Cognitive Dissonance and Proof of God

Now and then I’ve been asked to share evidence and proof of “God.” Now, for me, “God” is not a supernatural anthropomorphic being who throws thunderbolts from the heavens and sometimes chooses to help us and sometimes chooses to not. For me “God” is supremely natural – simply another name for Love, Truth, and Life – the power of Good. And I experience healing by bringing myself into harmony with this power – by filling my thoughts up with Love, joy, hope, and courage, and cleansing my thoughts of fear, anger, hatred, and so on…

Adventures of the Madcap Christian Scientist

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” – Frantz Fanon

I love this quote by Frantz Fanon. I think at one time or another we’ve probably all experienced some cognitive dissonance in our lives – times when, because of our own world view, background, and experiences we simply can’t accept the evidence set down in front of us.

Now and then I’ve been asked to share evidence and proof of “God.”  Now, for me, “God” is not a supernatural anthropomorphic being who throws thunderbolts from the heavens and sometimes chooses to…

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So I’ll just finish the dialogue here… :)

Sometimes people experience a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief. – Franz Fanon

If you go to this URL – http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=washington-states-unconscionable-unconstitutional-child-protection-law&utm_reader=feedly –  you’ll find a discussion on Christian Science taking place amongst people who, though well-meaning, don’t seem to really understand Christian Science as I know it, and I’m pretty sure are no longer interested in hearing what I have to say – I don’t think any further comments by me will be allowed into the party. So I figured I’d just finish the dialogue here. 🙂

Karen says:

Thanks, windriven and weing for taking the time to check out those sites and respond.

Thirteen years ago my CS mom was diagnosed with lymphoma and given two years to live. She had some choices to make. She’d relied almost her entire adult life on Christian Science – and had experienced many healings with it (if she hadn’t had success with CS, she wouldn’t have continued with it – she would have found something that worked for her – my mom is no martyr to religion). I told her that I would support her in whatever direction she chose to go – whether medical science or Christian Science. After a lot of thought, she chose to use medical science. She went through chemo treatments, and did what the doctors prescribed for her – although she never really became part of the “cancer culture” – if you know what I mean – she didn’t buy cancer-of-the-month calendars and magazines and stuff. She had some wonderful, caring doctors and developed a great patient-doctor relationship with them. The thought, then, was that they would prolong her life, but that the cancer would win in the end. After two years there was no trace of the cancer, and now, thirteen years later, she is still alive and kicking, and the doctors call her an enigma. At least one of them gives credit to her CS way of life for her healing.

I have experienced healings of:
– a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid – by the time I got to the eye surgeon two weeks later, the melanoma had completely disappeared
– a puffed-up hand – blood tests that came back a few days after the hand deflated indicated markers for rheumatoid arthritis – the doctor wanted me to see a specialist, and after I told them that I’d called a CS practitioner and my hand was completely healed and fine, they were really surprised – that was 3 years ago and there’s been no return of the condition
– the natural delivery of my son after I’d been wheeled down to the OR for an emergency caesarean section (I’d asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support) – just as the doctors were ready to slice me open, they all got surprised looks on their faces and started yelling “Push! Push!” – when my son was born one of the nurses started crying – she said she’d never been able to see a natural delivery and it was “so beautiful.”

Do I consider these healings miracles? Nope. They are completely natural – it’s natural to be healthy. And I’ve found that when I’m able to draw close to the power of Love, of Good – to fill my thoughts up with joy and life – I experience healing. Always.

Although I have much respect for medical doctors and their dedication to their patients – I have found CS to be the best and most efficient method of healing for me, personally.

Regarding the law exempting the children of CSists from medical treatment: Honestly, I can’t say that I know where, exactly, I stand on this issue. I know CS works. I’ve proven it for myself, and, I think if we’re honest we have to acknowledge that medical science is seriously flawed. But… I think that parents need to use common sense when it comes to the care and well-being of their children.

 weing says:

@Karen,
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Your mom was diagnosed with a lymphoma that had a poor prognosis. She received standard science-based therapy and is disease free 13 years later. Great. I have no idea what “cancer culture” is.

“a doctor-diagnosed (and photographed) melanoma on my eyelid”
Melanoma is diagnosed by biopsy not photographs. You had a skin finding suspicious for melanoma that resolved. You had a swollen hand and some abnormal lab tests and now your fine. You experienced the miracle of birth. You call all this healing. I call it living. That’s fine.
___

So that’s where the dialogue left off. I just tried to respond, but it looks like my post didn’t make it onto the board, so – seeing as how I have my own blog and stuff 🙂 – I guess I’ll just finish the dialogue here:

Karen says:

Yup. And if I were a medical doctor I wouldn’t be discounting these anecdotes, ignoring them and belittling them – if I really wanted to help my patients and bring them healing – without the adverse side effects that come from pharmaceuticals and the human error of medical science – I’d be asking myself what happened there – why was that woman with terminal cancer able to survive it? Why did her daughter’s puffed-up hand deflate after only two days, and the condition not reappear in the three years since then – after a marker in the blood test indicated rheumatoid arthritis? And why did the melanoma that her optometrist spotted on her eyelid completely disappear by the time she went to an eye surgeon two weeks later?

***

One of the posters will be meeting with a senator to discuss legislation in Washington State regarding Christian Science  treatment.  I’m glad to hear he’s meeting with his legislators to discuss things that are important to him. I myself have very much enjoyed the privileges of United States citizenship – I was elected as a delegate to the state Democratic convention a couple years ago and enjoyed meeting other like-minded people. Through the years I have written letters and donated in support of financial aid for undocumented immigrants, environmental issues, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, Amnesty International, The Smile Train, and yes, universal health care – I don’t believe anyone should be denied the treatment they are told they need to survive just because they’re too poor to pay for it. I really hope the gentleman who visits with the senator today will address that, too – if he’s going to ask that people be forced to participate in the medical system, those people should also be provided with financial access to it, right? (I had a friend who was told the drugs she needed to take during her cancer remission would cost $30,000 to $40,000 a month! Holy shamoley! That’s crazy!)

***

Harriet Hall says:

@Karen
Christian Scientists believe that sickness is an illusion caused by mistaken beliefs and that the whole material world is an illusion, so why did you go to a doctor at all? Why does CS condone seeing a doctor for broken bones if they are illusory? I really can’t understand the logic and am hoping you can explain.

***

Karen says: Well, if you’re familiar with quantum physics you know that all of matter is pretty much nothing, right? And it’s been determined, in quantum physics, that our very thoughts effect our world. So really, even according to the science of quantum physics, our beliefs have power on what we experience here, don’t they?

Why do I go to a doctor at all? Well, honestly, I don’t much. I went to a doctor when I had the puffed-up hand because the people around me were really concerned by what they were seeing – there was talk of a serious infection, or an allergy – there was talk of death. And I was scared. So I went to the family physician – he normally jokes around with me when I come in – all my medical practitioners have a sense of humor, it is one of my requirements – but this time even HE wasn’t joking around. He said it looked like I either had a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis, and he wanted to start me on drugs for both right away, and give me a blood test. I said I wasn’t interested in the drugs until I knew, for sure, what we were dealing with – but I’d have the blood test. Then I went home and called a CS practitioner – the confidence and assurance I heard in her voice was a huge help to me, mentally. The next day my hand was even more puffed-up, but by the second morning it had completely deflated. When I later called the doctor’s office for the results of the blood test, I was told there was a marker for rheumatoid arthritis and they wanted me to meet with a specialist. I told the receptionist I was completely fine now. She called a nurse to the phone. I told her my hand was completely deflated, and she was really surprised by this and told me that she guessed I didn’t need any further treatment right then, but to call if the condition returned. Which it hasn’t.

I am not conflicted about seeing a doctor when I feel the need – I don’t experience feelings of guilt  – I’m not worried about being excommunicated from any religion or anything – I am not, really, a very religious person. For me, Christian Science isn’t a religion or even an alternative health care system – it’s a way of looking at the world that’s brought a lot of good into my life. I don’t go to doctors much because I simply haven’t needed to go to doctors.

Cognitive Dissonance and Proof of God

“Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore, and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.” – Frantz Fanon

I love this quote by Frantz Fanon. I think at one time or another we’ve probably all experienced some cognitive dissonance in our lives – times when, because of our own world view, background, and experiences we simply can’t accept the evidence set down in front of us.

Now and then I’ve been asked to share evidence and proof of “God.”  Now, for me, “God” is not a supernatural anthropomorphic being who throws thunderbolts from the heavens and sometimes chooses to help us and sometimes chooses to not. For me “God” is supremely natural – simply another name for Love, Truth, and Life – the power of Good.  And I experience healing by bringing myself into harmony with this power – by filling my thoughts up with Love, joy, hope, and courage, and cleansing my thoughts of fear, anger, hatred, and so on. So, when asked to offer evidence and proof of my God, I might say that kindness, honesty, and intelligence are all evidence of God. Or I might share healings I’ve experienced through bringing my thoughts close to God.  I might, for instance, share the following healings as proof of God, Good:

  • I witnessed my little brother healed of doctor-diagnosed mastoiditus when he was 7 – one minute he was screaming in pain, the next he was snoring. Healing confirmed by a medical doctor the next day.
  • A couple years ago my optometrist found a melanoma on my eyelid – he showed me a picture of it and had me set up an appointment with a surgeon right then – two weeks later the eye surgeon could find no trace of the melanoma.
  • After my hand inflated to twice its normal size, I went to a doctor. The doctor told me I probably either had a serious infection or rheumatoid arthritis. The doctor sent me in for blood tests. After the blood tests I went home and called a CS practitioner for prayerful support. By the third morning my hand had completely deflated and I was fine. The blood tests came back. One of the markers indicated rheumatoid arthritis. The nurse was shocked when I told her I was fine. That was several years ago. No return of the condition.
  • I was taken to the OR to have an emergency c-section with my second son. I asked my mom to call a CS practitioner for support. Just before they were going to slice me open, the surgical team got surprised looks on their faces, and starting telling me to push. The baby was  born naturally. One of the OR nurses was crying because it was all so beautiful, and she’d never been able to see a natural delivery before. The midwife told me they don’t know what happened. It was a surprise to all of them.

The response I get from friends after I share these experiences is really fascinating to me. Some friends – those who are open to the evidence I share with them, will celebrate and rejoice with me. But there are others – often friends who were raised as children with a different kind of a “God” than mine and rebelled against that thunderbolt-throwing god (and who can blame them?) – who seem unable to accept what I’m sharing.

I’m told by these friends that I can’t just go around making up my own definition for “God.” I tell them I didn’t come up with this concept of God on my own and that it’s not a new concept – that in the Bible we’re told “God is love” (I John 4) and that as far back as the late 19th century Mary Baker Eddy listed these synonyms for God – “Principle, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Life, Truth, Love.”

Okay, but these healings are not proofs of a supernatural being, these friends tell me – my body would have healed itself naturally, anyway. I agree with them – as Mary Baker Eddy writes in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Now, as then, these mighty works (healings) are not supernatural, but supremely natural.” Later she writes, “God is natural good… Truth should not seem so surprising and unnatural as error, and error should not seem so real as truth. Sickness should not seem so real as health.”

At this point my friends will often tell me that, although I am, of course, a very nice person, I’m also completely cracked to trust my health to this power of good, rather than depending on the laboratory-tested workings of medical science.

Ahem.  Soooo… do I go there or do I not? If I go there

I might point out that, according to the American Medical Association, medical science is the third-leading cause of death in this country. I might share the countless stories of people who have died from medical treatment, rather than the original malady that brought them to the medical doctors. I might point out that just a few weeks ago Newsweek’s cover story was about the unsafe care Americans receive in our nation’s hospitals. Author Marty Makary writes: “Bad doctors. Prescription errors. Surgical slips. Medical mistakes injure or kill hundreds of thousands of Americans every year… When I was a medical student medical science began to seem as dangerous and dishonest as it was miraculous and precise. The defining moment came when I saw a sweet old lady I cared about die after a procedure she didn’t need and didn’t want.” (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/09/16/are-hospitals-less-safe-than-we-think.html)   I might point out all the side effects (nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, depression, thoughts of suicide, weight gain, liver damage, heart attacks, death) listed on those drug commercials we’re all familiar with on television don’t instill in me an urgent desire to race to the nearest pharmacy. And then I might ask them, after all this, if it really seems logical or reasonable to question the sanity of thinking people who choose not to see medical science as the panacea for their health challenges.

But because my world view is so different from theirs, these friends often experience a “cognitive dissonance” – an inability to recognize the healings I’ve experienced through my understanding of the power of God, Good, and the flaws in the system that they’ve come to depend on. The idea of not turning, first, to medical science and, instead, trusting in the power of Love, Truth, and Life, is so foreign and alien that they simply can’t seem to grasp the idea of it, or to acknowledge my healings as proof of God.

I am not averse to visiting optometrists, dentists, and doctors when I feel the need to do so – I have no worries about being ex-communicated from my church or raising the wrath of God or anything – and I’m grateful for my doctors’ training, intelligence, and humor (all my doctors have a sense of humor – it is one of my requirements).  But I have also proven, for myself, the constant, unchanging power of God when I’m able to draw near to Love and Truth – and I have found this power to be a dependable and effective one in my life.

In divine Science, where prayers are mental, all may avail themselves of God as “a very present help in trouble.” – Mary Baker Eddy

Here’s a youtube clip of a healing of scarlet fever – had to share this: