario. In fact, when my wife Shannon was pregnant with our first child she sat me down and explicitly told me to save the child no matter what the consequences.
Still not buying it? What group produces more orphanages and hospitals than any other people group on the planet? Christ followers. Why? Because in most religions the needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few. This is not the case with the Christian faith. In fact, we are called to sacrifice for the few; for the widows and orphans, the least of these.
Your religion, your beliefs, your surroundings, your government, your friends, your family, your work, your newspaper all contribute to your worldview. To deny this reality is to accept the lie that you can somehow manage to look past everything you’ve been taught and use “rationality” to make sound judgments. How is what you believe shaping how you look at things and treat others? Or how about this; does how you look at things and treat others show you a glimpse of what you believe?