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The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog 4th Edition [Paperback]

By James W. Sire (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   252
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.25" Width: 5.46" Height: 0.8"
Weight:   0.72 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 30, 2004
Publisher   IVP-InterVarsity Press
ISBN  0830827803  
EAN  9780830827800  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
With over a quarter million copies in print in three editions, this book has established itself as the premier textbook on worldviews. In clear, readable prose, James W. Sire explains the basics of Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern pantheistic monism, New Age philosophy postmodernism. In an increasingly pluralistic academic environment, the ability to understand and evaluate various worldviews is vitally important. This new edition includes updates throughout. But most significantly it reflects refinements in Sire's definition and thinking about the nature of worldviews themselves, which are taken up in greater detail in the companion volume, Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept.

Buy The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog 4th Edition by James W. Sire from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780830827800 & 0830827803

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More About James W. Sire

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Born on a ranch on the rim of the Nebraska Sandhills, James W. Sire has been an officer in the Army, a college professor of English literature, philosophy and theology, the chief editor of InterVarsity Press (a Christian publisher of books for thoughtful readers), a lecturer at over two hundred universities in the U.S., Canada, Eastern and Western Europe and Asia, and the author of twenty books on literature, philosophy and the Christian faith. His book The Universe Next Door, published in 1976 and now in its fifth edition, has sold over 350,000 copies and has been translated into 18 foreign languages. He holds a B.A. in chemistry and English from the University of Nebraska, an M.A. in English from Washington State College (now University) and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Missouri. His most recent book is a memoir, The Rim of the Sandhills (eBook on Kindle and Nook).

James W. Sire has published or released items in the following series...
  1. IVP Classics
  2. Lifeguide Bible Studies
  3. Wheaton Literary

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
I Expected Better  Mar 4, 2007
As part of my Worldviews class at Regent University, I had to read this book. I had great expectations about this text, but found myself sorely disappointed. NotATameLion said it well. Sire's complete and obvious biased against all worldviews but the Christian results in him making multiple snide and arrogant comments about anyone who isn't Christian and non-Christian worldviews. It would be far better if he could have kept his biased to a minimum and examined all the other worldviews fairly and equally. His regular sniping at other worldviews weakens his position that Christianity is best and made me wonder why he had to resort to nasty remarks if his position was true. It also gives the text an immature feel that further weakens his conclusions.

Reading beyond the author's bad attitudes and comments, the discussions on the different "worldviews" is often confusing and had to follow. Several worldviews are not really worldviews at all, but a combination of a ton of different worldviews lumped together. Sire's seeming lack of respect for other opinions probably accounts for his lumping various worldviews together so that none are accurately portrayed.

I really can't recommend this text to anyone and in my evaluation for this course, I shared my disappointment with this text.
Entirely useless literature  Feb 22, 2007
I had to buy this book for a philosophy class. I hate it. Trying to learn about a worldview through a third party (Sire) is, at best, fustrating. Sire often sermonizes and is incessently adding his own opinions about whatever. Its really aggravating that it is assumed that the reader can't come up with his/her own opinion on the subject matter.
Good Idea, Poor Execution  Jan 2, 2007
The stated goal of this book is to survey the various ways that humans make meaning out of the universe. Its method is to screen different worldviews through some basic questions: how did the universe get here? How do we know what's real? What's true? What's moral? Given the contention among current worldviews, and the truculence of true believers, a dispassionate survey would be a real service, especially in a textbook read by young people trying to sort out what they believe.

Unfortunately, that is not the book we get. The biggest problem is that Sires is both a Theist (someone who believes in a loving, benevolent, personal God who takes an active interest in what we do) and a biblical literalist (someone who believes that the Bible is the word of the Christian God and is literally true). He sabotages his credibility by pretending to be objective right up to the last few pages of the book, where he reveals his worldview preference, which will surprise no one. If he'd stated his biases up front, I may not have agreed with him, but I would have had more respect for his intellectual honesty.

The second problem is that his notions about what constitute a worldview are erratic and confusing. Theism, Deism and Naturalism are worldviews. Hinduism and Buddhism are worldviews. Nihilism is a philosophical stance, not a worldview. Existentialism and Postmodernism lie somewhere between worldviews and philosophical stances. New Age beliefs tend to be outgrowths or syntheses of other worldviews. Sires lumps them all together in importance, which leads to some lumpy proportions in the book. By what possible logic does a book on what humans in the world believe devote four pages to Buddhism, and only Zen at that, while spending 21 on Nihilism and 30 on Postmodernism?

The third problem is that he dismisses every other worldview besides Christian Theism by stating that it posits a "closed universe", which means one not charged with meaning from outside itself (for "meaning", read Sire's Christian God). This closed universe is an insurmountable contradiction to Sires because there is no external authority to arbitrate what's true and what's not. So why haven't all these non-Theists ignited into balls of blue flame from the friction of their internal contradictions? Perhaps because when you live in the real world as opposed to the world of philosophical constructs such as nihilism, there are several ways to arrive at definitions of what's just and what's true. Tradition for one, or the lessons of history that endure the test of time, or the collective wisdom of bottoms-up consensus, or human laws that honor the will of the majority while respecting the rights of the individual.

None of these methods are perfect, but they are valid, at least as valid as Sire's Bible. And which truths are we supposed to take from the Bible? The one that says place your child on a pyre and ignite it? Lend your virgin daughters for the enjoyment of the townspeople banging at your door? Butcher anyone who doesn't roast animals to Yaweh or observe the Sabbath? If the whole thing isn't meant to be taken as literal truth, who decides what the true bits are? More often that not, it's some less than perfect human, such as the American Catholic bishops or Ted Haggard. In which case our Christian Theists are in the same epistemological boat as the non God-besotted: making arbitrary meaning in the here and now. If I'm a person trying to make meaning out of existence, given the choice between an anthology of almost hallucinatory violence pasted together over hundreds of years by thousands of anonymous scribes with bones to pick and axes to grind on the one hand, or the collective traditions of eastern spiritualism and western scientific rationalism on the other, I might make different choices than Sire does.

To give the Theist his due, the explanation of Existentialism is good, with a useful distinction between theistic and atheistic existentialism and a very insightful dissection of Camus' The Plague. His description of Hinduism is cogent, if somewhat academic. And he presents the language games of postmodernism with some dispassion. On the negative side, he dismisses Deism as the outpost of a few scientists, conveniently overlooking its long and honorable history as a way to explain how Sire's loving, benevolent God could allow so much evil and suffering in the world. And he doesn't give the naturalist world view enough credit for pushing back religious superstition and ignorance and for advancing epistemological reasoning (just as he doesn't take them to task enough for allowing truth to get divorced from morality, leading to totalitarian horrors that rival the depredations of the monotheists). The New Age chapter was significantly updated for this edition, but so jammed with footnotes as to be almost unreadable. If there's another edition, this material should be worked into the main text.

The idea of this book is a good one, and, judging from the fact that The Universe Next Door has gone into a fourth printing, there's a thirst for this kind of worldview comparison. I'd like to see this same book written by someone less biased.
I wish more people would read this book !!!  Dec 28, 2006
This is a great book.
I've read the older edition in russian, and then I bought the new one (that includes Postmodernism), but didn't read it yet. However, this is a great book and James Sire is the good man (because he did good decent research). I wish more people would read it and see how inconsistent some worldviews are...
If you liked this book read more from the same author AND try "Understanding the times" by David Noebel. They have new edition on their website (this site doesn't have it yet) - at Summit Ministries.

There is a Spanish version of this book  Nov 14, 2006
Hay una edición en español de este libro publicada por Libros Desafío y basada en la última edición en inglés.

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