Every day of our life brings new knowledge about this world to us, and this combined knowledge forms a set of our personal beliefs that is called worldview – views about the world. It can be more or less systematic, more or less scientific, but it is always individual and unique. My worldview is being formed by my personal experience, the books I read, the subjects I study, the films I view, the people I meet, etc. I have a set of basic beliefs that form a skeleton of my worldview but I have not yet answered all my questions about the world and my place in it, so my worldview is constantly in the process of formation. The present paper will help me arrange my own beliefs, review them and move further in my understanding of life.
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The Origin of the Physical World
Every person thinks about the origin of the world. This question comes in early childhood, and we get a reply from our parents or teachers – that the world was created by God or that it was the Big Bang. There is no proved theory concerning the origin of the world, and we have to make a choice and find an answer by ourselves. I believe that the world and everything that exists in the world was created by God. At the same time, I do not think that Bing Bang theory or the theory of evolution contradict the views of believers. The Bible says that the Universe was created in seven days, and these words contradict science if interpreted literally. However, the symbolic interpretation of the Bible seems to be more convincing, and it removes all contradictions. Religion tells us that the Bible is the God-inspired book, and I have no arguments to prove the opposite. Yet, being inspired by God, it was still written by people, who could have their own limitations. Thus, the message got a form understandable to people of that age – written by them and for them. The new age requires the new interpretation. Therefore, I believe that the world was created by God as it is testified by the Bible. However, it took not seven days, of course – or not the regular seven days or 168 hours. What is a minute for God is an aeon for a man. I suppose there is no ground to say that Bing Bang model and the theory of evolution contradicts religion as God could create the Universe through the great explosion and He could create a man from a monkey. It does not belittle His might; on the contrary, in this scenario we see not a mysterious wizard but a wise creator who constructs a building from the foundation and lays the basic laws into this foundation according to which his creation will develop. It requires the same might and power as the seven-day creation and even more providence and wisdom.
The Existence and Personality of God
Therefore, as it is already stated, I believe in the existence of God who created the Universe. This is one of my firm beliefs that I have no doubts about. Many philosophers tried to prove the existence of God by logical reasoning but had little success since those who believe in God do not need any reasons, and those who do not believe will refute all arguments. To my mind, faith is paradox as it is irrational and cannot be proved by the means of logical reasoning. The only argument that seems convincing to me is the moral argument provided by Immanuel Kant, though it is questionable either. Since the virtuous often suffer in this world, they should be rewarded after their death, and there should be somebody to secure this justice – thus, God exists (Russell, 2004, p.586). This may look more like a wish than like a convincing argument; however, a similar thesis put by Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky develops Kant’s idea and makes it more persuasive. “If there is no God, how can there be any crime?”, says Dostoyevsky in his novel The Karamazov Brothers (1998, p.395)meaning that the absence of God and afterlife reward does not provide any motivation for moral conduct, and morale cannot exist if God does not exist.
Thus, God exists but the question of His personality is more obscure. Christianity teaches that He exists in three persons – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Islam believes this view to be polytheistic. Again, this is a matter of faith that can hardly be proved through reasoning. As a Christian, I am inclined to believe in the Trinity but I cannot and do not want to plunge into theological arguments about the truth of this belief. I would only like to notice that I do not think that the concept of Trinity is incompatible with monotheism. Therefore, I believe that there is one God who exists in three persons and He is the all-merciful creator of the Universe. One more merit is usually ascribed to God, that is, omnipotence. As for me, I have some doubts about this, though it contradicts Christian beliefs. If God is omnipotent, then He is responsible for all evil in the world, and it cannot be true since He is all-merciful. The existence of evil should be acknowledged, and world history is the history of fight between good and evil. Every person is given the freedom of choice, and this choice takes place every time we make a decision. It is sometimes said that this is people who are responsible for the existence of evil since they choose to do evil, but how would they choose between good and evil if there would be no evil? Therefore, I believe in all-merciful God who is mighty but not omnipotent – his power is limited by the freedom of his creations including the fallen angel who chose to separate from God as a manifestation of his freedom.
Core Values and Beliefs
The above beliefs about the world and God form my core values. Remembering that God’s power is limited by the freedom of his creations, I strive to coordinate my behavior with the rules prescribed by God. I believe that this will be my modest contribution into the improvement of the world. I believe in the maxim “if you want to improve the world, improve yourself”, therefore I see the sense of life in self-improvement.
Before continuing presentation of my beliefs, it would be appropriate to mention major authors and works that had a significant impact on me. First of all, it is Fyodor Dostoyevsky, whose novel The Karamazov Brothers influenced my perception very much and provoked long hours of reflections. Then, it is Immanuel Kant, whose emphasis on morale and ethics is consonant with my own aspirations. Finally, it is Indian religion and philosophy. Unfortunately, I haven’t read any original work yet, and know about Indian culture only from secondary sources, so I cannot name any particular source or author. However, I adopted many ideas of Indian philosophy. Lastly, I was raised as a Christian and adopted major Christian beliefs. Hinduism and Christianity is a strange and controversial combination but they are harmonized by my belief that the synthesis of religions is possible. This leads to my major belief – I believe in unity. Everything is connected in the world, and everything is united. I do not remember in which book I read a metaphor that compares the adherents of different religions to the travelers who clime the same mountain along different paths and see the mountain from different sides. It is the quintessence of my view on religions. I think that they are different sides of one truth. So, from Indian philosophy I borrowed the concepts of karma and ahimsa (non-violence). From Dostoyevsky I borrowed the notion of interdependence and responsibility of everyone for all evil: “Each of us is truly guilty of each other’s sin, only people don’t want to acknowledge it, but if they were to acknowledge it – there’d be paradise on earth immediately!”, says Father Zosima in The Karamazov Brothers (Dostoyevsky, 1998, p.373). From Kant I borrowed his categorical imperative: “Act only according to a maxim by which you can at the same time will that it shall become a general law” (Russell, 2004, p.645), and it is very similar to the Christian rule to treat others the same way you would like them to treat you. These are the core values and beliefs that form my worldview.
According to the Bible, God created a man in the image and likeness of His own self. Therefore, a man is initially good. One may often notice that there is something good even in the criminals who committed many crimes – they can love and suffer, they can believe in God. The essence of every person is good but the world presents too many temptations and too many choices for weak human nature, and, exercising the freedom of the will granted by God, a man often makes a choice in favor of evil. Limitations of human reason do not allow people to foresee all consequences of their choices, and trying to choose the better for them, they often make decisions that lead to suffering.
Since a man is given an immortal soul, life is not ended after death. A just reward, that Kant dreamt about when constructing his moral argument, comes after death. My combination of Christian and Hindu beliefs provides the following explanation. A man’s soul is either burdened by sins or lightened by good deeds, and it goes either in paradise or in hell respectively. However, there is often a third case – people who did not commit any serious sins but did not do anything good either. They will be born on earth again. Besides, some people can come on earth from the higher spheres with some mission. I think this is the weakest place in my worldview as it is rather controversial and tries to combine irreconcilable differences. However, in my defense I want to say that all views on afterlife are proofless and not supported by evidence; it is a matter of faith rather than of reasoning.
Thus, my worldview presents a mix of beliefs borrowed from different religions and philosophers and melted together with the help of my own speculations. The basic ideas that form my worldview can be listed as follows: the existence of God who created the Universe, the existence and immortality of soul, Kant’s categorical imperative, personal responsibility of everyone for everything in the word, karma and ahimsa. I understand that my worldview is not free from contradictions and weak places and I am going to continue my education and self-improvement in order to understand the world better and harmonize all questionable points.
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