In considering the main worldviews held by most all of mankind, how does one go about deciding which ones must be more false, and which one (if any) has a likelihood of being true? ("Truth" is that which matches up with reality --above and beyond mere personal opinion.)
To begin with, we must recognize and assume that something actually exists in reality. Every full-orbed worldview sees this fact. (If real existence is denied, then all reasoning and discussion are over; and any denier is denying his own existence anyway.)
--Next, we must assume that we can actually know something real, and that we are able to think true thoughts. A reasonable starting-point for this might well be that of Descartes' line of reasoning: "I think, therefore I am." This is a logical assertion that we do actually exist, since we are doing the thinking --and in addition, we know something which is self-evidently true: we exist.
Along with recognizing that we can know something true, come the three laws of logic (or laws of thought), which are: the law of identity, the law of opposites, and the law of non-contradiction.
- 1. The "Law of Identity": Briefly states that "A is A." ...OR... "A is not non-A." --This means that in a certain specific context (set of facts and circumstances), a specific proposition (or thing, idea or situation) has only one actual meaning or essence. --For example, a pencil is a pencil. It is not an apple or anything else that is a non-pencil. Any actual thing (strictly defined) has a set of characteristics consistent with what it really is. A specific thing may need to be described in exacting detail within a specific context, but this law must stand.
- 2. The "Law of Opposites" (or "the Excluded Middle"): States that "A proposition (or thing, idea or situation) is either true or false (but not both) at a certain time and in a certain respect." --For example, the statement: "I am pregnant" is either true or false at a specific time regarding a certain person; but it cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect. -- And the third law is an outgrowth of this second one.
- 3. The "Law of Non-Contradiction": States that: "Proposition A and proposition not-A cannot both be true at the same time and in the same respect." ...OR... "The two propositions "A is B" and "A is not B" cannot both true at the same time and in the same respect." They are mutually exclusive. --Thus, a thing cannot possibly be what it also is not (at one time and in the same respect). That would be a "contradiction" and nonsense. It is excluded from reality. Likewise, a coherent statement cannot be both true and false at the same time and in the same respect. For a statement to be regarded as both true and false (at the same time and in the same sense) is a "contradiction." Truth and reality cannot be a contradiction.
If anyone were to try to reject these laws of logic (or assert that they do not really exist), that rejector would have to use these laws in order to think about them and to try to reject them --and to communicate that rejection. Therefore: Non-logic is self-defeating, self-destructing and nonsense. It is excluded from reality. If these laws of thought are denied, then all meaningful thinking, knowing, communication and existence are destroyed --and our existence proceeds into nonsense and nihilism. --Discussion and reasoning about a worldview or anything else are over.
The Three Truth-Tests
Logical thinking allows us to list three distinctive qualities which test the truthfulness of any worldview:
FIRST, an adequate worldview must be consistent within itself, and non-contradictory. Any self-contradiction is a definite indication that the worldview contains at least some untruth; And if the self-contradiction involves an essential element of the worldview, then the worldview must be false, having failed the first truth-test of "consistency."
SECOND, an adequate worldview must fit basically all the relevant data and facts of reality (as opposed to fantasy) in the world / universe and human experience. The worldview which accounts for the greatest number of facts, with the fewest difficulties, has the highest probability of being a worldview which is true. A worldview which is inconsistent with human experience and with the empirical facts of history, nature, and the universe, fails the second truth-test.
THIRD, an adequate worldview must be subjectively satisfactory, practicable and livable on an every-day basis. We must ask: When a man is done talking and "philosophizing" about the nature of his worldview, can he consistently live it out, and does he actually practice it in his every-day life? --If not, then the actions of his life reveal his true inner conviction of the untruth of his professed worldview --that it is not livable, and therefore (by his actions and life) he rejects his own worldview so that it fails the third truth-test.
So, we will study various worldviews, such as those addressed on this website, and evaluate them with these truth-tests in mind.
By way of review: A worldview is a person's set of assumptions and assertions about the basic makeup and nature of the universe and humanity.
A fully developed worldview gives answers to the foundational questions of human existence:
1.) What is the ultimate and prime reality? (...such as "God", or Matter/Energy)
2.) What is the essential nature of the universe and everything?
3.) What is the basic nature and condition of man?
4.) What is the reason and basis of ethics and morality?
5.) What is man's basic purpose and ultimate destiny?