Naming the Lenses: Part 5

Posted by Administrator on 2/4/2014 to Critical Thinking

So far we have looked at four different worldview lenses, as proposed by James Sire in The Universe Next Door. A fifth worldview lens is existentialism. Existentialism is similar to naturalism in many ways. Both views believe that matter exists eternally, but God does not exist. Death is matter ceasing to exist and personality is extinguished. Human reason is our means of knowing the universe. Ethics relates only to human beings, and history has no overarching purpose. However, there are a few distinctive aspects in existentialism.

Lens #5—Existentialism

  • Reality appears to human beings in two forms—subjective and objective. The objective world is material, cause and effect, and chronological. The subjective world is one of the mind, the consciousness, awareness, and freedom.
  • Because the objective world is sometimes absurd, an “authentic “existentialist will revolt against that absurdity and create his own value for himself and humanity. Existentialists also believe that people can make themselves who they are.
  • Each person is free to choose his own nature and destiny. The difficulty with this stance is that each person determines what is good, so there are as many value-creators in the world at any given time as there are human beings.
  • An existentialist would also say that we create value by choosing anything over something else, which inherently means that not choosing something (or passivity) is evil.
  • There have been individuals who have tried to combine theism with existentialism, placing prime importance on self-awareness, self-determinacy, self-reflection, and self-consciousness.
  • Theistic existentialists are concerned with man’s relationship to the cosmos and God, believing that when man comes into full consciousness, he will determine by faith (not reason) whether or not God exists. Theistic existentialists also distrust the accuracy of recorded history, even the Bible, so they often lose interest in its factuality and religious influence.

Movies with an Existentialist Lens

[Note: As with all film listings, please determine each movie’s suitability for your own family. Please do not interpret a film’s inclusion in a list of examples as Zeezok Publishing’s promotion of or agreement with that film.]

  • The Matrix
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Citizen Kane
  • Groundhog Day