Everybody has a world view. It’s the glasses through which you look at the world. Your world view will help you see some things clearly, but may also distort other things. One thing that is important though, is to know the assumptions inherent in your world view. When you think what you think, what assumptions is this based on?
I do not claim to have the Answers (notice the capital A), but here’s some of the questions. These questions are totally basic, and can be found at the foundation of most world views. Most of these questions can probably not be answered conclusively, but which ever answer you choose to believe, will hold some implications for your world view.
Obviously I did not come up with these questions. Many of them have been hotly debated for thousands of years; this is just a list of the ones I could think of. Let me know what you think, did I leave some questions out, and where do you stand on the answers?
Question: Do we have free will?
Are we free to decide our actions, or are our actions pre-determined. If you believe in strict scientific determinism, it may follow that no human is free to choose, since any situation arises as a result of scientific processes whose outcome is determined in advance.
Note that free will is not synonymous with the ultimate freedom to choose, regardless of external influences. Obviously we are influenced by our family, peers, society, upbringing, religion and much more. The question is: Within those confines, are we free to choose our actions, or are they determined externally, be it by the laws of nature or the laws of god?
Question: Is the universe connected?
Are things to be fundamentally interconnected or fundamentally isolated? Here things can be anything from inanimate objects to humans beings. Eastern religion believes things to be very much interconnected, whereas recent western thought sees things as more isolated.
All the boundaries we see in the world that separate things from each other, can be seen as a result of the first barrier, the one between you and the rest of the world. Therefore, the question can actually be reduced to this: Is there a separation between you and the rest of the universe?
Question: Can one world view be better than another?
When comparing world views, is it possible to make value judgements? Can one world view be said to be better than another?
Post modern thinking would say no. All world views are subjective, no world view can be judged from the perspective of any other world view.
Is there a world out there?
This is one of the most fundamental philosophical questions: How can we know that there is a world out there? Our senses tell us that there is, but what if our senses deceive us?
Question: Does the universe tend towards complexity?
Our current cosmological understanding says that the universe originated in a big bang, that created a mostly uniform universe. Since then we’ve seen galaxies, solar systems, planets and even life appear. All of these represent an increase in complexity compared to the conditions in the young universe. The question is: Are the laws of nature in our universe so constructed, that they favour the progression towards increased complexity?
It would be beautiful if it were so. It would mean that the universe favours complexity, life and maybe even beauty.
Question: Is there an external purpose?
Many religions posit the existence of a creator who has a plan for the universe. This means that everything in the universe has a purpose, and that this purpose is somehow external to the universe.
Is that the case? Or is it true that there is no purpose to the universe and to our lives other than what we choose?