Our Worldview and Scripture with N.T. Wright

Our Worldview and Scripture
Conversation with: N.T. Wright


Bishop of Durham and leading New Testament scholar N.T. Wright discusses how the Enlightenment worldview -- which clearly separates God from the world -- has impacted our view of Scripture, and why cleaning the "spectacles" through which we view the world can help us see both Scripture and the world more clearly.

To join the conversation, visit "N.T. Wright on Evolution, the Enlightenment, and Worldviews".

Video Transcription

There are all sorts of reasons why the text gets misread, and no doubt people will say this about me. And that's fine. We all live in our own context. We all see the world through our own spectacles. What's happened the last 200 years is that we've lived in a world view, call it the enlightenment world view if you like, which has insisted that God and the world are a long way away from one another, that God is up in Heaven and we're down on Earth, if indeed God exists, the enlightenment might say.

And then we have a sort of artificially bright light on facts, on events in history, whereas most other world views have a much more fluid and messy interrelationship between God and the world. Learning how to navigate that fluid, messy relationship between God and the world seems to me to be part of learning how to read the Bible.

But if, instead, you say "No, God just did it and then He sort of went away, and from time to time He steps in and does a miracle or He becomes incarnate," you're still living with this idea of God and the world being separate. When you have God and the world being separate, with God occasionally intervening or not, as the case may be, then you encourage people who say, "Well, God may have made this show in the first place but then it actually just runs on its own steam thereafter."

That's part of an ancient philosophy called Epicureanism. There's an ancient writer called Lucretius who wrote a long, wonderful poem about this. Once you got God out of the scene, then you of course have some sort of evolution. It's quite extraordinary to me that people imagine now that evolution is something which 19th century science discovered. It's simply the corollary of one particular ancient world view which some people in the 18th century rather liked, and so actually had political usefulness as well.

I think there are all sorts of reasons why, then, people come back at it and say no, it must have happened. It can't be that. But they are reacting within a particular world view. One of the things I would love to see is people taking seriously the fact that we all do have a world view, our culture gives us a world view, but that sooner or later, it's possible to take your spectacles off, clean them, maybe even adjust the lenses, so that you can then see things more clearly.