Cognitive dissonance (CD) is the concept of holding two very different ideas in your mind at the same time. This is something all the great composers do when they think of two melodic themes and how they can intertwine, adapt and combine them. We would find it very difficult to whistle one tune while thinking of an entirely different one but that is the sort of thing that Beethoven or Mozart would consider trifling. 

Let us take two different ideas:
1. Man created god(s), and the concepts of soul, afterlife, heaven & hell
2. Man wants everyday protection, eternal life & ultimate justice. All these are easily provided by a sky-daddy.

Both these ideas are scientific facts (except for the sky-daddy clause) established by cultural anthropology and Evolutionary psychology, but it is difficult to accept both of them at the same time. It would create cognitive dissonance and unease in the common man. To avoid CD people usually accept one and reject the other. 

Some people who are science-savvy accept idea no.1, and feel that idea no.2 arose in the minds of our primitive ancestors because of the need to be safe from natural catastrophes & predators, fear of death & oblivion, and need for fair play. They feel that idea no.1 contradicts idea no.2. Such people are called Atheists. 

On the other hand some others, in order to avoid CD, reject idea no.1 and accept idea no.2 as a bonus for their belief & trust in supernatural entities. They are called Theists.

Then you have the third category of people who, like Mozart or Beethoven, adroitly combine the two different melodies into one symphony. Such people are basically atheistic but wish to take over the duties of an absentee caretaker, to the extent humanly possible and help others to live their lives more happily. They say seeking the truth should prevail over search for comfort. Such folks are called Secular Humanists. They have resolved their CD, without forfeiting one idea for the other.

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Comment by Richard C Brown on December 30, 2013 at 6:20am


Comment by thomas winfield mckay on December 26, 2013 at 11:06am

Nice!!! When I was a science student I was  amazed at how many formulas of math and chemistry I could conjure up in my grey matter at the same time. The problem is that I never could create  new formulas like some of the wizards of the past and present. Darn it!!!!

Anyway, It is the time of the year to celebrate two of the mightiest Deists of all time, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Imagine if public schools really and fervently taught the truth of their takes on religion. Not a chance. I am so Jeffersonian. Have a  happy

Comment by Michael Penn on December 26, 2013 at 8:09am

Well said, but you left out Deism - the belief of many of our founding fathers. The sky daddy made everything but doesn't give a shit about you, nor is he trying to contact you in any way. In fact, there is no possible way that you could ever know him.

Comment by Daniel W on December 25, 2013 at 2:48pm

VK, Thanks for expressing your ideas!  Thoughtful....

i wonder if people really think they will have eternal life?  Eternity is a long time.  What do they think, will they be tired of living in 100 years?  1,000 years? 1,000,000 years?  I can't imagine that.

I can imagine being absorbed into some sort of more diffuse and ethereal force, devoid of consciousness and connected to the universe while still individuality is annihilated...  that seems like a good thing.

All I know is that we exist, now.

It's hard for me to even imagine it was "me" when I think about who I was, and what I experienced, 40 years ago.  Was that "me"?  I know the facts.  I remember the events.  But they don't seem like "me".  Whatever that means.

So there is the now, again.

As Robert Green Ingersoll expressed it 

Justice is the only worship.
Love is the only priest.
Ignorance is the only slavery.
Happiness is the only good.
The time to be happy is now,
The place to be happy is here,
The way to be happy is to make others so.
Wisdom is the science of happiness

I have not found better expression of how to live.  From that, I extrapolate, that I do not have the right to interfere with genuine happiness, and neither does anyone else.  No one has the right to impose on another.  If their happiness depends on such imposition, then they do not know happiness, they know greed, power hunger, narcissism.  Humanism means allowing the most people to experience the best lives they can, in the one life they have.

I don't express it very well.  Glad there are others who do it better.


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