When The Universe Next Door was first introduced nearly thirty years ago, it set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. In concise, easily understood prose, James W. Sire explained the basics of theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism and the new consciousness. The second edition was updated and expanded to include sections on Marxism and secular humanism, as well as a completely reworked chapter on what is now widely known as New Age philosophy rather than new consciousness. And the third edition offered further updating and revisions, including a thoroughly revised chapter on New Age philosophy and, perhaps most importantly, a new chapter on postmodernism. Now the fourth edition refines the definition of worldview itself, incorporating Sire's thinking and teaching during the past decade. (His recent work is showcased in a new book, Naming the Elephant, also published by IVP.) The Universe Next Door has been translated into several languages and has been used as a text at over one hundred colleges and universities in courses ranging from apologetics and world religions to history and English literature. With the publication of the fourth edition, this book will continue to aid students, teachers and anyone who wants to understand the variety of worldviews that compete with Christianity for the allegiance of our minds and hearts.
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IVP: Describe the difference between your two worldview books, Naming the Elephant and The Universe Next Door.
James Sire: The Universe Next Door is a basic catalog of worldviews--that is, of the primary ways people have viewed reality. In part the book is a work of popular intellectual history. It begins with Christian theism, the worldview dominant in the seventeenth century and very much alive today, and shows how subsequent worldviews (deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism) developed from theism, and then how Eastern pantheism, New Age thought and postmodernism have emerged to further complicate the pluralistic character of our Western culture. The book is also a work to help individuals understand their own worldview and why they think it is true. The Universe Next Door is not itself an apologetic for the Christian faith, but it provides much of the material from which an apologetic can be constructed by those who think through its implications. A short answer to the question of why I wrote this book in the first place is in its epigraph: "For any of us to be fully conscious intellectually we should not only be able to detect the worldviews of others but be aware of our own--why it is ours and why in light of so many options we think it is true."
Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept asks, What exactly is a worldview? It takes the largely intellectual concept I first formulated in The Universe Next Door in 1976 and asks whether it is still adequate. As a result of this analysis, I offer a revised definition that preserves the importance of the intellect but identifies the essence of a worldview as a matter of the heart--the central control room of the human being--rather than solely as a matter of the mind. The final chapter suggests ways in which worldview analysis can benefit us and our culture.About the Author:
James W. Sire (Ph.D., University of Missouri), formerly a senior editor at InterVarsity Press, is a frequent guest lecturer at colleges and universities in the United States and Europe. He has written many books and Bible studies, most of which are available from IVP.
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