We call a pattern of ideas a worldview. A worldview answers fundamental questions such as Why are we here? What is the meaning and purpose of life? Is there a difference between right and wrong? Is there a God? We all develop ideas in our attempt to answer these questions, and our ideas naturally give rise to a system of beliefs that becomes the basis for our decisions and actions. Our worldview is like a map. It helps us know where we are, where we need to go, and the best route to get there.
Our worldview does not merely reflect what we think the world is like; it directs what we think the world should be like. In other words, our worldview not only describes reality, it prescribes how we act and respond to every aspect of life. Because our ideas do determine how we behave, the bottom line is that our ideas do have consequences.
This doesn’t mean that everyone is aware of his or her deeply held ideas. If we were to ask a person on the street about her philosophy of life, we would probably get a blank stare. But if we asked how life began, she would probably offer some sort of answer, even if the answer was not completely coherent. Still, her belief would impact the way she lived her life. It’s also often the case that people are unaware of where their deeply held beliefs come from. If we were to continue our street conversation by asking why she believes what she claims to believe, she might shrug and reply, “I don’t know, I just believe it.” Often people get their beliefs like they catch colds—by being around other people! And since ideas are everyone—on television, in books and magazines, at the movies, and in conversation with friends and family—it’s easy to pick them up without considering whether they’re worth believing.
Regardless of where they come from, the ideas we embrace about the nature of reality lead to a set of core beliefs, which in turn form convictions about how we should live meaningfully. This “beefs up” our definition of “worldview.” A worldview is a pattern of ideas but also a pattern of beliefs, convictions, and habits that help us make sense of God, the world, and our relationship to God and the world.