Religious beliefs are a filter through which we perceive reality. It becomes a part of our worldview that programs bias. This distorts how we interpret reality and diminishes our use of common sense and logic.
We are all prone to the mind trap of confirmation bias, which distorts our thinking and values. This is the tendency to interpret fresh evidence within the boundaries of our existing beliefs. It’s the default setting of our worldview. It makes perception easier but not more accurate. Not all belief systems are equal. Some religions have more doctrine, filters, and boundaries. And so, not all religions have the same adverse effect on our critical thinking.
Religious Belief — Confirmation Bias
Religions affect our ability to reason in differing degrees. It all depends upon the size and the number of boundaries. The more rules and boundaries, the more it affects our ability to reason facts from fiction. The more we expose ourselves to groupthink manipulation, the more susceptible we are to this programming.
Ideas or concepts that are fantasy and have no basis in fact or proof cause the greatest distortion of perception. So, the crazier and more far-fetched the beliefs, and greater their adverse effect on our ability to think.
For example, Taoism and Paganism have the fewest constraints over our thinking. With these systems, you are free to explore and develop your path. Your ability to reason is intact.
In contrast, The Abrahamic religions (1) have the greatest number of boundaries. These are religions of Semitic origin, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They have the most biased and contradictory doctrines. They cause the distortions of perception we call confirmation bias. You learn to reject facts and ideas that conflict with their boundaries.
Western Organized Religion has the most boundaries of any system on the planet. It directs its efforts at controlling thought and values. Some say this probably the primary purpose. They are based on a system of “continuous indoctrination and programming” to mold values and thinking. It’s effective at establishing boundaries, restrictions, and limitations on independent thought. Today we know this as the techniques of self-hypnosis and group hypnosis.
Such boundaries “tell” you what is wrong and what is right. They often dictate personal and social values that have ripple effects throughout society, and their effects depend upon how emotionally invested you are in the propositions they are selling. These systems sell hate, spawn genocide, wars, and discrimination of races, ethnicity, and gender. All the while proclaiming they are agents of love. Those invested in these paradigms can cherry-pick the doctrines to fit their needs. This is one reason we know them as the false light.
The most effective agents for change within these paradigms are children. This is because children ask hard questions. They are not afraid to point out the illogical inconsistencies. Many Sunday school teachers end up leaving Christianity. Children force us to face bias and discrimination.
How Belief Affects Common Sense and Logic
Here’s how it works. Western Religion programs the mind to set up filters that elicit the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. This triggers a fear reaction to anything that threatens these boundaries. The more rigid, inflexible, and extreme your religious beliefs, the less likely your ability to use your critical thinking abilities. You automatically reject any idea outside the boundaries of your paradigm. Your ability to use common sense and logic are diminished.
Our research shows an inverse relationship between religious belief and the ability to use common sense. Thus, the more extreme your religious beliefs, the less likely you are to perceive ideas outside of your paradigm. The more extreme the beliefs, the more likely you are to ignore and disregard facts and ideas that conflict with your paradigm’s views. You become a puppet. You react with fear or hate when you encounter any idea or fact that challenges any boundary.
Determining Confirmation Bias
You can tell how emotionally invested you are in your paradigm by the emotional reaction to ideas that challenge it. Are you having a negative emotional reaction to this article? If so, this is a sign you are probably a follower of one of the Abrahamic religion sects. Let’s look at how learning about the correct use of logical reasoning can help unmask your vulnerability level.
A Little Logic Goes a Long Way
Here’s an example of how to spot the improper use of deductive reasoning and the “false premise.” We’ll use the Supreme Being Odin as our subject.
First, proving a negative or negative proof is “a false proof.” It is an error of circular logic to prove the non-existence of something that does not exist. For example, proving that Odin does not exist in the same way, you cannot prove that he does.
The burden of proof is on the person claiming the existence of something. This is especially true for entities without a corporeal form. The absence of a physical substance is not proof of absence. The absence of milk in a bowl is not a valid analogy to prove the existence of a Supreme Being based on the absence of evidence that it doesn’t exist.
You can’t prove gods don’t exist, but that doesn’t mean they do. Neither can you disprove that Apolo, Zeus, Mythra, Dyonisys, or any other god does not exist? Simply because there is no proof that they don’t exist doesn’t mean that they do. Similarly, anecdotal evidence does not prove the existence of gods.
Continuing with our example of Odin.
Proving Odin Exists?
Let’s assume we meet someone who claims Odin exists. When we challenge them to provide evidence for the existence of Odin, we get the following response:
First, no ice-giants exist. Odin promised to wipe out the ice-giants. So, since there are no ice-giants, this is proof of Odin’s existence.
Second, Odin is prolific in early paganism, dating back through oral traditions in Germanic mythology. Odin (from Old Norse Óðinn). The evidence is prevalent in ancient forms of paganism; they knew Odin in Old English as Wóden, in Old Saxon as Wōden, and in Old High German as Wuotan or Wodan.
With so much evidence from so many authoritative sources, it is obvious that Odin exists, right? The answer, no, you’re mistaken. This isn’t evidence of the existence of Odin. Sorry, but the absence of imaginary creatures does not represent evidence they ever existed. Nor is it evidence Odin extinguished them.
Recounting of stories, no matter the age or supposed authority of origin, does not suffice as proof for the existence of Odin. These points apply to all gods, not just Odin.
This shows us how fallacies, circular logic, and misuse of an argument are used to tell a story. Using common sense and logic shows how they reveal problems with faulty arguments. All you need to do is study a little. It’s not as hard as they have led you to believe.
Use Emotional Checks
Anytime you engage in spiritual research, we recommend the use of emotional checks. This is a process to help you stay as unbiased as possible. When we investigate religious belief we are venturing on our “sacred ground.”
Emotional checks will reduce stress and increase the accuracy of our research. So think of it as a safety net. It will catch us when we fall into emotional distress. This is because when we face ideas conflicting with our current opinion, it creates a dilemma. We instinctively react to protect our sacred ground. You don’t want to research while in a state of distress.
Spiritual technologies are tools for developing and exploring consciousness. They are processes that can alter, change, or expand our awareness. Some of these methods open doorways to higher states of consciousness.
These processes come from eons of research by cultures around the world. We use the term spiritual exploration to describe these powerful methods.
We select the best of these ancient methods for our blended learning process. These processes are time-tested by generations of use, and they stand up to the rigorous tests of science. Several of these methods produce measurable changes in our physiology. These physiological markers differ from normal waking, sleeping, and dreaming states.
Spiritual exploration is not about faith or belief in a religion. They are processes that anyone can use. All you do is follow a process. We like to think of it just like baking a cake. When you want to bake a delicious cake, you follow a recipe. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious. The processes of spiritual exploration are formulas or ingredients for exploring consciousness.
There are many ways to list these methods. We divide these tools into four major categories:
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Modalities for Healing
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools, but these analytical processes are vital to our spiritual quest. Their use enhances our ability to use common sense and logic.
These tools help us think more clearly and make better decisions, which helps us avoid many of our path’s common obstacles. This group’s primary tools are Logical Reasoning, Comparative Analysis, and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice, but these methods help anyone seeking the truth. We encourage our participants to create a reminder on their smartphone to review these tools every month. This keeps them fresh in our minds, and that’s when they become useful in spotting ploys and deception.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning, which summarizes the basic use of logic in language. It shows how people misuse logic to sell us ideas and beliefs. Next is spotting logical fallacies. This module provides practical examples of the most common logical fallacies. The last module, the logical axioms, ties everything together by contrasting how science and mythology differ in their approaches to presenting the truth.
Comparative Analysis is a systematic approach to comparative religious study based on the scientific model. It is a method of comparing ideas and beliefs from different worldviews, and it is another tool we recommend for the new spiritual explorer.
This process introduces the challenge of comparing their beliefs to other worldviews. We incorporate the use of emotional checks with this process to maintain our emotional equilibrium. This helps us think more clearly by reducing interference from our emotions.
Above all, the use of logical reasoning and comparative analysis will sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction. So, these aren’t just for research. You’ll find a use for these tools every day. Besides their use in religion, politics, they are also helpful with TV and Radio newscasts.
The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a cognitive science tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. The best authors and researchers write in easily understandable language so the layperson can understand it, while it is deep enough for any clinician. This makes it a powerful system available to almost everyone.
You will find modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others is a common practice. For instance, Jungian psychology parallels the structure of the Enneagram. It has nine processes of consciousness.
The core of the Enneagram Personality Profile is a series of questionnaires. If you provide honest answers, you will get an accurate personality profile. The scientific method of testing verifies the accuracy of this tool. The system goes beyond identification into deeper thought processes and beliefs. It integrates spiritual and psychological understanding. It will help you understand the source of your personal power.
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration. The practice of meditation is now common knowledge. Both seated and moving meditation bring many health and wellness benefits.
Seated meditation is the heart of many spiritual practices. Meditation is a range of mental tools for exploring consciousness. It has everything from Mindfulness Meditation through Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). And also includes more advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali.
Moving meditation is an action with a heightened level of awareness. This involves a high level of mind-body coordination and skill. This modality improves mind and body connection. In turn, this has a positive effect on our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. It also includes Forest Bathing and grounding techniques, like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This category has a diverse mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group includes the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation, lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory.
Another important tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows. This is your best coach. It also includes exercises like automatic writing. You could list these tools among some groups. However, we like to list them separately because of their importance to awareness.
The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first spiritual technology. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures. It serves as evidence of the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but essentially the same formula. Rhythm is a key element that regulates heart rate and breathing. Then the mind projects an inner world providing the lucid journey.
A Shaman is a person who guides people through this journey in the spirit world. However, you can take this inward journey by yourself. This tool for changing awareness uses a range of seated and moving forms.
This is one of the ancient technologies that people have tried to rename or rebrand. They do this to make the Shamanic Journey more marketable. So, some people know it as guided meditation or creative visualization.
Modalities for Healing
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet, which comes from Indonesia, and Reiki and Shiatsu come from Japan. Vedic medicine is also available, along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Our overall health and wellness affect every aspect of life.
Using any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. They find it an enjoyable way of giving back and helping others.
Common sense and logic are the natural analytical tools that help us discern facts from fiction. Western organized religion dominates most of the cultural narrative. So, minimizing your exposure to religious belief and its harmful programming will help you think more clearly.
We hope you found this article helpful, maybe even thought-provoking. You will find more posts on our blog. Use the search option on the blog pages to find articles by words, terms, topics, or category.
Want to learn the awareness expanding methods we are talking about? We offer both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions using our blended learning process. This learning process ensures the best learning outcomes and aligns with what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey (2).
Our mission is to spread these methods for developing and exploring consciousness. You can find out more about us and this learning process at our FAQ link. Please donate to support our mission and help others learn these life-changing tools.
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(1) Abrahamic Religions, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia