3 Beliefmaps?

This article describes the three main types of Beliefmap and follows on from my previous article which explains what a Beliefmap is.

Every single human being has a way of seeing the world: a Beliefmap. We are all under the influence of Beliefmaps. A Beliefmap, or worldview, is based around our answers to four fundamental human questions: what is reality? What is the error? What is the answer? And what can we hope for? These four questions can be expressed in the acronym REAL. So every single person has this kind of lens – a Beliefmap – that they see the world through. There only are three main families of Beliefmap, or worldview. This is because there are only three real logical possibilities about what reality is.

The first of the three kinds is 1. atheism or naturalism. The principal belief here is that natural processes or properties are the true explanation. This is where you would locate atheism, new atheism, nihilism, atheistic existentialism, humanism and types of atheistic secularism. Then the second family of Beliefmap is monism or oneism. This is the belief that all that is will eventually be, or should be perceived as being in unity or oneness. Monism emphasises the unity of everything. This is the route family of Beliefmap for Buddhism, Hinduism, and many modern spiritual writers like Paulo Coelho, Deepak Chopra, James Redfield and Rhonda Burne. The third family of Beliefmap is theism. Into this family fits deism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity. The core belief in theism is that there is a God who is distinct and different from the cosmos and creation.

1. Naturalism

The first Beliefmap is naturalism or atheism. What would a naturalistic type of Beliefmap look like? In answer to the question ‘what is reality?’ a naturalistic Beliefmap would give the answer, ‘There is no god, and physical processes and natural forces are the reason for and the sum of the cosmos and human life. We are biomechanical beings and we exist to pass on our DNA. Our sense of right and wrong is just an evolutionary by product.’

How would a naturalist answer the question: what is wrong with the world? ‘We are too often driven by our base instincts, or our irrational and superstitious beliefs,’ would be the answer. How about the answer to this? What’s the way of dealing with this error or problem in the world? The answer that comes back from the naturalistic Beliefmap is that we need to self-rescue using science, technology and education. What will life look like in the future? What can we hope for? We are waiting for the scientific, technological and educational breakthroughs. We might be able to live in the cloud in the future, perhaps in flash memory or in robot bodies that don’t age. However, we still have the problem of the heat death and the winding down of the universe.

2. Monism

The second family of Beliefmap is monism. I mentioned that this is the root Beliefmap of Buddhism and Hinduism. What would a monist say about the nature of reality? How would they answer this first question what is real? They would say that the basic nature of the world, the universe, human beings, cosmos and everything else is that it is all one. There are no individual people or selves. All distinctions, ideas of things being different from each other, is just an illusion. What would a monist type of Beliefmap say is wrong with the world? Where is the error? We have forgotten, or that we do not currently know, or do not fully live in the knowledge that reality is all one.

What would a monist Beliefmap tell us about what we need to do to fix this? What we need to do to remedy the situation? Can we fix it? What is the answer? We need to become enlightened, to see that everything is one. And adopt practices that help us to conform to this idea of the one reality. The monist attempts to harness or use the belief that all is one in order to exercise a power over the world and themselves. The hope of the monist is that this will unlock transformation and empowerment. What happens in the future if we adopt these strategies and effectively use them? What does life look like in the future under this family of Beliefmap? The monist would say at this point that the hope is that through individual thinking and enlightened practices we are eventually absorbed into the one, or into the monad.

3. Theism

Let’s turn to consider the last type of Beliefmap: theism. We will particularly look at the Christian version of the theistic Beliefmap. Theism is different from deism in the respect that deism says that God made the universe, but God stands back from it. Christian theism says that God made the universe and he is now sustaining that universe, revealing himself in it and through it, and redeeming it through Jesus and through what he has achieved on the cross. So what might Christian theism’s Beliefmap look like? In answer to the question, ‘what is reality?’ the Christian theist would say reality is that God is a loving family – the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit.  This Triune God created both a world separate from himself, and also beings within it, including humanity, which he created in his own image, as physical and spiritual beings.

How would a theistic (Christian) Beliefmap deal with the question: what is wrong with the world? The answer here is that people have fought against God’s love and law. We have refused God his rightful sovereignty and we have become alienated, selfish, and sinful. So human nature has become damaged, twisted and corrupted. What, according to the Christian theist’s Beliefmap, is the answer to this error? God himself, motivated by love, became a man in Jesus, died on a cross, and rose from the dead to make payment for the guilt of humankind’s rebellion and sin. He has given human beings evidence and hope by his deeds, his life and his resurrection. What does life in the future hold for the Christian? Life in the future becomes based around a restored relationship with God. A living friendship with God. So life becomes empowered by that friendship and by the work of the Holy Spirit who provides real change. And there is a promise of a renewed creation and a definite end of all suffering and pain.

There is a huge difference between these different Beliefmaps. It can be quite confusing and difficult to try to understand all of the different religions, viewpoints and philosophical ideas in the world. How do we make sense of all of the different ideas and opinions in the world? If we use Beliefmaps and the four core questions: What is reality? What is (the error) wrong? What is the answer? What kind of life can we hope for? This gives us a new way to see and to talk about the big questions of life. And it gives us a new way of exploring our own understandings of God and his relevance to our lives. The great truth is that comparison leads to clarity. We see more clearly what people believe and what we could believe when we see things compared together.