This article explains the four key questions that all Beliefmaps and worldviews attempt to answer.
By Tom Price
A Beliefmap contains four elements and everybody that you meet and interact with, religious or not has one. The four elements are that person’s answers to four questions about the world:
- What is reality?
- What is the error?
- What is the answer?
- What does life look like?
The first question or element that all Beliefmaps, worldviews, religions and ways of approaching the world try to answer in their own different ways concerns the basic nature of reality. What is really there? What is reality?
Why is this something there rather than nothing? And what is the nature of the most basic reality? What are human beings? How can we know things about the world? How can we understand the world? Are there real standards of right and wrong? What is science actually looking at? How do we use our minds or our brains to look at and understand the world around us? Is everything really spiritual in its basic nature? Can everything be explained through natural processes and natural properties? Is God there? Does God exist? Is God different from the universe? Is God separate from the creation? Is God a spiritual being? Is God an energy, or force or something else like love, or light? Is God one being or the sum total of all being? Is God non-existent is everything really physical? Are we just complex biomechanical machines?
The second question which explicitly or implicitly concerns every system of thinking, and approaching the world that man has invented is a bit less philosophical. Nevertheless it is a question that every single human being asks themselves when we watch the news, engage with society, other people or experience struggles in our own lives. This is the area of what is wrong with the world? What is the error? What is going on with people or the world that we are in?
Sometimes the planet itself seems to be lashing out at people, and many people have reflected that there is a sadness, a sorrow or brokenness in the world. What is that? And what is its origin? Maybe we can explain this in terms of human beings being forgetful gods and having lost our true knowledge we have lost our power or potential somehow? Or maybe we could talk about it in terms of brokenness in human beings, something wrong with our nature that needs to be fixed, mended, redeemed, or repaired? Is this a moral brokenness? Is it some other kind of flaw or brokenness? Maybe we just say that human beings are acting in line with their base instincts too much? Should we say that humans are not thinking deeply enough about the way they are reacting to things so they’re not really processing the base instincts using science, reason or education?
The third big question that all Beliefmaps and perspectives try to say something about is: what is the answer to all this? What is the solution to the challenge of what is wrong with the world and people?
Is there a way to be rescued, to be helped, or to self-rescue? What do we need to do? What do we need to engage with? What should you and I do in response to these situations and challenges? What is it that our hope, energy and resources to be placed in? Is it that we should focus our redemptive endeavours through our own thinking and analysis? Is the answer to be found in an experience that we might have? Is it to be found in relationships with each other or with something else? Is it to be found in technology or by inventing new technologies? Is it in something that we need to do, or find or acquire? Or is the answer to be found in something that comes from outside of our experience? Does some sort of rescue come from inside us – from our own self-generated empowerment – or does it come from outside of us from somewhere else or from someone else?
The fourth question that all of these ways of looking at the world are trying to address through their fundamental beliefs and doctrines is: what might life look like in the future if we brought some of these changes in? All of these different philosophies and religions have views about what happens next. What do they say about this? What can we hope for in the future?
What will life look like once we bring in these answers? Are we alone in that hoped for future or do we continue as individuals? Do we lose our individuality and become one essence, individual or thing? Do we continue to battle onwards through suffering, or is there hope that things will be definitively addressed in some sort of decisive or final way at some point?
A Beliefmap helps us to make sense of philosophies, systems, religions and viewpoints by drilling down into these four key elements or questions. This is a powerful and helpful way to see and engage with the deeper ideas that people believe. A Beliefmap gathers together the core elements of a belief system, incorporating the philosophical and the everyday. Since the questions that we each wonder about are varied and change according to what is happening to us a Beliefmap is able to capture both our practical and reflective sides quite accurately. This is why understanding what we believe is wrong with the world and what we believe the answer is to that is, is placed alongside our answers to the big questions about the universe and ultimate reality.
Every single human being has a way of seeing the world, we each have a Beliefmap. And we all use it and find ourselves under its influence even if were not aware of it. It is based around our answers to four questions: what is reality? What is the error? What is the answer? And what can we hope for? Every single human being has this lens – a Beliefmap – that they see the world through. We all use it. We all have it. But we are not always completely aware of it.
What is your Beliefmap and how does it shape the way that you see the world?