Our core beliefs shape and define the inner self and the outer world. In order to understand our world, we must learn to look below the surface. We must take responsibility and accountability for our actions. Are you ready for this challenge?
We start our look at core beliefs by dividing humanity into two groups. So, imagine humankind as a tree with two main branches. One limb we’ll call believers, the other non-believers. These are the two branches of humanity. Simple enough.
How To Group Humanity By Religion
The first branch of humanity we call believers. This group includes Deists, those who believe in a God but also believe there are natural laws that govern creation. It also includes Theists, they believe God has absolute control over creation.
The second branch of this tree are the non-believers. This branch includes everyone who does not believe in an imaginary friend. One subset in this group are called Atheists because they fail to believe in the concept of God. Another subset is called Agnostics because they do not believe it is possible to know for sure whether God exists or not. You can be both an Atheist and an Agnostic.
People use the word “Atheist” to describe those who don’t have an imaginary friend. The word “atheist” is Greek ἄθεος (atheos), which means without God (s). “A” is short for anti, meaning to oppose or the opposite. Atheist is a derogatory frame of reference for people who do not believe in an imaginary friend.
What is interesting is that we only use this kind of terminology when talking about God. We don’t attach the Greek word anti to other terms. If you don’t believe in bigfoot, people do not call you an anti-big footer. It’s the same for Aliens and Vampires. We don’t label people as “anti-alien” or “anti-vampire”. That shows the power of religion in language.
Both branches of this tree have a worldview which shapes their beliefs about the inner self and the outer world. (1) The inner self reflects our values. Mythology and superstition are the basis of the values and beliefs of organized religion. Non-believers use evidence which is considered inferior and evil to religious doctrine.
Religious beliefs definitely shape the thinking and values of the inner self. For example, if we believe God chooses us to commit violence, we will act violently and have a clear conscience. After all, we are acting on God’s behalf. So, the framework of the inner self affects the outer world in significant ways.
Belief in God is dangerous because it promotes sectarianism and religious superiority. These ideologies lead to narcissistic thinking. Unfortunately, society makes this personality disorder an acceptable mindset. We see it manifest in paranoia and the lack of empathy. This mindset escalates into more destructive of thinking, and all levels of violence — killing in the name of God.
No society is immune to the cancer of this mindset. We see countries around the world reverting to dark age mentality. In the USA, we see how human rights are being eroded instead of being championed. We live in scary times.
Shaping The Inner Self and the Outer World
Let’s look at how organized religion shapes culture. Christianity, Islam, and Judaism account for about 40% of the world’s population, and Hinduism accounts for another 14%. So at least half of the world believe in a higher power. However, they rarely look below the surface and investigate the historical basis of their beliefs. They affect the life of everyone, even non-believers. They dominate the cultural narrative and control society by installing their religious prejudice via laws and regulations. Sometimes, taking over governmental control outright.
Our Core Beliefs: A Look Below the Surface
We’ve known for several decades that organized religion is the source of all the ongoing conflicts around the world. The belief in an imaginary friend is a slippery slope that leads to delusional thinking. (2)
“Even in this secular country, the threat posed by religious fundamentalists is never very far away. Every major religious text exhorts the same principles – that of unyielding obedience to a supernatural being, and renunciation of the intellect and personal aspirations.” — Andrew Bernstein
Organized religion is a system of indoctrination. It is a tool to reprogram our core beliefs. It substitutes mythology for common sense, and replaces our natural moral compass with religious values. This allows believers to justify bias, prejudice, and discrimination. It uses religious superiority to justify everything from genocide to genital mutilation. (3)
“There are a lot of Christian fundamentalists; there are a lot of Muslim extremists. Every religion — Mormonism — has something way on the side that’s completely using the religion as some weird backbone for their twisted faith. It has nothing to do with their religion.” — Patrick Wilson
The pathway beyond religion depends on the level of your integration. There are three distinct levels of involvement. here are three primary levels of religious belief, fringe, moderates, and extremists. See which one you identify with.
The Fringe Group
Those who have the least amount of integration are the fringe group. We estimate this group accounts for 40 to 50% of the membership of the above mentioned organized religions. This percentage isn’t a new trend, in the 15th Century, this group made up only about 10% of organized religion. Here are the characteristics of this group:
They label themselves Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or Hindu. More often than not, they come from families and communities where these regions hold a great deal of power. So, public declarations of faith are the way to fit in. In some middle-Eastern cultures, it’s mandatory to make public affirmations and take part in regular meetings and rituals. If you do not, you can be subject to punishment up to and including public execution.
However, of the three types of believers, they spend the least time at services or private practice of the dogma. Nor do they align with all the doctrines within the religion. Although they make a public show of their association, they do so because of social pressure, not because they agree. Often, their ability to earn a living depends upon their religious allegiance. They have the least amount of participation in ritual and attendance. They rarely understand the origins or evolution of their religion.
If they live in a culture dominated by the religion, they learn how to give the outward appearance of allegiance. They know not to disclose their true feelings. Some cultures have harsh punishment for non-believers.
In order to get free from their indoctrination, they must see the facts below the surface relating to their religion. They are the most likely to leave the religion if they can. They can see how distorted thinking within the paradigm affects the inner self and the outer world.
Moderate believers account for 30 to 40% of the power base. It used to be most believers, but it has declined in the last decade. Here are the characteristics of this group.
Moderates are the financial backbone of religion. Because they attend meetings regularly, they expose themselves to high doses of groupthink manipulation, making them susceptible to extremist ideologies. As such, they are more likely to support violent actions of Extremists. This group gives preference to religious rhetoric over scientific evidence. They distrust outside authorities in science and modern medicine. Moderates perceive their beliefs as truth rather than mythology and superstition.
Like fringe believers, many are indoctrinated into their religion as children. It also includes a large number of converts who join because of the personal crisis. When people are in crisis, they are more vulnerable to groupthink manipulation tactics. Moderate believers often make the religion a significant attribute of their identity and are more likely to defend their beliefs with violence. Thus, they can slide toward extremist ideologies. What’s important here is that they can become extremists or fringe believers. It all depends on their level of integration in the system and their curiosity. Because they are most of the financial support, the religion spends a large amount of time indoctrinating them. They intertwine as many relationships to various groups like single, elderly, etc.
Extremists are less in numbers, but they are the most vocal, active and violent. They may only make up 5 to 10% of the population, but they are often the most influential. Extremists gravitate to leadership within the sect. The religious sect becomes the extremist’s identity. It is difficult to change an extremist worldview when they will consider logical arguments or scientific facts. The need to believe overrides everything.
Our core beliefs don’t just affect our own lives; they affect the world. If you are a victim of indoctrination into a religion as a child, it is not your fault. However, as an adult, you have the responsibility to fix your programming. Please do not subject the next generation to groupthink manipulation. Stop the cycle.
Have the courage to look below the surface at what is driving your thoughts. Remember, our core beliefs shape the inner self and the outer world.
(1) The How and Why of Consciousness: https://www.scienceopen.com/document?vid=bdbe5dfb-a6b9-43c3-b82f-3f120ce6b020
(2) Delusional Disorder: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK539855/
(3) Religious Extremist: A Fundamental Danger : https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1427998