A frame for understanding how different belief systems see and interpret the world. First, five diagnostic questions:
What is the purpose of life?
What is sin?
What is the world?
What is its attitude toward faith?
What is the solution to the moral ills of the world?
What is the purpose of life? Life is pleasure.
What is sin? Preventing pleasure.
What is the world? A playground. The world is there for you to enjoy. A flourishing life is to have the maximum experiences and maximum pleasure. The world is for self-pleasure and awakening. The world is there to be a conduit for your pleasure.
What is its attitude toward faith? Faith is too moral.
What is the solution to the moral ills of the world? Just chill out. Less rules, more pleasure. If it doesn’t hurt anyone, just do it. Experience the world. Say “yes” to your desires. Look inside. What’s your heart telling you to do?
What is the purpose of life? To do good.
What is sin? Oppression that comes from ignorance.
What is the world? A good place ruined. The world is good but ignorant people create ignorant structures and that creates oppression.
What is its attitude toward faith? The church is immoral.
What is the solution to the moral ills of the world? Virtuous education. Inform everyone through education of what is the new moral code and how we live that. If we do that, the world will slide toward a virtuous future.
What is the purpose of life? To feel peace.
What is sin? The causing of mental or emotional discomfort or pain.
What is the world? A dangerous place filled with pain, trauma, and discomfort. You’re seeking a smaller world where you don’t feel those things.
What is the attitude toward faith? It can be acceptable when used as a tool for personal peace. It’s utilitarian.
What is the solution to the moral ills of the world? Harm minimalization. Create a place that’s safe where harm will not be done.
What is the purpose of life? Feel nothing. What about pleasure? It’s hard to get and doesn’t cover pain. Do good? What’s the point. Feel peace? Fat chance. Better to just feel nothing.
What is sin? Something that permeates everything. Sin is reality.
What is the world? A disaster.
What is the attitude toward faith? Faith is corrupt. But so is everything else.
What’s the solution to the moral ills of the world? Escape. Retreat into games, into your bedroom. Escape somehow, perhaps with augmented reality? It’s depressing out there.
Jake Meador is the editor-in-chief of Mere Orthodoxy. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where he studied English and History. He lives in Lincoln, NE with his wife Joie, their daughter Davy Joy, and sons Wendell, Austin, and Ambrose. Jake's writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Commonweal, Christianity Today, Fare Forward, the University Bookman, Books & Culture, First Things, National Review, Front Porch Republic, and The Run of Play and he has written or contributed to several books, including "In Search of the Common Good," "What Are Christians For?" (both with InterVarsity Press), "A Protestant Christendom?" (with Davenant Press), and "Telling the Stories Right" (with the Front Porch Republic Press).