October 14, 2005


I have been teaching my Year 9s about worldviews. We have been dealing with the nature of reality and therefore trying to understanding how our worldview might affect our concepts of reality.

As part of the lesson, each student answers a bank of seven questions, including "What is really real?", "What is the nature of the world around us?", "What is a human being?", "What happens when you die?", "Why is it possible to know anything?", "How do we know what is right and wrong?", and "What is the purpose of human life?"

With each questions they choose from six options the description closest to their belief. The answers are set up to help them define their worldview within six broad categories: rational agnostic, nihilist, theistic believer, humanist optimist, spiritual postmodern, and Eastern (i.e., Hindu/Buddhist). Note that there isn't an option for explicitly Christian - just theistic believer - you know, Christian, Muslim, Jew, culturally residual monotheist, or whatever.

This isn't a scientific survey and I only teach half of the Year 9s in the school, so I can't vouch for the other half. There was a broad range of views and a lot of 13-year-olds had equal aspects of more than one category. However, one aspect of the results was overwhelming. The number of students with a predominately theistic worldview was infintesimal. Out of all five groups I teach, there may have been two students in total.

Not only that, but there were very few whose answer to any of the questions was theistic. Not Christian, but just with reference to some sort of singular personal Supreme Being.

When the Son of Man returns, will he find any faith on the earth? Maybe, but England would not be the first place to come looking.

Posted by david at October 14, 2005 11:27 PM

David, could you post the questions and the definitions of the categories ?
I would be really interested to see them.

Posted by: Elizabeth at October 15, 2005 08:17 AM


I gave the questions in the original post. I hasten to add that the following definitions of the categories are not mine. They come from the curriculum we are using for this unit.

1. The rational agnostic is willing to say, ‘I don’t know’ but lives as if there is no God or ultimate power in the universe, using human reason as a guide to life.

2. The nihilist believes in nothing, and sees no purpose to life. Nihilists are suspicious of those who claim to know too much.

3. The theistic believer sees God as the source of our lives and the way to make sense of life. Divine creative goodness is what makes life so wonderful.

4. The humanist optimist takes life as it comes, rejecting ideas like God or heaven, and living in the hope that evolution and science will make for human happiness.

5. The spiritual postmodern doesn’t look for big answers to life’s questions, but relies on personal experience and feeling to guide life.

6. Eastern worldviews – close to some Hindu ideas – see life as a circle and our place in the universe as part of life’s great, mysterious, purposeful circle.

Posted by: Dave at October 15, 2005 08:56 PM