Friday, January 10, 2014

conflicted, or just double-thinking?

conflicted, cartoon by robg

In a recent interview, a prominent evangelical pastor said the words in the first two panes. The words in the third pane logically followed for me, as his statements imply them.

But I then wondered what it must be like to believe in something and to also believe in someone who does not believe that same something. What options does this pastor have?
  1. Give up his belief in equality and stick to his God.
  2. Hold to his belief in equality and give up his God.
  3. Live a conflicted life of struggle and cognitive dissonance due to believing two contradictory things.
  4. Believe both parts simultaneously -- in other words, believe that you truly believe in equality, and believe in God. This is typically easier when a person is not verbalizing the fact that their God does not believe the same thing as they do.
I suspect that #4 happens quite commonly, that people believe they are good even while doing bad things, believe they are pro-life even while advocating the death penalty for murderers and lgbt people, believe they are tolerant even while they tolerate others only on their own terms, believe they are embracing of all even while they are excluding of some. And they do this without feeling any conflict about it.

Kinda like being against sweatshops, yet buying more cheap clothes produced in them. Or buying chocolate that's not fair trade, while objecting to child labour and human trafficking. Those are examples from my life. Perhaps you can think of your own examples....

Believing both parts simultaneously ties in with the term "doublethink", coined by George Orwell in 1949 and appearing in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four
"Doublethink is the act of ordinary people simultaneously accepting two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in distinct social contexts. Doublethink is related to, but differs from, hypocrisy and neutrality. Somewhat related but almost the opposite is cognitive dissonance, where contradictory beliefs cause conflict in one's mind. Doublethink is notable due to a lack of cognitive dissonance — thus the person is completely unaware of any conflict or contradiction."
 (from Wikipedia, emphasis added)
So what about that God I believe in who believes things I don't believe in? Is it time to reconsider whether God really does believe those things, or whether I am believing limited human interpretations that have become "gospel truth"?

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