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The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  3,950 ratings  ·  237 reviews
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, Easter
Kindle Edition, Fifth Edition, 293 pages
Published October 21st 2009 by IVP Academic (first published 2009)
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Mar 26, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A closed-minded book advertising itself as open-minded.

The author openly admits he is a Theist, discusses Theism. So far, he's doing fine. Then, he lays out several goals for what he feels a good worldview should be. Still doing fine....Until he subjects every world view mentioned to scrutiny EXCEPT Theism.

His goal is not to catalog other worldviews, but to attempt to disprove them. He does this by presenting the work of 2 philosophers within each religion/world-view whose beliefs about the reli
David Sarkies
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Christian University Students
Recommended to David by: I saw it in a book shop
Shelves: christian
God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh - Voltaire
28 February 2015

I have read a number of Christian books in my time where the author compares Christianity with the other five major religions however I had not come across a book that examines world views until I was browsing through my local Christian bookshop many years ago and came across this one. Okay, I should mention that Francis Schaeffer wrote a similar book entitled The God Who Is There where he similarly explores
Dwight Davis
Sep 17, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crap
Typical Christian introduction to philosophy. A lot of generalizations, a lot of misinterpretation, and a lot of hostility. My primary problem with this waste of paper is that Sire doesn't once say that a "worldview system" besides Christian theism has anything positive about it. He even makes Christian existentialists out to be bad guys (and for the record, Barth was not an existentialist). Beyond the normal critiques I have for Christian philosophy, this book spends nearly 50 pages on New Age ...more
Adam Calvert
This work is a a pretty good benchmark for understanding the competing worldviews of our times. The fifth edition is a welcome expansion - especially since it includes a chapter on Islam.

Cataloging the worldviews of our times (as the subtitle states), Sire does a good job of writing with an understandable style, a gentle tone, and an articulate logic - all without leaving his firm Christian convictions.

After the first chapter as an introduction he goes one-by-one through the current major worldv
Ramón S.
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-best
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
Summary: A new edition of this foundational work on comparative worldviews, exploring the contours of various worldviews, including a new chapter on Islam, through the use of eight questions.

This book, in its six editions, has framed my adult working life. I first heard about the idea of worldview in lectures drawn from the author’s work while I was still a student. The first edition of The Universe Next Door was published during my first year working with InterVarsity/USA on their field staff.
John Wick
Apr 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics, philosophy
AMAZING Book! a very nice catalog of worldviews. It is a little biased from the theistic point of view but if you can ignore the bias and just take a good look at the views that really reflect your being its a great book. This book also stresses the importance of knowing and refining your worldview. I highly recommend this book. Its not one of the best books but its a really good one.
This review I don't think will contain spoilers because well it's a nonfiction book about world views. What's really spoiler-y about that? Nothing really, at least in my opinion.

This book and I have had a long history together. It has been taken on road trips, read a loud mostly for comprehension purposes, and will be annotated on a future date. I am glad to be done with this book now before school goes back in session in a couple of weeks so yeah. I would say firstly this book is extremely inf
J Philip
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

A comprehensive look at the intellectual basis for what each of us bases our life upon, this book is difficult in its detail, compelling in its arguments. Before we dismiss God out of hand as just too ridiculous to seriously consider, maybe we need to analyze just why we have come to this point of view.
Ligia Rus
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
At first I didn't expect so much from this book. Having in mind the fact that it pretends to adress eight of the major worldviews, I thought I will find a subjective and superficial analysis of each perspective.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover a very well documented and rigorous exposition of these worldviews.
Just as Sire intended, he managed to:
"(1) outline the basic worldviews that underline the way Westerners think about themselves, other people, the natural world, and God or ultimate
A good primer on worldview that I'd give to any kid, middle grade and up. I'm only giving this one three stars because I'm not walking away with much after finishing it. Perhaps I've simply read much about worldviews, so as to make this one sound repetitive. Perhaps Sire is simply unoriginal. Or perhaps some of his insights simply passed me by, and I'd catch it better upon re-read. I wasn't disappointed, by any means, but I think perhaps Sire's conversational, more tongue-in-cheek tone and willi ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door takes the reader through an explanation of the nine most popular and prevalent worldviews of the modern age: Christian theism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism, eastern pantheistic monism, the New Age movement, postmodernism and Islamic theism.
Sire begins his exploration through these nine worldviews by first defining what a worldview truly is. “A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a sto
I picked up a used copy of this book a while back and finally got a chance to read it. I read the 2nd Edition of this book, which was published in 1988. The book was good, Sire sets out to write a “World View Catalog”. In his first chapter he defines what a Worldview is, and provides 7 questions that he uses to help clarify a worldview’s premises.

Sire defines worldview is: “set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true, or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or su
Jeremy Gardiner
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this book, James Sire explains nine different worldviews by having them answer the same eight questions:

1. What is prime reality—the really real?
2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
3. What is a human being?
4. What happens to a person at death?
5. Why is it possible to know anything at all?
6. How do we know what is right and wrong?
7. What is the meaning of human history?
8. What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

Darcy Leech
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I encountered this book first as a student in a college World Religions class. The Universe Next Door is an enlightening read on alternative systems and world views that helps increase awareness, empathy and the ability to think globally. I was the professor's assistant for two more World Religion classes and came to see this book as a teaching tool. It is understandable and relatable. This book is approachable to the average college student. It is not esoteric or written from an ivory tower per ...more
Oct 23, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I just read this for a second time, and this time I paid a bit more attention. It's a cool idea for a book but when the guy starts bashing New Age movements I get a little annoyed. I did learn a bit, though. ...more
Lukas Mason
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time getting out of my western conception of reality and truly understanding eastern monism, but Sire does an admirable job examining the intellectual integrity of a smorgasbord of philosophical frameworks.
Jan 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When my fifteen-year-old grandson suggested the two of us start a virtual book club to read Sartre, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, and others, I immediately suggested we first read James Sire’s The Universe Next Door, sixth edition. All those he listed had been in conversation with many others. The problem in reading them is that we only hear one piece of the exchange. Without some background, we have little idea what the fuss is all about.

Sire’s book gives just that. He offers excellent introducti
Lauren Curtis
This book was really Interesting. However, because the ideas were so complex it was often really hard to understand. A hard read to get through for sure, but I had to do it for school soooo🤷‍♀️😂
George P.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The subtitle of James W. Sire’s The University Next Door calls the book “a basic worldview catalog.” Chapter 1 defines the term worldview and enumerates eight questions worldviews ask. Chapters 2–10 describe how nine worldviews answer these questions, beginning with Christian theism, which is Sire’s own worldview and the perspective of the book as a whole. Chapter 11 outlines four criteria for choosing an adequate worldview. Finally, chapter 12 identifies issues Christian theists need to address ...more
Thomas Grosh IV
Oct 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: worldview
I particularly appreciate The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog's regular updating (including the charts). If you haven't kept up with this text or read it previously, be sure to dig into the most recent edition (5th Edition, 2009).

Personally, I think it is helpful to couple reading this book w/Sire's Naming the Elephant: Worldview as a Concept (IVP, 2004) and Rim of the Sandhills (just e-published, 2012).

To dig more into Worldview, I recommend David Naugle's Worldview: The History
James Williamson
The Universe Next Door is an excellent resource on understanding some of the main worldviews that a person encounters with neighbors, friends and coworkers. Sire also provides a helpful historical explanation on the development of each major view. The book has dense material but it's definitely worth the effort to try to better understand how different people think of things and see things, and what the basis for those ideas are.

The book also challenges the reader to examine their own worldview
James Bunyan
Dec 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is amazing! Jim Sire not only goes through each worldview that has developed in the Western world systematically, really attempting both to trace their contours and feel their implications, but he also convincingly argues that each worldview has represented an attempt by the intellectual West to deal with the void left after having rid itself of Christian theism. Everything, from the chapter sequence to the chronology, shows a devolution in our world view from theism, through deism and natu ...more
Mark Wilson
I have to admit that I struggled through this book a little, particularly with descriptions of worldviews and ideologies that were completely foreign to me (the chapter on Eastern Pantheistic Monism in particular stands out as a difficult chapter to get my head around!), but I feel this was a useful introduction to different types of worldview. In particular, I appreciated the author's returning time and again to the idea that we, as humans, have a desire to know and understand, and rightfully c ...more
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for a class, but I would have abandoned it otherwise. I thought many of the ideas were misinterpreted or misrepresented. I understand that it was not meant to be an objective view of worldviews other than Christianity, but I think the interpretations of some of the other worldviews--especially what Sire refers to as New Age and Post-modernism were generalized. The chapter on Islam is at the end, indicating it is in the neighborhood furthest away from Christianity. However, it ...more
Mike Gaeta
Jun 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
What the title says; a basic survey of some of the most popular worldviews held today. It has a descriptive and prescriptive aspect that you would expect of any book written by an evangelical author. I read this book a few years ago when I was snowballing with confirmation bias as a young evangelical myself. Has some useful insights regarding each worldview, and speaks extensively about (you guessed it) atheism and nihilism.

Would not recommend this book if you are looking for something more obj
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a Christian man relating how 10 different worldviews hang together in their attempts to answer life's questions and be internally consistent. He examines the assumptions and implications of each view. I appreciate his thoroughness and fairness. His treatment of views that are internally inconsistent, for example, is generous and kind. His personal view is one in which morality and agency are fundamental. I love philosophy. I found this fascinating. I listened to it and thought it so good ...more
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's an almost perfectly fine book on worldview. Definetly biased in many places, which I mostly noticed in the chapter on Islam. The language is difficult, but if you're picking this up as something you want to read it's unlikely you'll have any major problems with it. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it wasn't something I was required to read and if it didn't spoil the entire Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series in the intro to one chapter. ...more
A easy to read introduction to the current worldviews of our time. The main worldviews are thoroughly and systematically analysed and compared in the framework of their historical developments. Sire concludes with a practical way to choose a worldview which compells one, after all his sober and sometimes whitty arguments, to opt for the "Christian Theism" worldview. ...more
Emil Avedisian
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apologetics
James Sire analyzes worldviews from a Christian point of view, but based on sources and texts from the worldviews themselves (hence the many footnotes!), making his analysis reasonable and logical.
I especially like his critique of naturalism and how it leads to nihilism the existentialism could not save us from.
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neww agee 1 10 Oct 31, 2011 07:35AM  

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James W. Sire was a Christian author, speaker, and former editor for InterVarsity Press.

Sire was an officer in the Army, a college professor of English literature, philosophy and theology, the chief editor of InterVarsity Press, a lecturer at over two hundred universities around the world and the author of twenty books on literature, philosophy and the Christian faith. His book The Universe Next D

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