The Lens Through Which We See

I recently read of an interesting encounter that author Paul David Tripp had with a 28-year-old man on a bus ride. During the course of the conversation, Tripp learned that the man was a professing atheist.

They had a lengthy conversation and Tripp came away with several observations. First was the surety with which the young man spoke. At 28-years-old, he was convinced that he had it all figured out. He had not been a philosophy major, and he had only casual knowledge of the religions of the world and almost no knowledge of what Christianity was about, but he was sure. He was a theologian, but he had no idea that he was. He didn’t have a neutral view of the nature of life. Rather, he carried in his mind an organized system of thought about life, death, identity, meaning, and purpose—what was, what is, and what will come.

Tripp was also struck by the fact that this young man, every morning put on a set of glasses through which he saw everything in life. Of course, these were not physical glasses, but a set of interpretive glasses that resulted from his atheistic view of life. Everything that was said, seen, and understood by this man was filtered through the lens of atheism.

The lens that Tripp was referring to is what we call “a worldview.” And all of us have a worldview, whether we are aware of it or not.

When we are born, we begin to try and under­stand how life works. Over time, we formulate a philosophy of life, a worldview, and this worldview influences how we see our­selves, how we relate to others, and how we live our lives.

Armand Nicholi was a clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of one of my favorite books, The Question of God. Nicholi says our worldview informs our personal, social, and political lives. It helps us understand our purpose. Further, he said that our worldview determines our ethics, our values, and our capacity for happiness. It helps us answer the big questions of life: How did I get here? How am I to live? Where do I find meaning in life? What is my ultimate destiny? Basically, Nicholi is telling us that our worldview is more telling than perhaps any other aspect of our lives.

In forming our worldviews, Dr. Nicholi says that we make one of two assumptions about life. The first is that we live in a godless universe; we are a product of nature that has evolved over time. This is a secular worldview that emphasizes scientific knowledge and its motto is “What do science and nature have to say?”

The second assumption is that there is a supernatural in­telligence who gives the universe order and life meaning. This is a spiritual worldview that is rooted in Biblical revelations. It places emphasis on spiritual truth and wisdom and its motto is: “What does God have to say about this?”

I have concluded that every person has an opinion on God and spiritual reality, even if it is a belief that He is non-existent. We all have a faith view of reality and it trickles down into our lives and influences the choices we make.

Author Tim Keller says:

“How we relate to God is the foundation of our thinking, because it determines the way we view the world. Whether you believe God exists or not, this belief is the foundation in which all of your reasoning proceeds. For instance, if you do not believe that God exists, it is a belief taken by faith and it becomes your faith view of reality. Whether you realize it or not, all your reasoning proceeds from this belief. You end up screening out all that does not fit with this view of life.”

Your worldview will ultimately explain where life originated, what life means, and what we are supposed to be doing with the years we are given. But is your worldview aligned with what is true?

The great English mathematician, Dr. John Lennox has drawn this conclusion:

“What divides us is not science . . . but our worldviews. No one wants to base their life on a delusion, but which is the delusion? Christianity or atheism?

Richard E Simmons III is the founder and Executive Director of The Center for Executive Leadership and a best-selling author.


Add grace and understanding to your day with words from Richard E. Simmons III in your inbox. Sign-up for weekly email with the latest blog post, podcast, and quote.

Fill out the form to receive wisdom in your inbox from Richard E. Simmons III.