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The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, 5th Edition [Paperback]

by James W. Sire
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 21, 2009 0830838503 978-0830838509 05
Voted one of Christianity Today's 1998 Books of the Year! For more than thirty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. In this fifth edition James Sire offers additional student-friendly features to his concise, easily understood introductions to theism, deism, naturalism, Marxism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism, New Age philosophy and postmodernism. Included in this expanded format are a new chapter on Islam and informative sidebars throughout. The book continues to build on Sire's refined definition of worldviews from the fourth edition and includes other updates as well, keeping this standard text fresh and useful. In a world of ever-increasing diversity, The Universe Next Door offers a unique resource for understanding the variety of worldviews that compete with Christianity for the allegiance of minds and hearts. The Universe Next Door has been translated into over a dozen 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. Sire's Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept provides a useful companion volume for those desiring a more in-depth discussion of the nature of a worldview.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 293 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 05 edition (October 21, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830838503
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830838509
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,948 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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).

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By flower
In The Universe Next Door, author James Sire discusses the eight main worldviews that are held by different individuals in the twentieth century and then provides seven basic yet probative questions to help the reader recognize the primary presuppositions that underlie each main belief system. Further discussion is provided to help the reader analyze the cohesiveness and validity of each worldview presented. The history of each worldview is discussed in great detail so that the reader can see the progression of each view, why it arose and what events led to its overall acceptance or denial among the masses. Mr. Sire then compares and contrasts each worldview with others mentioned in the book, evaluating each worldview in turn. The emphasis is on awareness and understanding, encouraging the reader to become more consciously aware of what they believe, why they believe what they do, and how this belief colors the way they view life. The book concludes with a detailed chapter, entitled, "The Examined Life" that summarizes the basic points made throughout the book and then provides tools intended to help the leader choose the most logical, cohesive and consistent worldview.

Overall, the Universe Next Door is a very thorough, and yet manageable, discussion of the eight (or six, depending on how once classifies the material) main belief systems that exist in today's culture. Presented in a somewhat relaxed manner, the language used by Mr. Sire ensures understandability and readability, successfully moving difficult philosophical topics out of the university classroom and placing them in the hands of the layman. Because each worldview is discussed in relation to the six main questions presented at the beginning of the book, analysis of all views is both easy and consistent.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Now in its fifth edition, James W. Sire has written the go-to introduction to nine major worldviews. Sire has written this book with the desire for people (especially Christians) to grasp the importance of understanding what a worldview is, what are the other worldviews other then their own and what their own worldview is. Sire defines a worldview as a

"Commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) that we hold (consciously or unconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being." (p. 20)

The book takes a very inform approach to presenting and evaluating the nine worldviews. Sire examines the worldviews by asking eight basic questions that all worldviews must answer:

1. What is prime reality? - This question gets to the foundation of what a worldview understands to be the foundation of reality. For Sire this is the first and foundational question that must be answered before the other seven.
2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us? - This looks at whether we see the world around us as created or autonomous, material or immaterial, etc.
3. What is a human being? - For instance, are people made in the image of God or just a machine/
4. What happens to a person at death? - This looks at options like extinction, reincarnation or transfer to a higher state of existence.
5. Why is it possible to know anything at all? - Answers include being created in the image of God or just the result of an evolutionary process.
6. How do we know what is right and wrong?
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worldviews 101 December 10, 2009
This is a book that I would not normally read, but it was required reading for a Worldviews course I took at Colorado Christian University. The basics of Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern pantheistic monism, New Age philosophy, and postmodernism are explained. We need to know what our worldview is as well as the worldview of others. Examining our thoughts and behaviors helps us to understand ourselves and communicate with those around us. To not evaluate how and why we think and act the way we do is simply foolish. What is our purpose? What happens to us after we die? How do we know what is right and wrong? These are some of the vital questions that we must tackle that are addressed in this book. I am thankful that this book was assigned to my class.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book September 18, 2012
By Jim
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book gives an excellent review of the Christian worldview using eight basic questions. It then uses the same eight questions to compare and contrast the worldviews of deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, eastern pantheistic monism, new age spirituality, and postmodernism. A new chapter was added in this 5th edition on Islamic theism.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing February 26, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have found the universe next door an exceptional resource in comprehensively unravelling the differing worldviews within society today. With an exceptionally well founded Christian basis with which to compare and analyse the most dynamic and essential elements of the nature of reality and relationships, Sire's book is thought provoking.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Universe Next Door is an insightful look at different world views. It begins with a chapter on Christian theism followed by Deism, Naturalism, Nihilism, Existentialism and beyond in a logical progression. This is readable to the layperson, but I found I needed to read some chapters over to grasp the concepts.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great
they were a quick shipper and the product was as described. the price was far and I would recommend them to my friends
Published 18 days ago by Clarence Hope
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Interesting!
If you enjoy learning and understanding about basic or many different world views of today's modern and ancient societies, then this book is definitely a good addition to your... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Great buy...!
Just what I wanted and love it. Better than I expected and enjoyed it. Would recommend it to you anytime.
Published 1 month ago by Stanley Joseph
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Structured Comparisons of Worldviews!
Sire again has captured me with a book I did not want to put down. Very informative and structured comparison of worldviews. A must read for the soul-searcher and Evangelist.
Published 3 months ago by Jim Flynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderfully worth reading it all
A favorite introduction to philosophy of religion. Sire in this book is a master. I give this book to friends.
Published 4 months ago by Wally Mees
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep but good read
This book has great content but is a bit unclear at times. I found myself re-reading chapters and sections to fully grasp the ideas. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Aaron M. Hughes
5.0 out of 5 stars Great springboard into worldview thought
Gives a nice overview of most world views. Also provides seven basic questions one can use when trying to analyze a person's worldview. Read more
Published 4 months ago by books afoot
5.0 out of 5 stars What's ouside my box?
This is a great Book when trying to understand differing views that people hold. If you wonder why people think the way they think, this is a good place to start.
Published 4 months ago by Dustin Wiggins
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent and presentable writing
This book entails an easy to follow general overview of what the author breaks down as eight ideologies of the twentieth century and how they may evolve beyond. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jeff Commissaris
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a book worth reading
I chose this rating because the book is very well written. It is well ordered and the author explains the topics very clearly.
Published 5 months ago by Michael Fritz
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