Whether you realize it, the concept of God or a Higher Power affects your life. This concept affects how you perceive reality. It shapes the way you value things and people. Thankfully, you have the power to control this. See how and why you should.
There are three ways to approach the subject of a higher power:
Defining the Subject of God
The concept of God or a Higher Power stretches back to Animism (1), the theory that some divine essence is within everything. It infers that some unseen intelligent force is observing, guiding, and directing things to some extent.
It is human nature to seek answers for things we don’t know. We want to know how things work, so we seek answers to the cause of things. It goes hand in hand with questions about who we are and why we are here. That’s why the following discussion will help you. We think it will help you answer these philosophical questions.
Of the three ways to approach the subject of God, many people favor one approach more than others. Some people use more than one, while others only use one method. The easiest way to understand the differences is to answer the questions.
- How do you relate to the concept of God or a higher power?
- Do I favor reason, faith, or experience as an approach to God?
- Or is it a combination of all three? Please pause a moment to think about it.
- Write a short one or two-sentence answer.
- Then, see if your answer changes after reading this article.
The Social Reach of the Subject of God
The three largest religions by population are those of the Abrahamic tree (2). These are the Semitic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These systems aren’t new. They are the rebranding of Egyptian, Babylonian, Persian, and Assyrian mystery religions. Together they boast over 4 billion followers (3). Today, there are over 10,000 versions of these themes. These systems have the most significant impact on the culture of the world.
Their social reach enables them to affect the minds of many people. Their beliefs, superstition, and bias make their way into the laws which govern much of the civilized world. Their beliefs become part of the laws which govern everyone in their social reach—the greater their social reach, the larger their customer base.
The primary goal of these systems is to generate income. The wealthiest religion has more material wealth than most countries. The Vatican of the Catholic Church is a country. It holds an estimated net worth of over 400 billion dollars, including cash, real estate, precious metals, and art.
Above all, Christianity and Islam are the leaders in marketing and rebranding. They improved on the dying-god sect religions. It makes their product accessible to more people via belief. In contrast, Judaism bases its membership primarily on ethnic lines.
Next, they perfected the process of indoctrination and groupthink manipulation. Most cleverly, adding their own brand of sacred texts building on the work of their closest competitor, Judaism. With this strategy, they could legitimize their belief system while showing Judaism in a negative light.
The Three Ways to Approach God
Before you proceed, take the time to write your initial thoughts about the above questions. Everyone will have different answers. Above all, there are no wrong answers. Your response to this question will depend upon many factors.
Your answer will probably change over time because we are always reframing or affirming our perceptions and values. It happens in two ways, either consciously or unconsciously. Conscious changes occur when we use our intellect to review facts and make a choice. Subconscious changes occur through propaganda and brainwashing. Subconscious psychological manipulation can frame our thoughts, values, and behaviors, and we don’t even know it’s taking place. It’s not a choice but a response to stimuli.
Observe your social environment. The subject of God is everywhere. There are subtle and direct forms of religious programming. This concept is the centerpiece of religion and politics. It triggers our deepest fears. This discussion will help you recognize this type of social manipulation, and then you can also assist others.
Approach by Reason
The first of the three ways to approach this subject is by reason. People who like this approach want objective answers. They prefer rational logic and proven sciences. The classical proofs of the cosmological existence are the starting place for their quest. Reason always leads to more existential questions (4).
Is there a need for a higher power? Does the world or our universe need one or more to operate it? How does it relate to theological beliefs like the afterlife? It also begs questions about human nature. For example, is morality proof of some divine intervention? Or, is morality a part of our DNA? Then again, or perhaps morality is simply a logical necessity for civilization? Are morality and belief in a higher power independent subjects?
Answers to the above are beyond any scientifically verifiable evidence. So, you’ll need a good understanding of logical reasoning to develop sound conclusions. It will help you avoid common issues with false arguments.
We highly recommend you add logical reasoning to your truth-seeking toolbox. We are all different. Your research may provide different conclusions. A lot depends on the source of the data we used to make decisions. Also, we have different skill levels, backgrounds, personalities, and instincts. Our life experiences are unique. So, our conclusions about a higher power will probably differ. Being pro-facts doesn’t mean you should be anti-religious.
Approach by Faith
The second of the three ways to approach is subject is by faith. Almost everyone who prefers the path of faith has deeply held religious beliefs. More than likely, they are part of the Abrahamic tree. They assert faith is the only approach to a Higher Power.
Faith is to believe things without evidence. Admittedly, this takes considerable effort to maintain. The modern world surrounds us with resources and facts. Training the mind to pick between ideas and facts is stressful. The struggle to reconcile facts results in a condition known as cognitive dissonance or “the religious headache.”
This group is skeptical of scientific, rational, and logical proofs. They also reject experiential methods. For this paradigm, the Higher Power is a mystical persona. For that reason, the approach by objective data and rational thinking processes is man’s wayward wisdom. Similarly, the approach via experience is a fabrication of man’s imagination.
So, the lack of proof is proof of their faith. They claim faith is the only correct path to Divine revelation. This group rests its authority on sacred texts and a charismatic leader’s leadership.
You shouldn’t discount the use of faith as a methodology for everything. Faith and hope are the basis of a positive outlook. We build every plan of action on the expectation that it will succeed. Faith and hope help us through life’s adversities. These attributes allow us to overcome obstacles. For that reason, faith is also a useful component of your truth-seeking machinery. Not as an excuse to ignore the facts, but to regulate attitude.
Approach by Experience
Last but not least are those who assert that experience is the only sure method to know God. This third approach to the subject is god is a purely subjective vantage point. Its pure form is the counterclaim of the above two methods. It’s the position one cannot approach the subject by reason or by faith because both reason and faith are subject to corruption. Here the direct experience of the divine provides all the proof.
These types of divine encounters have some common attributes. Terms like “oneness” and “transcendent silence” are common among these types of Eureka experiences. Practitioners use several spiritual technologies to get this knowledge. Interestingly, people who have near-death experiences also report similar revelations. So, it would seem that this type of experience is shared. People drawn to this approach believe experience is proof of divine energy or higher power.
Many ancient cultures spent considerable time and effort in investigating these processes. These mental activities sometimes including psychoactive substances to shift consciousness to non-ordinary states. The goal here is to connect directly with the Universe or Higher Power (s).
The above three approaches are pure extracts. Some people ascribe to just one of these three methods. And some combine all three approaches in differing degrees. We think using all three approaches is beneficial, but common sense and reason should be this triune method’s primary leg. It makes your spiritual journey more well-rounded. It helps make you more open-minded.
Thanks for reading this article. We welcome your opinion, so don’t hesitate to comment or email us. We hope it provides some food for thought. You can find more mind-opening topics on our blog.
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This article is an excerpt from—How to Find the Truth (2001) by JJB
(1) Animism, Wikipedia
(2) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(3) World Religions by Population, Wikipedia
(4) Existentialism, Wikipedia
(5) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia