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Native Americans And Their Worldviews

Introduction

Weltanschauung – Ever heard about it? Not really. Is it important? Yes. Do I have it? Yes. Does everyone have one? Yes. In fact it is one of the most important concepts in cognitive science and philosophy. So what exactly is Weltanschauung? Well, to be honest, it can be simply termed as any individual’s “Worldview” which, when split into two words, becomes “world view”, i.e. the view of the world, or simply put, the world as someone views it.

Definition - Worldview is a collection of faiths about fundamental views of Reality that forms the basis and determines all the perception, thoughts, knowledge, and deeds.

It is people’s interpretation of life. It initiates decisions and drives one's responses. There are many forms of worldview, out of which science, philosophy, culture and/or religion usually are the major contributors. A worldview consists of one's aggregation of presumptions, beliefs and values using which a person tries to comprehend and understand the world and life. Firstly a worldview is an interpretation and explanation of the world and secondly, an application of this view to life.

My Worldview – Worldview for me is like a pair of glasses that correct your vision, and the world looks blurred to those who don’t have the correct set of glasses. I can describe my personal worldview as - “The world has a driver who keeps driving it in the best possible way. It slows down at all the bumps, and speeds up when the road is empty. It keeps driving day and night without taking a break, and in return just wants the vehicle to be kept in good shape by its caretakers. The driver here is God, vehicle is the world, and we, the humans are its caretakers. God expects us to keep the world in best possible shape, and it’s our duty to respond to this wish of God by spreading love, removing hatred, helping and respecting everyone, saving the nature and natural resources and performing our duties to the best of our abilities.”

My worldview is not based on a single community worldview. In fact, it’s a combination of worldviews of multiple communities. Some communities have had a positive impact on me, while some others have beliefs which contradict my beliefs, due to which my relationship with those communities is primarily negative.

Native Americans have varied world views according to their beliefs in religious activities. These varied worldviews are as follows:

Christian Worldview – The Christian worldview aligns with their worldview of faith in God. Thus their relationship with Christian worldview is primarily positive. The Christian worldview mainly understands the world as God and His creations – man and the world from the perspective of enlightenment God has given and through the Holy Scriptures. God’s revelation in creation as deciphered by human reasoning and also as written in Scripture, expects people to believe and behave according to God’s will, which leads to glorification of God with one’s life and mind, currently and in eternity.

Differences between Christian worldview and other worldviews are that Christian worldview:

  1. Acknowledges that God is the single origin of all truth, and
  2. Associates all truth back to realization of God and His intentions for current and next life.

Arthur Holmes provides a wonderful summary for the unparalleled significance of a Christian worldview when linking God to absolute truth.

A Christian worldview offers a model

  1. To comprehend the world and its realism from the perspective of God and
  2. To arrange one's life with respect to the will of God.

Theistic Worldview – Native Americans relationship with theistic worldview is primarily positive due to its belief in the strength of God and that the creation of Universe is due to God, who is also responsible for planning all the events in the world.

Theistic worldview describes God as a creator of universe, and has also a supernatural power to control the universe. Judaism and Islam also hold theistic worldview, but it is primarily represented by biblical Christianity.

There are six basic proposals of theistic worldview which are as follows:

  1. God is absolutely and perfectly holy, all-powerful, infinite, good and personal.
  2. God created the universe from nothing; it is totally dependent and contingent upon Him.
  3. God created man as his image, hence man is also personal, but man has come down into sinfulness and death.
  4. After death of body, man’s soul continues to live, either in heaven or in suffering.
  5. The basics of morality and ethics are in the nature and character of God, and man reflects these.
  6. History is the sequence of events that happen in a linear manner which reach a meaningful goal as planned by God.

Naturalism Worldview: Native Americans relationship with naturalism worldview is primarily negative due to its belief that God doesn’t exist and there is no supreme power that guides humans and that the nature is the most powerful entity.

Naturalism is the feeling that in the final analysis, nature is everywhere, and that "nature" can only be changed by itself and not by anything else. Stated differently, nature is considered as the final reality.

Nature is active and dynamic, but according to the naturalism world view, there is nothing outside of nature that has any causal effect or influence upon it. Naturalism believes that either God does not exist, or He has no influence or effect on nature. Some might feel that nature itself can be creative. Naturalism suggests that life on earth came up from natural contents by natural choice for natural ends. There is nothing like super-natural. As per naturalism, spiritual realities are either delusions or they are merely unusual or complex natural realities.

Conclusion:

Though we may not realize it, worldviews are a key concept. A united worldview provides the basis for an individual’s moral values and actions corresponding to them. If we assume that a worldview can be faulty or at least not very appropriate, if someone’s worldview is wrong, then that person’s behavior is misdirected, even incorrect.

Anyone's worldview is too significant to neglect. As knowing, thinking beings every human has a responsibility to articulate, examine, communicate, refine, and consistently and consciously apply their worldviews. Failure to do so is considered as something that is less than human. Socrates, at the time of his trial for being undutiful to the Greek gods and spoiling the Athens youth by his preaching, said that the life that is unexamined is not worth living. He was correct, and without any argument he accepted the death sentence to demonstrate it. There can’t be a more firm proof to the validity of these statements than his death.