What a person believes about life (also referred to as a person’s worldview) involves three inter-related areas. These three things are always part of any system of belief. Beginning with these questions will not necessarily lead to the right answers.
First, is what is the nature of reality. Philosophers call this metaphysics. “Meta” means “beyond” and physics means “nature.” Metaphysics refers to what is beyond the physical. It deals with questions like, What is it to exist? What is the nature of man? Is he free? Is he good? What is the nature of the universe? Is it real or simply an appearance? Does God exist? What is God’s relationship to the universe? How do things change? What is history? What are the laws and concepts that govern reality.
Second is what is the nature of knowledge? Philosophers call this epistemology. “Episteme” means “knowledge” and “logos” means “word or discourse.” Epistemology refers to what we can know. It deals with questions like, what is the nature of belief and knowledge? What are the standards that justify beliefs? How do we know what we know? What proof of evidence is acceptable? What are the proper procedures for science and discovery?
The third is what is the nature of morality, or what is the nature of right and wrong? Philosophers call this Ethics.
You can not necessarily begin with these questions and expect to come to the truth of belief. Well, not exactly. If we come to a true answer to these questions, then the answers will give a true description of reality, knowledge and morality.
How one comes to describe reality, knowledge and ethics depends on ones underlying beliefs about the world. If what one believes is true then he is more likely to come to a true understanding of reality, knowledge and morality. We must begin with belief. Every person’s worldview attempts to answer four fundamental questions.
- Where did we come from?
- What went wrong?
- Where is rescue?
- Where is history headed?
The answers to these questions and the describing the world in terms of the nature of reality, knowledge and morality are always interrelated. No part of this can be isolated from the others if one tries, in any detail, to describe what they believe.
A true description of the details of the world will lead to consistent answers to these questions, inter-related yet consistent.
We are not blank slates. We all have a belief system. Our belief about life provides answers to these questions, whether we realize it or not.
A more useful approach is to use these questions to explore what we belief and to see if what we belief turns out to address life in a consistent, satisfactory way.