The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog, By James W. Sire
The Universe Next Door
  • Length: 312 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: August 04, 2020
  • Imprint: IVP Academic
  • Item Code: 4938
  • ISBN: 9780830849383

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Your Trusted Introduction to the Worldviews That Shape the Western World

For more than forty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. Using his widely influential model of eight basic worldview questions, James Sire examines prominent worldviews that have shaped the Western world:

  • theism
  • deism
  • naturalism
  • Marxism
  • nihilism
  • existentialism
  • Eastern monism
  • New Age philosophy
  • postmodernism
  • Islam

Intertwined with this analysis, he presents an overview of intellectual history giving insight into the current state of Western thought and culture. Critiquing each worldview within its own frame of reference and in comparison to others, Sire encourages readers to wrestle with life's biggest questions and examine the core beliefs and commitments on which they are building their lives

The sixth edition, updated by Sire's longtime editor Jim Hoover, features new explanatory sidebars, helpful charts comparing worldviews and illustrating their historical flow, and a chapter on challenges to a Christian worldview in the twenty-first century. New discussion questions will help readers reflect more deeply on the ideas in each chapter.

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. In a world of ever-increasing diversity, The Universe Next Door offers a unique resource for understanding the variety of worldviews that claim the allegiance of mind and heart.

"Each new edition of James Sire's classic text on worldviews, The Universe Next Door, only adds to the comprehensiveness and adaptability to classroom instruction as well as individual and group studies. This sixth edition is no exception. It contains a new commentary on the most contemporary challenges to Christian knowledge and faith. There is also an excellent new chart of worldviews as they relate to prime reality, external reality, human beings, after death, knowledge, morality, history, and core commitments. James Sire's work on worldviews was the product of a lifetime of fascination, study, and articulation of the major differences between our basic understandings and commitments across cultures, religions, and time. It was essential to whetting my own interest in and understanding of the importance of comprehending worldviews. It is an essential text for every Christian's library."

Mary Poplin, professor of education at Claremont Graduate University, author of Is Reality Secular?

"Over two generations of evangelicals have been nurtured by James Sire's magisterial The Universe Next Door. It is rightly considered a Christian classic. And for two reasons, this new incarnation of Sire's work is especially important. For one, it has a number of new features—including clarifying sidebars, charts, study questions, and a new chapter tackling recent challenges to a Christian worldview—that make its content clear, updated, and easy to use as a text. For another, as Western culture moves further and further away from the memory of a Christian worldview, it becomes increasingly important that Christians know how to navigate the realm of worldviews and think worldviewishly as Christians. This new edition of The Universe Next Door is for such a time as this."

J. P. Moreland, distinguished professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, and coauthor of Philosophical Foundations of a Christian Worldview

"This book is tremendous. I have taught it many times and even made videos on it. . . . It contains much helpful bibliography, and the new chapter encourages us to keep thinking in the spirit of worldview."

David Naugle, professor emeritus, Dallas Baptist University

"It's an honor to recommend this new edition of James Sire's classic, The Universe Next Door. Though it is a reference book on different worldviews, it is filled with readable prose. Sire draws from leading thinkers from non-Christian worldviews to give us a fair survey and assessment. Anyone serious about understanding the views of the people next door will benefit from The Universe Next Door."

Abdu Murray, speaker, author, and senior vice president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries

"When I first encountered James Sire's The Universe Next Door (fourth edition) in 2006, it introduced me to a new vocabulary of faith and philosophy. His work became formative and transformative for me as a pastor and graduate student; it remains so for me as an academic philosopher and professor. This newly updated sixth edition contains helpful additions (chapter reflection questions, expanded sidebars, tables and charts in the appendix, and a new short concluding chapter) while not compromising the fundamental soundness of the previous editions. An excellent and worthy successor!"

Tawa Anderson, associate professor of philosophy at Oklahoma Baptist University


"To think intelligently today is to think worldviewishly, to come to terms with the mosaic of meaning systems which make up modern thinking. This book is a clear introduction and invaluable guide."

Os Guinness, author of Carpe Diem Redeemed

"If you are looking for an introductory exposition of prominent worldviews, I know of no better book."

Nicholas Wolterstorff, author of Religion in the University

"The most readable presentation of alternative systems that I have ever seen."

Russ Bush, author of A Handbook for Christian Philosophy

"A most magnificently useful book."

E. M. Blaiklock, author of Blaiklock's Handbook to the Bible

"Read as a whole it traces a convincing history of the evolution of worldviews (particularly in the West), as well as providing a robust defence of the enduring validity of the Christian faith. . . . An excellent introduction."

Alan Kerry, Faith Thought, October 2010

"For more than thirty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. 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."

Paul J. Cain, Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review, August 2010

"For anyone concerned to understand the culture in which we are called to work and witness, which ought to be all of us, this is still an indispensable resource."

David McKay, The Covenanter Witness, June 2010


Foreword to the Sixth Edition by Jim Hoover
Preface to the Fifth Edition

1. A World of Difference: Introduction
2. A Universe Charged with the Grandeur of God: Christian Theism
3. The Clockwork Universe: Deism
4. The Silence of Finite Space: Naturalism
5. Zero Point: Nihilism
6. Beyond Nihilism: Existentialism
7. Journey to the East: Eastern Pantheistic Monism
8. A Separate Universe: The New Age—Spirituality Without Religion
9. The Vanished Horizon: Postmodernism
10. A View from the Middle East: Islamic Theism
11. The Examined Life: A Live Worth Living
12. Building a Christian Worldview for the Twenty-First Century: A Work in Progress

Appendix: Worldview Diagrams and Thumbnail Sketches


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James W. Sire

James W. Sire (1933–2018) was a widely respected apologist, author, and lecturer who served for more than thirty years as senior editor at InterVarsity Press. He is the author of over twenty books, including the seminal apologetics title The Universe Next DoorApologetics Beyond Reason, and Discipleship of the Mind.