I listened for years to politicians say that “this is the most critical election in my lifetime,” and it may have been up to that point. But what I sense this time is different … very, very different. One might say foreboding.
What I sense now is not just disagreement but hostility and anger. I sense that many on both sides of the political divide seem to think that in November the future course and trajectory of our nation will be irreversibly set. Maybe because of all this, desperation is a word that comes to mind.
If you’ve sensed the same thing, then maybe, like me, you’ve thought about what is at the root of the palpable difference. I’d find it interesting to know whether you’ve also sensed something different about this election cycle and why you think that is (though I can’t respond to every post and email). You can email me through our website contact page or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
But for me, I think it is because we now have a critical mass of people who hold incompatible and irreconcilable worldviews. In other words, there are enough people on both sides of these competing worldviews that there’s a legitimate rivalry. Like in sports, you can’t really have much of a rivalry unless both teams have some possibility of beating the other.
Why do I think the root of the friction is worldviews? Well, I read something the other day that said that if you talk with a person long enough about the differences you hold on an issue you’ll likely find that it is a difference of worldviews, at least with respect to that issue.
As to this clash of worldviews there are really only two competing views. One is what C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity called a “religious view” and the other he called the “materialist view.”
People who take the materialist view, he says, “think that matter and space just happen to exist, and always have existed, nobody knows why; and that the matter, behaving in certain fixed ways, has just happened by a sort of fluke, to produce creatures like ourselves who are able to think.”
Lewis says those who have the “religious view think that what is behind the universe is more like a mind than it is like anything else we know. That is to say, it is conscious, and has purposes, and prefers one thing to another. And on this view it made the universe, partly for purposes we do not know, but partly, at any rate, in order to produce creatures like itself — I mean, like itself to the extent of having minds.”
We saw this difference played out at the conventions of the two major political parties. The most dramatic display was, of course, the vociferous opposition at the Democratic National Convention to the inclusion in its party platform of a reference to God and to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. I don’t say that as a partisan, but to point out the difference in the terminology used in the two parties’ platforms (and I’d note that neither party always acts consistently with the values in its platform and that many Democrats and Republicans who profess to holding the religious view act, as a practical matter, like those who hold the materialist view).
These differences go to something fundamental about our nation that, I think, is at the root of the tension. Our nation was founded on the religious view – that we “are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights,” namely, “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” for the protection of which civil government exists. The Creator was the foundation for all that followed, and for those who hold this worldview the Creator remains the foundation upon which America’s future will depend. This foundation cannot be the view of America’s future for those of the materialist view.
Each worldview produces a very different set of solutions to the issues that face America. We’ll talk more about that in the coming weeks. But, for me, therein lies the conflict. And it makes even more important the question imminently before us: Which worldview will be the one that takes America into the future?
Listen the FACT Report on Worldviews and the Presidential Debates: Which Worldview Will Lead America?