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The Problem of Cognitive Dissonance

By Wertbag ~ 

Cognitive Dissonance is the fascinating ability of humans to hold two beliefs at the same time which are contradictory to each other. This is commonly done by simply never comparing a person's beliefs to each other, each being looked at as a separate subject on its own. Some such contradictory ideas may be held by special pleading, that is saying certain ideas are exempt from universal beliefs that apply to everything else except the claim. Some examples of this include "It is ridiculous to think the universe came from nothing" and "God made the universe from nothing", or "Life cannot come from non-life" and "Adam was created from dirt". In each of these cases a universal unavoidable standard is held which makes scientific claims impossible, while having the belief that the exact thing declared as impossible was done.

Perhaps the most obvious version of this is the belief that God is all-loving, that all people are equal in His eyes, while believing that the stories of God in the OT are true and therefore the killing of people for victimless crimes (catching the falling Ark or picking up sticks on the Sabbath for example), the massacres of cities in the way of His chosen people, the killing of the first born of Egypt or setting bears to kill children are all things that a "loving" God would do.

Another common belief is that God is active in the world, cares about His followers and will actively help them in times of need, while at the same time Christians are forced to admit that prayer doesn't work, that Christians are as likely to suffer from illness, accidents, crime or disaster. He works but He doesn't.

Good people go to heaven when they die, but also works don't matter and you are saved by faith alone, so a good non-believer won't get to heaven, but a horrific Christian would. Or belief that Satan is active in the world with all of his superpowers, but also God defeated him and cast him down, but also, He'll come back and do it again because He didn't finish him off the first time.

You should "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek", while applying the death penalty for Sabbath breaking, being a witch or being disobedient to your parents. Did God forgive and forget when the guy failed to impregnate his brothers' widow? No, death for such disobedience.

God is all-good and just, but also created hell, a place of infinite torture. God loves all of His creation, but also wants you to butcher and burn animals to Him. The bible is God's word, written by or inspired by God Himself, but reading it is optional, not really that important. God is all-knowing, but failed to see how His creation would turn out so drowned the world. All other religions are false and have no evidence, I have no evidence but believe based on the witness of the holy spirit.

It is amazing what we can be taught and how little we consider our positions in regard to each other. Once we have accepted a claim as true, then confirmation bias will help us keep that idea against evidence showing it to be invalid, even when we hold contradictory positions, we will fight to hold both against logic, justifying such a position by any means and any options presented to us. It is often said that apologetics are not to convince people of the truth of Christianity but are simply there to reinforce the beliefs that you have already been taught.

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net