First things first
What Christianity taught me about honesty
I’m working on a number of essays, but this one is about cognitive dissonance and faith. This essay is mostly about faith and lies because those two words go together.
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A practicing Christian cannot be honest with themself or with others. That’s why faith was created. Faith is simply admitting that your crazy ideas do not make sense while insisting to yourself and those around you that your ideas about meaning, the world, and why we are self-aware are authoritative.
As a kid, anytime I questioned the obvious fallacies and contradictions in the Christian Bible, the only answer was: you have to have faith. To my younger self, that translated too: lie to the adults because they’re all crazy as shit.
Some factors that can cause cognitive dissonance include:
Forced compliance: A person may have to do things they disagree with as part of a job, to avoid bullying or abuse, or to follow the law.
Decision-making: Everyone has limited choices. When a person must make a decision among several options they do not like or agree with, or they only have one viable option, they may experience cognitive dissonance.
Effort: People tend to value things they work hard for highly, even if those things contradict a person’s values. This may be because viewing something negatively after putting in a lot of hard work would cause more dissonance. So people are more likely to view difficult tasks positively, even if they do not morally agree with them.
Another factor that can create cognitive dissonance is addiction. A person might not want to engage in dissonant behavior, but addiction can make it feel physically and mentally difficult to bring their behavior into alignment with their values.
Effects of cognitive dissonance
Cognitive dissonance can affect people in a wide range of ways. The effects may relate to the discomfort of the dissonance itself or the defense mechanisms a person adopts to deal with it.
The internal discomfort and tension of cognitive dissonance could contribute to stress or unhappiness. People who experience dissonance but have no way to resolve it may also feel powerless or guilty.
Avoiding, delegitimizing, and limiting the impact of cognitive dissonance may result in a person not acknowledging their behavior and thus not taking steps to resolve the dissonance. In some cases, this could cause harm to themselves or others.1
What got me was the obvious failure to answer salient questions. Why do scientists belive our universe and planet are billions of years old but you, my role models, insist on 6,000 years? Faith. That’s all you need.
Why do I have to save my sexuality for just one person? And why is that wrapped up in marriage? Faith. That’s all you need.
Why did God and Satan agree to torture a guy named Job for fun and profit? Faith. That’s all you need.
I became a fantastically talented liar because faith = bullshit. I just wanted honesty. Faith and honesty are not compatible.