There is a lot that can be said about human behaviour. To simplify, one can state that in most cases behaviour is reactionary on external or internal stimuli.
One can also say that humans tend to gravitate towards a mental state of equilibrium with the least amount of effort. Instant gratification in fast food is one example.
The proverbial fly in the ointment is cognitive dissonance.
Cognitive dissonance is a discomfort caused by holding conflicting cognitions (e.g., ideas, beliefs, values, emotional reactions) simultaneously. In a state of dissonance, people may feel surprise, dread, guilt, anger, or embarrassment. In our day to day existence we are constantly bombarded by stimuli and through various processes filtered by our frame of reference, we reach closure.
The process we use to reach the closure is what defines you as a person. It is your morals and values residing in your frame of reference that is instrumental in the resolution. The question that begs answering then is, “How much information do you feed your frame of reference?”
One of the effects of cognitive dissonance is that people tend to get mired in the teachings they received as children, simply because the introduction of new information into the frame of reference will lead to dissonance.
So the fear of dissonance, coupled with a possible rejection of parental approval and even societal rejection is a great deterrent in broadening one’s horizons. This leads the religious mind to conceive of belief as a mechanism to resolve cognitive dissonance, but each injection of belief regress the dissonance one level deeper (postponing it) and each regression effectively gets pushed back into the recesses of the memory where it enjoys a blissful state of non-participation.
So let us examine some instances in Christianity that mainstream believers are pushing back or probably not aware of in the first place. The first premise of Christianity resides in the acceptance that Jesus was the prophesized messiah.
In this basic tenet lays the schism from Judaism and will we henceforth use this as the first or basal level of belief in Christianity, so:
Level 1: Jesus as the prophesized messiah. This claim is refuted in my article Jesus the Messiah. Preterism is a reality supported by the gospels. No theological gymnastics can account for the words that Jesus himself spoke.
Matt 10:23 “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. I tell you the truth, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”, and Matt 16:28 “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”.
Level 2: Literature was produced to support the claim. Literary authenticity is dubious, but in particular the problems with 2 Corinthians (a 2-5 copy and paste construct), intro and ending of John, the last verses in Mark, the Comma Johanneum and the anonymity of the gospel writings.
Contradictions abound like the birth of Jesus. Did they go from Nazareth to Bethlehem for the birth as per Luke 2:4 or did they move to Nazareth after the birth like in Matt 2:21-23. Did they flee to Egypt directly after the birth as per Matt 2:15 or did they reside in Bethlehem for 40 days to take Jesus to the temple (Luke 2:22-24) and returned to Nazareth (Luke 2:39).
In Matthew, Mark and Luke the last supper takes place on the first day of the Passover (Matthew 26:17, Mark 14:12, Luke 22:7). In John's gospel it takes place a day earlier and Jesus is crucified on the first day of the Passover (John 19:14). Who found the empty tomb? According to Matthew 28:1, only "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.", but according to Mark 16:1, "Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome." then again according to John 20:1-4, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb alone, saw the stone removed, ran to find Peter, and returned to the tomb with Peter and another disciple.
There are many more examples, but this should suffice to support the lack of Literary Authenticity.
Level 3: Not content with a mere human, Jesus was endowed with miracles to lend credence to this. The progression starts small with Jesus curing a Leper in Luke 5:12-13, a mere human disease. Then a blind man got healed (Mark 10:49-52). This is more than just a disease. Then Jesus showed power over nature when Jesus calmed the storm (Matthew 8:25-27).
Even more powerful is Jesus when he shows power over death itself when raising Lazarus in John 11:39-44. There is a clear progression of power that conforms with the next level of the power-up progression in level 4. Deification.
Level 4: As per the level 3 power-up progression, Jesus was deified. “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). The problem is that “the son of God” concept has been taken out of context.
It was a widely used concept by Jews as evidenced by 2 Samuel 7:14 “I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me”, a statement made about King Solomon. Even the people of Israel were called the “son of God” in Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son”
Level 5: Still not enough, Jesus was put on par with Yahweh (Trinity). John 5:7-8 “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.”
The Comma Johanneum is explained in my article The Trinity Conspiracy.
Each of these levels is a cognitive dissonance in its own right, but compounded by each antecedent assertion per level it becomes quite clear that a state of Critical Belief has been reached (Critical Mass = Self sustaining nuclear reactional matter, Critical Belief = Self sustaining theological belief).
The reason it become self sustaining is that the effort it takes to reach harmony on even a single level is a great effort for believers, not to mention the compounded effort to ratify all. It is therefore my contention that the truth is too much effort to even comprehend, and that the “whole” is accepted and used as a vehicle for religious equilibrium where the “whole” usually consists of an à la carte menu as listed and supported by various Bible verses.
This contention is supported by the millions of Christians that are blissfully ignorant of the individual levels and happily live their lives in “unshakable truth” with the “whole”. There is a clear distinction between theology and historosity and it must be understood that it is the theology that creates the thousands of denominations, not the historosity. The question I asked earlier now begs an answer.
Do you fill your frame of reference with the “whole” or theology and live in blissful ignorance, no matter the validity of the information? Or do you deal with each dissonance rationally and reach a state of equilibrium built on historosity.
A case can be made on the basis that equilibrium from belief is just as good as equilibrium from fact, ignorance is bliss after all, but I would disagree. Somewhere in the buzzing confines of the cranium is a nagging voice that begs that reality complies with the basis of human observation, the five senses and inferred reasoning.
Even a simple matter of belief that a chair will accommodate the sitting relies on these concepts and it constantly whispers and sometimes shouts to be heard. A simple analogy sums up the unrealistic reliance on belief in the face of reality: You find someone crawling in the desert; dehydrated, lips chapped and close to collapse. You run to him and show him the oasis, but he mocks you and rather keeps crawling to the mirage.
The question is now, do you confront that dissonance or regress another level by injecting belief once again?
Nota bene: The term Historosity as used in this article does not mean that I accept the historical correctness of the narrative.
This however is a personal view and need not influence the facts as per the historical critical method.
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