If you haven’t heard, the newest Marvel movie, Doctor Strange, released this weekend. I had a group of guys from work that wanted to go see it and so I joined them on Friday night. Now, I’m not much of a Marvel guy, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I have seen most of the Marvel movies, but I wouldn’t really say I’m a huge fan which is why I didn’t know anything about this movie going into it.
What amazed me the most about this movie is the clash between worldviews. This year in my high school class, I’m teaching comparative worldviews and religions. I have spent weeks with my students teaching different worldviews like Secularism, Marxism, Postmodernism, New Spirituality, Islam, and Christianity. When some of my students came to class today, I was excited to hear that they did some worldview analysis on the movie. It feels good to know that they have been listening and saw the clash between Secularism and New Spirituality while enjoying a movie over the weekend.
Back to the point, today in class, I showed them this clip from the movie and asked them two questions. I asked, “How does Stephen Strange’s Worldview determine how he interprets reality? Explain. Do you think we should be open to having our Worldview changed? Why or why not?” I want you to watch the clip and evaluate it for yourself. Hint: Stephen Strange is a naturalistic materialist (physicalist). This means that he believes that only the physical world exists (matter) and that there is a natural explanation for everything.
Don’t worry, there are no spoilers in this clip.
Notice a few things from this clip.
Only the physical world exists.
After hearing that his understanding of reality can grow in ways he never imagined, he rejects it not because of good evidence, but because he doesn’t believe in fairy tales, energy, or the power of belief. There is no such thing as spirit and the only thing that exists is matter. It’s interesting that there are no reasons given as to why these things don’t exist. Now, you may be thinking that I’m analyzing this too much, and that’s possible, but it is interesting to think about. This is what many Secularists do. When presented with reasons to believe in the supernatural, they respond with something like, “Those things don’t exist.” My response is, how did you come to that conclusion? Responding with an unsupported statement doesn’t answer the original question. Reasons need to be given to support statements like that.
What’s in that tea?
Notice how after his soul is pushed out of his body he returns and ask, “What’s in that tea?” This is the naturalism coming out. Naturalism is the belief that everything can be explained by natural causes. The soul can’t exist, that’s immaterial, so there must be a natural cause to explain what just happened to him. His first thought is that he was drugged and something was in the tea. I see this relating in many ways to conversations I have with atheists. They ask me for evidence, and when presented with evidence, they come up with some way to explain it away. If we are not open to the supernatural, then we will always find an alternative.
Do you think we should be open to having our worldview changed?
This leads me to my final point with my class. It seemed like Doctor Strange was so convinced of his worldview that even seeing his own soul didn’t convince him that he was wrong. I have heard some atheists admit that even if God spoke to them, they would think it was a dream or hallucination. I think this shows that no amount of evidence would change some people’s minds. Instead, as one student said, “Not being open-minded may cause us to miss certain truths.” I think he was right on! Open minded doesn’t mean that we change our worldview with every argument. It simply means that we are willing to objectively evaluate all the evidence. It also takes a humble attitude to admit that it’s possible that our views may be wrong. I realize that I don’t know everything, and it’s possible that I’m wrong, so that is why I spend the time I do researching. I want to be confident that I am following the truth.
Do you think it’s important to be open to having our worldview changed? Can being close-minded cause us to miss truth at times?