Copyright © 1997, by John Lankford, Fort Smith, Arkansas


     Each and every person has a world view. This means that personal observations have been made about the world, its problems, the ultimate questions of origins, etc. And around this set of observations is wrapped a viewpoint that ties together and explains the observations. This is a world view. What are some facts about world views?

     First, world views come in many colors. There is the theistic view, deistic view, pantheistic view, and even those who claim no world view, but to simply exist and "go with the flow," have a "chaotic"world view.

     Second, all world views have one major thing in common and that is they all are acts of faith and not results of absolute proof.

     Third, world views also have one other thing in common. They all attempt to explain observables. For example, design in nature is an admitted fact. The world view of the Biblical writers and even the Islamic writers explain such design as an act of creation by a Supreme Being. The naturalistic world view explains it as a result of mere chance. Both are faiths wrapped around observations.


     How do you "prove" a world view? First, a world view must have explanatory power to tie together a large set of observations. Does it explain why specific things happen/not happen in the world? Does it answer the ultimate questions such as a person's origin, purpose and destiny?

     Second, does it continue to touch base with accepted fact? That is, upon further examination, does it "square" with more observables? For example, is there any factual base for the "Tower of Babel" or the city of "Ur"? Is there any factual base for the Mormon view of history as presented in the Book of Mormon? How the written records of those holding specific world views check out with archeological findings could help firm up one view over another.

     Third, is the view coherent? Does the whole system have internal consistency. That is, when the Bible is studied as a whole, with different writers of different backgrounds forming its content, is there is a unity in message and purpose seen? Are there internal contradictions? (This does not mean that everyone cannot use different words in describing an event or teaching or even write with differing degrees of precision.) It is a well known fact that no one has been able to show a bona fide contradiction in the Bible. Those who have tried have been ably answered. Such is not the case with the Mormon writings (cf. Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, by Gerald and Sandra Tanner).

     Also, the idea of unity does not mean that there are not some "fuzzy areas" in the system. For example, our present understanding of chemistry is based on a core of accepted truths. But there are some areas that are not clear and are really "above and beyond" the ability of most chemists to understand. Chemists call this the "land of nebulosity." More thought and research may bring out new truths that tie up the present loose ends. But none of this argues against an overall internal unity in the discipline. The same is true of any other world view. The existence of "fuzzy areas" do not argue against its overall consistency. In Christianity, the inability to comprehend the "Trinity" does not argue against it.


     First, because a person does not have the time or resources to examine each and every world view, selecting one must be an act of faith. This also means that a person could lose faith in one view and accept another that explains things better. This is exactly what happened to the Tanners listed above. They lost faith in Mormonism because they found outright cover-ups in Mormon history etc. So, after accepting by faith a specific world view, one must constantly examine it in light of known facts and its ability to explain those facts.

     Second, as per the biblical world view, it tells one straight out that it is a walk of faith and not sight. For if the God of the Bible is the "true God" then this is the precise way to please Him (Heb 11). So, we sit about where Theophilus sat (Luke 1:3). Our faith must come from hearing testimony and not seeing attendant miracles (Rom 10:17).

     The blessing comes by faith, not sight (John 20:29). It is faith from start to finish (Rom 1:17).


     Much is made by skeptics of the fact that Bible believers "walk by faith." We all "walk by faith and not sight" in even the acceptance of "common knowledge." For example, in everyday life most of us "goose-step" to what "they say." You know the story . . . "they say" that eating rice with oranges will give you a headache . . . so we avoid that practice. "They say" you cannot mix motor oils so we make sure that isn't done. "They say" oat bran helps prevent cancer . . . so, we buy oat bran. Even the most die-hard skeptic can be found at the grocery store buying corn flakes with oat bran in it. And on it goes. Another example is from the teaching of Chemistry. Most all chemistry books report that the nucleus of the atom was "discovered" by Rutherford by shooting "bullets" at gold foil. It is doubtful that the writer of the text actually observed the event. It is even doubtful that his teacher observed it. But we all believe that someone saw it and made an accurate report of the event.

     Our position in chemistry is that of belief in testimony as per most of what is accepted as fact. Further, about all anyone can say that would not involve belief would be "I am a something . . . but I know not what." This is where "walking by absolute certainty" leads a person. And you don't find many people running out into the front of a roaring Mack Truck screaming, "It's only a dream. It's only a dream!!" No, most everyone tends to believe that what's "out there" is real and not imagined. We all walk by faith and what we accept as "fact" is more than likely based on the testimony of some remote source.


     First, does it touch base with accepted historical fact? That means, if it mentions a city, people, king, etc., is there anything that backs up the claim? For example, Ezra 4:10 mentions the name of a "good Osnapper" (RSV). Did this person exist? Is there any "out there" stuff on him? Yes. The name itself is an Aramaic form of Ashurbanipal, the once King of Assyria. Around 1852-53, Hormuzd Rassam discovered the famous Ashurbanipal library. Here, the Old Testament writings "touched base" with reality. Another interesting example is that the river Ulai was not known except by being mentioned in the book of Daniel (8:2). Later it was found in the Assyrian inscriptions associated with Ashurbanipal.

     Second, the Biblical view is that at one time in man's early history that a great flood wiped out all except one man and his family and what animals they could save. Common sense, says that this story would have been handed down for generations to come. It is also reasonable that as men drifted away from God that the stories would become corrupted. It would be expected that records of the story would have been kept that would actually pre-date Genesis.

     Within the Ashurbanipal library were found writings that describe a man who was separated from humanity by his good qualities. He was instructed to build a boat. Exact details were given to him to build the boat. Other people and animals were to enter the boat and those left outside would be destroyed. Birds were released to see if the waters had receded (doves and ravens). Finally after coming out of the boat a sacrifice was made by the man to the gods and a "sweet smell" went up to the gods (cf. Gen 8:21). This surely sounds familiar! Of course, the existence of this story in a pagan land does not prove the Bible story true, but how it originated is clearly explained by the Biblical world view. It is actually an "undesigned" coincidence that something in the Bible and in the Assyrian library would cross paths. This makes our world view firmer.

     Third, another interesting item in the biblical picture is that before the flood men seemed to live much longer than those after the flood.

     Does this find any verification in archeology? The Sumerian Prism is an artifact of very early civilization in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, according to the biblical view. There is a statement on the block of rock (prism) that says that a flood swept over the earth. Then the rock is divided by a line into two sections -- pre-flood and post-flood. The life spans of those kings before and after the flood are listed. And there is an obvious difference. Those before the flood lived decidedly longer. This a weighty piece of evidence that even points to a real "flood event."

     Fourth, there are many, many more places that the Bible mentions that can be verified. Interestingly, such is not the case with the world view contained in the Book of Mormon. Mormon scholar and defender of the faith, Thomas Stuart Ferguson, spent a good deal of his life trying to find something that would give credence to the history portrayed in the Book of Mormon. His conclusion? There are no artifacts, etc., "because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of dirt-archeology." Note this contrast with the Bible.

     We believe that our world view is more sure than the Mormon view because of the factual support our faith has.


     So, what is the point of all this? First, to show that everyone has a personal view of things that wraps around what they have observed and continue to observe. Second, that such a view is an act of faith and not a result of absolute proof. And that those who want to say that they walk by proof and not faith should be challenged on that point. Third, that some world views are better because they rest on much surer foundations. This is the case with the biblical view compared to the Mormon view.

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West-Ark Church of Christ