What Does the Word World Mean?
In its most simple sense, the word “world” denotes the totality of things, to all of reality or to what was, is and always will be. The nature of this world is conceptualized in many different ways in different disciplines. Some conceptions view the world as being very individualistic, having only a personal perspective, while others speak of a “unity of worlds”. Still other philosophers, associated with quantum physics, speak of “spooky action at a distance”.
If asked which word describes the natural world best, some philosophers may answer “world”, while another might suggest “earth”. When asked which is the proper word to use to best illustrate the mystery of the universe, some scientists might reply “space” while another might suggest “time”. These philosophers all agree that there is more than one world, each with its own characteristics. But they are unable to decide which world is the “best”, the explanation of all the seeming contradictions, unless it is postulated that there is indeed a “better” world.
Many scientists feel that it is impossible to describe the workings of the universe in a purely physical sense. For them the “word earth” describes the physical basis of everything, including life, but not the spiritual basis of things such as love, faith, hope, and courage. Thus, for these scientists, the “word world” often precedes the word earth. It could be argued that theists often precede the scientist when it comes to defining what the world is like.
When we use “the word world” to describe our planet, it usually means both the earth and the entire universe. In fact, when scientists speak of the “Milky Way galaxy” they mean both the black hole and the milky way. A similarly broad definition would be “the Earth and all the planets in it”. The term “world” can also mean the totality of human knowledge, since we live in a world where knowledge is almost completely objective. From this it follows that the term world can mean two different things in science, although not necessarily so.
Philosophers who often precede scientists in describing the world usually explain reality in terms of God, because they often conceive of God as having ultimate control over everything. This means that the only thing “obvious” about the world is God. In short, people often precede science in determining what the word earth actually means.
Not all world maps show the surface of the earth. While all globe drawings and world maps have their value, some cartographers choose to exaggerate or completely obscure portions of the world map to beautify and draw attention to areas of interest. For instance, a world map with only Africa and Antarctica as major continents shows very little of the southern hemisphere. When such cartographers add the Asian and European continents as well as North America as a part of the world, they are able to show more of this part of the world. In this way, these cartographers use the world map as an important tool for storytelling and teaching.