The American Worldview: Christian or Pagan?
All human beings live life with a worldview. “Worldview” is defined as “the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world; a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group” (American Heritage, 2000, p. 1983). People live life and make their daily decisions based upon their worldview. America has historically been characterized as a nation in possession of the “Christian worldview.” America has, in fact, been viewed by the rest of the world as a “Christian nation.” The Founding Fathers spoke often of the “Creator” and “Divine Providence.” They were referring to the God of the Bible and the Christian religion—not the gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, Native American Religion, or even the Allah of Islam.
However, in the last fifty years, American culture has been undergoing a sweeping moral and spiritual transformation. Fewer and fewer Americans now live by the worldview advocated in the Bible. This observation has received recent verification from the independent marketing research company, the Barna Research Group, in the results of its nationwide random sampling of over 2,000 adults released in 2003 (“A Biblical Worldview…,” 2003). The survey found that only four percent of American adults employ a biblical worldview as the basis of their decision-making.
The most prominent alternative worldview, especially among the youngest generations (ages 18 to 38) is postmodernism—the belief system that rejects the notion of absolute truth and a binding objective moral framework. The postmodern worldview believes that one’s moral decisions are legitimately based on personal preference and individual choice. What is right or true for one person may not be right for another. The authority for decision-making resides within the individual—not in an external set of moral principles that are binding on all people. Not surprisingly, the Barna research found that adults with a biblical worldview possessed radically different views on morality, held different religious beliefs, and demonstrated vastly different lifestyle choices. For instance, those with a biblical worldview are:
(1) 31 times less likely to believe living together before marriage is morally acceptable;
(2) 18 times less likely to endorse drunkenness;
(3) 15 times less likely to believe homosexual sex is acceptable;
(4) 12 times less likely to accept profanity;
(5) 11 times less likely to say adultery is morally acceptable;
(6) 100 times less likely to endorse abortion;
(7) 80 times less likely to say exposure to pornography is morally acceptable;
(8) 8 times less likely to gamble by buying lottery tickets, and 17 times less likely to place bets.
While one out of every eight adults who lack a biblical worldview had sexual relations with someone other than their spouse during the prior month, less than one out of every 100 individuals who have a biblical worldview had done so.
Of further interest was the fact that married adults were more likely to have a biblical worldview than single adults. One of the largest gaps was between Republicans (10% had a biblical worldview), Independents (2%), and Democrats (1% had a biblical worldview). A biblical worldview was least common in the six New England states.
It is surely tragic and ironic, as one looks back over world history, to observe that those nations who followed the pathway to immorality, idolatry, and paganism ultimately disintegrated from the inside out—in a kind of “moral implosion.” America was born out of a keen awareness of this fact, and the Founders insisted that a biblical foundation was needed if the new nation was to survive indefinitely into the future. It appears that a sizeable percentage of our citizenry has abandoned the original intentions of the Founders. Indeed, the latest research shows that moral erosion among Americans is continuing (“Morality Continues…,” 2003). Bible history demonstrates repeatedly that when a nation alienates itself from the one true God, opting instead for moral and spiritual regression, it seals its doom and eventual downfall. The only hope for America is a return to the restraint embodied in the sane, sensible worldview presented within the pages of the Bible. As the proverbs writer put it: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (14:34).
“A Biblical Worldview has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life” (2003), [On-line], URL: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=154&Reference=F.
American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
“Morality Continues to Decay,” [On-line], URL: http://www.barna.org/cgi-bin/PagePressRelease.asp?PressReleaseID=152&Reference=F.