Cognitive Dissonance OR Jesus is a Shapeshifter

I think my Art History professor hit upon something last night while discussing the Pazzi Chapel designed by Brunelleschi. He said, “Belief is knowledge, and when you ‘know’ something, you are comfortable. But if I say, ‘WRONG!’ then suddenly your belief in what you thought you knew is called into question and you are uncomfortable.” He went on to discuss why the chapel itself was “comfortable” because it mathematically had correct proportions, etc. etc., but that quote got me thinking.

While I disagree with the idea that belief is knowledge, he is correct that most people perceive belief as equal to knowledge. In that respect, I think it is a rather elegant statement of why so many theists have such a hard time accepting atheism/atheists and certainly why they have such a hard time giving up their god belief no matter how irrational it is proved to be.
I myself am an ex-Catholic/ex-theist-in-general. I remember how hard it was to let rational thought prevail over the irrational fear of an omnipotent god (graciously indoctrinated into my head since before I can remember. Thanks mom and dad. :-l )

For some reason though, as I grew up, I learned to love and embrace the feeling of cognitive dissonance. I love learning about things I didn’t know before and even having things I thought I knew called into question. I suspect, here at least, that I am not alone in that feeling.
But it reminds me of a job I once had working with a bunch of older ladies who were religious (some of whom very much so). I reveled in challenging their ideas and once proposed the following idea:

First: Do intelligent aliens exist? (even the religious ones answered either “I don’t know, but probably” or just “probably.”)

Second: God is god of EVERYTHING, not just Earth, right? (a resounding “Yes”)

Third: Jesus is son of God sent to redeem man of sin, right? (again a resounding “Yes”)

Fourth: God is just and merciful? (Once again “Yes”)

Then either A) Man is the only creation of God which needed redemption from “sin” or B) Intelligent aliens also are capable of sin as described in the bible such as murder or theft, etc.

If A, then it raises the question as to why God would create man, but nothing else, capable of sin. After all, one cannot fall back on "free will" as an excuse because "free will" (if you believe it exists) is a product of intelligence and hence would be a capability of ANY self-aware, intelligent being.

If B, then God, being just and merciful, would have had to create a similar act of sacrificing his son in order to “save” the sinful aliens as well. If Jesus is the ONLY son of God, as per the bible, he would have had to appear to and redeem the aliens as well.

Would aliens have accepted a “son of god” who didn’t look like them? Probably not. After all, would humans have accepted Jesus as “son of god” if he looked like an octopus-man? Probably not.
So, Jesus would have had to appear as whatever the aliens looked like or thought he should look like in order to “mercifully” redeem them of sin.

Hence, Jesus is a shape-shifting astronaut.

This earned me only a roll of eyes and a response which truly worries me to this day:
“I just don’t think about things like that.”

WHAT? You base your whole life, day to day decisions, etc. on your chosen religion, but you DON’T THINK ABOUT IT?

And the answer is, no. They don’t. Because most people don’t like to feel uncomfortable, and that’s what cognitive dissonance does. It’s why Socrates was so unpopular. He forced people to confront their own irrational beliefs. We atheists, simply by existing, do the same to every theist. The fact that we can not only exist, but can lead perfectly normal, moral (for all the supposed meaning that word has), ethical lives of peace, throws a monkey wrench in their worldview that those who believe in their god are “good” and those who don’t are “evil.”

By existing, and recently growing in voice and number, we are essentially yelling “WRONG!” in the face of theists everywhere. This makes them uncomfortable to say the least and to paraphrase from Inherit the Wind – they don’t think about things that they don’t think about. And the vast majority of them prefer it that way. We are the Socrates’ of our day and by simply existing we force them to confront the hard question of WHY they believe the irrational things they believe.

Views: 111

Tags: Astronaut, Belief, Dissonance, Jesus, Knowledge, Socrates, Theists

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Comment by Jas Brimstone on March 12, 2009 at 1:01pm
I agree, but I think you're missing my meaning. I'm not suggesting we go around literally telling believers they're wrong (though many of us actually do that anyway). What I'm saying is that our mere existence serves to do that without us physically saying anything more than "I disagree" or "I don't believe the same as you".
Simply saying "I don't believe in god" is taken as an affront to many believers and an "attack" on their faith and their (non-existent) god. Even if you immediately follow your statement of non-belief with the caveat that you could care less if they believe or not, it is still seen as an attack more often than not.
That's what I'm saying. By merely existing we present believers with cognitive dissonance every time they are forced to even acknowledge (through media coverage, personal encounters, etc.) our existence.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on March 11, 2009 at 12:11pm
Telling the true believers they are wrong is farting in a whirlwind; they will never be swayed from their fantasy.
That they are so inextricable bound to their beliefs is further evidence, IMO, that the human acceptance of the supernatural has a genetic component.
That every human society embraces a religion of some kind, including societies that have been isolated from others for thousands of generations, is further evidence that a genetic factor is in play.
The expression of traits is predominately governed by multiple genes - few traits are associated with single gene expression (the classic dominant / recessive illustrations are the exception). The multiple gene influence allows for variation in how the trait expresses itself in the individual. In the case of the “genetic god factor” the variation would extended from people like those on this web site to the rapture ready Christians and those who willingly sacrifice their lives for the faith. The strongly influenced will never accede to logic and will never rationally examine their belief.

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