Futurology (Philosophy of the Future)-Where is all of life and existence heading, and why?
Our futurology is a major element that drives our actions today, whether we prepare for a good or bad future or whether we see no need for preparation of any kind, se all have an idea of where we think the world and everyone in it is heading and even an idea of where we are heading. This affects how we see the world and ourselves interacting within it.
Much like world views on the whole, our futurology will largely be determined by either a theistic or atheistic framework. There really is no middle ground for the most part as this element of a worldview doesn’t cross over or “mix and match” with a partial theist or partial atheist position. For example – those who have a non-theist fatalistic futurology may fear the future and especially the inevitable: death, because it is the unknown, uncontrollable, and final end for them. Contrasted to this is the Biblical Christian worldview which directs its adherents to have no fear of death whatsoever as they believe that all will stand before their Maker in judgment but the Christian has trusted in the Son of that Maker for “salvation” so no fear is necessary – absent from the body, present with the Lord etc.
A classic philosophical position for a Christian futurology is known as “Pascal’s Wager” and it goes as follows:
- God is, or God is not. Reason cannot decide between the two alternatives.
- A Game is being played… where heads or tails will turn up. You must wager (not optional).
- Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing.
- Wager, then, without hesitation that He is. (…) There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite.
- And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.
There aren’t a great number of schools of belief as to futurology as it isn’t really a formal school of thought or branch of philosophy. However, below I’ve listed a key question to determine one’s futurology and how some of the various philosophical positions might answer that question:
- If circumstances remain as they are, what is the future of mankind?
- Fatalist – All events that are going to happen have been predetermined ahead of time so we should all just resign ourselves to our fate. “Everything happens for a reason!”
- Environmentalist – Mankind is raping his environment and is killing off his habitat, unless the government steps in and saves man from himself. We will all be destroyed with no future.
- Biblical – Mankind grows more corrupt every day and is storing up wrath for himself the longer he refuses to repent and return to his Creator. There will be Divine judgment on the earth.
- Atheist – Life on earth is all there is, so we should re-educate ourselves to live better and more productive lives & take care of the earth around us until the day of death where it all ends.
- Scientism – Through reason, logic, and use of scientific technology the world is being made a better place and will only be made better over time and evolution.
- Post-Modernism – Science and technology have been abused in the past and blindly following them will lead to a dysfunctional, unhappy, dystopian future
- Some common world views pertaining to futurology
- Fatalism – Philosophical doctrine holding that all events are fated to happen and that human beings cannot therefore change their destinies: e.g. Someone might feel that the Earth is dying, mankind is growing more self-destructive, the future looks bleak and there is little or nothing we can do about it is “fate” and we should just accept it
- Utopianism – A futurology and/or methodology whereby a “perfect” society is pursued by way of faith and hope. It seeks to build a world filled with happiness and freed from pain. Many experiments of utopian pursuit have failed as the goal is flawed in a definitional sense. “Perfect” has been discovered to be a subjective and not objective term and the practical building blocks for piecing together a “utopian society” come at the expense of those who must endure pain and hardship to build and maintain it and of those who disagree with the definition of “perfection”. Utopianism seeks to re-educate, suppress, and/or oppress those who would disagree with the utopian vision i.e. illuminati-like secret societies etc. nevertheless, despite the glaring contradictory methodology to pursue the ideology, the ends justifies the means to the utopian-minded individual. A “dystopian” society would be considered the opposite of a utopian society, whereby disorder and hopelessness rule the day. i.e. Mad Max, Matrix, etc.
- Solipsist – The future doesn’t exist at all as it is a construct of someone that doesn’t really exist in a world that doesn’t really exist.
- Hedonist – “Tomorrow we die” so therefore a hedonist lives every day as if it were their last – living for the here and now of self-gratification “eat, drink, and be merry” c.f. world view expressed in most Hollywood movies and pop songs
- Optimism – Believes, expects, or hopes that things will turn out well Dumb and Dumber scene – “You have one in a million chance with me.” – “So you are saying there IS a chance!” – the ultimate optimist.
- Pessimism / Defeatism – “Expect the worst that you might be “pleasantly surprised”
- The similar but not identical idea that life has a negative value, or that this world is as bad as it could possibly be. It has also been noted by many philosophers that pessimism is not a disposition as the term commonly connotes. Instead, it is a cogent philosophy that directly challenges the notion of progress and what may be considered the faith-based claims of optimism.
- ”But against the palpably sophistical proofs of Leibniz that this is the best of all possible worlds, we may even oppose seriously and honestly the proof that it is the worst of all possible worlds. For possible means not what we may picture in our imagination, but what can actually exist and last. Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. Consequently, since a worse world could not continue to exist, it is absolutely impossible; and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds.” – Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch. 46.
- Pessimism / Defeatism – “Expect the worst that you might be “pleasantly surprised”
- Involved in or vital to the shaping of an individual’s self-chosen mode of existence and moral stance with respect to the rest of the world
- 20th-century philosophical movement that denies that the universe has any intrinsic meaning or purpose and requires individuals to take responsibility for their own actions and shape their own destinies
- Nihilism – A belief that life is pointless and human values are worthless
Ethics / Morality Worldview – What Is The Right and Correct Way to Behave in Life?Relative Morality
- – What is good and right for YOU not necessarily others – walk through life according to your own set of morals.
- – There is good and bad, right and wrong, independent of perception. Morals exist as a result of an escalating level of good that cannot have infinite regress but must trace back to an independent “source” or “fountainhead” i.e. highest level of good that cannot be improved upon or increased any further.
- Questions To Determine What the “Moral” Aspect Is of your Worldview:
- Is Mankind Basically Good or Basically Evil?
- If Mankind is Basically Evil – Then human beings are basically sinful and in rebellion to their Maker and this brings on the guilt and inner turmoil that requires getting at the source and healing them with repentance, reconciliation, and human responsibility. Suffering can bring development and can bring a greater good.(Theistic Worldview)
- If Mankind Is Basically Good – Then human beings must rid themselves of all guilt which is brought on my the evil institutions of Church, family, etc. (Atheism/Marxism). Sometimes these evil desires are repressed (c.f. Buddhism) in order to eliminate all pain and suffering as pain and suffering themselves are evil and must be removed altogether – There is no need of a God or a “giver of morals” in this worldview – all that is needed is education and state-driven indoctrination to bring about an eventual greater good in mankind and to rid the planet of evil (Socialistic, Humanistic Worldview)
- Nihilism/Skepticism: Mankind is neither good nor evil as neither concept exists.
- Humanism/Naturalism: Mankind is basically good but gets morally hindered by social experience and perception
- Atheism/Darwinism: Mankind is basically good and grows into a more moral and civilized being as he evolves.
- Environmentalism: Mankind is basically evil and if left to himself would destroy the human race and its environment.
- Biblical Christianity: Mankind is basically evil at conception by way of the transmission of an evil sickness called sin which began with the first man and woman and he grows more evil and corrupt over time.
- Atheism/Darwinism: Mankind is basically good and evil does not exist – we are all just “dancing to our DNA”.
- What Is The Right And Correct Way To Behave in Life?
- Consequentialism – As long as the result is “morally good” to me it doesn’t matter what I do to achieve it. The ends justify the means.
- Utilitarianism – Everything I do should be to the greatest benefit to the greatest number of people. The well-being of the many outweighs the well-being of the individual.
- Hedonism –All that I do must be in pursuit of happiness & pleasure while avoiding all pain “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” Eccl 8:15, Isa 22:13, ICor 15:32
- Altruism – I should behave in a way that benefits others especially when it doesn’t benefit me.
- Egoism – All things that I do should be in my own best interest and be to my own benefit.
- Animism – I hope for the best and do whatever I can to bring about good luck and fortune. I must avoid evil spirits and if that is not possible I must avoid upsetting them and if that is not possible I must appease those that I have upset.
- Biblical Christian – All that I do must be an expression of love for The God of the Bible first and love for other people in the same way that I love myself.
- Does Evil Exist?
- Nihilism/Skeptic/Christian Science: There is no evil in the world, it is the illusion of unenlightened people.
- Biblical Christianity: Evil is the result of a curse due to rebellion against the Creator along with perpetual poor choices starting with the very first man and woman to this very day. Mankind is born with it, as a result of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- Atheism/Humanism/Naturalism/Darwinism: Evil exists as a result of poor behavioral choices from one person towards another. It is inherent in DNA (nature), inborn naturally, Deity has nothing to do with it. It is nurtured, and shaped by experience: people, stimuli, etc.
- Animism: Evil comes from the wicked spirits that move on the earth and sometimes possess trees, rivers, animals, and people
- Hinduism: Evil comes from a cyclical series of bad choices over the course of thousands of years of repeated lives and sometimes life forms.
- Why do good things happen to good people?
- Atheism: Its a matter of pure chance, not luck, nor destiny, just chance
- Fatalism/Hinduism: What goes around, comes around, its the law of the universe (not a Deity)
- Theism: Islam, Roman Catholicism – God rewards good people with good things
- Biblical Christianity: No one deserves good things. All good comes as a gift from a generous God.
- Why do good things happen to bad people?
- Atheism: Its a matter of pure chance, not luck, nor destiny, just chance
- Monotheism: Good things are sent even to evil people by a Deity as a special gift to teach them to be good
- Monotheism: God gives good things to all people good & bad without discretion at times
- Pantheism: Good is a reward received in this life from good deeds done in a past life./li>
- Cynicism: There is no rhyme or reason whatsoever to the universe. Life is not fair
- Humanism/Pessimism: Combination of Atheism with Cynicism answers above
- Biblical Christianity: For some, God causes the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous as an act of His grace; For others, God has put the wicked in “slippery” places whereby they will never repent as they will never see a need to repent in light of the supposed “good” things they have.
- Why do bad things happen to good people?
- Atheism: Its a matter of pure chance, not luck, nor destiny, just chance
- Fatalism/Humanism: What goes around, comes around, its the law of the universe (not a Deity)
- Monotheism: Islam – God repays bad people with bad things
- Monotheism: Christianity – for some people (no one is truly good – as all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God) it is the result of living in a fallen world among fallen people (those in sin and rebellion against the God of the Bible); The bad is allowed in order to bring about a greater good – more people being saved, growth, maturity, and fruitfulness in the life of a believer (bad person saved by Grace through Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection from the dead)
- Humanism: Combination of Atheism, Fatalism, and Relativism answers
- Relativism: The notion of “bad” or “good” people or ‘things’ is highly subjective and depends on which specific things and people you mean
- Egoism – any and all acts “ought to” serve one’s self interest and betterment and are thus morally good and right. c.f. satanism. Somewhat opposite to altruism
- Altruism – ‘alter = other’ – Sacrificing yourself for the good of the many is a superior moral doctrine particularly if it is NOT good for the person performing the moral act– a form of consequentialism – any act which brings good consequences is a morally “good” act.
- Nihilism – Both a philosophy of religion (or toward religion) and an ethical view which involves a general rejection of established social conventions and beliefs, especially of morality and religion
- Free Will
- Cynicism – believes that human actions are insincere and motivated by self-interest
- Relativism – The belief that ethical/moral concepts such as right and wrong, goodness and badness are dependent upon culture, specific situations, or historical application and are not absolute in any way.
- Hedonism – An ethical theory that identifies good as “happiness” and “happiness” as defined by the presence of pleasure and the absence of pain (c.f. Buddhism – cessation of pain). This view places the pursuit of pleasure as a measure of good itself mistaking a result of “good” for being “good” in and of itself. “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die!” Hedonism can also be categorized as a “methodology” within the fuller picture of one’s worldview.
- Absolutism – A philosophical theory in which values such as truth or morality are absolute and not conditional upon human perception.
- Determinism – Belief that everything, including every human act, is caused by something and that there is no real free will
- Utilitarianism – The ethical doctrine that the greatest happiness of the greatest number should be the criterion of the virtue of action
- Laissez-Faire – The laissez-faire approach to one’s own philosophy of ethics and morals is usually consistent with one’s own praxeology or methodology which is usually laissez-faire itself. This approach or attitude toward the formulation and maintenance of a moral or ethical structure insists on personal freedom’s and liberties to formulate one’s own choices and actions. i.e. Jungian Psychology – “Each person is basically good and must find their own way.” or “Don’t push your morals on me!” are both laissez-faire attitudes toward one’s ethical or moral philosophy of life.
- List Item 4
- List Item 5
How Can We Know Something?
Epistemology is the study of knowledge and justified belief and how it is acquired, either before sensory experience (a priori) or only after sensory experience (a posteriori). This section of our overall worldview determines how we perceive and process information and differentiate between truth and falsehood. Are some beliefs properly basic e.g. the knowledge of God? Or are beliefs constructed from a web of many other beliefs? Epistemology seeks to answer this question.
Select each of the terms in the circles below to reveal in the large center circle, how each of the following epistemological worldviews determine how we can know something:
Knowledge is acquired via sensory perception via direct observation
Knowledge can be acquired by both intuition and deductive reasoning. Reality has a “rational” structure and it can be “known” by logical principles.
Knowledge is just our own perception of it according to our experience as a “veil of perception” prevents first-hand knowledge of the actual existing world.
Knowledge is my view constructed of my own perception & social experience apart from any “objective” understanding
This is a view which could be
labeled as a combination of both
innatism and rationalism – It states that we are born with some knowledge, acquire some by social experience, deductive reason, and revelation from the Creator of the Universe.
Posits that one can know divine truth by way of its transcending the natural world and all physical existence and reaching my mind. The transcendentalist believes they don’t need organized religion or intellectualism.
Dualism vs Monism
Dualism, two realities
– body (material) and mind
(soul, spirit, immaterial),
vs Monism, one reality – body only (naturalism). Problematic when a psychologist is a monist and prescribes medication
for a mind issue when it is
only a "body" issue.
How Can You Justify A Belief In Something?
Select each of the terms in the circles below to reveal in the large center circle, how, using each of the following epistemological worldviews, we can justify a belief in something:
Only by sensory experience and perception. “Seeing is believing!”
We can justify a belief by way of deductive reasoning and logic.
There is no “truth” per se so beliefs can only justified to ourselves and by ourselves as it is our own internal experiences and perceptions that lead to belief
Three Biblical methods
by which beliefs are justified:
- General Revelation - this is the revelation of the truth of the existence and glory of the one and only true God and Creator (Rom 1:20)
- Conscience - knowledge of right & wrong; good & evil
- Specific Revelation: The Scriptures/Word of God
We cant justify a belief as everything outside of ourselves is illusory
Judicial evidence: eye witnesses, evidence (archaeology), testimony etc
What is Knowledge
- A Priori – non empirical – knowledge can be acquired by reason “prior” to experience
- A Posteriori – empirical – knowledge is only possible (posterior) as a part of certain sensory experience in addition to reason. i.e. geographical location.
- Belief – We can’t say, “I know that a thing is true – but I don’t believe it” although it may be a phraseology in use within the Western vernacular it is a nonsensical statement. Our knowledge of truth and our belief are inextricably tied to one another.
- Justification – reasonable belief as opposed to irrational belief based on random chance
What is Truth
- “What is truth?” – this was the question asked of Jesus by Pontius Pilate. Aristotle attempted to define truth as, “To say of something which is that it is, or of something which is not that it is not, is true.”
- Untruth: Aristotle defines falsehood/untruth as the following: “To say of something which is that it is not, or to say of something which is not that it is, is false.”
- Relative truth – This concept is embraced/developed via the constructive methodology: after sensory perception and experience (a posteriori);
- This is a truth as it exists within a person to that person but not necessarily in the external world as it truly is. e.g. “It is cold in here” or “That clown is scary!”
- Absolute truth – prior to sensory perception and experience (a priori) or a priori + a posteriori – this is a truth as it exists within the external world around us. e.g. “What goes up must come down due to the law of gravity” or “Cats give birth to cats”
Common Epistemological World Views
In contrast to empiricism, rationalism holds that reason provides the best (or only) path to truth. As reason is separate from sense and faculty, which empiricism requires, rationalism is considered a contrast belief to empiricism. Famous rationalists are Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz.
As opposed to “rationalism”, empiricism dictates that all knowledge is derived from experience and not from reason. This theory of epistemology relies heavily on sense experience and when pressed, most empiricists have to admit that they don’t entirely live their lives by empiricism and in fact no one can.
- A person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.
- Philosophy an ancient or modern philosopher who denies the possibility of knowledge, or even rational belief, in some sphere.
- The doctrine that holds that true knowledge is not possible
There are primarily two types of skeptic, the “hard” skeptic who claims that objective or absolute truth cannot be obtained whereas the “soft” skeptic might claim that it is impossible to say whether objective or absolute truth can or cannot be known. Both positions are self-refuting in that the skeptic has to claim (and cling to) objective/absolute truth in order to deny its existence or its ability to be obtained!
“Nothing proceeds from itself. Nothing is given” – Gaston Bachelard
A fairly recent view of epistemology which contends that knowledge is “constructed” by way of human perception and social experience along with external convention. It is this view that is embraced when positing “subjective” truth in contrast to “objective” truth. Constructivism holds that there is no one single superior methodology in that there may be equally efficient methodologies held by someone with a different societal or experiential “construct”. In some veins of constructivist thought, change can only occur in a person’s life if they engage in experiences outside their world view. In a sociological sense the constructivist might claim that those things which appear “obvious” and “natural” to a person are nothing more than manifestations, invention, and influences of that individual’s culture.
Materialism (sometimes referred to as physicalism) is the epistemological theory that physical matter is the only reality and that psychological states such as emotions, reason, thought, and desire will eventually be explained as physical functions. Some strict materialists might cling to the notion that reality is only comprised of those entities or particles discovered by physicists.
An epistemic view that a belief can be justified if based on a basic or foundational belief or set of beliefs which needs no justification as they are a foundational belief which is of a different sort of belief than a non-foundational one. Only non-foundational beliefs require being justified even if they are a “chain of beliefs” so long as they are supported by a foundational belief. Those that adhere to and propagate this epistemology claim that some basic propositions must exist (i.e. Reformed Theology’s argument for the existence of God). Opponents claim that it falls into “Agrippa’s Trilemma” of either becoming an infinite regress, circular reasoning, or a dogmatic stopping point which are all logical fallacies.
Postmodernism / Relativism
A belief system that stretches across epistemology, ethics/morality, and religion which holds to the idea that absolutes do not exist in the realms of knowledge, morality, & truth but rather exist only in direct relation to the culture, history, and society in which they are encountered. Critics point out that the flaw of this belief system is that it requires “absolute” knowledge and truth to claim there is “no absolute” truth or knowledge.
“The meaning of a proposition is its method of verification”
This epistemic view holds that all propositions are cognitively meaningful either by definitional analysis or verifiable by the senses. If a thing appears to be untrue/false by definition (falsifiable) and is itself not verifiable by sensory experience it is false. This approach to ‘meaning’ has been used in an effort to discount philosophy of religion and metaphysics. Both Metaphysicians and theologians have pointed out that the problem with this epistemology is that verificationism renders itself false by its own criterion. To which proponents of this position allowed for a “weak sense” of verifiability in which a proposition can be rendered verifiable if sensory experience could cause that proposition to be “probable”. This weakening of a flawed position then opened the door for both metaphysics and religion to be verifiable.
Moral truths or external objects exist independently of the individual mind or perception and that which can’t be “demonstrated” apart from one’s perception of it, cannot be classified as “provably real”. The primary founder of this epistemology was Ayn Rand who was influenced greatly by Aristotle. In order to be an objectivist one must endeavor to be emotionless, neutral, detached and avoiding of presuppositionalism in their thinking.
A somewhat obscure and simple system of belief that by its very simplicity affects nearly every category of one’s world view that adheres to it. Solipsism is simply the belief that nothing can be known outside of one’s self. In fact nothing can be known to even exist outside of one’s self. Its as if the individual wanders around in their own tiny world of reality and all their surroundings are just a dream! Because of its odd simplicity I have placed it in a number of categories. In this case, with regards to religion, it is similar to the hard agnostic view that knowledge of God cannot be known, obviously because he would exist outside of one’s self.
This view rejects objective moral values and structures. It has been referred to as epistemic “nothingness”. Ambivalent transcendentalist thinker Friedrich Nietzche described nihilism as a “fate that haunts Western civilization. The second definition of nihilism in this case is a sub-category of epistemology in the sense that it asserts that nothing in the world has a real existence. Christian Science holds a nihilistic view with regards to sin, sickness, and pain. They assert that these things do not exist but are a figment of the imagination. It is for this reason that traditional medical aid (doctors) are rejected. c.f. Church of Scientology.
A step-sister of empiricism, this view holds that knowledge can be acquired only through direct observation and experimentation rather than through metaphysics and theology. This group tends to be skeptical of anything which cannot be directly observed.
A worldview which stresses that human existence is the sum of the actions that one takes. It can be either atheistic (normative) or religious (rare) and places an emphasis on the freedom and precariousness of the human situation. Famous existentialists are Friedrich Nietzche and Soren Kierkergard.
This view believes that the highesdt (and only) knowledge that exists is that which is derived from science – particularly natural science. This view utterly rejects the idea that knowledge can be derived from moral, religious or aesthetic experiences. It should be noted that those that claim this epistemology usually do not live consistently according to scientism. It is utterly impossible to have informed preference or even to claim to “love” or “hate” a particular thing when these emotional responses cannot come from the sciences.
Various philosophical worldviews will always lead the inquisitor to the same questions:
- How did we get here?
- Why am I here?
- What is my future, in life and after death?
It is for these questions that we have created this site that visitors may learn of the Biblical worldview which is the most correct and fully answers the three questions above.
Select the graphic below to be taken to a page to learn what the Biblical worldview is:
Take a look at the other systems of belief that comprise your world view:
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