Many believe in the historic general Napoleon, because of historical records — but confronted with even more and greater historical evidences, do not believe in the historic Jesus, God come down to earth as a man. What cognitive dissonance!
Cognitive dissonance is that extreme feeling of discomfort some folks get when their core belief is challenged or contradicted. What they think (“cognitive”) is rattled (dissonance) by what other evidences purport to be true – in direct conflict with what they hold to be “true”.
This extreme feeling seems to be roused on university campuses nowadays. When conservative rationale is presented on campus, or, most often now, as the news tells us — even before the challenging thoughts get onto the campus, they tend to be un-invited or violence is threatened against that someone who has the audacity to present thoughts contrary to theirs! Or they organize violent riots.
I remember back to my college years. I would sit down on the grass field (on, not with grass..!) with fellow students who believed totally opposite views from mine, and we would calmly discuss our differing points of view. There was no cognitive dissonance on either side! I shared and tried to be convincing…. And he/she would share and try to convince me…. No anger was evoked. Certainly not even an inkling of violence by either side. How different things are today!
Explaining “cognitive dissonance“, the “political radical, psychiatrist, and philosopher Frantz Fanon explains in his book Black Skin, White Masks,
“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted.
It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
– By Linda Goudsmit in her article, Cognitive dissonance and the lazy eye, at RenewAmerica.com; August 9, 2018. [Black Skin, White Masks is a 1952 book by Frantz Fanon, a psychiatrist and intellectual from Martinique. Wikipedia]
When faced with “the facts”, many choose to believe their fairy tales.
In simpler terms, the unsettling feelings of cognitive dissonance is what produces ensconced unbelief. The core belief, whatever it may be, of those who reject the Gospel of Christ, cannot resonate with Christ (evoke a feeling of shared emotion or belief)… because they refuse to humble themselves in the sight of the Lord. Many unbelievers find that Christ’s teachings “create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable.” This is cognitive dissonance: being extremely uncomfortable with any evidence that appears to work against their core beliefs.
The opposite is cognitive consonance. “State of harmony and internal consistency arising from compatibility among a person’s attitudes, behavior, beliefs, and/or knowledge. Opposite of cognitive dissonance.” – Google
Cognitive dissonance happens when you don’t want to believe what new evidence is plainly showing you to be the truth – and you are not willing to adjust your core beliefs to accept this new evidence. One becomes really really uncomfortable because of this challenge to what you really prefer to believe.
This even happens amongst evangelicals. Unfortunately some of my sharing of what the Bible actually says – has evoked cognitive dissonance in some of my friends!
The truth of the Gospel is rejected by many who thoroughly know what Jesus is calling us to. Many folk have encountered substantiated proofs of the veracity of Christ’s claims and teachings, and yet, they claim such evidences “cannot be accepted.” As Frantz Fanon says about cognitive dissonance: “And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”
Romans 1 exposes the irrational belief system of those who reject the divinity of Christ.
- Their core belief cannot accept the claims of Jesus put forth so clearly by the Apostle Paul in verses 1-6:
1 Paul, a [a]bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative), set apart for [preaching] the [b]gospel of God [the good news of salvation], 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the sacred Scriptures— 3 [the good news] regarding His Son, who, as to the flesh [His human nature], was born a descendant of David [to fulfill the covenant promises], 4 and [as to His divine nature] according to the Spirit of holiness was openly designated to be the Son of God with power [in a triumphant and miraculous way] by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 It is through Him that we have received grace and [our] apostleship to promote obedience to the faith and make disciples for His name’s sake among all the Gentiles, 6 and you also are among those who are called of Jesus Christ to belong to Him.” – Romans 1: verses 1-6
- Because of their core belief, they suffer cognitive dissonance when faced with the Truth, and reject God. They “suppress and stifle the truth” (v18), even though “that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them” (v19). See Romans 1:18-32.
21 For even though [a]they knew God [as the Creator], they did not [b]honor Him as God or give thanks [for His wondrous creation]. On the contrary, they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools…. – Romans 1:21-22
The majority of “unbelievers” cannot accept biblical prophecies about the Messiah, even though the evidences show that Jesus was born into this world and fulfilled most of them during His lifetime (*and will fulfill the remainder of them later, when He comes back to earth). They are overcome with cognitive dissonance. The very specific predictions were written miraculously “beforehand” (v2), and they foretold exacting details of what the Messiah would accomplish. Impossible! Except that God did the impossible. (And still does!) The Old Testament is predicting Christ!
The prophets gave specific parameters as to what the Messiah would do, for instance – that He would rise up from the dead. But many who reject Christ stubbornly protect their own core belief, even in the face of all the contradicting evidencial proofs, and they go on throughout their life rationalizing, ignoring, and denying “anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief” (-from Frantz Fanon).
Instead of choosing to believe, they chose to sink into unbelief. As the Apostle Paul put it, “they became worthless in their thinking [godless, with pointless reasonings, and silly speculations], and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools….” (v21-22)
So the warning should go like this: Be very careful when you feel “cognitive dissonance” with any portion of Christ’s message. Even as a believer! The message of Christ, if not accepted, causes extreme discomfort (cognitive dissonance) because Christ calls us to go against our old nature, and go against the way of the world.
The world has fallen into a condition that Christ came to save us from. Those “in the world” who think they are totally “okay”, often get frustrated, angry, and for some, violent — because they cannot accept a message like the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
We must not deceive ourselves
by any stupididiotic reasonings of man
– to accept what God has rejected.
– from Why Believe Such Stupididiotic Things?!
So, what part of the Gospel of Christ makes you extremely uncomfortable?
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