Sean McDowell | July 4, 2022

How to Spot Hidden Worldviews

You have a worldview. I have a worldview. Whether they realize it or not, everyone has a worldview. And it shapes the way we all live.

The question is not if we have a worldview, but what kind of worldview do we have and why. Given that worldviews shape how we navigate reality–and the biblical warning to not be taken captive by faulty philosophies (Colossians 2:8)–it is vital we develop the ability to recognize worldviews around us.

Here are three ideas for spotting hidden worldviews that I have adapted from my new book A Rebel’s Manifesto:

First, learn the basics of various worldviews. Naturalism, for instance, is a powerful worldview today. It is the idea that God does not exist and that everything can be explained by natural forces. Thus, according to this worldview, God, demonic forces, the soul, and other immaterial things are not real. Naturalism provides the backdrop for shows such as Stranger Things. Marxism, nihilism, and secular humanism are other examples of naturalistic worldviews that manifest throughout culture today.

Second, shift to worldview thinking. This begins by realizing that worldviews drive our beliefs and practices. This is true for ethical issues such as abortion. Why do people differ so significantly over its morality? The answer is worldview. Christians and secular humanists, for example, differ over whether or not the unborn is a full member of the human race with the right to life. They differ in policy and practice because they differ over core worldview issues related to human identity and human rights.

Third, ask the right questions. When reading a book, engaging social media, watching a YouTube video, or listening to a podcast, ask a few questions: Who is the author? Where was she educated? What is her expertise? What is her background including political views and religious orientation? I ask these kinds of questions every time I engage content.

When I was a high school student, my dad gave me some memorable advice that has stuck with me to this day: “When you read an article or book, always discern the assumptions of the person who wrote it. Their assumptions will shape everything they write.” Although it took me some time to really grasp its significance, now I see how powerful this insight is. And I hope you will too.

Paul warned Christians at Rome to not be conformed to this world but be transformed by renewing their minds (Romans 12:2). In other words, our default view is to adopt the ideas of the world we live in. If we do not intentionally learn to think Christianly (transformation), we will unintentionally adopt the thinking of our world (conformity).

If you are looking for a resource aimed at helping young people think Christianly about the most pressing ethical issues today, check out A Rebel’s Manifesto: Choosing Truth, Real Justice & Love Amid the Noise of Today’s World.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author, popular speaker, and part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell, TikTok, Instagram, and his blog: