Cognitive Dissonance

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Why do the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Our God is in heaven;
    He does whatever pleases him.

But their idols are silver and gold,
     made by human hands.
They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear,
    noses, but cannot smell.
They have hands, but cannot feel,
    feet, but cannot walk,
    nor can they utter a sound with their throats.
Those who make them will be like them,
    and so will all who trust in them.
Psalm 115:2-8

 


 

In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort experienced by a person who simultaneously holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. This discomfort is triggered by a situation in which a person’s belief clashes with new evidence perceived by that person.

 

When confronted with facts that contradict personal beliefs, ideals, and values, people will find a way to resolve the contradiction in order to reduce their discomfort.

 

Leon Festinger proposed that human beings strive for internal psychological consistency in order to mentally function in the real world. A person who experiences internal inconsistency tends to become psychologically uncomfortable, and so is motivated to reduce the cognitive dissonance by making changes to justify the stressful behavior, either by adding new parts to the cognition causing the psychological dissonance, or by actively avoiding social situations and contradictory information likely to increase the magnitude of the cognitive dissonance.

 

This however has two dangers:

 

1. If you actively seek to avoid something that may be true because it makes you uncomfortable, you run the risk of living in delusion.

Or 2. If you continually live in the discomfort by subjecting yourself to truths that make you uncomfortable but are unwilling to consider their validity to ultimately yield to them if they actually prove true, you end up over time damaging your brain because of the conflict it creates and then can become even stronger in your resolve to believe a lie because the function of your brain that’s been internally designed to notify you that your beliefs are in conflict, cognitive dissonance, will become seared over time and less sensitive to notification.

 

But this is actually not new information.

 

Three thousand years ago, King Solomon – a man blessed with wisdom from God – recognized this reality where he wrote:

 

Whoever ignores instruction despises himself, but he who listens to reproof gains intelligence.
Proverbs 15:32

Or

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.
Proverbs 12:1

 

____________

 

A thousand years later as the Apostle Paul further expounded on this wisdom you can see that he realized and then identified the far-reaching extents that it has over all of humanity when he penned the letter to the church in Rome:

 

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

 

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

 

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

 

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 

Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Romans 1:18-32

Therefore, it’s not at all a coincidence that a society that rejects the true and living God will also be a society that supports and promotes every form of evil from social gossip to perverse sexual relationships.

A rejection of the knowledge of God is directly linked to the manifestation of ungodly behaviour.

But it’s also no wonder then why those who do surrender and submit themselves to receive God’s forgiveness through Christ, and learn God’s ways at the feet of Jesus can embark on the path to now live godly lives.

Plus, even unbelievers can find solace in this truth because it also explains the offences most hold toward hypocritical professions of faith… Because it proves that although a person can attend church regularly each week, if when the Holy Spirit impresses their spirit with conviction they choose to not respond to it, they further create this cognitive dissonance that over time can dull their senses to His prompting – thus not benefitting them from a knowledge of God, or even worse – they can begin teaching things that are false from the pulpit!

 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
1 Timothy 4:1-2

 

It is my earnest prayer then for 2019 that when we are confronted with uncomfortable truths that we would take the time to consider more carefully not only what the Holy Spirit is saying but also what our very own God-given senses are telling us as we grow up to maturity in a knowledge of the truth.

 

Remember, as long as you can feel the discomfort that a sobering Word can bring, you’re not too far away from change.

 

I bless you all with a wonderful, fruitful, adventure-filled year!

 

 

 

Trust  Jesus!

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