By Bernard James Mauser, Ph.D.
The buzzword in Christian apologetics is worldview. People spanning the theological spectrum recognize the importance of viewing the world through a proper lens. The emphasis is on making sure that everything that is thought and done is seen in light of what God has revealed.
One would think that Friedrich Nietzsche, one of the leading atheistic philosophers, would have no influence on worldview thinking. To say that he does would appear to be a sinister plot to undermine the faith and ministry of many substantial Christian leaders. This judgment would be mistaken. We can avoid the pitfalls of Nietzsche once we realize how he has affected worldview thinking, and yet still cling to all those aspects of worldview thinking that are good and true.
Nietzsche lays the foundation of an approach to knowledge that is radically relativistic. He is the father of Perspectivalism. Perspectivalism says that people are completely limited to their perspective. Note the parallel in worldview thinking. Those in various circles say that a person’s interpretation of reality is completely seen through a particular lens (this is simply defined as worldview thinking).
Here is the problem. If worldviews determine how one interprets all of reality, then the ‘notion of worldview’ is determined by one’s worldview. Consequently, the notion of worldview is relativistic. If one’s worldview does not determine the ‘notion of worldview,’ then there are aspects of reality that aren’t determined by worldview. Either worldviews determine how one interprets all of reality or it doesn’t. Therefore, the notion of worldview is determined by worldview (which is consonant with Nietzsche’s Perspectivalism and relativism) OR there are aspects of reality not determined by worldview (in which case we have to find which truths that span all worldviews we can use to judge between them).
This analysis does not rule out the positive things worldview can give us. The lens by which we decide things can certainly be helpful. However, as a starting point for knowledge, ‘worldview’ is not able to answer aspects of reality everyone recognizes (regardless of worldview). The primary focus in of our search for truth is reality. Once we discover what is real, then we can decide which worldview best corresponds to reality.