Photo Credit: Getty Images

South America

What Is Cosmovision?

What lenses do you use to see the world? Find out what they are.

Brazil | Felippe Amorim, theologian and author

Perhaps you have already heard the word "worldview" in philosophical or theological discussions or even informal conversations in your living room. This is a theme that is present in any subject, even when it is not mentioned. No, this statement is not exaggerated. There is a worldview in everything we do. Let's understand better what this word means.

In summary, it is possible to say worldview would be the way in which a person sees the world. Two important questions to ask about the meaning of worldviews would be, Why were worldviews born? and, Why are they necessary? A simple but not simplistic answer is "worldviews have their origin in the mind's search for a framework that can guide people in the world around them and in the ultimate questions of life."[1]

This implies that worldviews support the way men and women weave observations about reality—that is, how they attribute meaning to their lives. In this direction, the cosmovision presents reasons that justify the “being and existing in the cosmos. This reason is not the result of chance, but of structuring and organizing presuppositions of a system of thought.”[2]

It is for the reasons mentioned above that we can say in all matters of life, there is a cosmovision. It is that the very choice of subjects we will emphasize and the way we approach these subjects are influenced by the worldview we have, whether we are conscious or unconscious of it.

Different Worldviews

There are several worldviews, but we can classify them into three general groups: theistic, atheistic, and pantheistic. The theistic worldview encompasses all ways of seeing the world that consider the possibility of the existence of a superior, eternal, powerful being. That is, it is that worldview that believes in the existence of divinity. It is true there are internal variations within this large group, but in general, they can all be called theistic.

The atheist view encompasses all thoughts that disregard the possibility of metaphysics. In other words, the atheist worldview is materialistic, as it considers everything that exists is on the material plane. Within this worldview are Marxist ideologies, for example, which explain the world from purely earthly elements. It is for this and other reasons that Christianity and Marxism do not mix, since it is impossible to harmonize atheism and theism in the same set of beliefs.

The pantheistic worldview gained strength especially during the end of the Middle Ages (although it was already noticed in earlier times) with the thought that God exists, but he is not a personal being with whom we can relate. In this worldview, divinity is more of an energy that permeates all matter, including human beings.

Points that Define a Worldview

Most theorists agree that the word “worldview” was born in 18th-century Germany. “Cosmovision” is the translation of the German word weltanschauung and was first used by the Enlightenment philosopher Immanuel Kant in his work The Critique of Judgment (1790). Goheen[3] states, "Kant used the term only once, which did not play a central role in his thinking," nor was it deepened in relation to its concept. The mention of cosmovision did not become an indication or theory to be developed.

From the 19th century onwards, the concept of cosmovision became more widely used. However, instead of moving toward a single definition, the more it was studied, the more definitions appeared. The right thing to say is "There is no single definition that everyone can agree on."[4]

Nash[5] highlights five points as defining a worldview: God, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and anthropology. The points raised by Nash appear, in general, in most theorists with different nomenclatures, but the common point is they agree that the worldview will be defined so the most intimate questions of human beings can be answered. Commenting on these points, Nicodemus says, “What an individual believes about these five points is what tints the glasses with which he sees and deciphers the world around him. It is also what decisively influences your relationship with yourself, with others, with the world, at home, at work and in society as a whole.”[6]

The individual's worldview, therefore, will determine what decisions he or she will make in relation to all areas of life, especially the most fundamental areas. Based on this assumption, it is necessary for each of us to try to identify our cosmovision, and, more than that, try to build a worldview that is in harmony with the Word of God, because only in this way will we be able to make decisions that match His will for our lives. In short, this is a Christian worldview, but we will delve into this topic in the next article.


[1] NAUGLE, David K. Cosmovision: the history of a concept. Brasília, DF: Editora Monergismo, 2017, p. 36.

[2] DOMINGUES, Gleyds Silva. Guidelines for biblical Christian education. Curitiba: Emanuel Editora, 2018, p. 23.

[3] GOHEEN, Michael W. Introduction to the Christian worldview: Living at the intersection between the biblical and contemporary view / Michael W Goheen and Craig G. Bartholomew - São Paulo: Vida Nova, 2016, p. 36.

[4] HIEBERT, Paul G. Transforming worldviews: An anthropological analysis of how people change. São Paulo: Vida Nova, 2016, p. 17.

[5] NASH, Ronald. Ultimate Questions of Life: An introduction to philosophy. São Paulo: Christian Culture, 2008, p. 45.

[6] NICODEMUS, Augustus. Controversies in the Church: Doctrines, practices and movements that weaken Christianity. São Paulo: Christian World, 2015, p. 183.

This article was originally published on the South American Division’s news site