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Defining these three WorldViews: Christianity, New Age & Naturalism
In the last post I stated that debate over worldviews takes place mostly between these three groups, so I thought I'd quickly define some of the major caracteristics of these paradigms. In being brief however, I will be massively simplifying and merely highlighting what I see as some of the characteristics that are significant to this discussion:
All Christians believe that God incarnated fully in Jesus as completely God, completely Man, therefore they accept the writings of the Gospels (as well as the rest of the Bible) as being historically accurate and literal portrayals of actual physical events rather than as mythology/allegory. They believe that the primary purpose of this was to show mankind the way to live and then to provide a sacrifice for our sins by dying on the cross, and then rising after three days. Therefore, Christians believe that we must accept Jesus as our personal saviour, forming a personal relationship with God, and try to live by the principles layed out in the Bible to the best of our abilities.
Christianity has a unique concept know as the Triune God, whereby there is only One God, yet there are three distinct persons to God, Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Generally, Christians object to the conclusion that the three parts are aspects of the same God, proposing a new concept that they are independant, yet all only One (I'm interested to hear someone explain this in greater depth.) Christians generally believe that the world is in a fallen state due to origional sin in the garden of eden, and that mankind therefore is born into sin and needs external redemption. Therefore Christians assert that the only means of Salvation is through Jesus Christ, as a equal and opposite consequence of this belief, they generally stand opposed to other forms of Religion / Spiritual practice, maintaining claims of exclusivity.
Christians also generally believe in the existence of a Fallen Angel previously known as Lucifer, now known as Satan (literally, the advesary) who led a rebellion in the heavens against God. They believe that Satan and his Demons (other fallen Angels) try to tempt mankind away from God and into Sin. Generally, most Christians believe that human beings are restricted by naturalistic laws that govern the material world and that paranormal/supernatural phenomena are the result of the intervention of a spiritual force or being, whether Holy or Evil.
So, in the Christian doctrine, human being live only one life on earth, after which we recieve judgment as to our eternal destination between two places, Heaven & Hell. Due to the exclusivity of the beliefs, any paranormal phenomena or spiritual practices which are not condoned by the Bible, or the particular church, are viewed as being evidence of Demonic activity, with the purpose of leading people away from Christ, and by consequence away from Heaven to eternal seperation from God in the fires of Hell.
There are liberal movements within some churches, & certainly many people consider themselves Christians and do not subscribe to all the above views. However, the above views are considered mainstream, and generally those in the mainstream view any deviation from these views as being heresy. For a more concise understanding of Christian doctrine, you can read the Nicene Creed, or read the statement of beliefs on the websites of some Churches.
New Age is a general term for the modern application of spiritual practices and beliefs seperate from a traditional system of religion. It is a very wide open field currently with little organising structure between different organizations. There are however, many common threads that run throughout:
Most, if not all New Age beliefs can be found within Mystical / Occult based religions, with the major difference being that what was once kept secret for initiates is now published freely and openly. For example, Hinduism can be considered the foundation for the New Age movement, yet the elements of Hinduism that are used are the deeper esoteric teachings of Yoga, Vedanta & Tantra, rather then the daily home & temple rituals and the venerations of a multitude of forms of God.
New Age views Mysticism as a Divine Science, discovered by holy men & women, seers, sages, mystics, prophets, yogis, shamans, witches, & philosophers and sees it as a common thread throughout human history. Aldous Huxely coined the term "Perennial Philosophy" to describe this timeless teaching found in many (if not most cultures). This idea is also put forth in the writings of Joseph Cambell and Carl Jung to name a few. (However it must be noted that this idea is extremely controversial and is certainly not viewed as an accepted fact. It is disputed by many experts in anthropology, mythology and religion). So as a result, New Age excepts many spiritual paths as being valid, yet at the same time believes them all to be one path, ultimately being the same narrow path rarely trodden. Some people take this a bit too far and state that all Religions are the same, clearly this is not the case. However, the general idea is that the same spiritual laws and principles apply to different cultures and belief systems.
New Age excepts traditional Eastern Doctrines such as Reincarnation & Karma, yet explains & interprets them differently to many traditional sects. Much of this has to do with the influence of the study of NDE's (Near Death Experiences), OBE's (Out of Body Experiences) / Astral Projection, and the teachings presented through Mediumship, ie through Spiritualism.
At this point I could probably go on writing for a long time, so I'll cut this short and go into greater detail later.
The common thread amongst Atheistic/Naturalistic philosophies is the belief that there are no Supernatural realms or beings and that all claims of Paranormal / Supernatural / Psychic phenomena can be explained as either deliberate fraud, delusions/hallucinations/mental illness, mental or sensory tricks (ie visual illusions) or some currently unknown natural phenomena.
Therefore, they believe that Consciousness is created solely from the electro-chemical activity within the brain, coming into existence in early fetal development & disappearing with the cessation of bodily functioning at death. Hence as a consequence, Atheists do not believe in an afterlife of any sort, nor any sort of reward or retribution outside of the social laws governing physical actions.
Please keep in mind that I'm being very general at this point, I can go into specifics later. I've left out alot of points for the sake of keeping this post brief. As I stated in the previous post, by no means am I saying that these are the only three worldviews of any significance. What I'm saying is that these three are by far the most dominant here in the modern, westernized world. I am very interested in hearing any opinions. In this blog I will try to present different topics and examine the way these three different paradigms interpret the same information, seeing whether it is possible to resolve some areas of dispute.
Something else I intended to mention before but forgot. I stated previously that everybody has a worldview yet for many people this is somewhat subconscious. I meant to expand upon this and state that many people adopt simple, pragmatic philosophies or simplified, liberal versions of major world views, or simply choose to remain Agnostic, open to information without locking themselves in to belief systems.
Ok, I think I'll just cut this off here for today.
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