We have written modest amounts about what it is to be a human being and about sex and race, but we have not said much about how ones theory of or experience with human beings relates to worldview. We will touch briefly on this today, due to the fast-approaching celebrated birth date of perhaps humanity’s most impactful human being.
It’s also important to be thinking about this while wading through the media’s flood of Identity Politics now drowning out all reason.
Each of us can probably agree that humans as individuals and in groups have fundamental biological attributes that distinguish them from other living and non-living beings and from each other. Identity Politics seems to focus mostly on race and sex, with other more fluid categories like gender, ethnicity, and class being more culture-oriented. On the other hand, these socialized categories clearly do influence biology, as well, in many ways.
Linked here is an excerpt from James Sire’s Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept (2015). One’s worldview is the lens through which each person sees and understands the world in an effort to answer life’s most important questions.
Well, life’s most important questions is quite a lot of territory for worldview to cover! Really? Dr. Sire lists his version of these seven questions in this excerpt, with the third question being the following:
3. What is a human being? To this we might answer a highly complex machine, a sleeping god, a person made in the image of God, a “naked ape.” (page 20)
In other words, every worldview has its own theory, whether simple or sophisticated, about human beings and human nature. You might see if you can match up each of the four categories Sire lists above – from complex machine to naked ape – with a particular worldview.
A logical progression relating the Human Being to worldview might go something like this. Each generally-accepted major worldview has a fairly extensive theory about the following, based on experience and education:
- Human nature – Constant? Changing? Good/Bad? Nurture/Nature? Perfectible? Etc.
- How human beings relate to God, if applicable, other humans, and the world
- Sex: Men and Women – Same? Different? Abilities? Relationships? Roles?
- Gender Roles based on sex like Father and Mother and the Family
- Race, Ethnicity, Nationality
- How Humans Govern in groups of all sizes
We have offered a simple chart of our Classical Judeo-Christian (CJC) worldview in several posts, including the one linked here. Just down that page you will see a picture of a stack of worldview books (including Dr. Sire’s quoted above) and our worldview chart that includes “Human Being” as #6 out of Eight Worldview Pillars. #7 is morality. ☺
We chose these eight categories for our own reasons. There are many other possibilities.
Again, each worldview has an imbedded theory or bias about human nature, beings, and even particular people. Our CJC worldview matches up with Sire’s Image of God category mentioned above. We believe humans are made in the image of God and are capable of great goodness, but also capable of true evil, and, therefore, fundamentally flawed.
Individuals within those parameters vary widely by degree, circumstance, and most important the older they get, choice.
In any case, we can tag every worldview or philosophy with an imbedded theory of human nature, and this influences how those with a given worldview solve personal and social problems. It determines how institutions are constructed together in large and small groups, which we classify as Governance (#8) in our chart.
Again, individual pillars and their interrelationships vary based on religion, culture, education, geography, locality, etc. How we construct our meta-narratives going back even to prehistory or the beginning of time, if necessary, and our personal narratives tell us what our worldview is and defines how we relate fundamental beliefs.
To get your worldview mental juices flowing, you might take a few minutes to review the Praxis Circle Contributor playlist at top, Human Beings and Worldview. It contains 13 short clips addressing related questions on the subject. You can skip around the list as interested, but it’s easy to see how complicated the issue of human nature gets very quickly.
We should emphasize that these answers are not intended by anyone to be complete answers, and that they are the opinions of each person and not necessarily our staff.
Philosophers have always argued about the nature of humankind. From the Early Modern period, Thomas Hobbes believed men are bad going all the way back to hunter-gatherer days – and that life is nasty, brutish, and short. In contrast to Hobbes, Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed man is good now and has been since pre-history, and that it’s only modern man who has learned to enslave and otherwise exploit humanity. Finally, John Locke believed man is born a blank slate making socialization key to human nature, and that human beings can be either good or bad based on life’s pathway.
While these three are just a small sample and while each summary statement is nowhere near a complete presentation of each view (even being misleading to that extent), each of these philosophers or early-stage “political scientists” became famous for presenting new and improved theories about human nature. Each wrote lengthy treatises of various sorts on the subject. Other relative contemporaries like Adam Smith did the same. Furthermore, each of their starkly contrasting theories are still suggesting very different institutional solutions to human problems today. Hobbes, Rousseau, Locke, and Smith remain intensely relevant.
So, the question for all is: Who or what view is most realistic?
We can never really know in detail what man was like in prehistory. On the other hand, who is most correct about what we do know today? Are they all correct, in part, and, if so, under what conditions?
Most would agree there is a reality outside our own opinions about human nature and the world. If one wants theory to work well, it’s important to get the theory matching reality, if truth is part of your worldview.
We believe other animals can think and survive without words because they obviously do so quite well, but we also don’t think we as humans can change for the better or worse or manipulate our world very much without the reasoning power that human words and language provide. The ancients’ observation that human beings are different from the rest of the animal kingdom due to a higher language and reasoning ability has held up very well under “modern” science; again, not to say that animals don’t think and communicate.
And what seems to be the most important in language and reasoning – at least according to postmodernists – is la diff or the difference. We will grant postmodernists much but certainly this: If everything is the same out there in the world of human consciousness, then there really isn’t very much at all to talk about. How could we?
Scientists across every relevant endeavor believe each of our human senses have evolved to notice la diff in highly sophisticated ways – like recognizing the difference between a camouflaged snake and the grass where it hides, waiting for us – and to reason about the world in powerfully analytical ways.
And what’s the first difference everyone instantly recognizes via ultrasound or at birth about any human being? Of course, the newborn’s sex. Virtually every human being is born either male or female. Differences between males and females seem to present themselves immediately, and they continue throughout most lives, though we aren’t allowed to say this today in public. In worldview schemes, as suggested by the bullet points listed above, one’s idea of gender is really a subcategory view of human nature.
To go one more step with the obvious: Since a biological male (father) and female (mother) is still needed to create a child and since one’s upbringing has an outsized impact on each of our lives, one’s idea of proper fatherhood and/or motherhood can be as central to one’s worldview as human nature, sex, or gender.
Moms and Dads get each of us well down the footpath of worldview before we ever know what hit us, thank Goodness!
Well, you can see how this worldview thing quickly proliferates, how it gets way out of hand – but that’s the way the worldview cookie crumbles. It was likely the same for Neanderthals as it is for us today.
As mentioned in prior posts many theologians and philosophers over the last several thousand years have viewed this kind of thinking to be natural reality or law, which defines certain aspects of worldview for us, even creating universals across humankind, societies, cultures, families, tribes, and nations. To us, the idea that natural law has been repealed or suspended is a laugher.
By definition, it never will be.
Moreover, we believe Identity Politics as supported by Critical Theory and Marxism is profoundly un-Christian. (See the extended comments at the end of that article, too. They are excellent.)
Few with any knowledge beyond the local village have ever believed Jesus was White; Caucasians in large numbers were latish to Christianity and many tried to wipe it out; and, without any question, Christianity absorbs all human identities.
That’s our CJC worldview, and it’s as real as an apple hanging from its tree.
On the one hand, it’s sad that Identity Politics in the extreme insists the White Male is responsible for virtually all of the world’s current ills and past transgressions, but, on the other hand, it’s extremely impressive and, in a sense, flattering that “colorless” men with an affinity for cold weather and beer could garner such an apparently incredible track record, getting 100% credit for a global and sinister job, on a basis, done so very well to date.
But we digress too much for this short post.
Lastly, one more thing about Nature or “natural law” that we all can count on, a truth beyond any worldview: Nature always gives us exceptions to every rule or law. In other words, Nature tends to split every difference possible around the margins. One can’t fool Mother Nature, and one can’t contain it when it wants to go somewhere.
As a result, natural “exceptions” or outliers often significantly influence worldview alongside the norm; in fact, many believe today the extreme exceptions are the tail wagging the dog. Can too much attention be paid to cases standard deviations outside Nature’s countless, manifested midpoints?
Yes, Christian societies today, anyway, strive to offer equal dignity, respect, and love to every person, but we cannot treat every person in all situations as if he or she is the same. This is actually unjust.
Any common good with the most benefit to the most people must be weighted toward the norm, if any, to some reasonable extent. Most societies have accepted this down through the ages more than we do now, and there are many reasons for this.
Luckily (knock on wood), there will be more time for comment on this important issue in 2021.
We will end today with a quote from a recently published book that outlines a worldview that gender or sex matters quite a bit and that we should treat all persons equally regardless of sex, race, or national origin. Here’s an excerpt from The Plot to Change America: How Identity Politics is Dividing the Land of the Free (2020) by Mike Gonzales:
We don’t have to accept any of this. In fact, we must fight all of it. There are not thirty-one genders; sex is an anatomical reality, and except for extremely rare cases of people born with physical manifestations of both, there are two sexes. People are either one or the other. It is a scandal that there are some municipalities where saying this earns Americans a fine, or corporations where the long hand of HR [Human Resources] get you for it. There is no “Hispanic” race, nor is there any “Hispanic music” or “Hispanic cuisine”. Millennials who think they enjoy either have been misled. We should never give anyone preferential treatment because of the group to which he or she has been assigned, just as we should not penalize anyone for their race, national origin, or sex. That our government does this on a regular basis is a disgrace. (page 199)
Mr. Gonzalez makes a credible case in the prior 198 pages for these statements. His words will be extremely off-putting to some, but at least any Plot to Change America reader knows exactly where they come from given his full presentation.
Furthermore, Mr. Gonzalez has complete standing to make the above statement against Identity Politics and its Critical Theory because he is “Hispanic,” having spent his first 14 years in Cuba.
In any case, it ought to be clear by now how one’s point of view toward sex and race and their sub-categories (e.g., male/father and female/mother) quickly become major determinants of one’s worldview.
Our next two posts will finish our series on Men, by far the biggest threat to humanity the world faces in multiple ways.