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: