The Little Shoes that Changed My Life
It was close to the end of 1990, a few months after my first grandson was born. I was sitting in my study flipping through a magazine when my eyes immediately locked on the soles of two little shoes. As I looked at those little shoes, I wondered if that the little child had a grandfather somewhere. Didn't he care as much for this child as I did for my new grandson? What about the child's mother? And then this question popped into my mind:
What was so powerful that it caused someone to do that to that child?
And then it hit me -- It must have been their religious beliefs! My first reaction was I would never do anything like that to my grandson! But as I thought about the preacher, Jim Jones, who orchestrated the things that happened at Jonestown, I realized that I preached many of their same things at my church. Many of the doctrines of my church were things the people at Jonestown believed. We both preached from the same Bible, and we both promised our members they would go to Heaven when they died and spend eternity with God. As a matter of fact, later after listening to a tape of the last things Jones said as people were drinking the poisoned drink that killed the little child in the picture – Jim Jones promised them they would all be together in Heaven with God that same day!
I had very strong feelings attached to those same beliefs – beliefs about what happens when believers die. That was the first time I realized this:
My strong feelings were based on “unexamined” beliefs.
“Feelings” and “accuracy” are two very different things. I knew that examining my beliefs would be “an uncomfortable experience,” but not when compared to the unintended consequences that could possibly happen, “feelings were not important.” That was a life changing experience for me. I was fortunate enough to have something that the people in Jonestown didn't have -- a guideline to help me explore my belief system. I created it a few years before in order to help members of my Bible study groups deal with situations that arose when belief conflicts occurred.
My Belief System will be large enough to include all facts,
open enough to be examined and questioned,
flexible enough to change when errors or new facts are discovered.
After using this guideline for a while, I discovered something that was important -- examining your belief system alone is impossible. In 1990 the science needed to understand the brain’s functions related to beliefs did not exist. Belief systems are biological functions that take place within the extraordinarily complex neural networks of the brain.
Examining beliefs takes place at the conscious level of the brain. The processes linked to beliefs takes place at the subconscious level -- which processes information one million times faster than the conscious level. What are the chances of a professor in a university library finding information faster than a kid with a smartphone asking Google questions?
Back in 1990, belief systems were viewed as large filing cabinets with files for each belief. It was thought that the brain pulled belief files out as they were needed. Today science has revealed that the brain uses belief models to generate and live stream realities that individuals experience as life!
Our realities -- waking lives and dreams -- emerge from the brain’s billions of zapping cells and trillions of synaptic connections. It is from this inner universe of synaptic constellations that human decisions arise and imaginations are forged.
All of our life experiences take place in storms of activity
within the computational material of our brains.
From the moment we awaken in the morning, we are surrounded with a rush of light and sounds and smells. Our senses are flooded. All we have to do is wake up every day and without thought or effort –
We are immersed in our individual irrefutable realities;
an awareness of everything we sense, believe and think.
We all assume our “irrefutable reality” to be that of the entire objective world, but we all live in our own bubbles of rightness in which our belief models are the ultimate standard for determining what is right.
Stomachs digest solids and liquids and turn them into energy.
Brains ingest electrochemical information and turn them into realities.
Exploring BeliefscapesandExploring Biblical Heritages teach readers the knowledge and skills needed to identify and examine beliefs.
Never forget those "little shoes"!