Source of Authority

The source guides human thinking

As previously stated, everyone selects an authoritative source which acts as a lens through which to view and understand the world. Although there are people who believe they formulate their views themselves—that is, based upon their own thinking and conclusions, this is not the case—everyone looks for a source of authority external to themselves to form a view of reality. Once an individual selects or adopts a particular viewpoint (a.k.a. worldview or a conglomeration of views), the most pressing questions can be answered according to the standard of that view. Nancy Pearcey summarizes this matter saying,

When people commit themselves to a certain vision of reality, it becomes their ultimate explainer. It serves to interpret the universe for them, to guide their moral decisions, to give meaning and purpose to life... (Pearcey, Finding Truth, p. 63).

Pearcey is correct. Whatever view a person selects as the source of authority to interpret reality (their life and the universe around them), all of life will be viewed through that lens. In fact, Pearcey takes a step further and makes the point that whichever view a person adopts, that becomes the ultimate premise:

The important question, then, is what a person accepts as ultimate premises, for they shape everything that follows...Every system of thought begins with some ultimate principle. If it does not begin with God, it will begin with some other dimension of creation—the material, the spiritual, the biological, the empirical, or whatever (Ibid, p. 41).

Again, she is correct. Whatever a person adopts as the filter to view life, that filter will be the mechanism to answer the questions that confront us all. Therefore, the source of authority that a person chooses is of grave importance because those basic tenants of belief form the answers to the most important questions in life. If those decisions are based upon a sound premise, then the answer is more likely to be sound. Conversely, the opposite can be argued.

Let’s return to our analogy of a house and how it corresponds to our discussion. The construction website we viewed earlier goes on to explain another reason for the imperative of a sound foundation:

Supports Your Home—The foundation is buried in the ground underneath your home. Its primary purpose is to hold your house up. Without it, your house would quickly sink into the ground unevenly, resulting in cracks and damage to your home. A properly built foundation will keep the home even and supported, even during a flood or earthquake. But building a good foundation requires more than just digging into the ground and pouring the concrete. It has to be properly tailored to the site. This involves taking into account the geology, soil conditions, water table, and even the backfill. The base also needs to be properly set, compacted just right, while containing the proper materials to ensure that it can hold the weight of your home and support it, even when the ground below changes.

In the same manner, the foundational material an individual selects to understand the world and grapple with life’s most pressing questions can only be answered soundly when the worldview provides a sound foundation. When we ask the questions that pertain to the who, what, when, where, and why of life, an unsound worldview and foundation will lead to unsound answers and thinking.

Let's continue as we discuss how the worldview we adopt not only influences thinking, but our spiritual condition as well.

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