Children are born in a state of innocence, absent beliefs. It’s our default setting. See how overcoming harmful beliefs and boundaries can help us return to our original state of innocence.
Conquering The Need to Believe
Our original state is absent from any religious or cultural programming. It is a worldview of innocence, purity, and freedom. Our minds are uncluttered and absent of any religious dogma or beliefs. It’s the place where we are happy for no reason, and it’s the way we should live.
To be free is to live without unnecessary or harmful controls. So, we are born in a state of freedom. The only programming we have as a child comes from our personality and instincts. These are necessary tools that connect our consciousness to our bodies. They are tools to help us acclimate to this world. They help us avoid dangers by triggering our fight, flight, or freeze instinct.
Anything that subverts or corrupts this state takes us away from our very nature. So, we must be “free” to choose what we believe. Religious freedom starts with being free from mandatory religious beliefs. This default setting provides us with the ultimate platform for living a life of freedom. Nothing taints the window of our consciousness. It is that state in which our Spirit and Soul are boundless and free.
Many religions use groupthink manipulation tactics to attract and retain their members. They prey on our basic fears to make customers. They create “the need to believe” as the overriding premise of their prejudiced worldview.
“With the radical advent of Christianity, this self-righteous intolerance was borrowed from the Jews, and a new twist was added. The conversion of infidels by any means possible became the newfound calling card of religious fervor, and this new experiment in human culture spread like wildfire.
By its very nature, how could it not have? Islam followed suit, conquering half the world in brutal warfare, and, much like its Christian counterpart, it developed a new and convenient survival characteristic: the destruction of all images and practices attributed to other religions. Muslims destroyed millions of statues and paintings in India and Africa and forced conversion under pain of death (or by more subtle tricks: like taxing only non-Muslims), while the Catholic Church busily burned books along with pagans, shattering statues and defacing or destroying pagan art – or converting it to Christian use.
Laws against pagan practices and heretics were in full force throughout Europe by the sixth century, and as long as those laws were in place it was impossible for anyone to refuse the tenets of Christianity and expect to keep their property or their life. Similar persecution and harassment continue in Islamic countries even to this day, officially and unofficially.” ― Richard Carrier, Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
So the challenge before us is to conquer the need to believe in mythology and superstition. It’s not an easy task. Freethinkers from the 18th century firmly believed that this knowledge would eradicate the era of mythology.
“It is no credit to the orthodox that they do not now believe all the absurdities that were believed 150 years ago. The gradual emasculation of the Christian doctrine has been effected in spite of the most vigorous resistance, and solely as the result of the onslaughts of freethinkers.” — Bertrand Russell
Return to Our Natural State of Innocence
People like to categorize things, and this original mindset is no exception. Some refer to this state of freedom as Atheism—this worldview without the shackles of religious belief. There is no need for imaginary friends or enemies. It is a mindset free of boundaries, religious, ethnic, cultural prejudice, and bias.
Overcoming harmful beliefs is the key to reaching this mindset. Atheism is another name for a healthy mindset. It is the default setting of innocence where everyone and everything has equal value. They call this Agnosticism. An Agnostic acknowledges there isn’t any objective (scientifically verifiable) evidence to support God.
“An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there is not. The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice. In that case, he is not far removed from Atheism.” — Bertrand Russell
Neither of these positions is a religion. Rational skepticism is not a belief system. People who do not have allegiance to imaginary friends or enemies are called freethinkers.
“Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking.” ― Leo Tolstoy
To return to our natural state of innocence, we must find the programming that distorts our thinking. Then we need to delete it. Overcoming harmful beliefs isn’t easy.
Finding Common Ground
The truth is, we are all agnostics. No one can prove the existence of a Supreme Being, God, or Goddess with absolute certainty. Believers don’t know if their God exists. The need to believe drives the decision to accept the concept of a God or Goddess.
An Agnostic point of view is a conclusion based on a lack of knowledge and credible proof. An Atheist is someone absent from the belief in God or Gods. The word Atheism originates from the Greek term ἄθεος (atheos), meaning “without gods.”
So, no matter what you believe, we are all atheists in someone’s religion. To believe in one God or set of gods is to deny the others. People use the same philosophical arguments to prove Gods, legends, and other imaginary things exist. They use belief and myth to prove the existence of Santa Claus, unicorns, and fairies. So, if belief equaled fact, all Gods would be genuine. Common sense and logic do not support this conclusion.
Agnostic Atheism embraces Atheism and Agnosticism. They are atheists because they are “without gods” and do not believe in their existence. And they are also agnostics because imaginary Beings are unknowable and unprovable.
Here we are in our natural state without gods, which also means without religion. Where would you be if you did not believe in God? Simple. Where would an enslaved person be if he had no master? He would be free.
Overcoming Harmful Beliefs and the Need to Believe
One of the best things about spiritual exploration is that you do not need belief. You follow a process. It’s like baking a cake. You follow the recipe, and you get a wonderful tasty treat. We find some of these processes in the religious traditions of the East. Some ancient traditions act as storehouses, preserving and protecting these processes. Some religions attempt to claim these processes as their own, but you can use logic to sort them out.
These processes can help us return to our natural state of innocence. They help us face and conquer the roadblocks to our essential mindset. It is what Joseph Campbell calls the Hero’s Journey. It is the call of our desire to seek the unknown. Overcoming harmful beliefs from our cultural narrative is hard inner work.
Inner work is an emotionally challenging process to undertake. Confronting deeply held beliefs is only part of it. One of the best approaches to explore your sacred ground is comparative analysis. It’s a comparative religious study method based on the scientific process and incorporates emotional checks to minimize your bias and keep your emotions in check.
Doing your research into your belief system is often challenging. Religious ideologies integrate deeply into our psyche. The programming dictates the boundaries of personal and business relationships. So, exposing this sacred ground is scary. It triggers our fight, flight, or freeze response.
“If I am right, then (religious fundamentalists) will not go to Heaven because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites.” — Isaac Asimov
“The problem is not that religious people are stupid. It’s not that religious fundamentalists are stupid. I happen to think that you can be so well educated that you can build a nuclear bomb, and still get and still believe that you will get 72 virgins in paradise, that is the problem. The problem is that religion because it has been sheltered from criticism as it has been, allows people—perfectly sane, perfectly intelligent people to believe en masse, what only idiots or lunatics could believe in isolation.” — Sam Harris
The Hero’s Journey (2) is the path back to our natural state of innocence. Our psyche is pure and free of cultural programming. Enhancing your critical thinking skills is also recommended. We use three reasoning methods, Logic and Rational Thinking, The Truth-Seekers Spiritual Axioms, and Tools for 10 Common Logical Fallacies. These teach you to question the cultural narrative.
Overcoming harmful beliefs isn’t easy. But if we identify and overcome this programming, we open the door to freedom. We can return to our natural state of innocence. Losing your faith is the best thing for you and everyone in your circle of influence.
(1) Kersey Graves, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors 1881 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World’s_Sixteen_Crucified_Saviors
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces